Set up yourself or let a Pro do it?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by citizenchris099, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. I'm pretty new to bass and suffice to say I have a lot on my plate just learning to play the instrument let alone learning how to set up.
    in any case I don't really know anyone that could teach me set up so I take my instruments to a local shop and let the Pros handle set up. They are really cool and don't charge an arm and a leg (maybe just a pinky :smug: )
    So how many of you guys/gals take your instruments to a pro for set up?
    If you set up yourself how did you learn?
  2. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
  3. Learned how to do it myself. Start with truss rod, then action/intonation, etc. Saves you a decent amount of cash (and time) in the long run, and it's not that difficult really.
  4. I took the time to learn the essentials myself. Learning your instrument goes beyond just scales and arpeggios. I'm not an expert by any stretch but I can do a basic setup (action and intonation) by myself in about 30 - 45 minutes.

    These are two things that are needed because whenever you change strings the intonation will change slightly. The action of your bass is something that you are comfortable with and a setup guy won't know exactly what you like so you should have that knowledge to set your bass the way you like it.

    Read, experiment and find your comfort zone. It's what makes you a better musician.
  5. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    Get a pro setup at least once and watch what they do. It's usually money well spent.
  6. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    I got my first setup done professionally, but now I do it myself. It's pretty easy, and as you do it more, you'll find your sweet spot for the action, then you won't be happy with anyone else's setups.
  7. setting up a bass, and more importantly fine tuning it to your personal preference is key (to me).

    get yourself a String Action Gauge measuring ruler from and learn to do it yourself.

    read some of the "base" set up guids from Fender, Sadowsky, etc... and then fine tune it to how you like your own set up.

    i would never spend money for someone else to adjust my trussrod and stirng height/pickup height.
  8. Wannaflea


    Jun 7, 2011
    Jersey, CI
    Did this once and paid the guy a little extra to talk me through it, now I set up myself :)
  9. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    Their pretty much the only guys who are gonna teach you how to do it right first hand. Pay for one and duplicate the setup on another bass yourself to learn how. I mostly do my own but still pay for a setup about once a year or so.
  10. JxBass


    Aug 5, 2008
    I use Fender's setup guide on all my basses, whether Fender or not:

    FenderĀ® Support
  11. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Try and learn the basics adjustments: truss rod tweaking, intonation, saddle and pickup height. I usually will get a basic pro setup for around $40 on a new bass and then micro adjust the instrument to my liking. After that, it's usually just a matter of keeping the bass ship shape on my own using those adjustments.

    I have an excellent .pdf download from Jerzy Drozd that has a step by step guide to setups. It's around 4.5MB. If you want a copy just PM me with your email and I'll send it to you.
  12. TomA1234


    Jul 27, 2009
    Fareham, England
    I do all my set ups myself and am happy with it, I taught myself via the setup guides available on the internet and Youtube videos.
  13. I too used to just trust in the Luthier gods to make it right but it wasn't right, and having discovered this forum recently I've got a new found enthusiasm for becoming a better player and part of that I figured, was knowing my guitar better. So I had a crack at it......took a slight bow upwards out of the neck, lowered the action as low as it will go without any buzz, bearing in mind the curvature of the neck... (Fretless J Bass) and set intonation.
    Also gave the pots a good squirt with aerosol contact cleaner and worked them back and forwards a bit.
    It was fun, and now it's as slick as weasel sh*t. :cool:

    This site is awesome btw!
  14. Like most, I've just learned to do setups on my own. Once you know what you like, it's easy to dial it in.

    You may want to consider taking a class. There is a luthier in my area that offers classes in things like setup and electronics. Although I've done these things myself, I'm looking to learn from a pro luthier. I'm sure he knows more than me and I can learn a thing or two:)
  15. I also use Fender's set-up guide on all my basses. All you need for tools for MIM Fender basses are a 3/16" hex wrench for the truss rod, a 1/16" hex wrench for the saddle screws, #1 Phillips screwdriver for the saddle position, and a feeler gauge set for measuring the clearances.

    The proper hex wrenches should come with a new American Standard. Since Fender just discontinued providing a gigbag with MIM Standards, they may not be providing hex wrenches with them now, but they used to until recently.

  16. itsmecraigl

    itsmecraigl Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    Basic setups aren't too hard, especially if you use the resources that are mentioned. Just about every new bass I've seen (guitars, too) have the nut too high. Unless you know what you're doing, I'd let a pro do this. I've seen some nuts so high, playing an 'F' for example, will make it sharp, and may even cause the second fret to buzz. Nut filing/adjusting takes a while so most companies ignore this so they can save labor and get the instrument out the factory door.
  17. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Learn to do it yourself. Most basses come with the specs. you need as a starting point......and then you can get the way you want it.

    Plus, you can make little fine tune adjustments, to keep it where you want it that take 5 minutes instead of taking it to a shop and waiting for a couple of days.
  18. NML1986


    Feb 25, 2012
    Lincoln UK
  19. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass.

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Way back in '79 I took my bass to a tech in Cleveland, I had just moved there. My old tech (Dick Robinson) in Rochester NY was great. The guy in Cleveland totally screwed up my bass. From then on I did my own. Read, learn, do it yourself.
  20. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    My first bass teacher, one of my first lessons, he brought his toolkit, we took my bass completely apart (!!) and then put it back together again.

    It's essential to know basic setup skills, IMHO. What if your intonation is off, or the temperature changed and your action is unplayable, and you have a gig in an hour?

    For a beginner whose teacher doesn't know how to teach this stuff, I recommend getting a pro setup the first time (most shops will do this for free when you buy your bass) and then doing the ongoing maintenance yourself.