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Yet another setup inquiry

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(@cerberus)
Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 94
Topic starter  

I had my bass for a little over a year and I recently brought it in for a setup. It needed one badly; the action on the D string suddenly dropped so low that I couldn't get a discernible sound out of it.

The thing that struck me as odd when I brought it in was the cost. After taxes, the setup set me back just under $100. This seemed a little absurd for some adjustments that took hardly anytime to do.

So anyway, what I'm asking essentially is:
1- How often should I get my bass setup?
2- What's a reasonable price for something like that?
3- And how difficult is it to learn how to do it yourself (assuming that the only thing you know about bass maintenance is changing strings)? I took a look at the link in the last bass setup post, but I'm still not sure if its practical for me to try it. I'm afraid I'll damage the truss rod or something.

I pity the fool, but also suggest ways he might better himself.


   
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(@steve-0)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1162
 

Setup costs differ from shop to shop, where I live I looked at 3 different places: one place costs about $20 plus the price of strings: HOWEVER when I took it there the one time I told them about my tremelo knocking my strings out of tune, they said they'd do a setup and that should fix it. It didn't. So I took it back a couple months later and said the same thing is happening. They said it was nut needed to be replaced. It helped a bit. When I took it home I took my guitar apart and lubricated all the hardware, it worked ALOT better (tremelos are tough to work with). I really wasn't impressed with that place because it cost me alot of money to have all that work done and it didn't fix much.

Another place I called was actually a professional luthier, I called him and he really seemed to know what he was talking about, however he charged over $80 for a setup. Even though I'm sure it would've been a great setup, I decided not to give him my guitar to do a setup on because I really didn't see why a shop would charge more than $50 for a setup. I finally went to a place 15 minutes out of town that charged $40 for a setup, I gave them my one guitar and it plays beautifully! I was thinking of learning how to do my own set-ups, but if I can't figure it out than I may just bring any other guitars that need setups done to them.

You should get setups done anytime you change string GAUGES or types, not necessarily after every string change. I don't know if there is a certain time but if you know how to do your own setups I would think checking relief, string height and everything every time you change strings, but I don't know for sure.

I haven't tried to do any setups on my own but the only thing that really scares me is slotting the string slots in the nut, but maybe it's less difficult than I would imagine.

Steve-0


   
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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

100 bucks? That served on a silver platter? Even with strings that seems high. Then again, if they had to adjust the nut, that can get into some real work...
You should get setups done anytime you change string GAUGES or types, not necessarily after every string change.

And when the weather changes.

Learn to do your own setups. Make SMALL adjustments to the truss rod (1/8th turn increments) and you shouldn't have a problem as long as it's moving smoothly. If it is too hard to turn with modest pressure, then stop.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@danlasley)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2118
 

You should only need to do a new set-up when you do one of the following:

- Get new string types (not usually needed if replacing with the same type and gauge)
- Go from one environment to another (winter dry to summer humid)
- Leave it in uncontrolled storage for a long time (attic/basement)

If the neck is close to straight, with a small concave relief, then you shouldn't need to mess with the truss rod, just the height and position of the bridge saddles.

If you go to the store on a quiet day, the guitar tech may let you see what he's doing, and then you'll know for yourself.


   
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(@weedhopper)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6
 

I took a look at the link in the last bass setup post, but I'm still not sure if its practical for me to try it. I'm afraid I'll damage the truss rod or something.

Learn to do your own setups. Make SMALL adjustments to the truss rod (1/8th turn increments) and you shouldn't have a problem as long as it's moving smoothly. If it is too hard to turn with modest pressure, then stop.

Slej offers good, sound advice.. It really pays to learn how to do your own setups. Or, at least, "basic" setups at first. I would leave any critical repair jobs, such as nut-slotting, refretting, etc. to a seasoned pro, but with a little patience and reference, there's no reason why a bassist can't handle their own maintenance and setups.

If you REALLY don't feel comfortable attempting the work on your instrument right now, then I would recommend buying a "junker" (or much cheaper) bass at some point to practice setups, repairs, etc... The closer to your main bass, the better. (mechanically and electronically that is.)

Tinkering with pawn shop specials works wonders for your confidence level when it comes to this stuff. :)

-weedhopper
http://www.weedhopper.org


   
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(@cerberus)
Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 94
Topic starter  

100 bucks? That served on a silver platter? Even with strings that seems high.

That was the cost without new strings! I keep going back to this place in spite of the fact that they're constantly over charging. Its a small independent shop, I got my first guitars there, the place has a lot of history, they'll take time to actually help you out, their prices used to be (and for some things still are) reasonable. But when they pull stuff like this it makes it very difficult to not just say "f--- these guys" and take it into guitar center.

Butt I'm not too vexed about it because now it plays like a dream. Plus the fact that the D string fell so suddenly and significantly suggests to me that it might've been a bigger issue. And I guess now I'll know for next time.

Anyway thanks for the feedback guys, I'll try to give it a go myself next time, and I suppose that if I screw it up I can always bring it in at that point and have them work a little harder for my $100.

I pity the fool, but also suggest ways he might better himself.


   
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(@blackdiamond13)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 22
 

i had my bass set up a few times by friends, one of whom was a professional luthier, got the strings closer to the fretboard which was a big necessity for me... but the problem is i don't know much about it (or anything else) so i couldn' really tell the difference in sound (but yeh, the strings were closer to the fretboard which made it easier to play). yeh i know i sound stupid, but i just never put any time into it... anyway, are there any resources on setting up one could share, like a set up for dummies kinda online thing? blackdiamond13 @ Jemsite

Up The Irons!!


   
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(@blackdiamond13)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 22
 

i have a junker as my main bass - a bright pink fluorescent yamaha
i just never got into it....

Up The Irons!!


   
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