I just want to share some experiences as well as discuss things that can be done, without upgrading, to improve the playability and sound of your instrument...especially cheap basses. Why focus on cheap, mass produced instruments? Because, these are the ones that have the most out-of-the-box potential for improvement. I think that the following aspects are HUGE in affecting the playability and sound of a production bass, and are open for discussion in this thread. 1. Setup - action, intonation, and relief are a MUST for getting the instrument to a point of playability. I also believe that with production instruments there are definite limitations and it is important to reckognise this. However, I believe with most instruments, the proper amount of tweaking can yield quite impressive results. 2. Pickup adjustment - i believe that not enough focus is placed on getting the pickups raised to a position where the response is maximised without affecting the string vibration very much. IMO - Pickup adjustment has a HUGE effect on the tone of the instrument. 3. Selecting the right strings - Lets face it, production basses usually come with sub-par strings and these WILL get replaced quite quickly. But before one just slaps on some new strings, I think that the player should learn as much as he can from the strings that he already has. Things like: - Best gauge for the neck (more tension, less tension) - Best type to compliment pickups and playing style (round wounds, flats, chrome, nickel...etc...) I've had some great results setting up my Yamaha RBX170, by focusing on these things. I'd like to hear what approaches people here have taken to improve their instruments without capital investment. And most importantly, how satisfied are you with the results.