Basic Bass Set-Up

Guitar maintenance is an important part of your guitar playing experience and is critical in helping you to maximize the benefits of your instrument. Learning basic maintenance for your guitar will make you more self-sufficient, which in turns saves money and makes owning a guitar more satisfying. I must admit, I am not that handy in this department, but as with most things, I am willing to give it a shot and learn something new.

I jammed with my friends Mike, Kelly, and Janice in late September of 2022. As usual when I jam, I played the bass. Many people consider playing bass for a long time pretty hard because the strings are lot heavier gauge than guitar strings and further apart than on a guitar, so you have to stretch your fretting hand quite a bit further than on a guitar. It is usually pretty tiring for most guitar players who are not used to playing bass. I guess I have more stamina than most because I can last pretty long on the bass, and never gave a second thought to the set-up of my bass.

Some people say that I’m quite good at bass. I was talking with my friend Mike Drolet, not so long ago and we both came to the conclusion that I play bass well because I am quite good at playing guitar. I believe that being good at playing one instrument makes you that much better at playing other instruments. Being good at playing musical instruments also helps you sing better, as I have mentioned in many other of my articles.

There are a couple of songs that I play guitar on, so Kelly switched to bass during our jam. He told me afterwards that my bass needed some proper set-up.

He said, “Your action is too high, and your bass is a little hard to play.”

A week later, I went to Kelly’s house with my bass and let him perform some minor set-up functions on my bass. I always love visiting Kelly’s Tone Lab, even if it is a little cramped. It is such a cool shrine to guitars and guitar playing.

Kelly also has a really good YouTube channel called, Gear Gas Guitars. He is passionate about all things related to guitar, guitar-based music, and guitar gear, so if you’re at all interested in guitars, it is well worth checking out. I am not sure what the Gas part of his channel’s title refers to, but the Gear and Guitar parts are pretty cool indeed.

He told me that he wasn’t the best, most skilled, or most experienced at setting up guitars and is admittedly not a guitar tech but knew enough to get my bass guitar playing smoother than before. I was a little nervous being that this is my only bass and one which I hold very close to my heart. Not mention, it cost me over a grand to buy so not exactly small potatoes value wise.

But I had faith in him. He is the man who has owned over 100 amps and owns several guitars and has owned many others, so I consider him an expert in the field and therefore, took his word for it. And even though he is not a guitar tech, I trust in his skills.

After a bit of a rocky start, he got into the groove and ended up doing a fine job. He first adjusted my truss rod to get the neck oriented correctly, which helps with the action – the term used to describe the height of the strings from the neck of the guitar. Too high, and the guitar is really hard to play because it takes that much more effort to press down on the strings and make a sound. Too low, and the stings buzz. Then he adjusted two of the saddles to alter the guitar’s intonation.

The video is a little long as it shows all the steps required to perform these two tasks. But if you’re interested in this sort of thing, I think you will enjoy it and will pick up a few ideas, tips, and tricks. We end the video with an impromptu blues jam. The video is a little irreverent at times but educational none the less.

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