Author Topic: Joey's Post on Setting Up Your Bass  (Read 1972 times)


  • alembic
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Joey's Post on Setting Up Your Bass
« on: February 04, 2005, 11:36:06 AM »
Here is Joey's setup post.  If you like, you can read it in the context of the original threadhere.  
The greatest thing about ALEMBICs is the adjustability built into them vis-a-vis playing action. The double truss rods (uncommon) and the adjustable nut (VERY uncommon) and the bridge (already cast in the curve to match your fingerboard radius) form the PERFECT platform to experiment and learn to adjust your action yourself. There's no neck to unbolt, no plastic nut to file or fill in, etc.  
Do two things FIRST:  
-If the budget permits, put on new strings, the kind you always use  
-After they are through stretching, BE SURE you are tuned up  
Old strings can cause their own problems: New string will eliminate these right off the bat.  
Tuning equals tension: If you're sharp, the neck will be under more tension; flat, there's not the correct tension, so get your tuning straight FIRST.  
The short setup recipe is this, and do ALL of the following with the bass in playing position in your lap, NOT LAYING ON ITS BACK ON A TABLE!!  
F I R S T  
The nut height needs to be at a point where it's high enough so when you fret a note at the third fret (G on the big E, for example), reach around with your other hand and press the string against the first fret while still holding the note at the third fret. It should have just a tiny bit of room to move down and you should hear a little 'clink' as it hits the fret. If it's already touching, raise it SLIGHTLY and try again. A LOT of clearance? Lower is slightly.  
With the ALEMBIC nut you'll need to detune to loosen the lock screw, then tune up and work through this. All the strings' clearance should end up about the same clearance. Then lock your nut and you're through at this end. Re-tune.  
Are you in tune? Now the truss rods. Find a medium pick. Hold the E down at the first fret. Capo (or get a third hand/wife/brother/kid ...) the same string down where it meets the body.  
The pick should just slip beneath the string at the fret halfway between the two hold-down points. Won't fit? Loosen the truss rod on that side SLIGHTLY (a half-turn on a truss rod is a BUNCH, so just go in tiny fractions of a turn!) till it will. Fits between the string and fret with room to spare? Tighten it just a bit. The ideal fit is it laying on the fret and displacing the string upward ever so slightly.  
Done? Re-tune, and repeat the process on the G side using that truss rod. Finished? Re-tune.  
Are you in tune?  
We'll set the string heights over the end of the fingerboard AFTER the nut and truss rods are done. You'll adjust the E side by using the allen wrench to raise or lower the bridge on that side. Adjust to where the bottom of the string is about 3/16 over the 24th fret, with the string not fretted or pressed down. Re-tune. Do the same thing on the G side, but adjust it to about 1/8 clearance between the bottom of the open G string and the top of the 24th fret. Re-tune.  
This is a 'general' setup to get you to a repeatable set of dimensions. Your hands will tell you if it's too high or low, and the neck will tell you if it's too straight or if you need to let a little more bow back in. No two basses will adjust identically, because wood is never identical.  
Over time, you will learn to get YOUR bass just like YOU want it completely on your own. This is the genius of these instruments.  
Remember: Neck adjustments are in TINY movements. Think watchmaking, not bridge-building. ALL of us have turned our basses into boat oars the first time or two till we 'got it'.  
Don't be surprised if you have to 'touch up' this adjustment the next day, it sometimes takes a day or two for everything to settle in.  
Best of Luck,  
J o e y  
(Message edited by mica on February 04, 2005)
(Message edited by davehouck on April 27, 2006)