Worst bass setup f-ups / Confessions of the technically challenged players

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Oluolugbenga, Aug 9, 2022.

  1. Oluolugbenga


    Jul 30, 2022
    Brighton, UK
    Hi, my name's Olugbenga and I can re-string a bass guitar.

    <Golf Clap>

    But anytime I try anything more adventurous, I end up f-ing up the setup on the bass in question and taking AGES getting back to where I started.

    I surely cannot be the only one here who considers themselves a decent player but is useless with adjusting their gear.

    It's not something I boast about, and very much is something I recognise as a deficiency. But at the age of almost 40, I guess I accept that this is pretty much the way I am.

    Anyone here got any fun, mods-gone-wrong stories?
    12BitSlab, rtav, Outbush and 4 others like this.
  2. Hi, and welcome to TB.
    There are a lot of folks here who might be able to give you advice with your setups. There are a lot of checkpoints in setting up a base. It will help if you give us more details about what is wrong with the playability of your instrument...aka what you are trying to get done. There should also be some information posted here. Use the search function to find it. Like learning to play, this also requires practice.

    And if you think you just aren't handy with that sort of thing, I'm sure you aren't alone. We all have our inherent strengths and weakness. Our strengths make one task easier, the weakness make another more frustrating. I can setup my basses, but do not considering myself a decent player. That's my tradeoff I guess. I set up my first bass at 63. Statistically, you have much more time to learn a few of these skills, than I have to become a better player.

    Don't try to do a full setup from start to finish. Try doing individual steps and learn in blocks. Like intonation for instance, or string height. These are some of the easier tasks. Practice what you can while breaking it down to each task. Once you get some confidence in the parts of it you can combine them for a more complete setup. And keep in mind that a full setup may require specialized tools. Also, not being able to do some of it yourself, like a truss rod adjustment may mean something needs the attention of a professional technician.

    Good luck on this journey.
  3. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I don't have any specific advice, but I think it's very important to do the operations in the correct sequence. When I've done this, I don't have to go back and re-do things.
    DaDo625 and Old Garage-Bander like this.
  4. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    Check out Daves World of Fun Stuff on YouTube, good entertainment and great setup advice.
    rtav, kmd88, mellroc and 5 others like this.
  5. Lenny JG

    Lenny JG

    Aug 3, 2019
    For years I used to raise my action until I got no buzz of any kind on any note. I also play fretless. My action used to be so high it hurt. Then I realized what I was doing. My action is now low as possible w just the right amount of rasp.
    legalbass, jblaven and Shepsdad like this.
  6. Oluolugbenga


    Jul 30, 2022
    Brighton, UK
    Thanks, man. That's a very thoughtful response.

    I would like to believe that with sufficient time and effort I could improve in this area. And believe me, every time I attempt a setup change I do have a look on forums like this and YouTube.

    But just like some people have quite a natural feel for their instrument, I do think some players also have a good feel for setup changes/modding/etc.
  7. Oluolugbenga


    Jul 30, 2022
    Brighton, UK
    Ha! Yes, my first bass had a super high action too. Funnily enough, I had it converted by a luthier into a fretless.
    Old Garage-Bander likes this.
  8. Yup! All of us, each to our gifts.
    Best of luck.
  9. Oluolugbenga


    Jul 30, 2022
    Brighton, UK
    Yup, have definitely fallen foul of that.
  10. I once sold a bass because the action was so high and I was naïve enough to not know that could be fixed. :banghead:

    The first time I attempted a setup myself, I was following the steps backwards and adjusting the saddles the wrong way. Once I had a couple of them as close to the headstock as I could and I was out of threads I realized my error. You live and learn.

    I'm always flustered when people say how "easy" it is when you're clueless. But my advice is to check a couple different sources before attempting things. 1-you maybe learn some tricks one person knows that someone else doesn't and 2-the repetition keeps things fresh in your mind when you "attack" your bass.
    timplog, Riff Ranger and Dubious Aa like this.
  11. bigjames

    bigjames Player of Smooth Lines

    I was terrified of making any changes on my basses for years and years. Then one day, I picked up my fretless and it was like the action had changed...it was so low that I couldnt play two strings. Baffled, I contacted the builder who explained how necks work and told me to adjust the truss rod. I very carefully followed his advice...it worked...and it wasnt that scary. So I did some tweaks on my other basses...all was well. Most recently adjusted the intonation myself. Once you understand what you are doing, it helps.
    timplog and Bass4Brkfast like this.
  12. FatherTrucker


    Jun 9, 2017
    Doing some side work for a buddy who owns a guitar store I was trying to set up a Peavey Fury he picked up from a pawn shop. Broke the truss rod. My buddy gave me permission to try to turn it another half turn after I warned him it was probably coming. Still felt bad though.
    WI Short Scaler and Dubious Aa like this.
  13. ThirstyMonkey


    Jun 27, 2011
    I butchered both my first guitar and bass with crazy mods/changes (hey Eddie Van Halen did it, so why couldn't stupid 14 year old me do it). I even tried rewinding pickups (spoiler, giant failure). None of my experiments made the instruments more playable, so in that respect I wasn't successful. But it did give me a good list of things not to do.

    I pretty much left all things set up related to the "pros" until a friend gave me a copy of Dan Erlewine's Maintenance & Setup for Electric and Bass Guitars. Been doing my own work since then and haven't ruined any of my instruments.
    timplog, micahwc, jblaven and 3 others like this.
  14. nickpc


    Jul 23, 2012
    North Carolina
    First bass, Squier Affinity PBass, Korg tuner. Connect the cable from the bass to the tuner and start tuning the E string. It's reading C#, so I'm tightening the string. And tightening. And tightening. And tightening. About the point it is showing D on the tuner is when the string gave out.

    Having the volume up the whole way on the bass when using a tuner that reads the output signal is really important. Really really important.
  15. Engle

    Engle Supporting Member

    I once bought a Jazz Bass Special that had the springs on the wrong side of the back of the bridge:eek:
  16. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Was lucky enough to be walked through the process by a very trusted friend, and luthier, who was just a little meticulous (bordering on perfectionist). It's all about being methodical. Then waiting 24 hours and rechecking to account for any weirdness.
    The only place I get the wobbles is when I'm working on the nut. Then I act like I'm doing brain surgery...

    ETA: I also bought a basket case bass and completely stripped every finish and part off it just so I could rebuild better than I found it. I made every mistake, and learned every lesson, but wound up with a real player. It even had a maxed out truss rod, and a bit of a bow in the neck. Got to play clamp-champ, and learned some tricks. Hands on is the only way to learn.
    I have absolutely no fear (aside from nuts) in setting up any of my instruments now.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  17. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Does this count?


    Not "gone wrong," per se. Merely a "steampunk bass" project halted in its infancy when the pandemic broke out... so it's been on the shelf for 2+ years, along with 2 others.

    That's a live Tonerider pickup (I'd have to look up the order for the specific model). :laugh: Note the mounting.

    EDIT - I'm still looking for appropriate panel rheostats (olde timey potentiometers) and brass knife switches. Also old microvolt and microamp meters. I may have to wrap my own capacitor because I can't find a can "antique" enough. The pandemic isn't the only thing holding this one back.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  18. Relsom

    Relsom Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    The Old Dominion
    Well, apparently I can't even change strings. Not long ago I accidentally installed a D string on the A position of a FSO. Needless to say, that string is now too short to install in the D position.
    ..... Dammit!
    timplog and Dust2Dust like this.
  19. Cave Puppy

    Cave Puppy "Humph Bo, he's wond!" - John Lennon

    Jan 13, 2015
    Start with foundational adjustments which need to go in order starting with the truss rod. Many of us will recommend John Carruthers’ stellar setup videos sponsored by Elixer. A person can’t f up a bass (not Base) by doing a set up wrong. Most of the stuff is easily reversible. Dave’s world of fun stuff is good as well, but not as instructional or step by step as John Carruthers’ videos.

    Almost all of my mods (there are a lot) go wrong at some point. The fun and learning come from fixing those issues. I don’t regret making any mods.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  20. Oluolugbenga


    Jul 30, 2022
    Brighton, UK
    BROKE THE TRUSS ROD! Mate. Yeah, that would be me.