Setting Up your bass is like fine tuning a car for optimum performance. A very expensive bass with a poor set up is a disaster. Conversely a nice set up on a cheap, beginners bass makes it a joy to play.
I think it’s really worth learning some basic set up skills. The main two reasons are that it will save you lots of money in the future (a standard set up can cost up to £50) and you can dial in the best settings for you. No one knows the way you want your bass to feel better than you.
To oversimplify things, a set up will alter the height of the strings from the frets – the ‘action’ – via adjustment of the truss rod and bridge. The intonation (tuning) will also be checked. The overall result is that your bass feels good to play and sounds great. ‘Good’ will mean different things to different players. I like a low action with no fret buzz as I have a relatively light touch and like to play the occasional fast line. A rock player who digs in and really hits the bass aggressively would probably go for a higher action.
For anything I’m not comfortable with, namely electronics and re frets etc, I will take my bass to a professional. Don’t be a hero! I highly recommend finding someone you can trust and taking your instrument to them (in West London I can recommend Matt at Monty’s Guitars and Mark Pressling).
I was toying with the idea of making a video or a PDF for this but there is absolutely no point because the guys at Fodera have already made the best guide out there and it follows below. This is what I use to set my basses up. The great thing is that these principles work on any bass as long as you have the correct tools.
Honestly, this set of videos is great as you will understand the engineering of your bass better by the end of it as well as be able to make the adjustments that will make your bass feel so much better to play. Did I mention you’ll save money too??
1) Tools You’ll Need
2) Adjusting Your Truss Rod
3) Adjusting Your String Height and String Spacing
4) Adjusting Pickup Height
5) Intonating Your Instrument
6) Changing Strings, Oiling Your Fingerboard, and Final Adjustments
How do you like your bass set up? Comment below.