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Getting new (used) bass set up


smooveface

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I have a Lakland 55-02 on the way to me and should be here in a couple of days. The seller mentioned "the neck was set fairly straight when I sent it out. Not sure how it will play when you get it, but the wrenches are in the top zip/velcro compartment". He also mentioned he thought "the nut slots could come down a bit to take some stress off your left hand".

 

Is it normal for the neck to shift? And in terms of moving the nuts slots down to relieve stress on my left hand, can anyone tell me what that means? Do I need to take this somewhere to have the bass setup properly? I'm not sure what that involves or how much it typically costs. Could someone please enlighten me?

 

Thanks

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Congrats on the new bass!

Yes the neck can shift a bit due to many things like different gage strings and weather conditions, etc. It's pretty normal and usually is no big deal. Just a slight adjustment of the truss rod will do. Moving the nut slot down is simply taking a file and deepening the slots to lower the action down at the lower end of the neck. If you've never done these kinds of things to a bass before then I recommend that you take it to a qualified repairman and have him set it up for you. See if he will let you watch and give you a few pointers on how to do it yourself.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

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There's a guy locally who does setups for $40 on average. Could be more in some cases. Keep in mind, these are mid Missouri prices and could easily be $20 higher in LA or NYC.

I'd let your luthier take care of it this time, especially filing the nut (lowering the nut slots). In the long run you need to learn how to set up your bass on your own. Change strings, adjust the truss rod, adjust string height, and set intonation. Besides saving you money it's fun to do.

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There are certain procedures needed to set up a bass. It's important that you do them in the proper order. Don't rely of what the previous owner thinks the bass needs. There are several very good video tutorials that teach you "how to". It's my opinion that every player should be able to setup their own instrument because it is usually a period of time where you are discovering what you want. Also, basses get out of adjustment occasionally and need to be reset. If you like, we can give you some videos to guide you thru the process.

Rocky

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The instrument comes from the factory with a nut that is, what you might call, a compromise height. The depth of the notches in the nut establish the clearance of the strings over the first few frets. Some players like a super low action and will file the nuts slots down to the minimum height to clear the first fret. Other players may like a higher string height that does not buzz on any style of playing. There are some specs that list the clearance at .015" above the 1st fret which is a little lower the the average factory cut. If you decide to do the setup yourself, I would suggest you not change the nut at this point. Play the bass for several weeks or more before you decide that the nut needs lowering.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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I have found that, since adjusting the truss rod makes a significant change on the way I feel the upper frets string tension, I usually didn't paid much attention to the nut height until I've found the "right" neck tension point, and then I would take measures, if needed, to solve things at nut height.

 

Then it came my Alembic bass. :) It has an adjustable nut, which can be raised or lowered using a couple allen screws located between the 1st and 2nd strings and the other between the 4th and 5th strings. I found I liked it a little bit raised at the 5th and all the way down at the 1st. Double truss rod, no buzz at all, smooth and easy to play as heaven.

 

I've been thinking a lot on the "Adjust-a-nut" model that some Warwicks come equipped with, for a couple of my "boys". It has some curious design in which each string rests on a screw with a transversal cut which doubles as the nut slot. Then you screw/unscrew each "slot" individually until finding the proper height for each string. This is even more detailed work than the Alembic nut, so it would allow for a more precise set-up. It would take a little more time to set, too...

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