BassBuzz Setup Video, Focus Group Please!

UPDATE: Here’s the official BB setup vid!

Hey fam, here’s the deal - we have a bunch of setup threads, and many good setup videos, but it’s time for an official foolproof BassBuzz setup video.

I’d love your input to make it the best it can be, so before I do a full production, I’ve made this special-for-you one take version where I talk through my setup process and recommendations -

[old video deleted]

For newbies who’s never done a setup before - was this helpful? Do you feel able to do your own setup now? If not, why not?

For veterans who are better at this than me - what could I explain better? Did I get anything wrong? Did I miss any critical tips and tricks?


Looks good. I would add at the start the instrument needs to be in tune to whatever tuning you play in before any measurements can be taken, and to retune after any adjustments. Always detune a step or more when tightening any truss rod. I also measure action unfretted at the 15th fret and look for 5/64 on bass and 4/64 on treble to be medium low, but different manufacturers call for differing measuring requirements


Thanks @JoshFossgreen

This is a great Video and it’s cover all of the setup issues most people encounter.

I took some notes while watching so I can recall it, lol.

  1. Truss rod, I love the business card tip.
    Does it affect the adjustment if the strings are in tuning tension? Or it’s recommended to have less tension before making the adjustment.

  2. I think you cover with great clarity on the topic.

  3. Nut, I agree with you there, it can be a hassle to deal with the first time and usually requires special setup kung fu to get it right, lol.

  4. This is a very common problem most if not all beginners do not want to deal with and I remember the first few times I did it, I failed miserably.
    You mentioned scale is that something that puts you in a good starting point? 34” from where?
    Can it be done with strings in tune or it needs less tension.
    What happens when it’s max and still not in tune? What’s the best restarting point?
    Do you need to redo intonation when changing string gauge. I guess this also go with nut topic if it need to be cut again.

  5. I got it 100% from your explanation.

Love your explanations, lots of examples to get the whole picture. Can’t wait to see the real one.


Great video.
There are more ways to set up than there are people that have basses, lol.
I think yours is very straightforward.

Here are a couple of thoughts…

Step 1 (or is it zero) should always be tighten the neck bolts, this step is missed by almost everyone. You would be suprised how loose these can get over time. - courtesy of Roger Sadowski

Before each step, tune or retune (in the tuning you normally use):
I know you said it, but can’t be said enough, lol
move truss rod
set action
set intonation
check tuning
set pickup height
basically retune every time you move anything.

truss rod - i use ‘straight tight’ to remember which way does what (maybe I am just forgetful). You might want to say here that if your bass is brand new from a big box or online store, you may need several adjustments over days before it settles in.

truss rod - it might be worth mentioning to make sure you use the right allen wrench, and be careful metric vs. imperial, they are close but you can strip the nut if you try to use the wrong one, make sure no wiggle at all.

Intonation and height when raising considerably - should really be detuned a bit ( i know you mention it as a maybe, but it really is a ‘should’) to avoid damage to the bridge (creating etched bolt tracks in in the bridge from intonation) or pits (from height), I have seen both on basses I have bought. With intonation, you can also start to bend/buckle the saddle sometimes, cause damage, and not keep it straight up/down. I got this on a used bass and had to replace the bridge. Some bases are built better than others.

Intonation - make sure to ‘tap’ the end of the screwdriver (while in the screw head) with the palm of your hand after an adjustment to make sure the head of the screw did not lift away from the bridge (happens all the time) - courtesy or Bill Caruthers.

Pickup height - the Money by Pink Floyd riff is a good test tune for heights
Pickup height - a couple watchouts here

  • if you need to raise them and they stop going up, the foam underneath may be too squished and may need to be replaced.
  • watch out for binding of pickup/cover and screw when screws are slightly askew (say that 10 times fast). A lot of basses, esp cheap ones, have screws that are angled. Wiggling the pickup with your fingers can help
  • make sure each screw is actually touching the pickup/cover at all times and when done
  • one side effect the other, so make sure to go back and forth when setting until both sides are correct

Last Step - check everything again and record where you are so if you like it you know how to get back there

one consideration - some people like to do this ‘by feel’, others need more than that to feel confident or just cause that’s how they are (like me, I like numbers) giving numbers for everything as a ‘starting guide’ in the comments or something and telling these folks to ‘start here, and then learn what feels good for you’ is important.

Lastly, everyone knows you wear a black hoodie in setup videos. :upside_down_face:


Here’s a couple of tips from this peanut in the gallery…

  1. You don’t need a capo to hold the E string down to the 1st fret. Any thin and fairly rigid object will do:

  2. I’m curious, why do you use the 13th fret for checking neck relief? I’d recommend using the fret nearest to where the neck joins the body (17th fret on most basses). This isn’t critical for a basic home setup but if you are trying to set up an instrument to factory specs you’ll notice a significant difference in your measurements.

  3. Strings… please don’t ever say “maybe tune them”. Always say “Always tune them between each adjustment.” :wink:

  4. 4mm at the 12th fret?!?! What are you smoking? lol

  5. He said “nut issues”…

  6. Easy way to remember what direction to move the saddles for intonation: If something is sharp… move away from it!

Great job so far Josh!



Hah, just kidding. :slight_smile:

So, as I get older, my eyes get more and more horrible. Even with my fancy new progressive glasses, really small things are a bitch (like… soldering up my Warmoth was a circus).

Anyway, I use a lot of tools. Like… the business card idea for testing truss rod, I do that. The clicking thing is great, though, and I had to check that out while I was watching the video.

I also have a couple of Dunlop Tortex picks glued together as an “action” tool. Slide it between the fret and the string, and then raise or lower the action to suit. Works pretty well. But I normally do it on the last fret of the fretboard; would there be an appreciable difference between there and on the 13th fret?

Definitely a good start to what will be a great video.


Oh, mine are immediately taken off for all this work, can’t see a damn thing that up close with them.


I think it’s a matter of how your progressive lenses were ground. I learned that through trial and error.

I use progressives and I can now see close-up details in sharp focus. You might want to ask your optometrist to tweak your lenses for nearer focus. :eyes:


Great idea for a video @JoshFossgreen! Overall it’s awesome. My feedback:

  1. Completely agree with getting the message out early that no special tools are needed. I think a lot of beginners fear they need a ton of gauges and tools, and the opposite is true - it’s easier without them :slight_smile:

  2. Great call on the tapping test for truss rod; this is actually enough to get you all the way, without any further measure, once you are used to the feel. It’s all I ever do now.

  3. With the truss rod, recommend that you tell people to always loosen a little first. It’s a good idea to loosen a tiny amount before tightening, just to “unstick” it so you don’t need to force anything in the tightening direction.

  4. Agree with the others to tune up between steps.

  5. Can be a good idea to detune a little to relieve tension before raising the action on the saddles.

  6. G string should be slightly lower than E string but for this video that’s not so important.

  7. When checking the nut I think you want to fret on the opposite side of the third fret than you did (up against the second fret wire.) Will only make a difference if the nut is very high though.

  8. I really love the idea to check intonation at 17th. Thanks for the tip :slight_smile:

Thanks for doing this, this is going to end up one of the best setup guides out there.


Looks good to me @JoshFossgreen

One ‘trick’ that I’ve found useful when measuring clearance; rather than using an engineering rule to measure I use an allen key as a feeler gauge. So if I want 2mm clearance at the 12th fret I just slide a 2mm allen key in there to check the gap.

Much easier on my eyes and three’s less chance of introducing parallax error.

It might also be worth mentioning that intonation will vary as the strings age.
I always set mine so that it’s right with new strings and then leave it for the life of the string.

Should string changing be part of the video? To me, the two activities go hand in hand.


Thank you @JoshFossgreen for another really critical video on bass for beginners.
Not everyone is an engineer, so keeping things where they work for lowest common denominator really works well. Meaning its good if it can be understood by everyone from a well-trained musician to a rookie with their first bass-in-a-box.

Most every new bass player isn’t going to have a super-duper set up toolkit, so keeping it simple is nice. A couple Allen wrenches, a business card (good if it has your local luthiers info on it😛), and a ruler can solve most common issues.
The video is done really well just like it is. Adding some visual aids wouldn’t hurt, and may really appeal to absolute beginners-and since your b2b program attracts them, maybe it’s in the works?

Could you also add imperial measurements? It May help for those in countries that don’t use or teach the metric system-this isn’t to create a debate-it’s maybe more for elimination of confusion?

All that being said, really great information there. I wish i had that video when i was working with my first no name low-money bass that i ordered from Amazon. I could have saved myself some headaches and quite a little YouTube time.


overall love what you have to say here. a few notes:

  • assume this will come in the final video but obviously some close up shots, some simple graphics explaining truss rod bend, etc…
  • a clear list at the start of the 5 steps. i think its important that people have a very clear picture of the process and the steps, and why they must happen in this order.
  • be more assertive: 'you MUST tune between every adjustment."
  • i personally really, really like having hard numbers to look for rather than ‘until it feels good’ - as a n00b i have no idea what does and does not feel good so having specific numerical guidelines to shoot for as an average are incredibly helpful. this goes for action, truss rod clearance, and pickup height. tell me exactly what to shoot for even tho i fully understand its personal preference.
  • you can use a pick as a capo for the first fret.
  • if i wanted to buy a few simple tools what should i get? worth a mention.
  • hate to say it but i also think it would help to visually show all the steps, and that means detuning/de-setup-ing a bass and then making it proper again. until you see someone do a 1/8th turn on a truss rod its hard to visualize how little that really is.

@mgoldst I totally agree with all the points you make, Mitch. :+1:


As a newbie that’s tried to do my own setup then took it in…couple of comments.

You mention the beginning that they’ll need another setup periodically…I know it depends, but ballpark, how often? Or what are the signs that it needs another setup? What are the first things to look out for?

And for action heights and even for the bow in the neck, this is more work, but if you had examples of each of the states on a bass and demonstrating what the issues are instead of just describing it, it would help me identify the situations better. Fret buzz - how much is bad technique vs too low action vs too convex a neck…hearing and seeing it would help me be able to get a sense, since this is all new to me and not sure what “normal” looks/sounds/feels like.

So playing a bass with low action and showing the pros/cons and one with high action would be helpful over just talking about it and me trying to imagine how it is different. Since I’m pretty sure though you’re using words I understand, I don’t have the bass experience to know exactly what you mean.

Overall though, it seems inspirational enough to want me to try again…cause I can take it back into the shop. @JustTim ‘s joke about the business card having your luthier’s info on it is a good point too!


This really varies by climate. The place I live has large seasonal changes; I need to do a bit of setup every couple months. Places with milder seasons can go more or less forever on one (or until something changes, like string tension.)


Thanks everybody, this is massively helpful!


Great video Josh @JoshFossgreen , as usual :+1::sunglasses:
Great input team, I’m sure newbies will have enough info to master their basses going forward :+1:


Great video @JoshFossgreen … Clear explanations, animations (i.e., camera angles when needed), and you simplified the processes (which we’ve all come to know and love from you and your videos!) for what could be considered a daunting task.

Confession time, I have never fully set up any of my basses. BUT I WILL, especially after hearing your comment(s) about some of the set up intricacies that can make our playing sound worse if the set up is not done even if we are playing correctly, e.g., string buzzing, the string hitting the pickup, etc. all of which I experience regularly, and just thought it was me.

Hope these additional comments helped.

PS : Merry Christmas everybody!!



I think it was mentioned that the order of these steps is important. For me, it would be important that you combine that with a reminder that each step is (kinda) seperate. Otherwise, as a beginner, I’d get intimidated that everything will go in circles.

Now, I know that if I adjust the truss rod I need to check the action, sorta. Or if you file down the nut, reset the action. If the truss rod is out of whack, don’t start by setting the action. So, I guess the bottom line is:

  1. Explain the order of the steps
  2. Talk about how not to go in circles

Pro-tip: do the adjustment at a time when you a) have played for the day (a little more after a success will be good), and b) when the shops are still open… otherwise you’ll have to wait, being unable to play.



Will definitely add more emphasis here!

Yeah good point, I often avoid this cuz it takes more time :stuck_out_tongue: but detuning is better advice.

Good shout!

I got this from a lot of other setup pros, including this vid:

My understanding is the trussrod doesn’t affect the high frets as much, so checking the bottom half of the neck is more relevant to the adjustment?

Also, using the 13th fret allows for the one-handed trick of holding the 13th, and then tapping the 7th with one hand, although that’s not critical, especially with your clever ruler trick.

Haha fair. 2-3mm it is!

Problem with unfretted is it includes your nut slot height as a variable, and you’re really trying to check bridge action at this point, so fretting at the 1st fret eliminates that variable.


Ah interesting. That makes sense if the goal is to measure 1st fret clearance. @Korrigan thoughts on this?

Could be, but then it’d be an hour long. :stuck_out_tongue:

Good call, will do!

Yeah, will definitely do a real setup in the final vid!