Will a great setup seal the deal for you?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by chubfarm2001, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. chubfarm2001

    chubfarm2001 Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2010
    St. Marys, Ohio
    I was at a Sam Ash in Columbus the other week and I was really excited to see they had a bass I have been really wanting to try out. Well the sales man gets it down for me, really nice guy, and as soon as he hands it to me I am completely turned off. The action was insanely high. I tried playing it and it just wasn't happening. This is a fairly expensive bass, too, (Fender Am jazz D V) brand new.I have played some older ones and I really liked them, and from what I gather on here, the new ones are top notch. I would think they would put the time and a little coin into a good setup on more expensive basses, if not all of them. maybe not even any coin, just a guy to give it some attention (there always seems to be someone standing around) The setup doesn't have to be perfect, but at least in the realm of decent. I was completely sold by a setup a few years back. I tried an Ibanez BTB 1206 one time, not really looking to buy but just wasting time, and the setup was so impressive, I couldn't put it down, and I went home with it. (I still love it.) Has anyone else felt this way?
  2. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Endorsing Artist: Regenerate Guitar Works, Honey Badger Pickups, Westone Audio
    No. I can get around setup issues, no matter how bad they are.

    If the bass *sounds* really good - with all the acoustic resonance and amplified qualities I'm looking for, and if the ergonomics and balance is all there for me, then setup is the last thing I'd be concerned with.

    Who cares how it plays in the store if it doesn't sound perfect?
  3. For me, the setup on a bass can definitely make a difference. I understand that places like Guitar Center (or in this case Sam Ash) don't always have the time to do setups on every bass. However, it was so bad at one local GC that I finally mentioned it to a clerk, because I had to struggle to find ANY playable bass. Most had setups so horrible that the strings were 3/16" to 1/4" off the fretboard. The clerk actually had the tenacity to look me straight in the eye and say that they came from the factory that way. :rollno: I just don't believe you're going to get a true sense of playability with a setup that bad.

    This is just one of a variety of reasons that I don't go to that particular GC any more. Fortunately, it's my usual store, it just happened to be close to where I used to work. With stores like that, my suggestion is that if you find a bass you're remotely interested in, give it a quick play regardless of action to get a basic idea of things like sound and build quality, then either tell them that you want one that's been unopened, or order from someplace like Musicians Friend... Someplace that has a good return policy. The bass you'll get will always have a better setup than the one you played in the shop. At least that's been my experience three times now.

  4. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    This is one good reason to learn to do set up. By knowing how to do it, you gain a good understanding of what can and what cannot be adjusted. Knowing this allows me to discount set up issues and concentrate on inherent qualities of the specific instrument.

  5. sprag


    Sep 15, 2011
    Melb Australia
    Most car yards have someone wash the cars, its the same thing. Even if 80% of serious customers don't mind a dodgy set up thats still 20% walking out the door without a sale
  6. +1

    I know how to do setups, so I know it's not too difficult. It's not even really that time consuming. Both Guitar Centers close to me have an on staff guitar tech who comes in 3-4 days a week, so have him come in one extra day a month or something and go through the bass room. Like Sprag said, it's worth getting more sales.

    I'm OCD about my gear, so to see instruments treated like that gets under my skin. Even if they do have an instrument I want, I'll go order it somewhere else on principle. The one I order may have just sat on a shelf in a box, but at least I know it hasn't been knocked around by a bunch of random kids and blatantly neglected by store staff.

  7. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    My most expensive bass purchase was a Modulus Q5. Before I left the music shop I had them setup the bass for me - I had to make sure it was going to play to my satisfaction before laying down that money. The music store, to their credit, worked with me and ultimately ended up making the sale.
  8. chubfarm2001

    chubfarm2001 Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2010
    St. Marys, Ohio
    I'm the same way. I know how to do setups, and it is not that hard or time consuming. I worked in a local music shop for a year. I really think businesses should take a little pride in their products. It's cost nothing rather than time usually on new gear, and if that 5-10 minutes could possibly increase sales, why not do it?
  9. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    But, when it's knocked around in the store, you can talk down the price since it's damaged.
  10. hotbass57


    Nov 27, 2011
    I had a bass at SA I was interested in, horrible set up. I handed to sales guy said it needs the neck tweaked. He took up and made a couple adjustments and I bought it. I knew I would tweak it when I got home, which I did. They will make adjustments just ask. But I agree most of their basses, the action is horrendous.
  11. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 big stores aren't going to do setups because they can make money on people who can't do them on their own like myself and I know more than a few bass players who love crazy high string height and what turns you off turns them on. I can always tell if a bass is right for me regardless of the setup.
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Bring some tools! Long and McQuade has "listening rooms". I can take the time to setup the bass in the listening room. While I normally measure everything, in this case I just get it close enough. However, I won't mess with the truss rod.

    Caveat: I can handle a pretty bad setup. 1/4" is not optimal, but not a problem for me when only checking out a bass.
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    a bad setup can sometimes hide an actually defective neck!

    if it has a huge upbow hanging in the store, and you take it home, then straighten the neck by tightening the rod only to discover a nasty S-curve instead of it actually getting straight, or yucky, uneven frets, you've got a lemon on your hands.

    we make a big deal of setting up our stuff, and of offering free future setups forever to the original owner, just to avoid this kind of problem.
  14. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    There have been several basses in GCs that I've walked away from because the setup was SO bad that it concerned me that the bass might not recover.
  15. Well, like I said, I'm super OCD about my gear, so I would never buy a bass that's damaged in the first place. Even if it lets me talk down the price, it's going to have damage that I would have to pay to have repaired (probably negating the price negotiation) or worse... I'd have to live with it (*crowd gasps!* lol) which would drive me nuts. Catch 22.

    +1 to Walter and Rip, excellent points. The last one I ran into was an Ibanez SR535. Beautiful white pearl finish and gold hardware, rosewood board so dark it almost looked like ebony... and an action so bad I could almost fit my pinky between the board and strings. Instead, I ordered one online and got a beautiful bass with a great low action (right out of the box, Mr. "they come like that from the factory" GC clerk. Lol). Played it for over a year without needing an adjustment at all before selling it to a friend to help fund my MIA Pbass V, which I also ordered online. :bassist:

  16. chubfarm2001

    chubfarm2001 Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2010
    St. Marys, Ohio
    I personally want to support local businesses and help out my community, but when they leave instruments like they sometimes do, it sends me the message that they just don't care.
  17. Exactly.

  18. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Setups definitely matter. I can do them myself, but if I pick up a bass and the setup is bad then I'm simply not going to buy the bass. First impressions are most important, and if I'm struggling to play the thing them I'm not going to buy it even if I could fix it myself.
  19. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    If I don't like the way a bass feels or plays within the first 30 seconds, I won't even consider buying it. I don't mind having to make minor adjustments but if the setup is way off at the store, I put the bass back and try something else.
  20. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    If it has stupid high action I wont concider the bass at all. I might buy same make and model elsewhere where they have one with medium or lower action. But wont buy from place that leaves action overly high.