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Re: Is there anything wrong with my bass?

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Posted by slaphappyhippy on February 23, 2001 at 20:36:56:

In Reply to: Is there anything wrong with my bass? posted by Metallittack on February 17, 2001 at 21:20:06:

Depends if it's crap or not.
The better the bass, the better, is my philosophy, but you can still setup a cheap bass well if you know how.


Find out how much relief is in the neck. (relief is just the bow in the neck that compensates for tha fact that srings curve when they vibrate)
To do this -
fret the A string at the first fret.
at the end of the neck, hold down the A with your elbow.
This makes a straight line (straight string). Now, tap the string with the first finger of your right hand.
How much the string moves tells you how much relief there is in the neck.
On my bass, it moves about 2mm.
You want it to move a little.
If it doesn't move at all you need to loosen the truss rod.
If it moves a lotyou need to tighten the truss rod.

The best way to test the relief is to lower all of the string by adjusting the string saddles with an allen key.


If the notes only buzz when fretted at the 12th fret or more, then there is too much bow and you need to TIGHTEN the truss rod.

If the notes only buzz in the first five frets then the neck is too straight and you need to LOOSEN the truss rod.

If all the notes buzz then the neck is fine, the strings are just to low.

ADJUSTING THE TRUSS ROD ( The rod that sits under the fretboard )

Using a 5mm allen key,
At the headstock,

anti clockwise to loosen,
clockwise to tighten.



This should make a visible difference. If not then try a bit more, but never turn more than on half a turn per day (the wood needs time to settle)

When tightening, 'help' the neck by using your body -

When your sitting, bass sittin on the floor, vertically, strings away,
put your

feet at the bottom (stringside)
knee in the middle ( neck and body joint, backside)
hand on headstock (stringside)

whilst putting pressure on the headstock, tighten the truss.


Now, when your neck is perfect,(keep testing with your lowered strings - perfect is when you get a full fret buzz) you need to alter your strings to stop the buzz and start sounding like a bass.

Tightening lowers the strings,Loosening raises the strings, so dependant on what you have done,your strings are high or low.

Adjust the saddles with an allen key at the bridge.
Experiment with string height, fret buzz and the relief test as described earlier to get your, ( and more to the point your basses, neutral string height).
as a rule, when fretted on the third fret, you should have a tiny air space between the first fret and string, but again its down to personal preference.

Finally, as i've come this far I'll do intonation - so your freshly set bass sounds like a bass should!

For this all you need is a tuner and a screwdriver.

Basic intonation is adjusting the string length so that the note on the twelth fret is in tune.
Turning the long screws at the butt of the bridge moves the saddles backwards an forwards(lengthening and shortening the strings)

Tune up the string to be adjusted and hit the note at the twelth fret.

If the note is sharp, the string is too short so make it longer by moving the saddle away from the neck.

If the note is flat, the string is too long so make it shorter by moving the saddle towards the neck.

Tune up the string and try again untill the note on the twelth in in tune.
Repeat on all strings untill the intonation is set perfectly.

And there you have it. A perfectly set up bass.

If, after all of this, your string still "flops around and has tremendous frett buzz, and clicks," then you are either hitting the string too hard or playing a warped bass - either change the neck or buy a new bass!

Hope this has helped you as when I first started I had the same trouble and after a set up, my bass sounded as smooth as silk.

Keep groovin'


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