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My first setup - Wow! If I had known it was this easy I'd have saved a lot of dough

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MakoMan, May 27, 2012.

  1. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Finally did my first setup today. Since I began my musical journey 3 years ago, in a year and a half of guitar (it didn't go well), a year of mandolin (it went a lot better) to the past six months of bass guitar (I finally found my instrument) I've always depended on others to set up my instruments.
    I picked up a virtually mint condition - bought by a kid who played it for a month and then sat in a gig bag for 7 years -Squire Affinity P-Bass last Tuesday for literally the price of a set of strings. The action was incredibly high and it was covered in stickers, but otherwise the bass was in pretty nice shape.
    Had my bass lesson last week and asked the instructor to show me how to set it up instead of the usual half hour lesson. We did what we could in half an hour and he gave me the basics of setup. We didn't adjust the relief in the neck because he did not have the right Allen key and 'it looked OK', but we lowered the action as much as we could and covered the principles of truss rod adjustment. It was 100% better than when I picked it up but still not right. Action was still too high and it had a few buzz issues... still sounded pretty good despite that and was pretty nice to play.
    This morning I had more time so looked up on TB the sticky on how to set up a bass, which directed me to the Fender website. I printed out Fender's instructions and specs for setting up a bass and headed down to the hardware store to pick up the necessary tools they suggested.
    I won't go into all of the details of the setup in order to make a long story slightly less long. Suffice to say that I followed the Fender instructions to the letter and used my newly purchased feeler guages, steel ruler etc. to set everything EXACTLY to the specifications described in the instructions.
    As it turned out the neck had too much relief... apparently eyeballing only goes so far - setting it to the correct relief made a BIG difference. Intonation, string height and pickup height etc. were pretty straightforward once I got the neck adjusted correctly. Again I set everything to Fender's specs. I also tightened and put Loc-Tite on the output jack. Once all done, everything looked pretty good and the action was significantly lowered so I took out onto the deck, plugged into and amp and played it.
    If ever a project I have undertaken has worked out this was the one. The bass plays amazingly well. The action is crazy low and virtually perfect. Rattles, string buzzes etc. that previously existed are gone other than it could have better strings. I did not change strings because I wanted to make sure everything was OK on the bass before spending money on it and I know the history of the bass so these are definitely the stock strings from 2005. They show some corrosion spots but look very clean and stay in tune. Basically they just seem like the tinny strings that come stock on new Squier basses. I was going to change the strings but the bass plays so well now that I may wait and enjoy it as is for a bit.
    Anyway... I'm really stunned... it was that easy. This is going to save me a ton of dough over the years. I'm supposed to bit up a slightly beat up Fender Precision next weekend that needs some TLC so this was a great confidence builder for that project. If I can get it set up like this Affinity it will be a steal.
  2. It makes me happy to see and hear of someone who jumped in, got their feet wet and kept the money close to their own vest.

    My policy is that if a human made it, another human can repair, adjust and rebuild it.

    Good on ya.
  3. For once, someone paid attention, read the directions from the correct source and performed a setup in the proper order to the proper specs. Congratulations, this may be a first. Now, maybe you can convince others to do it properly.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Good on you!
  5. Premierbass

    Premierbass Commercial User

    May 26, 2011
    Superior, Colorado
    Owner, Premier Bass Guitars
    Great job! Everyone who plays bass needs to know how to do a basic setup. Tools required are minimal, and there's no lack of resources on the interent and YouTube for what to do.

    I've been showing people who come in to my store who need some simple stuff done how to do it themselves. Many times, all that's needed is a truss rod tweak. People are surprised how easy it is.

    Of course there may be the occasion where you have a more serious issue that needs the help of a pro, but knowing some basics can save you money and provide a sense of satisfaction.

    Plus, who knows how you like your bass set up better than you?

  6. pnut166


    Jun 5, 2008
    It amazes me how many people are afraid to even try setups. I`ve picked up several basses over the years that the seller gave deep discounts on simply because they didn`t know how to correct a setup issue, and thought something was wrong with the bass. Learn how to do basic setups !
  7. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    Now YOU can set up your basses for YOU and save $$$ too.
    Be sure to have the basic tools you used with you if at all possible. It is quite nice to turn a saddle inserts 1/4 turn on a string that seems to have gotten a "fret buzz" while on break and have, once again, a perfectly great-playing and sounding bass. If you ever travel, try to have tools to do a setup(truss, intonation, action). Saved me having such on a trip to Mexico(could only carry 1 bass, private jet, limited gear space) where a different climate and elevation(mountains vs Texas lowlands) knocked a neck a bit out. Fixed things in the hotel room after sound check.
  8. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the comments folks. Yes, I was terrified at first and was sure I was going to mess up something. I still cannot believe my first setup turned out so well. I bought a small very portable toolbox to keep my setup tools in so I am good to go anytime.
    To anyone who has not done their own setup. Read the sticky thread and go for it. With patience you can do a better job than any store.
  9. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Funny you should say that. Honestly I think this is now the best set up bass I have... it's better than one I paid to have set up two weeks ago. I'm now going to go over that bass and all my basses and repeat exactly what I did to this Squier.
    Also going to do a full reset up on my Mandolin. I'm addicted LOL!
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Yep. Over the last 5 years, I have purchased three basses that the previous owners considered "scrap" because they were "unplayable." All three needed simple setups, then I sold them for a nice profit.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Good deal! You've just become the "go-to" guy when any gear runs afoul. Read the stickies, read the manuals....you'll be invaluable to any band project.

  12. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Congratulations! After many years of playing guitar and more recently bass, I've only just got over my irrational fear of DIY in the last month. I'd just bought a new cheap strat from eBay and decided I wasn't going to pay £30 any more for a setup, particularly if I wasn't going to keep the guitar. I read the Fender spec sheets, spent the tiny amount of money that I needed to on feeler gauges and a decent ruler, and set up a strat and a telecaster with no problems at all, other than a slightly stiff truss rod. Then I read Mike Tobias's recommended settings for my MTD Kingston Heir 5, tweaked the string height to eliminate fret buzz with my playing style, et voila!

    I don't know why it took me so long to get round to doing this - probably a fear that I'd permanently ruin a neck by adjusting the truss rod. I'm going to help my brother set his guitar up at the weekend and I'll take him through it step-by-step so he can see how easy it is.
  13. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
    Did my first the other day as well. First time that I have ever had a bass neck completely lose the relief. It happened at rehearsal and all notes on the bottom 3 frets fretted out. Called a tech to do a set up, got no answer. Went to the Stewart McDonald catalog and got the basic set up kit and did it myself. 1/4 turn of the truss rod nut and good as new. I almost paid a tech $35 to do that! Go to the Jerzy Drozd website and there is a free pdf down load, "The Ultimate Guide to Bass Set Up" - fantastic guide!
  14. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    You hit the nail on the head as to why I waited so long.
    Congrats on your first set up. Sounds like it went well!
  15. VicKevlar


    Apr 15, 2012
    Excellent! Isn't it amazing what a little know-how and a Youtube video can do for your instruments?

    I would definitely recommend the Lakeland videos stickied in the same thread you found the Fender setup guide. Carl Pedigo is the luthier and he has an excellent feel for the instrument. His videos helped me improve my setup skills beyond standard measurements to try and get the best results out of my instrument.

    Elixir also did a good video series with John Carruthers.

    I think folks are hesitant to try their first setup because every other post about it (not on TB) comes with an "adjusting the truss rod will cause your gear to explode if you aren't a certified luthier" warning.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thumbs up!
  17. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the tip! I will check the videos out. Yeah, even on the Fender site at the end of every instruction on how to do something it says "If you are not comfortable performing this type of work yourself please take the instrument to an authorized Fender Service Centre". That was almost enough to make me stop right there LOL!
  18. I had a similar epiphany myself recently, bought a Korean Squier jazz I wanted to restring to BEAD. I bought a cheap Gotoh bridge on ebay and enquired about getting it set up in a shop, was going to cost £40+ and more importantly leave me bass-less for 2 weeks!

    Did it myself, took a while to build up the confidence to adjust the truss rod but so glad I did, saved some cash and feel much more confident fixing issues myself :)

    Only negative is now I can't stop tinkering with it :D
  19. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    You say that like it's a bad thing :D;)
  20. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Way to go Mako!

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