Advice on bass setup

Maintaining, setting up or adjusting your instrument.
Jake
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Advice on bass setup

Post by Jake » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:16 pm

Hey everyone.
I've been having some difficulty setting my bass up well. I can't get the action low enough for my liking without getting fret buzz :(
I spent ages adjusting the truss rod and bridge trying to get it low but I always end up with buzz. Which is annoying. Would it be worth taking it to a luthier to get it set up really well? Also, any general tips on set up would be appreciated.

P.s. its a musicman stingray which I've owned for a few years. I only really noticed the action once I tried a few basses recently (fender jag specifically) and realised how much I love a wicked low action.
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john
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by john » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:41 pm

Have you looked up a few set up tutorials?
If your necks relief is set up correctly you should be able to get the action pretty low. If you have tried everything maybe the neck pocket might need a shim

irvinz
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by irvinz » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:07 am

where is the buzz? higher up on the neck?
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Jake
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by Jake » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:48 pm

Will spend some time working at it today and let you know where it's buzzing etc
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Jake
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by Jake » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:37 pm

Sorry for the delay, have spent quite a while trying to get the action the way I want it. Ended up making it worse so bit the bullet and took it to a luthier today :P For the record, the buzz was mainly on the upper frets. In future I'll persevere but I'll be needing the bass for a few performances over the next few weeks.
"The trouble with you is that you have more money than sense. And you're broke"

martyforrer
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by martyforrer » Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:35 pm

There are different reasons for buzzing. One is set-up. Another is high or low fret/s, which can be caused by the fret being loose or by the fingerboard developing a hump where it bolts to the body. This was/is a common fault with Fenders, but not with Stingrays. Bear in mind that a wicked low action will restrict your ability to play dynamically.

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pins
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by pins » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:13 pm

Have to agree with Marty regarding dynamics,a low and easy playing action is what alot of us desire,but that same action height to me is also my form of volume control.Too low and digging in for a bigger sound will for me end up as buzzy poo's,and if too high its just poo's to play in general.But what I may deem to be too high/too low might be perfect to you , experimenting is the key.
Another point to consider is strings,gauge and tension are more of a factor than most think.Fitting TI jazz flats to my P changed everything I was familiar with regarding "action",the lower tension allows a little more flexibility in utilising a higher action if desired and still be very playable.

And good on you for taking it to someone to get sorted as I have already stated I have never touched a truss rod and probably never will.I am more than happy to get an expert to set up my basses when needed.
As a mechanic for over 30 years I have seen so many cock ups by those having a go a things that end up either destroying something beyond repair or having to pay to repair their destruction,either way it's always more expensive than getting a qualified person to carry out the work.
I love my basses and I'm not prepared to stuff around with things that could potentially destroy them or cost alot to repair,I value people with experience in their field and glad such people exist.

ryla
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by ryla » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:08 pm

Let a tech sort it, low action and light touch (something Im forever struggling with) is good but the Musicmans volume dial is only a pinky away for dynamics.

Jake
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by Jake » Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:20 pm

Well I got it back from the luthier this week and I liked it so much I gave him another bass to set up as well!
Definite improvement in action, low enough to play fast and easy. I still get buzz if I really hammer it but it's well within my dynamic range. Pretty stoked all round :D
"The trouble with you is that you have more money than sense. And you're broke"

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greghr
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by greghr » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:21 am

Happened upon this thread.
I have a few questions regarding setup for you more experienced. I have done a bit of research but haven't really found satisfactory answers yet

1. Regarding neck straightness: When you look from the bridge end eyeing down the fret board, is a 'straight' neck one where there is absolutely no concave or convex arc down the fingerboard from the end of the fingerboard to the nut?

2. The German Warwick Ltd Ed Thumb I have I have tweaked the truss rod (collective sigh I hear from the forum) and it is now about what I would call 98% flat. However while the bass plays pretty ok (to my relatively novice ears and fingers) I have the feeling it could be better set up. So, who in your collective opinion is a great luthier who could do a great set up from the ground up. I live in Gisborne and need to ask locally, but what about Napier which is relatively down the road?

3. By contrast my Fender Highway 1 Jazz has a dead straight neck eyed down from the bridge end and it feels like it plays like a dream but has never had any set up since I bought it other than me putting some Thomastic flats on it (nice)

Thanks for any input.

Jake
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by Jake » Sun Aug 31, 2014 8:26 pm

Personally I like to leave a teensy bit of bow in the neck so I think your 98% should be pretty sweet? Correct me if I'm wrong here guys.
"The trouble with you is that you have more money than sense. And you're broke"

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greghr
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by greghr » Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:51 am

One tidbit I found on the internet was that if you are a dig in to get tone and dynamics sort of bass player (which I'm probably not) then a bit of neck relief gives you that option without fret buzz. I'm thinking now of getting the Warwick Thumb set up by a tech in Napier I found on the internet. I'm pretty sure its a great bass, it just needs tweaking. I think I will go with flats again like on my other basses as I like the tone you get from those strings, its darker as opposed to brighter which suits my senses and my fingers.
Thanks Jake.

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cjj
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by cjj » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:04 am

And if you're a "dig in to get tone and dynamics type player" and want to get that Geddy Lee sort of sound, you actually WANT fret buzz...

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greghr
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Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by greghr » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:28 am

Well I bit the bullet yesterday and did my first 'setup' on a bass, that Warwick Thumb I mentioned I was going to take/send to a guitar/bass tech.

I subscribe, as many others do, to Scott Devine’s bass site. The latest course he has uploaded is bass setup with, I think he is called Chris May, who makes his Overwater basses in the UK. Chris outlined a 7 step approach to setup which I followed 'religiously'.

I considered Pin's timely advice about not tinkering with truss rods but thought, 'in for a penny, in for a pound'

So 7 steps to bass setup which I would imagine all you more experienced bassists would follow anyway. I'd be interested to hear of any alternatives. It was great fun and I was a little nervous.

1. Assess the problems with the bass. In my case, intonation out a bit, a bit too much relief in the neck, too high action, dull pickup height to my ears.

2. Removed Rotos to replace with TH flats later. Masked maple fretboard. 600 grit wet,dry fret clean. Tape off, white spirit clean to fretboard. Tightened tuning posts and strap lock buttons. Tightened neck screws.

3. New TH strings on. Rough tune, remove truss rod cover, lube truss rod nut with 3in1, adjust truss rod. Wondered why the neck got more curved until I discovered I was turning it the wrong way. Corrected rotation, kept checking with straight edge and recommended measurement of 0.9mm at 7th fret or from the Fender Handbook 2.4mm bass side, 2mm treble side at 17th. Chris May suggested that a bit of neck relief from the 7th fret to the nut is desirable but from the 7th to the end of the fingerboard at bridge end it should be pretty nearly dead straight. Achieved that eventually. Lubing the truss nut helped heaps as the truss rod moved smoothly without any stiffness or creaking.

4. Check nut height. on the Thumb this was easy to adjust as the bass has an adjust a nut system. Chris suggested fingering the third fret and you should be able to slide a standard piece of paper under the 1st fret bar. There’s a more complicated approach in the Fender book using feeler gauges which i will use when I setup my precision which is next on the list.

5. Adjust saddle heights. 12th fret 2mm on G side and 2.5mm on E side. A string 2.3, D string 2.2ish. Seemed to work. Ok move on.

6. Adjust intonation. This was straightforward for the A,D and G strings but I found it difficult for the E string. Got pretty close to my ears and tuner. Open E,A,D G in the green 12th fret A,D,G green also, but could not get the E bang on. Close enough though.

7. Adjust pickup heights. 5 to 6mm from pickup poles to underside of strings. I may have to readjust this as the Warwick pick ups have a cover on them. May have to lower that measurement to 4mm to allow for the plastic thickness on the covers.

Bass sounds to my ears considerably better. It sounds much better when its played unplugged, more sustain. Amped up it now sounds Grunty and has a nice bark which it didn’t have before.

Phew!

martyforrer
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Location: Napier.

Re: Advice on bass setup

Post by martyforrer » Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:55 pm

Good for you. Sounds like you did a good job, and now you'll be confident to do it again. Basses are made of wood, and wood moves with temp and humidity changes, so a checkover every few months is a good plan. Doing it yourself will save you some coin, and also allow you to fine tune to your own desired setup.

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