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Set-ups

  Tuesday, 20 September 2005
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I'd like to outline how we go about setting up the instruments. I welcome input from others. I always start with the truss-rod, then nut, then bridge. We measure truss-rod relief on the outside bass string (B-string on a 5 or 6, E on a 4) by fretting at both the 1st and 17th frets, then checking the gap between the string and the 7th fret. For players with a light touch .020" or less of relief is about right. That's about the thickness of a Dunlop .5 mm guitar pick. Players with a heavier touch need to loosen their truss-rods for more relief. Ideally you want the neck as straight as possible. You'll know if the neck is too straight if you are getting excessive buzzing in frets 1 through 7. A little buzz when you dig-in is OK and to be expected. You just don't want to have buzz happening when you are playing normally. Once the neck is adjusted correctly, double-check the nut. Open strings should not buzz. When fretting at the 2nd fret, there should be a slight gap over the 1st fret - not more than the thickness of a piece of paper or two. If you are getting buzzing on the open strings you can either loosen the truss-rod 1/8 turn or have the nut replaced (they wear out and need replacing from time to time). Only after checking the nut and truss-rod do you go to the bridge. At this point if you want to lower your action further, you can lower the saddle riser screws. It's best to do this in measured amounts. I.E. 1/4 turn on every screw, re-tune and play for a bit. You can lower the saddles until you get buzzing in the upper frets 10th and up. The harder you play, the higher the saddles need to be. The lighter you play, the lower they can go. It's best to keep the saddles as low as possible (without buzzing) as higher saddles create more stress on the string leading to breakage. The easiest way to check intonation is to tune the open string, then compare the pitch of the 12th fret harmonic to the fretted 12th fret note. They should be the same. If the fretted note is sharper than the harmonic, the distance between the 12th fret and saddle is too short and the saddle needs to be moved back a bit. If the fretted note is flatter than the harmonic, you need to move the saddle forward a bit. Once the saddle is moved, you'll need to re-tune before checking. If you use Dingwall strings and maintain your truss-rod adjustment, you can go years without having to touch your bridge.
15 years ago
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#757
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[quote="Smallmouth_Bass":3iat1g2c]The shoe polish works well but I wish it didn't make my bass smell like a shoe! They've got to come up with a flower scented natural polish or something. [/quote:3iat1g2c] You could try adding some all natural essential oil to the shoe polish, ( but check with Sheldon first about this.) or even to the neck cavity of your case. I just store incense ( I prefer authentic Sai Baba Nag Champa) in my case. :wink: It's also useful to mask all types of other "odors". 8)
15 years ago
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#843
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Hi Sheldon, I just bought one of those ABII's from Quest Musique a couple of weeks ago and am really impressed. It sounds great (now my amp can't keep up). I am finding it buzzing at the 7th fret, mostly on the B but the E as well. I have never been adventurous enough to touch the truss rod on my former basses but I would like to have this one "perfect". I think it's time I did this myself but I'm scared to death of screwing something up. I read your first post of this thread and it seems straight forward. Are there any pitfalls that you can warn me about now before I do anything? Also, after reading the thread, is it corect to say that buzzing should be handled with theh truss rod adjustments and then tweaked with the action for playing style? I have also has some trouble on the 15th fret of the B, almost dead in response. Any ideas on that? Thanks for the help, Wes
15 years ago
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#848
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Hi Cake, The first thing I would do is try moving my right hand position forward and back a bit to see if that affects the 7th fret buzz. Next, I would carefully inspect the string for any damage. If the bass was leaned against an amp, it could dent the string. Next, I would inspect the two frets 7th and 15th for any damage. Once you've ruled out the above, then try loosening the truss-rod 1/8-1/4 turn. Check the relief. The 15th fret is currious. I'd like to hear about the string and fret condition first.
15 years ago
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#1820
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Sheldon, does your setup guidance apply to all of your bass guitar product lines? I just received a new SuperJ and I was hoping to use this information for a setup starting point. Thanks, Harry
15 years ago
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#1822
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[quote="hmagman":3iksmy9s]Sheldon, does your setup guidance apply to all of your bass guitar product lines? I just received a new SuperJ and I was hoping to use this information for a setup starting point. Thanks, Harry[/quote:3iksmy9s] Yes. A general rule of thumb is if there is buzz in the lower frets adjust it out with the truss rod (loosen). If there is buzz in the upper frets, raise the saddles. If you're finding your action too high and there is no buzz in the lower frets, tighten the truss rod until there is buzz in the lower frets and then back off the rody by 1/8 turn. Then you can try lowering the saddles.
15 years ago
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#1838
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Sheldon, I've been playing bass for about thiry-five years, rythym guitar for a little longer. Country, Bluegrass, Gospel and Blues were my early beginnings. Anyone that has played Bluegrass knows there are some very very picky musicians in that group. They are extremely thorough and meticulous about the sound and care of their expensive Martin's, Gibson's, and Guild flattop guitars. Fiddlers were the same. A good friend of mine, from that group, is Matt Deathridge. He is a longtime knowledgable and picky luthier. He builds his own guitars and violins. They usually sell for $10,000.00 and up. (He is also known nation-wide) He also repairs guitar and orchestral instruments of high dollar and reputation, such as Stadivarius, etc. He told me a long time ago that "C.F.Martin & Co." guitar polish was the best way to keep the body and neck of any instrument cleaned and polished. He also supplies me a small 2oz. bottle of very very expensive oil (can't think of the name or type) used in keeping the fretboard cleaned and conditioned. It's very hard to find anymore and he can only seem to get it from Germany. The old luthiers used it for centuries on fretted instruments. I've always cleaned and conditioned my instruments using his advice and my instruments have always looked and played great. For fretboard cleaning and conditioning, every few months, I use a soft small cotton cloth and a very fine steel wool for cleaning the frets and the board. This oil is excellent and keeps the fretboard in great shape. As soon as I can speak to him, I'll find out what type of oil it is. I also keep my bass in it's case at all times except for when I take it out about one or two hours before playing it. That usually gives the instrument enough time to aclimate to the room or outside environment. As soon as I quit playing, I immediately take a clean dry cotton cloth and wipe down the body, neck, each string fully, hardware, and the fretboard. If I use the guitar polish on my satin finished DW ABII-5, will it give me a slight glossier look to my bass. Thanks
15 years ago
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#1840
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Hi Texas Bred, Martin polish was my favorite for years. I can't remember why we quit using it. It might have been supply, it might have been because they changed the formula. The finish on the ABII is oil and wax. I can't predict how the water in the Martin Polish will react with the wax. My guess is not well. If you do try it, start with a small amount on your cloth and test in an out of the way place. When steel wooling frets, tape over your pickups and truss-rod access slot to prevent steel wool dust from getting under the pickups and sticking to the magnets.
15 years ago
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#1841
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Hey Sheldon, You do know that I just bought the ABII-5 Namm bass from Gary @ GuitarX in Denver. Did I do right by not having him install the OBP-3? Would you suggest something other than fine steel wool and what exactly do you recommend for your ABII necks and satin bodies? I would like to get a little glossier finish look to the body. Thanks
15 years ago
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#1844
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[quote="Texas Bred":idn70bgf]Would you suggest something other than fine steel wool [/quote:idn70bgf] I don't use steel wool for the reasons Sheldon mentioned. I use 3M Scotchbrite pads periodically on my wood fretboards. They are much easier to use and last longer. Mark
15 years ago
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#1847
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Great suggestion Guitarded, Thank You!
15 years ago
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#2155
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I'm getting ready to give my baby her 1st neck waxing. It'll be the 1st time for both of us :-) I can't bear to make her stink like shoe polish. My Rob Allen fretless came with a recommendation for Minwax wipe-on poly, but I believe this will not adhere to the principle of a balanced neck finish (I always use pure lemon oil on the board). What do Trewax and Carnuba wax smell like? Any other non-tacky options?
15 years ago
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#2158
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[quote="lomo":2l84ouln]I'm getting ready to give my baby her 1st neck waxing. It'll be the 1st time for both of us :-) I can't bear to make her stink like shoe polish. My Rob Allen fretless came with a recommendation for Minwax wipe-on poly, but I believe this will not adhere to the principle of a balanced neck finish (I always use pure lemon oil on the board). What do Trewax and Carnuba wax smell like? Any other non-tacky options?[/quote:2l84ouln] Trewax www.trewax.com contains 100% carnauba wax. Keep in mind that most, if not all, waxes dicussed on this board are wax of some kind dissolved in petroleum distillates - they smell like chemicals, sort of like car wax - you apply the wax, the distillates evaporate, leaving the carnauba. There really is not much of a smell left after you buff it out, and any residual odor will soon fade. Trewax comes in a huge can that I'll be able to pass down to my kids at the rate I use it, although I'm using more lately with two, soon to be three, Dingwalls to maintain. :wink: Another cool thing is that the wax can be tinted any color, although I'm not sure if I'd do that to a bass neck. Mark
15 years ago
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#2163
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Hey, guitarded, does Trewax leave the same satin, slip-slidy finish the AB comes with? If so, that's the route 'll go.
15 years ago
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#2167
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I have been using nothing but lemon oil on my Dingwall neck and fretboard for three years and its smooth as a baby's butt. I always plan to wax it, but it never feels like it needs it. For waxing, I like Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax. I used it on my jazz bass over a tru-oil finish and it feels great too.
15 years ago
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#2168
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Zac-you use lemon oil on the back of the neck as well? I loooove lemon oil and that appeals to me (and my nose).
15 years ago
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#2170
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Yeah Morris, I just use straight lemon oil. I coat the neck and fretboard and let it set for a few minutes and then wipe it off. My hands tend to sweat a bit and I get a lot of crud on the back of my neck. So I started using lemoil as a cleaner on the whole neck when changing strings. I had planned on waxing it after a while, because I used to wax my Ernie Ball neck. It never seems to need it though. Maybe the gunk off my hands act as a natural wax too, I don't know. Also, I believe there are few if any carcinogens in lemon oil, which makes me more comfortable using it on a regular basis. I look like I am prepping for a trauma when I use the Birchwood Casey products because of all the cancer warnings on the stuff. Hopefully Sheldon will chime in if there are any problems using it. I wouldn't want to steer you in the wrong direction. :)
15 years ago
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#2173
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[quote="lomo":98riz9es]Hey, guitarded, does Trewax leave the same satin, slip-slidy finish the AB comes with? If so, that's the route 'll go.[/quote:98riz9es] Does it ever. Here are my suggestions- Make sure you get clear Trewax, and wear rubber gloves to save on clean-up hassles: soap will barely faze the wax once it's on your hand (and if you wax your neck, then go to the gig with any leftover wax on your fingers, you will be [i:98riz9es]really bummed [/i:98riz9es]:cry: :evil: I've done it once :oops: ) I use a small square of cloth to apply the wax, then buff it out with an old t-shirt immediately - no drying allowed. Then I do it all again. I'm sold on Trewax. It's never gotten sticky on me and is super silky. Check it out and let us know how it goes. Mark
15 years ago
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#2175
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[quote="Zac Hammons":1hdy4yi4]I have been using nothing but lemon oil on my Dingwall neck and fretboard for three years and its smooth as a baby's butt. I always plan to wax it, but it never feels like it needs it..[/quote:1hdy4yi4] I'm not sure, but it seems to me that lemon oil would not be a good choice for the back of the neck because that type of thin oil doesn't seem to dry as hard as wax, if it really dries at all. I would be afraid that the neck wood, over time, would just keep soaking up oil, whereas wax really just coats the wood, it doesn't soak in. In fact, the old wax is removed with each new application, so you get a new finish each time. [quote="Zac Hammons":1hdy4yi4]For waxing, I like Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax. I used it on my jazz bass over a tru-oil finish and it feels great too.[/quote:1hdy4yi4] Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax has carnauba, but it also has beeswax and the forbidden [i:1hdy4yi4]silicone[/i:1hdy4yi4], so beware. Mark
15 years ago
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#2179
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I hope Sheldon will chime in on the Trewax vs Lemon oil issue. I've used lemon oil for years on fretboards and furniture, and it dries well. It's a very thin oil. In addition, as far as adhering to the principle of a balanced finish between fretboard and the back of the neck, what could be better than the same exact finish? Sheldon................................
15 years ago
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#2181
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[quote="guitarded":3bszzoxk]Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax has carnauba, but it also has beeswax and the forbidden [i:3bszzoxk]silicone[/i:3bszzoxk], so beware.[/quote:3bszzoxk] Yes it's true - there's silicone in it. I learned about Birchwood Casey from the Ernie Ball forum - it is the recommended treatment for MusicMan necks, and I have used it on my MM SR5. Almost used it on the ABII until I read the fine print. Despite the silicone, the Ernie Ball recommendations for neck care might apply to a Dingwall (oil finished necks). For regular cleaning, they recommend oiling the neck with lemon oil. Very infrequently for maintenance against humidity (about once a year), they recommend oiling the back of the neck with gunstock oil such as Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil, followed by wax: [url:3bszzoxk]http://www.ernieball.com/site/faq_bass.php[/url:3bszzoxk] [url:3bszzoxk]http://www.ernieball.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8006&highlight=birchwood[/url:3bszzoxk] However, for fingerboards, lemon oil only just like Sheldon recommends. When I first bought my used MM, there was gunk and discoloration on the neck, so I oiled it with the Birchwood oil and 0000 steel wool, then waxed it. It sure felt great. For my Dingwall, I will probably adopt a similar policy, but use a pure carnuba like Trewax, and lemon oil for cleaning. Sheldon - You know anything about Birchwood Tru-Oil? [url:3bszzoxk]http://www.birchwoodcasey.com/sport/index.html[/url:3bszzoxk] BTW - Trewax is available at Ace Hardware. If not in stock, they said you can order online and pick up at your local store to save shipping: [url:3bszzoxk]http://www.acehardware.com/sm-trewax-and-reg-clear-paste-wax-605b11--pi-1420074.html[/url:3bszzoxk]
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