Setting up my bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Kickstand Davis, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. I have played guitar for 9 years and bass for 2, but have yet to ever set up an instrument or have it set up. But I've had a glaring issue for the past few months. I have an LTD Viper-54, and with my ignorance, thought it would be okay to switch it to heavy gauge strings without having it set up to accommodate. The action on my bass is RIDICULOUSLY high now. I've still been using it live, but it's definitely a challenge. How do I go about fixing this problem myself without messing up my only bass?
  2. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    If you've never done it before I wouldn't start with my only bass. Either switch back to your previous gauge strings, or take it to a qualified tech. Shouldn't be more than $50.
  3. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    Actually it's not that difficult to set up your bass. You need to adjust the truss rod and the saddles - neck relief, strings height and intonation. Search on TB or the net and you will find tutorials of all kind. In its simplest form a decent set up is quite straightforward and being able to adjust your instrument to your own style it's a great feeling. Take it easy and slow and there's no way you can damage your bass.

    ps: Learning how to set up your bass makes you understand it better which in turn makes you a better bassist. Really.
  4. Detune the strings, take off truss rod cover, make sure you have the proper tool for the trussrod, its usually a hex head). Turn the rod about a 1/3 to 1/2 rotation to the right. Retune the strings and check the neck for any more forward bow. If it needs more adjustment repeat above. Once the neck is straight or with a slight forward bow, then adjust the saddles heights to your preference and then intonate. Some steps may need to be repeated. I try to match the saddles radius to the neck radius. When tightening the truss rod, if it won't turn any more, STOP, take to repair man.
  5. JPBourdier


    Jan 2, 2011
    Texas - DFW
    ps: Learning how to set up your bass makes you understand it better which in turn makes you a better bassist. Really.[/QUOTE]

    True! I was afraid I'd damage my bass in the process of setting it up. I watched several videos on YouTube and read the setup threads here. I now feel confident about setting up basses, intonation on my basses is better, and I've picked up some new techniques because I understand the anatomy and physiology of the instrument. It is actually fun to give a bass a good thorough setup.
  6. The only "dangerous" thing about a setup is the truss rod. Watch several Tutorials on YouTube and go to online Sites like Fender, Sadowsky and others before adjusting the truss rod. Some Truss rod nuts are rusted and difficult to turn and may break the rod if done improperly. Other than that, there is nothing difficult about a setup. But, it is a procedure and needs to be done in the proper sequence
  7. And don't forget (though some may not agree - this seems more like debating religion): many advocate allowing the neck to "settle in" after a truss rod adjustment. Personally, I won't go more than about 1/4, *maybe* 1/2 turn on a truss rod in a single day. Once I make a slight adjustment, I play it, let it set in overnight, and if it's still not the way I want it the next day, I repeat the process. I don't really know if this is totally necessary, but it is wood we're working with, and wood does need to settle a bit when forces are applied to it.

    Just my $0.02.