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Your top setup tips

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DubFiDub, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. DubFiDub


    Dec 8, 2011
    Cambridge, UK
    I'm interested in knowing any tips people have with regards to setting up their bass. I'm sure we've all discovered various things (sometimes the hard way) that it would have been useful to know ahead of time. This particularly relates to things that those new to bass would benefit knowing.

    As for mine: if you have a Fender bass (or I image any with a similar headstock design), don't bother clipping off ANY of the top of a new A string when you're changing them. The first time I changed my strings I found many sites suggested measuring about two tuning post lengths past the one you're going to be wrapping around. This is fine for the E (as the post is very close to the nut) and the D and G strings as there's usually a string tree to keep a nice string angle from the nut to the post. However, if you clip the A down you may very well find that you can't get enough windings on to pull the string down far enough to get a decent angle from the nut to the post. This may result in a buzz when playing an open A.

    Wasted some strings making that mistake. :mad:
  2. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Learn to set up your bass standing, while it hangs from your shoulder on a strap.

    Assemble all the tools you need for a set up (capo, wrenches, screw drivers, feeler gauges, a short ruler, tuner) into a small kit the lives in your gig bag.
  3. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    New strings: everyone should know this but it's worth repeating for newcomers. Not really setup exactly, but it's no use setting up until you take these steps.

    Once you get a string wound on the tuner, form the last wrap so it's a perfectly straight shot to the nut. Loosen it off and push the ball free of the tail to eliminate any twist. Bring it up to pitch and "witness" at the nut & saddle by pressing string down with your thumb so the string lays straight from saddle to nut.

    Always tune up to pitch, never tune down. If you need to drop, shoot below pitch and back up.

    These steps will eliminate the old, bass won't stay in tune trouble so many complain about, no matter how cheap your tuners are.

    Good advice on the A string DubFiDub. Newbs, pay attention.
  4. a good set of nut files goes a long way...also, learn how to use a soldering iron! basic circuit design! become one with your electronics!

  5. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010

    +1. Although you may also sit, just make sure your tuning and intonating is done while in playing position.

    When fretting notes, do not let the weight of your hand hang on the neck or use any excess finger pressure.

    When adjusting saddles, loosen the string first and then for larger strings reseat the string at the witness point by pressing down firmly in front of the saddle after bringing back up to tension.

    On an unlined fretless, use a carefully placed capo to check the octaves or higher if possible.
  6. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Use a radius gauge!
    I all to often see basses that where supposedly setup that don't have the strings set to the proper radius.

    When you adjust your truss rod always remove the string tension.

    If you have a bass that requires you to remove the neck in order to adjust the truss rod, tie off the strings at the headstock with something elastic. (I use my old hair ties)
    That way you can loosen the strings completely, remove the neck, adjust and then bolt it back with out ever having to remove the strings be careful though as it can be quite tricky the first few times you do it.
  7. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    When cutting a nut create an angle at the tuning peg side of the nut so that the string tree (or pegs) have all the opportunity to allow the string to angle downward. I like to use a "V" cut rather than a "U" cut so that differing size strings don't bind in the cuts, etc.
  8. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Personally I have an issue with this and here is why.

    A: When you have a string too large for the slot I would assume through basic logic that the best solution is to file it to the appropriate size or slightly larger and not to force it in (that is a great way to break a nut)

    B: if you have a V cut the string will not be allowed sit against the very bottom of the slot, the string will actually be pushing to try and close that gap and as a result is much more likely to crack the nut right down the center of that V.

    C: I've never seen any files sold for the purpose of cutting nuts that where V shaped.

    Now with that said your point about angeling the slot so that it is deeper towards the headstock is a good tip and should always be done.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    +1. Prepare for a flame job if any luthiers read that one. :p
  10. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Some may disagree, but learn to feel whether or not your basses are set up properly. I've never measured my relief, instead I have a good idea just by fretting at the 1st and 17th or so and pressing down at the 9th whether or not I have enough.
  11. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    +1, but some guys just have to measure. It's their prerogative.
  12. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Yeah I will say I rarely ever measure anything actually.
    The exceptions are when a customer requests it or i'm trying to match specs.

    Edit: I always use my radius gauge so I guess that counts as measuring.:D
  13. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    i have never heard this one. what would be the reasoning behind this?
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Well rule 1 of setup club is do setups in playing position so gravity isn't affecting the relief. Standing up is overkill, on your knee is fine and more practical.
  15. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Setup club lmfao.:D
  16. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    Oh Hell, I always get flamed......I CAN say that it works well for me. I DO use differing files and the E & A cuts do have a bottom; they are not steep angles. Realistically if your cut is for a 100 and you are cutting a tight "U" there is a "snugness" that can become a problem with bone or a fragile material with heavier strings and a "wiggle" with 90's. Using that technique allows some variance. depending upon whether someone DOES change string width. If they stick with 105's or whatever it most likely doesn't matter a great deal. It's personal thing that works very well for me.

    I once got a great deal of feedback on neck adjustment with (specific instruments) tightened strings; even though Music Man states categorically that it's appropriate to tighten with strings as tuning tension. I think a great deal of this is so subjective that I should always add that specific instruments require (or benefit) from differing approaches depending upon material, specific demands etc.
  17. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Buy a really nice tuner. Also, get a set of gunsmith screwdrivers.
  18. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    thats kind of what i thought, i have never seen anyone do a setup with it hanging on them by the strap!
  19. With a new bass: tighten all screws you could find on the bass. Also, loosen up and tighten the neck bolts, that removes some odd tension that is with a new wooden neck straight from the factory and it starts doing its new life by extending to unexpected domains. Also helps to sit down the neck properly.

    I use GHS fast fret on under the strings on the nut and also the bridge? Why, because adding a little bit more friction-less material will avoid detuning. A little bit balm stick would also work (just a little bit.)
  20. My top tip: When setting intonation, don't become a slave to your tuner.

    When you see that the intonation is very close, and you think it's about as good as you can get it, don't agonize over getting it perfect. If your ears tell you it's OK, then it is.

    At that point, stop fussing with it and play it.

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