If your bass has high action or you experience fret buzz, a good guitar technician can fix it. They’ll take your whole bass into account including the body and neck.
They’ll also be able to adjust your intonation. Having an accurate intonation is very important for string clarity and consistency.
While the internet can be a useful tool for researching basses, it’s important to try on various basses in person. Doing so will allow you to get a hands-on feel for each bass and determine which one fits you best. This will give you a better understanding of how each bass plays and feel, which can help in the setup process. Once you’ve found a bass that feels good and sounds great, you can schedule a guitar setup with your local luthier or tech.
A guitar or bass needs to be periodically inspected and adjusted for proper playability. This is especially true if you change string gauges. A fresh setup will usually take into consideration the new string size and prevent the guitar from buzzing or sounding harsh.
When getting a professional setup make sure to mention if you prefer higher or lower string action. Changing string action changes the intonation of your bass and will require readjusting the truss rod and saddle heights. It’s best to do this before the guitar shop starts their work.
Generally a good guitar setup includes adjusting the truss rod (neck), saddle heights, nut slots for your chosen strings, setting intonation and installing new strings. A thorough guitar/bass setup will also include cleaning and polishing the body, neck, fretboard and hardware of the instrument. A quality polish will restore luster to painted surfaces and enhance the look of natural woods like rosewood or Indian Laurel.
If you have a budget in mind be sure to ask the guitar shop what the scope of their work will be. Some shops will only do a basic guitar/bass setup while others may be more detailed. If you are determined to do a DIY guitar/bass setup be sure to find professional information online and watch video tutorials by reputable luthiers. This way you’ll have the benefit of their years of experience and know what to expect.
A good quality electronic tuner is essential to properly tune your bass after a guitar/bass setup. A quality tuner will not only allow you to quickly and easily tune your bass but will also help you to identify any loose or worn parts that need attention.
The bass neck consists of a series of curves that join the headstock to the rest of the body. Many basses have a truss rod in the middle of this, which can be adjusted to change the shape of the neck. The amount of curvature is known as the “action” of the guitar or bass, and adjusting it can make a big difference in how easy it is to play.
The easiest way to check the action of a bass is to fret the string at the 7th fret and look for a gap between it and the top of the frets (a thickness of about a business card). If there is a lot of space, it’s too much relief, and you should tighten the truss rod. The exact amount of relief you need will depend on your playing style, hand size and tolerance for string buzz.
A good setup includes a truss rod adjustment, but this is not a job for the novice. Many of the adjustments involved can be very small, and a single mistake could damage your bass. Ideally, you should leave the truss rod adjustment to a qualified professional who knows what they are doing.
Besides the truss rod, there are also other adjustments that must be made to the bass neck to get it in tune and ready for stringing. First, you should plug into a tuner and tune the bass to pitch. Once you have a stable note, play the harmonic at the 12th fret and use a ruler to measure how high up the string is over the frets. You should then make small adjustments to each of the saddles until the note rings true at all the frets without buzzing.
It’s important to do these measurements with a ruler because even a quarter turn can affect the overall string height. If you don’t have a ruler, your best bet is to eyeball the measurement and then make small adjustments, testing the string at each fret until there is no more buzzing. Once you have all the adjustments done, the bass is ready to be strung and played.
If you’re not getting the most out of your bass or guitar, a simple string alignment can help. This will help your strings stay in tune and eliminate most string buzz issues. This is done by hand using a guitar jig and tape measure and not an expensive laser aligner like you see in car dealerships. This method works well but is not as accurate as the machines used in a car.
This service includes a 30-day free adjustment period. It is not uncommon for a neck to settle a bit after a setup, or perhaps you decide that you want the action to be higher or lower than it was when it left the shop. Bring it back and we will fine-tune your setup until you’re happy.
All setups are customized for YOU. Your playing style, hand size and tolerance for string buzz are unique and should be taken into account when setting up your instrument. While not included in the price, a bone or Graph Tech TUSQ nut or saddle can be installed if desired.
Often the reason a bass does not play well is because of a poorly setup fretboard. A good guitar technician will be able to fix this and make your bass feel as if it was designed to be played!
A good bass guitar setup is a balance between the amount of string buzz you are willing to tolerate and how low you can get your action without sacrificing playability. It is also a very subjective matter, and it will vary from player to player. A jazz player with a light touch and lightning fast licks can get away with much lower action than a jackhammer funk bassist who uses thumb slaps and finger pops.
Many basses are built with poorly leveled frets at the factory, even expensive American made instruments. This means that the first time you play your bass after it leaves the store, you will likely encounter a lot of fret buzz!
Another thing to keep in mind is that the wood used to build the neck and fretboard can expand, contract and twist slightly over time. This can cause the strings to rub against the neck and fretboard, causing fret wear and other problems. A good bass guitar setup will take into account all of these issues and compensate for them so that your bass can play as well as possible for years to come.
At Xu Strings, we do all our setups by hand to ensure that the guitar or bass is set up perfectly for you. We use a ruler and a specialized truss rod tool to measure all the frets on the instrument. We do this because every player’s hands are different, and the guitar’s nut is the most important factor in the way your bass plays. All of our bass guitar setups come with a 30-day free adjustment period, and we will work with you until your guitar feels just right!