#1
**Boring story shown in italics**

When I originally got my bass (Peavey Grind 5 string) the action was unplayablly low. I originally raised it becaused it was rattling everywhere. I did this only using the bridge; no truss rod adjustments. {I set it quite high out of frustration }

About a year ago I lowered the action again back to a more normal height. I noticed there was practically no bow in the neck. I adjusted the truss rod a little bit but I didn't have the confidence in my own abilities at setting up to keep going with it.

I also noticed there were some "dead frets" passed the 12th on the bass, I didn't know whether it was due to my poor setup skills, or a high/low fret.

Recently I finally got round to handing it into a shop for setup. The action is raised, there's still little bow in the neck, I think all they've done is raise the action at the bridge. The dead fret is gone and they charged me for 1/2 an hours work - which is fair. However I think the action is now too high.

The thing is I'm not sure. I want this bass to be my "real instrument" bass - after years of being stuck in a rut with my playing I want to start taking learning more seriously. So I want to do so without any doubts that my bass isn't up to the job. I don't want too high an action because it will limit what I can play. I don't want the action too low because it'll limit my tone, stamina, and ability to play other basses. I don't trust my own oppinion on it as I don't get alot of exposure to playing other basses. One thing I thought of was going into a shop and trying out a few other 5 strings or maybe bring in my bass and ask them what they thought of the setup directly.


Boring story aside, my questions are as follows:

1: In your oppinion, is a DIY set up better or worse than a professional one? should I see another music shop, or take it back to the shop I have already seen?

2: Is setting up an "art" or can it be reduced to measured factors, even as a rough framework. (for example, the fender standard setup) ?

3: What is your oppinion of the fender standard setup ? is it too low?

4: neck bow should be less for flatter fretboards; this bass has quite high fretboard radius, do you think it should have very little bow?

5: How high are your strings at the 17th fret? (bass & treble side)

6: This might sound like a totally stupid question; Is there anything I should be aware of when adjusting the truss rod on a through neck? I'm worried incase it won't bow where it meets the body ; is this stupid? I don't know. something freaks me out about truss rods, I'm not comfortable with them philosophically.

7: have I got the right link ? http://www.fender.com/en-GB/support/articles/bass-guitar-setup-guide

I see ibanez specify very similar string heights, which suprised me, I thought they'd be lower as Ibanez are famous for low action. http://www.ibanez.co.jp/world/manual/guitars/bass2011.pdf

Sorry for the long post, and thanks to those that read all of it. I find setting up/ action a really boring subject so I do sympathise.
#2
If your ever in doubt get it sorted professionally. That aside it is possible to set up yourself, a fair bit is personal preference (eg string height, which seems to be your main worry). There will be set up instructions on the peavey website and i would advise following them, the set up on my jazz for example won't be too dissimilar but there will be slight differences with the neck.

The only thing that could really go wrong is the neck. If you do decide to have a go loosen the strings and make slight adjustments leaving the neck to settle in between and retuning so to see the new neck relief, repeat process untill happy. to check the relief hold the sting on the 1st fret and the last fret, the distance between the string and the 12th fret should only be a millimetre or two. You don't need a lot of bow (should state how much on the peavey website), check but usually its right to tighten, adding more bow and left to loosen relaxing the neck, straightening it.
But if the dead frets have gone then they've done something, not all basses have much bow, mine doesn't and the guy set it up in front of me when i bought it. If I was you I would leave it as it is, its not causing you any problems. Don't confuse string height and neck relief, they do different jobs.

On to strings.

String height is all about personal preference, it should be heigh enough to get rid of rattle but low enough to be comfortably playable. Saying that slap players like it low as the rattle adds to the slap sound and some players like it to make their bass sound more aggressive.
If you want to lower it then do it, you can always put it back up, just remember to loosen the strings a touch when you do, then retune and to raise and lower each string evenly, so each string has an even volume. You don't want a really loud E string and a quiet G string, but this has to do with pick up height as well.

When you've got it how you like it your sorted, it just needs a check up every couple of years or if you change your string gauge.
Last edited by JKing138 at Jun 6, 2011,
#3
A professional doesn't know exactly how I like my strings and pickups set up, so why would I pay for them to do it for me? Unless they were my tech or something, and knew exactly what I want, I think it's a waste of money.
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#4
If your doing the truss rod and your not very confident, or its a second hand bass in need of some TLC then it would be more worth while. It would be far more usefull if you was there during it, then you can tell the guy how you want it as well.
Theres nothing you can really do that would be that damaging or irreversible that you shouldn't do it yourself, but for string height then you are better off DIY. Its you who has to play it after all and its easy enough once you know how, but if your unsure about anything its better finding some one who does know.
#5
It's actually rather easy. Just do it. How else are you going to learn? Do it with brand new strings, for accurate intonation. I use the Fender setup levels. All of the specs are available on their website in the support area. The manual walks you through it, step by step. I set all of my guitars. Now that I know how, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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#6
Thanks for the replies, I am going to do it by myself to a set specification from either Peavey or another company at the next available oppertunity. Most importantly I want to ask:

would you classify the Fender Standard Setup as a low action or medium action?
#7
Fender's setup is about medium, I would say, but it doesn't matter if its high or low. Its the height where you find it most comfortable.
#8
I Really need to learn to be brave and master the truss rod too, I have an old harmony that I'm to cheap to get set up, and to scared to fiddle with the slight twist, so I think it'll be used for slide.

One thing to note about professional help, be sure and ask ahead of time what it is you what, what they do, and the cost. I went to a local guy whose supposedly the tech god, and he said it was $75-125 for a set up, when I asked he explained they went through every single piece of the guitar. I just need the intonation fixed as I can do everything else, and he said oh $30. And it never hurts to shop around
#9
Ive done my own setups before but nothing wrong with having a tech do it either. They wont know what you want unless you tell them. If you just hand them the bass and say set it up thats what they will do. The guy I used to take mine to I told him exactly how I wanted it set up and in what tuning. You cant expect to have it set up in standard tuning then tune down to drop C and have it play just fine. When it comes to the truss rod which scares the crap out of just about everyone. As long as you dont over tighten anything you will be fine.
I have ibanez basses and they are set up pretty low. I do get some fret buzz when I detune but thats expected. My strings sit about 6-8mm off the fret board. You should also adjust your bass twice a year dependign on where you live. Once in the fall and once in the spring because the humidity change will make your neck change.
#10
i always do my set ups myself, although i had a good teacher show me how.
a good way to think of the truss rodd action wise is its naturally bowed (obv) so the tighter it is the straighter it is, and the straighter it is the closer the fretboard is to the strings.

Another trick i find essential for a super low action ( i like mine as low as humanly possible, takes some very fine tuning) take the neck off and add the spacers ( folder paper or what ever ) but most people would put one at the body side or the neck side, but i do both thats my secret weapon of low action.

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