» » #4 – Tips for setting up your Bass!

#4 – Tips for setting up your Bass!

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Basic notions about the function of your instrument.

Knowing your instrument and its functioning helps you understand how they react mechanisms and in turn, to modify and leave your Bajo as you always wanted to have it, in addition of course to be victorious in any emergency you have before a gig, in a tour, in the studio or different situations.

Many of the arrangements that an instrument can suffer, can be performed by the same musician, but another variety of them as those that depends the life of your instrument is better that be performed by a trained luthier. However, it never hurts to solve situations and for this it is essential to know certain aspects and functions that will mention next and on more than one occasion I have saved my life and my Bass.


How to put the strings: after removing the old strings, put the new ones following the next steps.

a) Insert the end of each string in each peg hole, considering that the excess string to roll does not exceed  2 laps. If the string length exceeds 2 revolving before inserting it into the hole, cut the end with pliers. When winding the string, return must go from bottom to top.

Como Calibrar Foto 1

b) Once inserted and tuned the strings, at the end of the bridge make a slight downward pressure on the reel to make the strings settle well.

Como Calibrar Foto 2

c) After tuning, stretch the strings multiple times from the space between the neck and the first microphone, and then re-tune the instrument. This helps the pitch be much stable after the second tuning and not have to constantly tune the bass until the strings settle.

Como Calibrar Foto 3


Types of strings: There are several types and gauges that match the tastes and needs of the musician, however knowing the details of each type could become practical when choosing what to use and why.

Strings Type

 

Here are two articles from Best Bass Gear website in relation with this topic.

What’s The Difference Between Bass String Types?
What’s The Difference Between Bass String Types? (Part 2)

How to extend the life of your pegs: the majority have screws in one or more parts of the device, which occasionally is necessary to review and adjust if necessary. Over time it can also happen that collect some dirt and rustin such a case it can be cleaned with a toothbrush (dry) or other type of brush. It is also necessary put a little oil on the wheels of the pegs so that the friction of daily use no tear, or break the parts of the mechanism.


How the neck and tensor works: the tensor is a metal rod, usually double action, which helps to control and stabilize the curvature of the neck according the tension of the strings it receive. Many instruments brings two, especially 6-string basses and some 5 also. Is operated from the nut or other system, which appears in either extreme of the neck. Turning to the side of the clockwise the tensor adjusts; and turning to the opposite side of the clockwise the tensor is loosened. Adjusting the tensor the curve becomes straight and if we adjust to much, a belly is generated in the middle of the neck. Unscrewing the tensor the opposite movement is generated. Ideally, the neck has a slight inclination from the part of of the nut to the bridge and never straight ahead line.

Tip: operate with caution and slight movements since the tensor is a very important part of the instrument and do not want to damage it.

Como Calibrar Foto 7


How the bridge works: depending on the type of bridge, there may be between 2 and 3 adjustment points on the device.

a) The reel where the string supports have 1 or 2 screws to adjust the height (action) of the string on the fretboard. The height depends on each, though for a good functioning is right to give the height of all the strings based on the curvature of the fretboard. This will help the comfort in interpretation, to regulate much of the potential fret buzz or noise may appear and the height of all the strings be evenly between each other.

Como Calibrar Foto 4

b) The bolt that attaches the reel with the piece of the bridge serves to regulate and calibrate the pitch of the notes. To calibrate the notes of the fretboard use as a reference the 12th fret note and its natural harmonic, which would be exactly halfway between the two points that hold the strings terminals, the nut and bridge reel. To regulate this point you can follow these steps:

1) connect a digital or analog instrument tuner and tune the open string using the 12th fret harmonic;

2) compare the pitch of fret 12 (harmonic) with the note tread same fret;

3) if the pitch does not match, you have to move the reel forward (if the note is low pitch) or backward (if the note is high) to the point where both notes, harmonic and note tread coincide in pitch.

Como Calibrar Foto 5

c) A third set point may exist depending on the type of bridge that has the instrument, is to set the reel in the position obtained after calibration. Usually this type of bridges (individual) do not have the screw between the spool and the piece and must be handled manually. Therefore it is essential to be able to fix the piece.

Tip: It is very important to do always with a tuner as a guide since the ear can not recognize the subtle differences.

Another detail to keep in mind is that the motion settings should always be slight and smooth, because these mechanisms are quite sensitive and most of the time the modification is very slight.


How to clean pots: when moving volume knob, tone, etc and hearing noises, it’s time to clean them. The most common and effective way is to use a cleaning fluid such as W80. After removing the knob of each pot, pour liquid into the union, while moving circularly.

A great tip is to just perceive a false twist, when used normally, adjust them instantly to the instrument body. The false turns may generate cuts or separated cables in the circuit, creating a more complex problem.


How to regulate some fret buzz: the unwanted fret buzz or noise may occur for various reasons and have several solutions before giving up and take it to a luthier.

a) If the noises are in the area of the first frets of the instrument (from 1 to 10) is very possible that the solution is loosen the truss rod so that the curvature of the fretboard is correct.

b) If noise appears in the high part of the instrument (from approximately 15 to 20) may be very low action the strings from the bridge and have to re-regulate (see above for how to do this).

c) The frets are often glued to the fingerboard and sometimes, put under pressure (the frets have internal teeth that allow the subjection to wood) but with the use of the instrument and vibration can loosen. Usually fret noises coming from the next fret (going from the low to high register) from it is pressed. If it is slightly raised or move, you can try tapping it lightly with a rubber hammer, and / or glue it to return to its place and stop causing this noise.

d) Another issue that may occur is that the frets could be wasted or has been incorrectly polishing or grinding from factory. In this case the options may be two,

1) Take it to a qualified luthier for a frets rectification or changing it if necessary or;

2) Be encouraged to polish them with great caution and patience. How to do it: you can buy a luthiers tool consisting of a bar of aluminum with curved fret shape and thickness (several measures) and with a super fine sandpaper (600), fix the fret you need to restore. The process is slow and demands patience because the strings must be removed, polish the frets and put again the strings to corroborate the noise continues to be or not, and repeat the same process until completely finish. If you are not sure or have doubts about making this process will always be best done by a qualified person before you ruin an instrument.


After learning a little more deeply the bass and its operation, there is no more excuses to prevent having your instrument as you always wanted.

One last tip, “patience is a muscle that is exercised daily,” and this is a job that should be done with patience, because until you learn to do it correctly may spend a while.

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