Need some guidance on getting started/setting up my first bass.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by UsableCone, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. UsableCone


    Mar 3, 2018
    Just decided to start learning to play bass. I have ordered an ESP LTD B55. My wife plays an ESP LTD guitar and loves it, so I'm not concerned about that. However she has a much nicer model than the B55. I don't have a lot of info on the bass. I know it comes with ESP's passive pickups. I was thinking about changing the pickups to an active set. Thing is, I'm in a weird situation. I work in Iraq and mail takes quite some time. I might not even get my bass for four months. The real question is, do I have my wife get the passive pickups changed to active before I get her to try to send it out here or do I get it sent out here and then end up waiting another month or two after deciding I want new pickups? Any other newbie bass advice would be greatly appreciated, including links to articles and recommended videos.
  2. flojob

    flojob Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    Keep what's in it. Honestly, if you're just starting out, you're going to have fun just playing. Plus you'll get it quicker.
    Also just have her either set it up for you or take it to a tech.
    Thisguy, shodan, Jokei and 2 others like this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Lots of us have been happy with passive pickups playing for decades (over 35 years here), including Jamerson, Jaco, etc.. Wait, and play what you have before deciding if you need to change anything.
    hrodbert696 and justbass57 like this.
  4. UsableCone


    Mar 3, 2018
    I appreciate the quick responses. I'm just going to have her take it to get setup and then ship it out. Hopefully it doesn't get turned around like the first bass that I ordered.
    saabfender likes this.
  5. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    It'll be fine. It's a bass guitar, not a Lamborarri.
    Chico Ruger likes this.
  6. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    get the PUs sent with the bass for those options later or sell them.
  7. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    It's not a bad bass at all if set up correctly but realize that it'll probably need a set up once it gets there due to climate changes, humidity etc. Probably will require a simple truss rod tweak so I would watch some videos on how to do it yourself, pretty easy to do. Passive basses/active basses - they're both good, I actually prefer passive basses myself. Most "active" basses you see, actually use passive pickups and active electronics (preamp).
    foolforthecity likes this.
  8. UsableCone


    Mar 3, 2018
    That's probably the biggest challenge for me. I'm a car guy and am learning it's more about feel with instruments than numbers.
  9. C_Becker


    Mar 30, 2017
    I have a B-55. Its a really well made bass, and the pickups are decent.
    Not great, but not total poopiee either. Good enough for starting out for sure, until you figure out where you want to go with your bass tone.

    Problem with swapping out pickups is that this bass in particular uses a standard 4-string sized P-Bass pickup and a neck sized 5-string jazz. So keep that in mind when buying new pickups.

    I had some problems with finding the right pickups, take a look at this thread for some more info or PM me if you have any other questions
    DiMarzio Split P with QP Jazz ? (also SPB-3 vs Split P)

    As for setup, this thread is incredibly helpful:
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  10. foolforthecity

    foolforthecity Supporting Member

    Anybody where you are at play bass? If so, are they reasonably advanced, enough that you could hang out and benefit from their experience at all?
  11. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    When setting up a bass, you can start with numbers to get it perfectly on spec, and then use feel to screw it up beyond hope. So as long as you have feeler gauges and the factory setup guide, you’ll be as lost as the rest of us in no time.
    Thisguy, tfer and Zos Kia Cultus like this.
  12. Snakeman1066

    Snakeman1066 Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Central Valley
    ESP/LTD makes great instruments across all price points...the bass you chose is miles above my first bass back in the 70's

    this link is a great resource check it out...

  13. This is a fine, 4-part setup video collection (#1 here, just use yootoob's search for 2-4). I learned a lot from it many years ago and it's still relevant. As mentioned, the changes in allsorts will probably require a tweak but let it get used to where it is first. In fact, given the pretty dramatic change it'll experience, I'd ask for a tech to set it up for transit, rather than play-out-of-the-box.
    Anyhoo, worth watching even if it makes you want to find someone on base (no pun) who's more comfortable doing it for you.
    Thisguy and C_Becker like this.
  14. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    A fine bass. I wouldnt change it this early. Plus you’re in Iraq, passive pickups just work. The wiring is dead simple inside as well. Easy to work with or fix if you’re so inclined or something breaks.

    You may need to set it up when it settles in iraq for awhile. Humidity levels can change the neck somewhat.

    Setting up a bass does have some mechanics and measuring involved. You can use automotive feeler gauges for measuring when setting string height or setting the truss rod.

    The truss rod bows the neck backward as you tighten it down—it’s for adjusting the neck straight or with slight forward bow, to taste. However some standard numbers exist for reference. Check your bass manual.

    Truss rods typically need an Allen wrench for adjustment. Otherwise you can get by with a screwdriver set, a tuner, and those feeler gauges. A capo can help too when setting the truss by measurement using the feeler gauges, however you can use anything that will hold the strings down against the fretboard for that.

    The intonation is a bit harder but you just need a tuner for that part. I’d watch some videos on YouTube about what to do for this piece.

    However if your wife has it set up before shipping to you I suspect the most that would be required is a small truss rod adjustment once you get it and it settles for a week.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  15. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    If you cant even play the thing yet take a step back and stop worrying about modding. Dont put the cart before the horse. Learn how to play, then change things on the instrument if they need it later on.

    You're really wasting time modding that you could have spent actually practicing. So you'll end up with a modded bass that you still cant play. Seems to be a lot of "players" here that love to mod and tinker but can't really play. Don't become one of them!
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  16. inthevelvet

    inthevelvet Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Washington DC
    I agree with what everyone said so far regarding waiting on mods. At this point, would be hard to even know what to change to, since you don’t even really know what your final goals are and what if anything your bass lacks. To put it into car terms-if someone had never driven a car before and ordered a new camaro with the V8, would you advise them to send it to the speed shop for mods before they even learned to drive it?
  17. UsableCone


    Mar 3, 2018
    Thank you everyone. I'm going to leave it be for now. I'm going to put my energy into learning as much as I can about playing before it gets here instead of worrying about modding. If anyone has any recommendations for online lessons, free or not, I would greatly appreciate it because no one where I am plays bass that I know of so I'm limited to online.
  18. This thread is live, Cone:
    Starting Bass

    Some great tips and links can be read there.
  19. UsableCone


    Mar 3, 2018
    Perfect. Thanks again.
    1bassleft likes this.
  20. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Inactive

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    My friend, I have to tell you that you guys have made a deceptively good choice for a first 5 string! I would put it up against any other entry level 5 on the market, and possibly even some mid rangers. It feels great, it really does.
    It was my first fiver and it has become my go-to bass.
    The stock pickups are actually good - they are ESP's take on EMG's. I ended up dropping a set of Lace Man-o-War in mine and having it wired stereo (can flick back to mono via a switch) but apart from that, chrome knobs (I got the black on black model), a nasty ding and some belt buckle scrapes, she's just like she was in the factory. No need to change much at all.

    This is me loving every moment of her.
    C_Becker likes this.