Setup goals?

*Reposting this for visibility

Hi folks,

I followed some of the Youtube videos recommended on here to do my own setup, which was a bit intimidating but I’m pretty confident I’ve got it down almost perfectly.

I know that I will likely need to do some work on the nut to lower the E string but that’s about it.

I have noticed that it all feels very clanky. I can’t say there’s any buzzing except when I left my fingers to mute with my left hand.

My question is: are there audio cues (aside from buzzing when fretting) that I should be aiming for?

The cues given in the video tend to be more visual/measurement based.

I’m VERY new to setups and bass as a whole.

For context, I have a Players P bass and new Dunlop Nickelwounds

Maybe you can replace the nut with something like this?

I really like it!

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I don’t mind doing it myself, just need the file for it.

BUT when I watched the Sadowsky setup video, I thought it was really cool that they had an adjustable nut.

So your link is very interesting as well.

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I think their adjustable nut is very cool, something that comes from Warwick (with whom they have a business relationship)

Generally you can file the nut to lower a string, or use a piece of paper or business card to raise it.

As far as clank, that’s a matter of taste. Some players have a lot of clank, some don’t, no right or Wong answer. The setup should get the instrument to your tastes. If you like it it’s a great setup.


The ABM nuts are great because … brass! I like brass for my nuts :slight_smile:

The adjustment option is cool, but you will not use it a lot. I like to play with it when I adjust the neck and bridge though, as I can easily modify action height any way I want to.

I guess this the biggest issue - I don’t know what I don’t know.

In my ignorance, I’m sort of expecting totally soundless fretting etc lol

I get that moving your fingers across will cause some harmonics or “scrape” which is fine.

Just appealing to my more experienced bass comrades to see if I’m missing something!

To me it feels Wong that everything can be adjusted (tuners, neck, pickups, bridge) by just screwing around, but the nut needs to be either filed (with the risk of filing too much) or modified with cheap paper (while having discussion about neck wood material or nut material in relation to sound/tone).

If you experience “noise” at non-open strings, it is either incorrect neck tension or bridge height.
If you experience “noise” at open strings it can also be that the nut height for that string is too low.

Did you setup with those four videos? In my opinion this is the best way to do it, also for a beginner:

Two things:

  • be really careful with adjusting the truss rod (do not use too much force!)
  • try to avoid filing the nut. Leave that to a specialist!
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If you listen to say Geezer Butler there’s a lot of clank in his recordings. It’s a percussive element, and part of his sound. And people practice to replicate it.

It’s in a lot of recordings. Some genres make a lot of use of it. It’s a choice.

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If you play with headphones on you might notice that most, if not all, the fretting noise isn’t really there.

Going to go through these and try his approach.

Thank you!

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Yeah, John Carruthers is serious - unlike most other YouTube guys & gals!

Best is to watch all 4 videos without touching your bass first. Maybe do a dry run next, so you understand what you’re doing.
And then watch it again and do exactly what he says. Be prepared to pause and rewind often.

He is like the grandpa Walton of bass :slight_smile:

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That book looks really cool too.

I took my bass apart this past weekend to get over the fear of tinkering.

Feel A LOT better about digging in now.

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Data from his book (Kindle):

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Wow thank you for this!

Interestingly, I’m pretty sure his string heights are higher than the others I’ve seen, which might explain why what I have mine set to seems clanky.

I’ll have to double check the videos to understand the nut action and truss rod height.

Before you file the nut at all, make sure you are doing the proper fix. If just one string is high at the nut, then filing is an option. However for the more common case of all of them being high, you should instead sand the bottom of the nut - the blank was cut and filed too high but the slots are likely fine in that case.


Before you file the nut, may want to have a spare nut on hand. they are cheap

Yeah or just make a new one to start and put the original aside just in case. It’s surprisingly easy.

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Oh and if your nut has a curved bottom like some old school ones, use the fretboard as a sanding block for the sandpaper. Otherwise, just lay a piece of sandpaper flat on your table and rub the nut on it a few times, then check hight, repeat. Super easy. Same goes for if the nut blank is too wide.

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I’m beginning to feel like there is a limit to how much perfection I’m aiming for.

Might be getting too OCD about achieving numbers when feel matters the most (within reason) lol

IF I go through this most recent setup recommendation video and then have issues with the nut I’ll look into maybe getting a professional to take a look.