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New strings = setup?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Kipp Harrington, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. I feel embarrassed asking this question... is it necessary to set up a bass every time you put on a new set of strings? Especially if they are a different type. For instance, I am most likely switching out my Pro Steels to try out some Chromes. Going from rounds to flats, I'm assuming a setup would be in order. Thanks for any and all input.
  2. Mvilmany


    Mar 13, 2013
    Upstate NY
    New, no. Different, yes.

    Not a problem if you do your own setup.
  3. operagost


    Dec 13, 2017
    If they're the same gauges, you shouldn't have to do anything.

    Different gauges, you'll probably need to at least adjust the action, and that might in turn require an intonation adjustment.
  4. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I think the term set up can be scary. It's just a few adjustments. I remember paying an arm and a leg for it when I was a newb. It's easier than you think and kinda fun.
  5. Thanks Mvilmany. I was thinking that was probably the case. I have set it up once before and the last time I had a local store do it. The guy did a great job. Just wondering if I can do an equally good job.
    Mvilmany likes this.
  6. I agree with you, Gorn. And I have a Peterson StroboClip tuner. Guess I should put it to work!

    Not sure what gauge the Pro Steels were (ugh). Wonder if I can get the same gauge Chromes. I'll do a little research. Thanks for the response.
  7. Thanks operagost. I'm going to see if I can find the same gauge Chromes as the Pro Steels I have on now.
  8. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    You're definitely gonna need a set up switching to flats. Probably gonna need to tighten the truss rod. Probably gonna need to set the intonation. Probably gonna need to set the height at the saddles. There's not much more to it than that. You change the strings and play the bass. You'll see immediately what needs adjusting. The neck might shift a bit over a day or two and you can re adjust the truss rod as needed. Small turns. Little bitty moves. Just don't be ham handed and take your time.
  9. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The same gauge chromes will have higher tension than the same gauge pro steels. Lighter gauge flats will have similar tension to the rounds but it won't be exact and you'll still need a set up.
  10. jcerio

    jcerio Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    I always do a quick check of the neck relief, the string height, and the intonation after every string change if they are the same brand, type, and gauges. If I change any of these, I do a full setup. There are plenty of demonstration videos on Youtube and text w/picture tutorials elsewhere on the web. I've really learned a lot about dialing in my basses exactly as I like them. I'd recommend spending money on quality tools and get a good tuner. But the most important piece of advice I can give you is to TAKE YOUR TIME especially when it comes to adjusting the truss rod. A little goes a long way. It's a good idea to let things settle for a bit after a truss rod tweak and measuring the neck relief again.
    Element Zero likes this.
  11. Very good. I really appreciate the direction on this. I have a gig on November 21st and have been practicing a lot lately. I think I will wait until after the gig. The Pro Steels still sound good. Thanks again.
  12. Thanks for the advice, jcerio. I guess I will need feeler gauges to measure the neck relief. How long are we talking as far as letting things "settle a bit"?
  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Flats have metal where rounds don't - those little gaps in between the windings and core in a round wound string are filled with metal. Also, different strings use different alloys - different densities. The core diameter varies between sets - large cores mean more linear mass density on a string. And a .080 string isn't always exactly .080 - that's a nominal diameter, not a guaranteed one (the cross sectional area of a string is proportional to the diameter squared). More flexible strings might also vibrate more, meaning you'd need to change the set up to minimize additional clank. Net result is you shouldn't assume that the same gauge strings means they'll have the same tension, or need the same setup height. Even with the same string type and gauge, i find I need higher action when strings are new and clanky, and lower action when they settle in - a saddle height tweak is usually enough for this.

    Assume nothing - do a setup. Or, if the neck doesn't move, at least an action tweak.
  14. I typically let things sit overnight and double check everything the next day. Then, I check if things seem to have moved or seem to need it.
    jcerio likes this.
  15. Thanks for that comprehensive explanation. Sounds like there are many variables to consider regarding strings. Although I didn’t really understand much of what you explained, I appreciate you taking the time. I’ll do a complete setup. Thanks.
  16. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Yeah, as others have said - you should at least check your set up if you just put on another set of whatever strings you had before. And, I'd add; do whatever cleaning and maintenance you think is necessary while the strings are off. And, yes, as others have said; you might not need to do a setup if you go with a different brand/type/gauge of strings - but don't be surprised if you do. And finally; no, a basic set up isn't rocket science. Anyone with and more than 3 brain cells and normal motor skills, should be able to accomplish it quite nicely...:thumbsup:
  17. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Keep you empty string package in the case/gig bag. That does several things for you. It's a quick reference when buying new strings, It gives you something to store used strings in neatly. It is also a reference should you forget what strings you are using.
  18. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Exactly this.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I always write the date I installed a set on the empty package - that way, when I decide it's time to change them, I have an idea of how long they lasted (especially tough to remember if you have multiple basses)- a set that lasts 3 months I'll probably not buy again, a set that lasts a year - sure. And I also put a spare set in the case/gig bag.
  20. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Personally, I would never use any clip-on tuner for making precise, or even not so precise, intonation adjustments. No matter how good one may be (the Stroboclip is the best out there) clip-ons just aren't accurate enough given how they work.

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