Baby’s first self-setup - Squier 70s Jazz

I’m running through B2B and on a whim I decided to check my action height. By all accounts it’s very high. At the 12th fret my open E is over 4mm, 3.5 at the 5th, etc. Just seems unnecessarily high. All the pro shops here are quoting me a lead time of 3+ weeks and I don’t want to be without my guitar that long so I figure it’s time to move into the wild world of doing your own setup.

I guess my first question is — Fender gives some setup specs for their guitars here:

These should be a good starting point for a Squier as well, correct? I’m also just trying to get a good baseline setup since as a beginner I don’t have any feel for what “my style” is yet. My goal is to get a nice generic setup that I can learn on without an unnecessary finger workout trying to fret extra high strings.

I’ve picked up a long 4mm allen hex to do truss adjustment and, if the Fender page has the right specs, my 9.5” radius neck has twice the recommended relief so I’ll be adjusting that first.

My goal is to do all this without removing the strings and only loosening them, but on the off chance that I do mess something up I’m looking for a recommendation on good beginner baseline strings. Would a pair of nickel wound 45-105’s be a fair starting point? Again, not looking for “my style” of strings because my style is developing, just something generic and good for all styles taught in B2B.

I figure if I mess this up then I have to wait for a setup anyway, so I might as well try to do it myself. The only real danger adjustment is the truss rod IMO and I’ll take that one very slowly any gingerly making sure that there’s no string tension.

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Honestly - you’ll be fine, don’t overthink it. It’s easier than you think.

First step, watch this:

You don’t need to remove your strings, you don’t need gauges to measure or anything like that.

My setup routine:

  1. Tune up
  2. Adjust truss rod if needed (it likely will not be needed, but if it is, do it first.)
  3. Tune up again.
  4. For each string, lower the bridge saddle until it starts to get a little fret buzz in the 7th-9th frets with normal plucking.
  5. Raise the string 1/4-1/2 turn. Repeat for all the strings.

That’s it. Sometimes I check intonation too. But it takes like 15 minutes tops. You can do this without harming your bass :slight_smile:

Detuning the string a little when raising the saddle at the end is a good idea, and if you do adjust the truss rod, do it in very small (1/4 turn) increments and let it sit a few minutes. But other than that there’s no black magic here, it’s easy.

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Thanks for the tips! It’s intimidating but I suspect only because it’s the first time I’ve done anything like it. Changing the oil in my motorcycle or car was also terrifying the first time I had to take a wrench to my expensive new purchase but it quickly became second nature so I’m sure this will also pass :slight_smile:

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It isn’t rocket science. The only caution is to make sure you have the correct size hex key for the truss rod, and that it is fully inserted before applying force. Replacing a stripped truss rod is an expensive repair.

As @howard said, you can make all the adjustments without gauges and get a perfectly fine setup. However, I like to use gauges and record the settings after I have everything dialed in exactly right. I can then refer to these numbers on subsequent setups and have it perfect in no time. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

The Fender settings you linked to are fine for a Squier bass (or just about any bass, for that matter).

After you’ve done it a few times it will indeed become second nature.

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Yep. That’s pretty common. I like the D’Addario XL (EXL165).

Yep. I went there first also. I recommend looking at these videos in this post first… Bass Setup. If you want to dig real deep, there is a PDF guide linked there also. I would say, watch the videos, do the setup, and if your still not comfortable, then check out the PDF link.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say people worry about messing up when adjusting the truss rod a lot more than they should. I think it’s because it’s the one piece where you can’t see what’s going on. If it’s still bothering you after looking at the videos. That PDF does a great job explaining what’s going on inside the neck when you make adjustments.

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Hi there!

Let me share my 2 cents about this.
I have 2 different setups on my 2 basses.

I think that, aside from fixing some intonation problems or adjusting the rattle, everything else is pretty subjective.

Some people like high action, some likes low or really low action (like Jason, from Fodera), pickups high is also a matter of personal taste.

Out of all the videos I saw out there, the ones I found most informative, were from Jason from Fodera

That’s the playlist, is out of order tho, so you will need to jump between videos.

As the other bass-mates mentioned, isn’t a hard process, but setting up your bass could quite some time until you get the configuration you like the most.
Just take it slowly, and play around until you find the sound you like.

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100% agree
I was also pretty terrified to adjust the truss rod on my first setup but, as the Fodera guy says, truss rods are there to be adjusted.
Wood will move depending on the weather, age, etc, so, some adjustments on the bridge are really common.

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Well, a big thanks everyone. I worked up the courage to do everything myself and it was a piece of cake. The guitar feels much easier to use now that I don’t have a super high action.

The only thing I didn’t tackle was nut action but I’m happy to leave that one to a professional.

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Filing the nut is easy as well but it is kind of a pain. I haven’t done it on my main bass.

You also might not even need to. there’s an easy test to tell. For each string, fret the 2nd fret wire, but on the opposite side (finger in the third fret, up against the second fret wire.)

The string should be almost touching the first fret wire, but with a tiny gap (0.1-0.3mm, very small gap). If the string is touching the first fret wire, the nut groove is too low. If there is a large gap (like 1mm), it’s too high and would benefit from a little filing.

Very unlikely to be a critical problem though.

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Mine are approaching high measurements on A/D/G but I don’t think the reward is there just now to offset the risk of potentially messing it up with improper tools/etc. This one I’m happy to leave to a pro the next time I take the guitar in (and I will take it in at some point — I’m owed one free setup so I’ll be damned if I don’t make use of it :wink: ), and it plays so much more effortlessly now than it did this morning that I doubt I’d even notice the improvement right now.

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Good call :slight_smile:

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