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Starting out as a bass tech / repair guy

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by MichiBass, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. Dear TBers,

    I posted this also in the setup / repair forum.

    My name is Michi and I'm almost 22. I started playing bass over 4 years ago. I have the 4th bass right now and I noticed that I really like to set up / repair my basses on my own. Once I had a Yamaha RBX 375 with a faulty neck (action was at minimum at the bridge and strings were still to high - needed neck shimming) and I took her to a repairman in my town to set her up completly. When I got her back she was very shiny, smelled good (lemon oil) but the problem was still there, the repairman didn't removed the neck to try to reduce the neck/body angle... I payed like 20-30 $ for some polishing...
    I sold the bass and ordered a Fender Jazz (that I have now for almost 2 years) and borrowed a backup cheapo bass (P-Bass copy) which was horrible. I took her apart, cleaned her, set her up and she played very nice. Then I realised that a good setup job brings the instrument to another level.
    Last month I decided to (maybe) start out as a bass tech (setup/repair-guy). I read a book called "Guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlewine and that book answered me a lot of questions.
    Now I'm asking you guys, what should I do next? What did YOU do when you were starting out as a tech?
    That's what I thought about:

    1. Set up / repair (minor repairs only, of course) as many basses as I can get. I get a used bass next week, a cheap 6 stringer. I can't wait to take it apart, clean it, set it up and maybe change the electronics to passive.
    2. Read some books. What books? Can you reccomend me some books for setup / minor repairs or something, or is the book "Guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlewine the best I could read?
    3. Buy tools. Actually I have no tools right now, only screwdriwers, allen wrenches and a cheap tuner. What should I buy next? What is absolutely necessary? I think a straightedge, a set of feeler gauges, steel wool, files etc. Do I need a strobe tuner? Or is a good tuner like the Korg DT 10 enough? I've seen a nice Peterson Strobe Flip. Is that the best tuner I can get? I don't want to buy the rack version, because it's so expensive.

    Can you give me some other tips? What did you do / bought when you were staring out? What tools do you have right now and what tools do you use most often? Is there a "reference book" which is like the holy grail of all repairmen? All tips are welcome.

    I noticed that website www.stewmac.com There's a lot of tools and stuff. Can you link me what do I need to buy from there?

    Thanx a lot guys.


    P.S. Should I start to learn to set up also guitars? Or should I stay only on bass? Setting up guitars may be a little bit easier, because of the more stable and short neck (that's what I read in the book listed above), but I'm afraid of those tremolos...
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    My recommendation would be to find a local guitar repair shop and see if they would let you help out... might net you a part time job, and would give you experience, which is crucial.

    Find a local luthier and offer to sweep up his shop in exchange for some "in-depth" instrument setup advice/instruction. The worst anybody can say is no, and most luthiers are pretty friendly, and willing to give some pointers, at least they are in my experience.
  3. I'm gonna try this, but there are no repair shops in my town, only guitar stores...
  4. i don't think that those strobe tuners are so terrifically better than you standard $20 tuner for your purposes.
  5. just so you know....dont be afraid of guitars with tremolos.....you might run into a bass with a tremolo one day :).
  6. Just keep setting up basses and guitars. Have fun with your first floyd rose bridge, I know I did.

  7. throbgod13


    Mar 26, 2005
    i think it would be a good investment (a strobe tuner), if you intend on repair/setups..

    the pocket tuner is only so accurate..
  8. throbgod13


    Mar 26, 2005
    finding a shop that will allow you to work/learn is very important.. there are alot of good sources of info on the net for repair and setup..
  9. Evo 911

    Evo 911

    May 18, 2007
    Yea that Dan Erlewine book is pretty much the Bible of DIY repair & setup. He has abt 4 DVD sets too in which he actually shows all the things written in the book and some more. Now Dan Erlewine was an employee at Stewart Macdonald (stewmac.com) as far as I remember, so u see a lot of references to tools available at that site. And those products are actually pretty good. Its a very useful site for tools & stuff. Keep it handy. I remember Dan has given a list of basic tools u will need for the work written in the book. Look it up, its in there. Get the ones u think u will need, and get started.

    U know its scary how much we are alike. I have a Yamaha RBX 375, which has EXACTLY the same problem as u. Action is too high with bridge adjusted to its lowest. Now there are no repairmen in my city as far as I know (Im from Pakistan btw), so I had to do the setup myself. Got online, and started reading up everything i cud find abt setting up instruments. Finally I stumbled upon this book, having read so much about it in many other forums. So I started reading up on the subject, and today I set up all mine & my friends' electrics, acoustics, Floyd Rose bridges, and basses myself. I even read up a fat lot abt luthiery too, bt thats another story.

    If u take my word, read up some more from other resources before setting out as a setup guy. And dont just stick to basses. Electric guitars are not that far off the topic, and they are not that hard to work on once u have grabbed the basic idea of operation. Acoustics are quite complex to work with, and would not recommend getting into unless u want to take up the job as ur profession.

    Now get some absolutely necessary basic tools and start working on friends' instruments, as u say there are no setup guyz in ur neighbourhood to guide u through. Go to those guitar shops u mentioned and offer them to set up their instruments for free or a little price. But u'll need to show them a couple of instruments u have set up b4 they will let u touch their inventory. U get experience, and they get cheap setups. Win win situation. Once u think u have fixed enough instruments and u want to take it a step further, start up the business. As u say there are no setup guyz in town, ur business shud be working mighty fine in a matter of days. Better start making a GAS list!
  10. BUMP
  11. Before that, he was with a pretty well known guitar manufacturer, you may have heard of them.


  12. Hey guys, I got a new set of feeler gauges, and I love to work with them.

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