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What's your recipe for setting up a jazz bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by u84six, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    Lately, I've been struggling with string volume on a 4 string Jazz, which prompted me to open up this thread:


    After some good advice, I didn't really fix the problem. So I decided to contact the manufacturer of the bass and ask them about the issue. They told me that they've never experienced an issue like that with this particular bass. So then I followed up and asked them how they setup these basses. The response I got was that the setup should be like this:

    Bridge Pickup - 4mm from pole-piece to bottom of E and G strings, A and D gets 5mm.
    Neck Pickup - 5mm from pole-piece to bottom of E and G strings, A and D gets 6mm.

    Well since I messed with the pickups so much (bass side is way lower than treble side for both), I'll need to start from scratch and do it right. I'm wondering how other people set up their Jazz bass. I'm starting off with both pickups as high as they go (towards the strings), and not sure what to do with the bridge saddles. I like my string height to be a bit lower than most. So how can I do this right? What are the steps that you all take when setting up a Jazz bass from scratch?

    I know right off that my pickups are too high because the strings touch them while I play. How much lower should they go for both bass and treble sides of each pickup? Then do I adjust the string height last or first? Also, does neck relief come into play here? The neck seems fine, but it definitely does affect string height to some degree.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
  2. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    Are your strings setup for correct height from the frets? do that first.

    Go to Fender.com search bass setup. It's all there. Subject to personal taste.

    My link is for the Aus site so might not work for you


    see if this works http://fender.com/support/articles/bass-guitar-setup-guide/

    but yes, set the string height first,some players like a low action ,some high, up to you. Then do the pickup height. Let us know how you go.
  3. ptensioned


    Jan 12, 2013
    Hamilton, ON
    It sounds to me like you may be setting your pickup height without fretting. I was always taught to fret the highest fret for pickup baseline measurement.

    That said, setting the pups should be the last adjustment you make, only after the neck, bridge and even the nut are set where you want them. I've always done a setup in the following order: nut, neck relief, string height at bridge, intonation, check string height again (and then intonation again until both are right), THEN pickup height. The Fender guide is a great resource for a solid baseline, then modify to taste (lower action for those of lighter touch, etc.)

    One other thing is to always set pickup height by ear. Every pickup is slightly different, different strings, etc. use the numbers provided as a starting point, then adjust to what sounds best. Also, closer doesn't always equal louder.

    PS - I'm a rank amateur at this. If someone with actual knowledge contradicts what I say, go with them.
  4. I suspect the good advice has already been offered. Last thing is to change pickups. I have had poor pickups before, where pickup height really made no difference. Replaced them with really hot ones that growl all day everyday and twice on Sundays. Was it worth it? Maybe not. Sometimes a Jazz is just meant to be subtle.
  5. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    Well, I tried and the volume is still loud on E and G, soft on A and D. So frustrating. The string height is just the way I like them, but it's impossible for me to get balanced volume with the manufacturer's recommended specs. It's way off! Can someone post a pick of their Jazz bass and show me a close up of their pickups? I'd like to see how they're angled.
  6. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    This has to be one of the most useless videos I've ever seen.

  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Following neck arc and different string masses are the culprit. Pickups are flat as you know. There's always a trade off if you can't adjust pole height on the pickup. You either live with it or flatten your string radius. Having a perfect radius match strings to fretboard isn't critical to playability.

    In your case if the volume diff is that bad, you are going to have to compromise and raise your E a mm to match the A and D volume. Raise your G a half a mm.

    Alternatively lower the A and D to match if you can without buzzing.

    Or split the difference raising E, G and lower A D.

    That video isn't useless, it is pointing out a totally different issue than you have.
  8. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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