Re: Precision Set-Up

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Posted by tommy on July 06, 2001 at 08:01:55:

In Reply to: Re: Precision Set-Up posted by tommy on July 06, 2001 at 07:57:57:

Here are a few details on actually doing it! Just be patient, it may take a couple of days to really get it right. As the previous post stated,

don't be heavey handed and just start cranking onthat nut, you CAN strip it!

This except that I post is fom

To adjust your own truss rod, neck tilt, bridge height and intonation,

get a couple tools ready. My method requires a capo, a feeler gauge set,

a machinists 6" steel ruler, a couple of allen wrenches and a couple

screwdrivers. I bought a cheap capo for a couple bucks - don't bother

with the fancy $18 ones. I had the ruler, wrenches and screwdrivers

because I used to be a machinist.

First, loosen up the screws that hold the neck on. Then use the allen

wrench to back off the neck tilt adjustment screw that is accessed from

the hole in the plate the neck screws go through. After you have

loosened the tilt screw, re-tighten the neck screws. The tilt screw

should still be completely slack after the others are tight. Don't

worry, we'll come back to it later.

Next, string up the bass with the set of strings that you will be using.

Try to only have about three turns of the string on each tuning peg. Tune

up your bass to the tuning you will be using. If the pickups look like

they are too close to the strings, use a screwdriver to lower them. Now,

put the capo on the first fret. We will be using the strings as a

straightedge. To get as accurate a measurement as possible, hold the

bass in the same position as you play it. Gravity really can change

the relief on these big thangs! Hold down the string at the last fret

(for me, the 22nd) and measure the distance between the string and the

fret at the half-way point on the finger board (for me, the 8th). This

will tell you how much relief the neck has. I like to see about .014"

between the string and the fret. I use a set of flat feeler gauges to

tell. Choose one and see if you can fit it in between the string and the

fret without lifting the string. If the distance is less than .014",

then you have to loosen the truss rod. If the distance is more than

.014", then you have to tighten the truss rod. Only tighten or loosen

the truss rod nut about an eighth of a turn at a time, no more. If you

have an old P-bass (I have one), you'll have to actually remove the

neck from the body to do this properly.

Once the relief is set, take off the capo and pick up the machinists

ruler. Hold the ruler on the last fret of the neck (closest to the

bridge) and measure the distance between the string and the fret.

This tells you how high your action is. I like to see 5/32" on my

low B and 4/32" on my G string. If the distance is more than 5/32"

then you have to lower the saddles on the bridge. If the distance is

less than 5/32" then you have to raise the saddles on the bridge. Use

the correct allen wrench and adjust the screws on each saddle evenly. I

usually turn each screw 1/2 turn and recheck the measurements. The most

important thing to accomplish here is to make the strings be an equal

height off of the neck. Don't adjust the saddles so that they are bottomed

out on the face of the bridge. If they won't go down far enough, then

adjust them to a reasonable point and make all the strings as even as you

can, matching the lowest one. (For me the lowest one is always the G.)

Once the strings are all even, decide if they are still too high for

your style of playing. If they are too high, then the neck tilt

adjustment screw needs to be tightened. Loosen the neck screws, and

tighten the neck tilt screw a little bit. Same as the truss rod nut,

1/8 turn is a good starting point. Now tighten the neck screws again

and recheck the measurement. Repeat this until the height of the strings

is to your liking. At this point, you should be comfortable with the way

the bass plays. If not, then go back and repeat whatever is necessary of

this whole procedure to get to a happy medium. Don't forget, the lower

the action and the less relief the neck has, the more possibility there

is for fret noise. On the other hand, too much relief and too high an

action can be hard to play and, in excess, can cause your neck to warp,

especially if you use heavy strings. If you have a bass without an

adjustment screw, like my old P-bass, then you can stick a little piece

of something under the end of the neck before you bolt it on to the body.

A piece of match book cover is actually quite good.

Whoa, we're not done yet. Two more things. Adjust your pickups so that

they are at a point where they won't get sanded down from contact with

the strings, yet aren't so far away that they lose volume. Be careful

though, that you don't put the pickups so close that the magnets in

them pull on the strings, damping out the sustain. The thicker your

strings are, the closer the pickups can be because of the higher tension

that thick strings have. My Lace Sensors are nice! No magnetic pull,

so I just stick them up as close as I can without having them rub.

Now, last, but certainly not least is to adjust the intonation. This is

easiest with one of the electronic tuners. Make sure that the open strings

are in tune. Then check the tuning at the twelfth fret. If the twelfth

fret is sharp, then the saddle needs to be adjusted away from the nut, so

that the string is longer. If the twelfth fret is flat, then the saddle

needs to be adjusted toward the nut, so that the string is shorter. This

is done by adjusting the long screw that holds the saddle against the pull

of the string. Again, like the truss rod, and the neck tilt, a little

tightening or loosening goes a long way. You will have to retune each

string after every adjustment and then check the tuning at the twelfth fret

again. The biggest thing that affects intonation is the height of the

string off of the neck (the "action"). Every time you adjust the string

height, you should recheck the intonation.

Well, now you have it. Keep records of the measurements and play your

bass for a while and see if there is something you want to change. If

you want to change it, why not, GO FOR IT! Only YOU really know how

you like your bass set up, so why not do it yourself. As long as you

don't try major surgery on your instrument, it is very hard to cause

serious damage. The most important thing is to keep your truss rod

tightened enough that it prevents warping. Don't ever leave the truss

rod nut completely loosened! You should pretty much follow the order

of the adjustments that I followed, because the subsequent ones depend

upon the previous ones to work right. BTW, I have to give credit to

Jack Schwarz, the Fender factory guitar tech. I learned all this stuff

from him when he was here in Tucson giving one of his tune up clinics.

: : Get over the fear...experiment a can't screw anything up the cant be re-adjusted. Just remember, the struss rod only needs a 1/4 to 1/2 turn to make a difference. Sometimes more, but dont go cranking that baby around 3 or 5 times. Anyway, where to adjust the struss rod depends on what year it is. look up by the head stock, can it be adjusted there? if not, lift up the pick guard, is there a slot to fit an allen wrench in the end of the neck? If not, then the neck will be coming out for the adjustment. Don't worry, your dealing with screws, as long as you don't strip em, everything will be O.K. One thing though, a bass like yours has 1 rod, so making an adjustment to one side of the neck or the other is not likely. you my have the beginnings of a warping problem. if it cannot be adjusted out by what you do, take it to a professional an get them to look into it. Once again, experiment, don't be affarid to do things to your bass, its fun and rewarding. Peace John

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