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Setup ???

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by HotRoded, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. HotRoded


    Jun 6, 2003
    I recently fell in love with the double bass (I played bluegrass once!) and have already spent quite some time reading various topics. I plan to get a double bass now.

    Here's my question, and you will soon notice I don't much about double bass:

    what does setting up a double bass consist in?

    I guess the action has to be adjusted by working on the high of the nut and the bridge? Since they are not adjustable (at least the nut) is it a one time job that last for so many years?

    Anything else needs to be adjusted?

    Do you do your own setup, or systematically bring your DB to a luthier?
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    If you have to ask, take it to someone that doesn't!

    Only a Bass specialist can do the job correctly. There is much more to it than Nut and Bridge. Over time, you will learn more about the DB and maybe be able to do some of the easier things yourself, but even then cutting or going inside the Bass yourself is not a good idea.
  3. HotRoded


    Jun 6, 2003
    My question was not "how to" but "what". I don't even have a double bass anyway.

    If the answer is "bring it to someone who knows", then you're right, I should have guessed and didn't need to ask.
  4. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    No sweat. Its part of the learning.

    As someone who has gotten to the point where I can intonate a bridge and make neck adjustments on an electric, and even assemled a custom, there is no way I would even attempt working on an upright. First of all, as you have guessed there are very few "adjustments" that don't involve irreversible removing of wood. Lots of planing and filing.

    And I'm sure you've summized that in the upright world the set-up is everything. It can make a cheapo play great or the world's best unplayable.

    So, step one in considering getting an upright: finding a local luthier that works on them.

    The newbie links are also chocked full of good info.

    Best advice I got from them was to get a teacher. Has made a world of difference.

  5. First let me say I'm not a luither, I'm just a guy who has a slight idea of the magic a luither does when you get a bass set-up. Let me also say I myself never do my own set-up (i'm not foolish enough), neither do any of the bassists I know.
    Basically a set up consists of having your fingerboard plained putting a scoop in the board do prevent the strings from buzzing (similar to adjusting the truss rod on an electric bass, but there is no truss rod on a DB the wood of the fingerboard has to be shaped with a plain). Second, the nut has to shaped to bring the strings closer to the board, or you may need a new nut to raise the strings up. Third the bridge need to be cut to fit the new board and nut, usually DBs have adjusters in the bridge to raise or lower the string height (if the bridge doesn't you may want to consider having them installed). The sound post may also need adjusting, the tailpeice may need a new tail gut (or cable). It's a pretty big process and can add some money to the cost of a bass you purchase, so you should consider buying a bass in the best condition possible and from a good luither. At all costs AVOID stores like Sam Ash or any other mega music stores that may have inexpesnsive DBs, those places don't offer any set-up and once you walk out the door with your bass you're on your own.

    If I missed something or made an error, please remember I'm not a luither or even claim to know more than anybody else. I just hate it when someone asks a simple question and gets "see a professional!" in response.
  6. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003

    You're right to get educated on what a "set up" entails. Luthiers, like doctors and auto mechanics, can vary in professional opinion and in degrees of competence. It's wise not to trust your body, your car, or your expensive instrument to one without at least a thumbnail education of what to expect.
  7. HotRoded


    Jun 6, 2003
    Thanks very Mike and also thanks Fish Slapper, for taking the time to explain.

    I know a guy who can help me in my research (I would like to buy a used one) but he is not right in my neck of the wood, so I also want to be able to see by myself.
  8. I would recomend trying to find someone on this site in your area and ask them where they got their bass. You should also google luthiers in your area. I'd say go and play basses, even ones you can't afford just to see what's out there. Plus you may want to contact a DB teacher and start lessons, explain to him your situation and tell him you'd like assistance looking for a bass. You'll be surprised at the help you could recieve.
  9. Here's a guy in your area - John Lamoine, 202-528-2918
    He is the repair guy for the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and the Washington Opera.