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uncomfortable bass set-up

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by torza, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. torza


    Sep 20, 2005
    hey all...
    well i just got my fender p bass set up. the neck is straight and the A and D strings feel WONDERFUL. however... the E and G strings are set up kind of strange. the saddles curve with the neck and pick ups, whereas the A and D string saddles are straight. i'm very picky about how my bass feels, and something about the tension and playablity of those strings just feels "off". and the E string is set much lower than the A string (i prefer that the E is the highest and the other strings gradually get lower).
    i know i should have checked the bass out before i left the tech, but i was in a hurry. is this a common way to set up a bass? isn't it that the E should be the highest because it needs more room to resonate over the pick ups? and why are the saddles curving? this is the weirdest bass set up i ever got. anyways.. cheers..
  2. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    If you don't like it take it back, or adjust it yourself. Some tech's set strings to follow the curve of the pickups, others stack the strings like you prefer. Sounds like to get your intonation the tech changed the "length" of the string under tension by moving the saddle forward.

    There's a fine line between feel and sound when it comes to tech work, at least in my experience.

    Good luck anyway.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I dont see why you would take it back. Everything he is experiencing is easily adjustable.
  4. I agree. Since your A and D strings feel good, work from there. Raise your E string just a touch by adjusting the saddles up. If that saddle is slanted at an angle (some people adjust like this when following the fingerboard curve), you might just want to start by raising the low side to make the saddle level. Tune that string up, and play it. How does it feel?
    Same thing on your G... (note that I left out "string".. I almost goofed!).

    I sometimes use a light, straight little straight-edge to lay across the top of my strings very near the bridge, just to get a better idea of how even they are to one and other. Of course this helps level the TOPS of the strings, not the bottom, but it's a helper.
    The saddles do not have to be slanted to follow a fretboard's curvature/radius. They can be level ( I prefer this), just set at different heights.

    Note: Depending on how far you moved any of the strings, you may have to make a slight pickup adjustment, especially if your tech took the time to fine adjust them according to HIS setup. No biggie, easy to do, but play and listen to the bass before you start adjusting pickups. They might be just fine where there are.

    Good luck..

  5. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Following the fingerboard curve is actually the correct thing to do, though. If you dont like it, change it, but technically speaking it is correct.
  6. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I may be wrong on this, but can't you follow the curve of the fretboard without angling the saddle? I mean, when you raise and lower the saddle from one side only, what's happening is that you're really increasing the distance of the space between the strings while marginally raising the actual string distance to the fretboard.

    So, if you want to follow the natural curve of the fretboard, all you really have to do is keep the outer strings lower than the inner strings. You can achieve this and still keep the saddles themselves level.

    But then again each person's preference is different. I've never gotten a bass from a shop that I didn't have to intone/check relief/set action on.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Your instrument isn't set up properly until it is right for YOU. Don't get hung up on ideas - such as that the string heights should follow the curve of the fingerboard, or that the relief should be about the thickness of a business card. These are ideas, concepts, guidelines. They aren't truths. The only truth is when the instrument plays as closely as possible to the way you want it to. If the person that sets up your instrument doesn't spend time with you questioning your preferences and watching you play, then you will surely get something less than your "truth".

    There's a problem here though - so many players complain about the cost of a good setup. But to do it right requires time, experienced observation, and some critical knowledge. And in the end, it's not a one-shot deal. It's a case of "here's what I think you want from watching you play and listening to your wishes - now go and try it for a week or two and come back for adjustments". In my shop, the second, third, fourth (whatever) visit is part of the initial setup price until we get it right. Then the critical measurements are recorded so the instrument can be set up exactly the same way later. No it's not cheap, but you won't ever be left feeling that something isn't quite right.
  8. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    That is how i set up my basses. None of my saddles are on a tilt. They are all level, just at different levels.
  9. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    My mistake. I misread his post, and thought that his saddles were angled and that you said that it was correct that way. But, upon further review, he was talking about the string itself being lower. Sorry about that! :D