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
10 years ago
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#21586
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I would recommend everyone to buy [url=http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for_Neck,_fingerboard/Basic_Setup_Kit.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=603:6np6zocw]this[/url:6np6zocw], as it makes (at least in my eyes) setups about 250 times easier. Even an amateur like me managed to do a decent setup on my bass.
10 years ago
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#21588
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Hmm; I'm a pro, and I don't use any of these things for a setup. Once you understood the main steps of a setup you don't need these tools. If you didn't understand the main steps of a setup, these tools can not help you.
10 years ago
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#21597
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I do understand the main steps of a setup, but this makes my setups more consistent. I don't have to go by feel anymore. It's easier for a non-pro, IMO.
10 years ago
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#22312
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[quote="Erlend":iem47a3q]I would recommend everyone to buy [url=http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for_Neck,_fingerboard/Basic_Setup_Kit.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=603:iem47a3q]this[/url:iem47a3q], as it makes (at least in my eyes) setups about 250 times easier. Even an amateur like me managed to do a decent setup on my bass.[/quote:iem47a3q] Excellent choice but you can do just as well with a capo (most expensive thing on the list), feeler gauges ($4 at Auto Zone), and pocket rule. Riis
9 years ago
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#22946
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Hello Sheldon, it's me again... Just wanted to tell you how badly a setup video would be welcomed from some of us. :oops: I would be really pleased to see one coming soon. Thank you very much. gnutix
9 years ago
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#23522
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Any word or progress on the setup video?
9 years ago
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#23533
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My daughter took her SJ to a local " luthier" for a pro setup before she hit the studio this week. He charged her $30.00 and it's worse than it was before. He doesn't speak english real well (He's Russian). He told her that with the fanned frets that you will never be able to tune it properly. I wanted to go down there and tune him up properly but my daughter wouldn't let me. Now she's in the studio recording with her Fender!!! I'm pissed!!!
9 years ago
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#23534
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[quote="aqsw":11978t9u]My daughter took her SJ to a local " luthier" for a pro setup before she hit the studio this week. He charged her $30.00 and it's worse than it was before. He doesn't speak english real well (He's Russian). He told her that with the fanned frets that you will never be able to tune it properly. I wanted to go down there and tune him up properly but my daughter wouldn't let me. Now she's in the studio recording with her Fender!!! I'm pissed!!![/quote:11978t9u] Sorry to hear that. Please have your daughter pm me here and explain what does she need to achive, i.e. intonation, neck relief, saddle heigth, low action, and I will pm her back with a step by step guide that either she or you can carry out yourselves.
9 years ago
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#23535
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Don't know if that's going to happen. She's a girl and although a very accomplished musician(Jazz degree in double bass performance) when it comes to setups she still doesn't get it. I think the setup wasn't very Good to begin with and things just multiplied. The fender has a a warped neck and the engineer likes it better. I have an ABZ on order. I hope we have better luck with it.
9 years ago
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#23536
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Unbelievable. [url=http://garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/setupmanual.html:2rhzjk6o]This here[/url:2rhzjk6o] is a pretty neat tutorial on how to setup, by Gary Willis. Didn't see much bs there, you know, magic tricks and shortcuts; just pure what to do and why. May not be the perfect setup tutorial, would like to see Sheldon's approach, but bassists who have tried my basses always complimented the setup of my basses. Anyway, you'd do good to go through that tutorial and at least fix what's broken until you wait for a proper tutorial from Sheldon... I can't imagine how bad the situation is when you're waiting for an ABZ [i:2rhzjk6o]because you're hoping for a better setup[/i:2rhzjk6o].
9 years ago
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#23537
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So, should I show this to the pro Luther that I just paid $30.00 to? I really just want to pay to get a real setup done. I don't want to do my own setups. everyone to their own.
9 years ago
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#23538
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Just thought you'd be willing to fix it, no prob.
9 years ago
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#23539
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N-P- I'm an accountant. I'm good with calculators, not Allan wrenches-lol
9 years ago
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#23541
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I took my non-dingwall to a local "guitar tech" and explained what I wanted. They didn't understand what intonation is apparently because it was worse than when I started. I took it back there three times (THREE!) and it never got any better. Finally I did my own based on what Sheldon wrote here. It was leaps and bounds better than what they did. I should have saw it coming. When my brother and I went in there for the first time, we asked if they had a full time guitar tech, and the answer was "all of us are techs. If we hire someone and they don't know, we teach them." Sketchy. . . :? I was not impressed with their service. I bought my combustion out of Edmonton (5 hour drive) rather than them. I know it looks intimidating, but if you give it a shot, you'll find it's not that bad. Failing that, find a reputable tech. There are bound to be some in your area.
9 years ago
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#23560
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Oh, haha. Matt I was going to ask who did that but I figured it out. I was messing around with my ABZ-4 once, shouldn't have. Then I bought Payson strings and asked Sheldon if they could do a proper set-up for me in the tuning I play in the most. He was happy to, it took Calen about 6 minutes to do it. I'm mechanically inclined, but I won't mess around with that ever again. Take it to a pro.
9 years ago
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#23600
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I agree. If I don't like the setup on the ABZ, I'll talk nice to Sheldon and bring the SJ4 and the ABZ to his shop for a real setup. I'm only about 350 miles away. I'll drive there, get the setup, party in Saskatoon for a night, and limp home!!
9 years ago
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#23604
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This brings up an interesting topic. How in the world do you tell who is a "pro" luthier? Some of us only have a few music stores near us. Maybe there are even luthiers or guys who build and repair guitars (in my case 45-60 minutes away). But how do we know they aren't goons (you'll never be able to tune it? Hello?!!)? Too bad there isn't a certification or a secret squirrel "are you really a pro luthier" question. Do you ask for references?
9 years ago
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#23606
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The 'pro" luthier did a fantastic job on my daughters double bass. New bridge and complete setup with David Gage pickup. He did a great job. He supposedly makes his own electric basses also. I thought for $30 it couldn't be too bad. I was wrong!
9 years ago
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#23607
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Unless someone has a better idea, I think the best way to find a "pro" luthier is word of mouth. That doesn't make it easy, but the only other option is trial and error (which can be expensive/frustrating). The only other thing I can think of is have a good conversation with them beforehand. If they seem arrogant or eager to give any answer to any question, maybe look somewhere else. You'll have to judge their character. Sorry I can't help more. Tyler, yeah it was too bad. It happens and we move on. :) We got the Dingwall shop so I don't feel too heartbroken. :P
9 years ago
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#23608
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[quote="Sheldon Dingwall":1b1aj6qi]Where the heck did you find that photo?[/quote:1b1aj6qi] That photo was on the old website, I think. I've got a folder full of Dingwall pix. I even have some old Voodoo/Prima brochures. BTW, I'm not stalking, I just really like your basses. :)
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