Thursday, 04 January 2007
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[b:1nml1ad3]Action Set Up [/b:1nml1ad3] 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. 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. .................................................................................................. [b:1nml1ad3]Pick Up Set up[/b:1nml1ad3] We set the treble end of the pickup to within about 3/32" (2.4 mm) from the G or C string when fretted at the 24th fret. We set the bass end of the pickup at about double that. You can dial it in further by plugging into a recording device and using the input VU meter to gauge how much to lower or raise the bass end of the pickup to balance with the treble end. The shape of the magnetic flux field extending above the pickups looks a little like an upside-down guitar pick. So the closer to the string the pickup sits, the larger the magnetic sensing area the string cuts through creating a bigger tone and more output. Conversely the further away the pickup is the more the output drops off and the thinner the tone. If the bass end of the pickup is too high, you'll notice a pronounced "warbling" sound on the bass strings when played in the upper frets. A little "warbling" is normal. As long as it's subtle, you're OK. We set the treble end at approximately 3/32" clearance under the most treble string when fretted at the last fret. Then we plug into a VU meter and adjust the bass end so that the most bass string has as close as possible (usually within 3 db) an output compared to the treble string. I try to pluck the string with a similar touch and at a similar position relative to harmonics i.e. roughly parallel to the pickups. The pickups are suspended by silicone tubes on the adjustment screws. What can happen is the tube gets bunched up on the screw threads and won't push the pickup up when loosening the screw. The fix for this is to remove the screw completely while holding the pickup in place, then carefully re-install the screw. If done right, the tube will still be centered with the hole in the pickup so the screw will feed right into the tube. ............................................................................................... [b:1nml1ad3]Nut Set Up [/b:1nml1ad3] Nut height is critical to both feel and proper tuning in the lower frets. The way to check nut height is to reference it to fret height relationship. Because the neck has a slight amount of relief (curve) each fret is positioned at a different point on the curve, so therefore at a slightly different height relative to the plane of the string. You can see this by fretting the 1st and 3rd frets simultaneously. Look closely and you will see a slight gap between the string and the 2nd fret. Now fret at the 2nd fret and compare the clearance over the 1st fret to the previously observed clearance over the 2nd. Assuming your truss rod is adjusted properly and you're not getting buzzing in the 1st fret positions, the clearance over the 1st fret should be at least as much as over the 2nd and no more than double. Any more and you'll have tuning issues. Any less and you'll have buzzing. Using the appropriate nut file, file at about a 10 degree angle. Check your progress every few strokes. 5 strokes too many can ruin the slot. (I do this way too frequently) Also check to make sure the bottom of the slot is as perfectly round as possible, pluck the string a few times and feel for vibration behind the nut and wiggle the string back and forth to see if there is any movement of the string in the slot. Both indicate too wide a slot. If there is still height to play with, you can use a smaller file to put a slightly smaller radius at the bottom. I hesitate to jump in here and give advice, especially after a post by Sheldon, but after ruining too many nuts myself, I started using feeler gauges (the kind that one would use to adjust spark-plug gaps in cars. The set of feeler gauges that I use has a series of pieces of metal that slightly resemble knife blades about 2.5 " long. I find the two consecutive blades whose combined thickness is just slightly greater than the height of a fret from the fret board (the reason I need to use two is that no single gauge is thick enough). Then I hold these two feeler gauges tight against the fret board and tight against the nut, while filing at an angle (now I know this angle should be 10
9 years ago
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#23915
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All truss rod instructions in this thread for example: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string = loosen / more relief / higher action. Turn the allen wrench towards the G string = tighten / less relief / lower action. are for Basses with truss nut at the bottom(pickup end of the fretboard) for the combustions (truss nut at peg head end) you will find the opposite: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string =tighten / less relief / lower action Turn the allen wrench towards the G string =loosen / more relief / higher action.
9 years ago
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#24752
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[quote="Basso Profundo":36q10lgj]All truss rod instructions in this thread for example: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string = loosen / more relief / higher action. Turn the allen wrench towards the G string = tighten / less relief / lower action. are for Basses with truss nut at the bottom(pickup end of the fretboard) for the combustions (truss nut at peg head end) you will find the opposite: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string =tighten / less relief / lower action Turn the allen wrench towards the G string =loosen / more relief / higher action.[/quote:36q10lgj] This info is incredibly useful. It would seem prudent to add it to the 'truss rod' bit at the beginning of the thread. I nearly put my Super J truss rod the wrong direction until I got to this post. Also - can I check with Sheldon - are the pickup heights listed in the early posts also applicable to the Super J's? What's the difference if you have a P instead of a J pickup?
9 years ago
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#24810
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I second the setup vid. After 12 years I'm still confounded why I have more than 1/4 inch of air under my E and B strings consistently.
9 years ago
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#24838
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A big thank you to Dingbat (Paul) for pming me and offering to do the set up for me . He did a fantastic job. Thanks again!!
9 years ago
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#24839
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My pleasure. Feel free to call me again if the set up needs a tweak.
9 years ago
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#25182
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Hi.. i just bought a combustion second hand.. it the first edition.. I want to make the action lower but the bridge saddles wont go any lower.. im not too sure if straightening my neck action will fix the problem.. so how should i go about doing this...
9 years ago
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#25183
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[quote="afnannn":xwkt8ebn]Hi.. i just bought a combustion second hand.. it the first edition.. I want to make the action lower but the bridge saddles wont go any lower.. im not too sure if straightening my neck action will fix the problem.. so how should i go about doing this...[/quote:xwkt8ebn] All truss rod instructions in this thread for example: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string = loosen / more relief / higher action. Turn the allen wrench towards the G string = tighten / less relief / lower action. are for Basses with truss nut at the bottom(pickup end of the fretboard) for the combustions (truss nut at peg head end) you will find the opposite: Turn the allen wrench towards the B string =tighten / less relief / lower action Turn the allen wrench towards the G string =loosen / more relief / higher action.
9 years ago
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#25185
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Hi everybody, I just discovered this wonderful thread!! There is lot of great information here, to be sure, but to my dismay, I discovered that the very first message in this thread by the master himself, our beloved Sheldon, is cut off! Anybody have the rest of the original? Surely there was somebody on here clever enough to copy it in its entirety. Please post it here for the rest of us! I just bought a Yamaha six-string bass for an embarrassingly low price tag, but [b:2z16olp6][u:2z16olp6]both[/u:2z16olp6][/b:2z16olp6] of its truss rods need a serious adjustment. I like high action myself, even though I have a light touch, but this is ridiculous! Thanks, GLF
8 years ago
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#25778
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[quote="Sheldon Dingwall":3mp8ezbu]The saddle screws on the B, E and A-strings are 3 mm longer than the G and D-strings. You should be able to get any kind of normal action with the existing screws and proper setup. If you need to go super-low we can mail you a wedged neck pocket shim that will give you a very precise, solid neck angle adjustment. This will give you more room to go down at the bridge.[/quote:3mp8ezbu] Sheldon, bit of a bump here, but even with the saddle screws all the way down action at the 12th-24th fret of the neck is still a bit higher than I'd ideally like (and the truss rod is dialed in about right so I don't think that's my issue - I can get measurements tonight if you want). My usual approach to shimming is to just grab a business card and shim as necessary - is there any real advantage to using a wedged shim like you're describing? Thanks!
8 years ago
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#25779
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I got a shim kit from Sheldon for my SJ4. It really does the job. There were two wedges of different thickness. So you can use one or the other or both. The good things about them is that they are harder than a business card and they conform exactly to the shape of the neck pocket. No part of the neck is left unsupported so there is no chance of developing a slight hump at the end of the neck, which would really mess up the action. Also, if you try all the sizes, you might find that you want more tilt that you would have considered if you were just layering business cards. If I remember correctly I chose the single thinner shim because the thicker shim options made the saddles very high, which affected the tone. Now my bass has super low, rattle-free action and the saddles are just right.
8 years ago
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#25807
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Eh, I ended up using a strip from a business card folded in half, maybe a hair over a centimeter wide, at the very back of the neck pocket to give me a little extra neck angle. I had to cut out gaps to allow the neck screws through, but it worked like a charm. I don't think it's a plausible risk that it would create a hump in the neck (I certaintly haven't ever had an issue with a guitar), but if it somehow could I don't think it's going to be an issue here since I believe it's smaller than the length of fretboard after the last fret. Would a custom-carved wooden shim the exact size of the neck pocket from Sheldon's shop be cool? Yes, but getting the appropriate allen key set cost me more in shipping than the set of keys themselves, so I don't think it'd be worthwhile from a cost perspective, shipping it across the border. :lol:
8 years ago
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#25942
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A story about the value of properly adjusting your pickups. My main bass is a 2005 Afterburner II. Over the years I have changed the pickups and tweaked their height adjustments. I started with the factory specifications but, without thinking, I raised the bass side little by little over time, always aiming for a really thunderous low B. Lately though, I have been unsatisfied with the balance of the tone. The pickups looked good; almost no slope. But the upper strings were really thin sounding and it was affecting my choices in positions and fingerings for bass lines. So I started over again. My plan was to go back to the specs and tweak from there. Lo and behold, my tone is balanced, no tweaking necessary. The low B is still thunderous and the upper strings are now full and meaty. (Actually, I did do more tweaking, using a Dorrough meter in ProTools, but I just wound up with the factory specs again.) It makes sense to me now. Raising the bass side of a pickup does not simply increase the output for the lower strings because once you adjust the overall volume to a comfortable level, the upper strings will be diminished. (Which is why I only liked the overall tone when I played really loud.) I should have understood what was going on but I never thought the pickup height adjustment made such a huge difference in decibel terms. The multiscale design probably amplifies this effect, too. The natural tone of the longer bass strings means the bass side of the pickup needs to be farther from the string than on conventional basses. So the moral of the story is (duh!) Sheldon knows what he's doing. He designed these instruments. It might look strange that the pickups are sloped so that the bass side is twice as far from the string as the treble side, but that is what works. By the way, when I combine the two pickups, I like the bridge pickup to dominate slightly, so that pickup is about 1/64 of an inch closer than the neck pickup. That tiny difference is noticeable.
6 years ago
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#28717
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I have always tweaked my own basses, never let anyone else do the setup. I always go by the feel in my fingers when setting string height and relief (where also the eyes are important instruments). Feel, listen and look!
6 years ago
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#28723
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[quote="bassmayhem":1572h5bk]I have always tweaked my own basses, never let anyone else do the setup. I always go by the feel in my fingers when setting string height and relief (where also the eyes are important instruments). Feel, listen and look![/quote:1572h5bk] Bravo! it's the best way, cause you know what you want from your action and tension and no matter how good the repairman is they always tend to set it up to what they like it to be.
5 years ago
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#29058
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Quick question and possibly a stupid one. I'm doing a set up on a recently purchased used Z2 and the first post in here is helping a lot but one question about dialing in the pickups. The opening post suggests holding down at the 24th on the G and setting that side of the pickups at 3/32 of an inch which I've done, then setting the bass side around double that. Is that double that when fretting at the 24th on the B or should i leave the B open and measure? I know i need to dial it in properly after that but want to get the starting point as right as possible and wasn't sure if i was reading the opening post right.
5 years ago
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#29059
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Hi Jon, double that would be referring to when the string is fretted at the 24th. We use this fretting spec so that it completely eliminates and variances from different action and truss-rod settings.
5 years ago
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#29060
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Great thanks Sheldon, i assumed as much it just looked quite a big difference to where it was set (presumably the previous owner) so thought i'd check.
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