1. Sheldon Dingwall
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  3. 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.

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[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.

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[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
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bassplayinbill Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I thought that it looked familiar! :D
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Bassplaynbill:

Just for completeness, here are those other two helpful links you posted to the original thread. The second link also includes info on oils and waxes for the neck and body:

[url:2bfyb1hi]http://www.dingwallguitars.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=345[/url:2bfyb1hi]

[url:2bfyb1hi]http://www.dingwallguitars.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21[/url:2bfyb1hi]
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Brim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="Sheldon Dingwall":161rxukg]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[/quote:161rxukg]

Dumb question but when adjusting truss rods on Dingwalls (AB-II to be specific) is it "lefty-loosey / righty-tighty" or reverse that? I want to lower my action a just a hair. I think my neck has bowed just a bit and I want to dial it back straighter. Thanks.
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[quote="Brim":3pl9xsv1][quote="Sheldon Dingwall":3pl9xsv1]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[/quote:3pl9xsv1]

Dumb question but when adjusting truss rods on Dingwalls (AB-II to be specific) is it "lefty-loosey / righty-tighty" or reverse that? I want to lower my action a just a hair. I think my neck has bowed just a bit and I want to dial it back straighter. Thanks.[/quote:3pl9xsv1]

Correct lefty loosy, righty tighty. Toward you loosen, away tighten/straighten the neck.

You'll be pleasantly surprised after straightening the neck out just a little more. 1/4 is all you'll need prolly.
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JEDI BASS TRICKS Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey Brim, you can hold your bass up w/ the bridge in front of your nose, and sight down the top edge of the fretboard, like sighting down the barrel of a rifle. Besides Sheldon's way, this is another way I've found to see how much or how little relief/bow my necks have. Before I buy a bass, I usually sight down the top edge, flip the bass over and sight down the treble edge. Some lower quality basses will have slight twists in the neck : more bow on the treble edge.
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[quote="Funkshwey":1320bog1]Correct lefty loosy, righty tighty. Toward you loosen, away tighten/straighten the neck.

You'll be pleasantly surprised after straightening the neck out just a little more. 1/4 is all you'll need prolly.[/quote:1320bog1]

If you tighten (turn right if you're looking down the neck from the bridge) the rod doesn't that biw the neck more (raises relief and action). I think I want to loosen it (lefty) to get the relief lower. I just want to double check before I screw up a $2000+ bass!! hehe.

Thanks guys,

Xavier
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JEDI BASS TRICKS Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Tightening will straighten the neck (less relief) = the strings get closer to the frets. Loosening allows the strings to bend the neck more (more relief) = strings will be farther away from the frets. Def follow Sheldon's guidelines and/or sight the neck first. You may have a nearly straight neck with high bridge saddles, in which case NO truss adjustment may be needed.

When I got my used AB I, the saddles were all the way up and the relief was too much!! That's how the previous owner preferred it :shock: . Luckily everything adjusted nicely, and it was playable (for my tastes) in no time :D .
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Brim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Thanks JEDI. I'll give it a try.
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Funkshwey Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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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.

You want to go towards the G string.
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JEDI BASS TRICKS Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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You want to go towards the G string.[/quote]

:lol: YES ! I TOO tend to move toward G strings. That's why Victoria's Secret is still in business :lol:
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Funkshwey Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="JEDI BASS TRICKS":3aoxb65s]You want to go towards the G string.[/quote:3aoxb65s]

:lol: YES ! I TOO tend to move toward G strings. That's why Victoria's Secret is still in business :lol:[/quote]

:lol:
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TheGrandEnigma Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I've read a lot of nifty stuff for fixing bad intonation among other stuff, but will all this intricate maintenance work on a parallel fret bass? (I know, taboo here, but no Dingwall for me yet :( )
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Funkshwey Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="TheGrandEnigma":39j6bkcd]I've read a lot of nifty stuff for fixing bad intonation among other stuff, but will all this intricate maintenance work on a parallel fret bass? (I know, taboo here, but no Dingwall for me yet :( )[/quote:39j6bkcd]

Yes.
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I dropped my new Super PJ off at my local luthier today, along with the set up specs in this thread.

He does an awesome job and I'm looking forward to getting it back set up to specs and strung with the DR Hellborg strings.

My question is about the pickup height on the PJ. The Specs say 3/32 from the G string on the treble end when fretted at the last fret. Is it really THAT close?

Also, what is the setup on the P pick up? Treble end closer, and bass end lower, but what happens in the middle? I've never had a P pick up.

I'll do these adjustments my self, but I'd like to have a baseline to start.

Thanks!
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Sheldon Dingwall Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="singlemalt":nl96neaj]I dropped my new Super PJ off at my local luthier today, along with the set up specs in this thread.

He does an awesome job and I'm looking forward to getting it back set up to specs and strung with the DR Hellborg strings.

My question is about the pickup height on the PJ. The Specs say 3/32 from the G string on the treble end when fretted at the last fret. Is it really THAT close?

Also, what is the setup on the P pick up? Treble end closer, and bass end lower, but what happens in the middle? I've never had a P pick up.

I'll do these adjustments my self, but I'd like to have a baseline to start.

Thanks![/quote:nl96neaj]

3/32" is right. Use the VU meter to balance the output of the neck pickup set on each string. This is a nice feature of the P pickup design - each string can be adjusted separately.
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singlemalt Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey thanks! I didn't expect to hear from the boss, so I was careful to do it right.

All it needed was a few small adjustments. Everything is to spec, its playing and sounding so sweet.

I was very pleased to begin with and it just keeps getting better!

Thanks very much for the help.
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So, the action by the 24th fret is considerably higher than at the nut. I know it's supposed to be that way, but not by this much (?).

I don't have a string action gauge, but I can get 2 Dunlop Jazz 2 picks on top of each other under the B at the 24th fret, but it's just the way I want it between the 1st and 5th fret.

What to do?
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[quote="Erlend":1yirvocq]So, the action by the 24th fret is considerably higher than at the nut. I know it's supposed to be that way, but not by this much (?).

I don't have a string action gauge, but I can get 2 Dunlop Jazz 2 picks on top of each other under the B at the 24th fret, but it's just the way I want it between the 1st and 5th fret.

What to do?[/quote:1yirvocq]

I have the exact same problem (Norwegian climate?). Anything? The height screws won't even go further down. Is it possible to switch the screws with those from the other strings? (others go lower, but i'e the a string doesn't have to go all the way down with the current screws and setup. As of now, the middle strings can go lower in action than the low strings, makes no sense..?
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Sheldon Dingwall Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="Erlend":ds7bq5g1]So, the action by the 24th fret is considerably higher than at the nut. I know it's supposed to be that way, but not by this much (?).

I don't have a string action gauge, but I can get 2 Dunlop Jazz 2 picks on top of each other under the B at the 24th fret, but it's just the way I want it between the 1st and 5th fret.

What to do?[/quote:ds7bq5g1]

Write down your adjustments. Try lowering the saddle screws a little and loosening the truss-rod a little. Ideally you should have roughly the same gap over the 24th fret as you do over the 12th YMMV.
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[quote="Phoncible":yt3bniie][quote="Erlend":yt3bniie]So, the action by the 24th fret is considerably higher than at the nut. I know it's supposed to be that way, but not by this much (?).

I don't have a string action gauge, but I can get 2 Dunlop Jazz 2 picks on top of each other under the B at the 24th fret, but it's just the way I want it between the 1st and 5th fret.

What to do?[/quote:yt3bniie]

I have the exact same problem (Norwegian climate?). Anything? The height screws won't even go further down. Is it possible to switch the screws with those from the other strings? (others go lower, but i'e the a string doesn't have to go all the way down with the current screws and setup. As of now, the middle strings can go lower in action than the low strings, makes no sense..?[/quote:yt3bniie]

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.
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