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Monday, March 12, 2007

How To Adust Your Bass

Last night I began the process of adjusting my son's bass. The first thing I did was Google to get a decent overview of the steps and how to perform them. Our kids will never have a sense of how much Google has changed our lives. They don't even have a concept of life before email! Anyway.. This link gave me all the information I needed, but nothing can really prepare you for the intricacies of instrument repair. You might as well just jump right in!

The advantage of having an inexpensive instrument (C has a Hohner copy of the Fender Precision bass) is that you don't really have to worry about damaging your investment. I purchased this bass for $150 back in 1989, when I was planning on teaching a friend to play. Raj was a huge reggae fan, but even simple reggae bass lines can be difficult for a beginner. One mistake I made was to attempt to teach him to play something "interesting" before he had any technique. That effort didn't last very long, but I have had the bass since then.

The first step in the bass adjustment process is to adjust the truss rod, the metal rod inside the neck that counters the string tension. Actually, our first step was to remove the neck completely because we didn't know what we were doing. I recalled some guitars having the truss rod bolt where the neck meets the body. This link from Fender shows that I was not losing my mind. However, this bass' truss rod is adjusted via the bolt at the top of the neck near the tuning pegs. The method described in the reference I used requires a capo on the 1st fret and a feeler gauge like those used to gap spark plugs. If you don't have one of those you can substitute guitar strings with known gauges.

The next step in truss rod adjustment is to locate a wrench that fits the truss rod. Here you must keep in mind the Universal Law of Allen Wrenches: the first set of wrenches you pick up when beginning the adjustment will not be the correct size for the truss rod. The corollary is: when you locate the set that should fit the truss rod, the wrench that fits is most likely missing from the set. You may try various screwdrivers or other tools, but they will probably not work either.

During this process you are very likely to be attacked by your cat who will act as if he has not eaten in weeks. Of course, he will have plenty of dry food, but during the process of bass adjustment, only 9 Lives Chicken and Liver Niblets will do. Neither shredded chicken flavor, nor beef, nor any type of fish will suffice. Don't even think about "Super Supper" or any other meat by-products.

To be continued...


1974punkmom said...

My husband has an upright that he is working on replacing the bridge on.

David said...

I tried to convince my son to play upright in orchestra, but he's already into trombone (along with electric bass). Come to think of it, I don't relish the thought of lugging an upright around anyway.

Whatever you do, be careful with that blowtorch! :-)