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Set up from a retailer

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mechanical, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Why is set up so poor these days?

    I've ordered a couple of basses from Reverb and big box stores.

    From the Mom and Pop shops, you might expect a better level of expertise and care than the big stores...but it's equally awful. You name it, it's a problem on every single bass I've bought in the last year or so. It's not like I have this specific preference for my setup, and I don't think any of you would be comfortable for the way these arrive.

    I've had the experience of opening the case on a bass, tuning it up, and have it be very close to perfect. But those days seem long gone.
    lowendrachel and StrangerBasses like this.
  2. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    Why not learn how to set up an instrument to your tastes, rather than hope it turns up and plays reasonably? It’s quite easy, really. I couldn’t give a damn how an instrument arrives once everything works. I know how I like my instruments to play and it’s the second thing I do with any new arrival - the first is strip snd clean the previous owner’s biocrud :thumbsup:
    BassikLee, Amajew, madbass6 and 22 others like this.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I don't wanna play a bass that's set up for someone else.
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I know my local GC does no setup at all, they just unbox them and hang one on the wall. I guess it’s the trade off for low prices, but it can’t help to sell basses if your first impression of an unfamiliar instrument is a sky-high Action. I have a mom n’ pop nearby that seems to do some setup, but they are a little shady, I’ve been burned a couple times, so I avoid them. Tight profit margins and poorly trained and paid staff, waddya expect?
    cchorney, Aqualung60, micbass and 2 others like this.
  5. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    I was looking for a American Standard P a couple of years ago. Tried some at the local mom and pops and didn't like any of them. Guitar Center was my last stop and they had one on hold for me. I don't think the bass had never been out in the store, they had it behind the counter and it still had plastic covers on the tuners. I was very pleasantly surprised that it was set up almost perfect.
    Took it home, put some half rounds on it and tweaked the intonation a little bit. That was all it needed. I still love that bass.
    lowendrachel and Mechanical like this.
  6. The thing is, everybody likes a different setup. I like the action so low that a lot of people can't play my basses. Others like it high so they can dig in. What do you expect? That it will be setup perfectly for you? There are hundreds of vids on youtube... do it yourself, it's not brain surgery.
  7. I have never depended upon anyone but me to know how I like my basses set up, therefore it has never been a surprise to me when a new bass was set up "poorly." The only cosmically rare surprises have been when they are set up what I would call "well."

    For this reason, almost every man-on-the-street report here and elsewhere about how a bass plays must be perceived most skeptically.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    Garret Graves likes this.
  8. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Who should stores be setting up basses for? They get it strung and more or less intonated. What else should they do? Set the action to my preference? To someone else's? Or should they take gauges to each and every bass and set it to the manufacturer's specs? That wouldn't necessarily appease most potential buyers. You pick up the bass. You see if you like the general shape and sound. That's as much information as you're gonna get until you set it up how you want with the strings that you want playing through your rig. A bass set up for someone else doesn't help sell it, not for me anyway.
  9. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    A store SHOULD get intonated, and do a reasonable job so it is playable - not to your specs. If you buy it, I would think a better setup should be part of the price.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The first question is what do YOU call a "good setup"?
  11. +1

    And this is why

    1) Leo made them adjustable, and

    2) The end user needs to figure out (or communicate to someone qualified) how to adjust their own instrument, same as their car seat, hat band, suspenders, etc.
    M.R. Ogle and Aqualung60 like this.
  12. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    No, but every time it will fit properly around your neck without a tailor. I went to a GC recently, and picked up several basses where you literally could not get an audible note above the seventh fret because the neck was so bad.
    backin82, faceless_master and jhb138 like this.
  13. Right, bad example, see my edited post for better examples.

    IME, it's pretty rare you can't get the fretboard to sound further up, and pretty rare that many basses are that locked up and unplayable. Almost without fail, I can tell how I'll feel about the bass with my set up, string choice, and rig.

    And you always have the option of asking a sales guy to take a hex wrench to it and give it a twist. But this thread is obviously directed at people who expect a bass to play "well" out of the box or off the rack. Sorry folks, that's not realistic.
    mcnach, songwriter21 and Aqualung60 like this.
  14. dxb


    Dec 25, 2016
    A few new guitars and basses I've bought have been set up by the manufacturer (at least according to the sticker) but I don't recall having any set up by a retailer. I mostly mail order though and I know there wasn't any setup work done because the original shipping boxes were sealed.

    That said, I can't remember getting anything- cheap or expensive- with a truly horrible setup. About half needed intonation or the nut adjusted, but the others were ready to go out of the box. I always lower the action but that's just a personal preference.
    mcnach and electracoyote like this.
  15. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Yah that stinks. But that's beyond a bad set up. That's neglected and stores should do something.
  16. Same here. I own over 100 guitars and basses, have bought and sold at least that many, and all have initially been at least playable enough for me to get a fairly accurate idea how it would play and sound with my personal preferences applied.

    And remember: You always have the option of telling the sales person that you are interested in a bass but it is so locked up and unplayable you can't assess it with any degree of accuracy. Then it's on the staff to take action (if you are correct and it really is that bad).
    dxb likes this.
  17. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    Sounds like you are both on the same page. Shocking! :eek: :)
    Both good points, who knows how each person wants their bass set up? It can differ from person to and bass to bass. I start with factory specs and usually tweak further from there.
    Maybe stores should set up basses with factory specs. It may not be what we all want but at least we will have a standard set up as a starting point.
  18. My wife ordered my Stiletto Elite after I played it in-store at a GC. It was not set up very well, but it was playable. Okay, but not great. I fixed that. The Stiletto Studio I ordered from Musician's Friend was actually awesome right out of the box. Made very, very minor intonation adjustments and put flatwounds on it, but action was great.

    The GC is Boise, which is the nearest to me, is hit and miss. The service is...indifferent. Not bad, just indifferent. But setup seems fairly uh...okay, I guess on display guitars. Never any damn picks though.

    The last couple times I bought guitar from a local place, they still had a really great guitar tech on site. I think they've gotten back to that recently, but the setup on my LTD H-302 and my Damien were both really good. Guy's name was Sal, I remember. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe the owner was as much of a crank to work for as to buy from -.-
    Mechanical likes this.
  19. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Every time I go to the GC's around here, at one bass is in that state. Either strings hitting the frets or action at least twice manufacturers specs. If I were super interested, I'd ask them to fix it, but it's pathetic to have to beg them to do their job.
    Lvjoebass likes this.
  20. Uh, what's in the actual manual. There are such things. You should read one.

    Like I said, if one is spending good money on an instrument, it should be close to good. I've bought instruments before that have been shipped and nearly right out of the box are perfect. From my Squier Mustang to an Ibanez BTB570 to my Carvin PB4.

    I can do a setup; I am quite mechanically inclined (hence my nick). But when an instrument will take about an hour or so of adjustments, I think that is egregious.
    bfields and backin82 like this.

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