How I set up my bass (and the “rasp” secret)

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People often ask me how I get that “raspy” sound when I play.

And, I’ve got a confession…

A lot of it (as in, a HUGE amount) is in the way I actually set up my basses.

That’s why in my earlier videos I didn’t have “that rasp” and in my newer videos over the last few years, I have bucket loads of rasp.

I changed the way I was setting up my basses!

So… I thought it’s was about time I show you how I set up my basses…

As in, the EXACT measurements.

And even cooler – you can do it with only a few tools that you’ll likely have lying around your house.

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19 comments

  1. I always do the nut first because if the nut ain't right the rest won't work. The nut controls the action over the first few frets, and as a generalisation, the truss rod controls the action over the middle section of the neck where most of the playing is done, and the saddles the upper register of the neck; of course they interact. The nut can be tricky without special tools, nut files, and a lot of practice doing it; don't go reaching for a set of swiss files from the pound shop. On a top-end instrument the nut will be right but mostly they are set too high, because you can only file stuff off not put it back on.

    WD40 is not oil, don't let it get near wood, it is a de-watering penetrating fluid, mostly solvents; it's for the hinge on the garden gate. The truss rod may well be in a plastic sleeve and they hate solvents. Just a drop of good light machine oil e.g. gun oil, down the truss rod nut, loosen the nut off to let the oil through the threads.

  2. If you encourage people to change their set up you gotta remember to tell them they need to check intonation afterwards!!!! You can't just make those adjustments and expect your high notes to still be intonated! Also bad idea to put WD40 inside the truss rod hole.

  3. Just a thought we may be overdue a string type comparison £8 v £80 round , flat and tape type thing ?

  4. Scotty , another winner! Loving the “Bow wah bab” sound . I’ve always been a bit afraid of fiddling with my instruments but now I’m going to give it ago. See your always inspirational.

  5. Sprague makes capacitors. Their orange drop caps are mfg with an orange plastic dielectric that resiste breakdown. Higher quality, lasts longer, etc.

  6. Woooooooo! Word to all the fellow gloss-neck haters out there!

    SATIN MASTER RACE

  7. Love glossy necks!

  8. I like glossy necks and I like satin necks. For an older Fender, I prefer the glossy neck and for a MusicMan I prefer satin finish.

  9. Steel wool does a nice job for putting satin on a glossy neck. The word us older folks use is "growl", not raspy sound. Buzz sucks, growl is awesome when used correctly. A couple of things I would suggest showing folks are how to intonate the bass you just adjusted the truss and saddles on. That done, you might at least mention shimming the neck (for those without micro-tilt necks). Yes, it matters for those without neck-throughs because sometimes to get the correct relief and action throughout the entirety of the fretboard, that's what needs to happen. Also, I didn't hear mention of the fact that one should put on a fresh set of strings when redoing the setup, unless they NEVER change their strings (like Jamerson or Rocco). All that said, you still did a good job of explaining things. Oh, and BTW, it's 1/4 turn every 20 minutes, to allow the neck to stabilize under the new tension, so adjust, check action, wait or play 20 minutes, then adjust again and repeat if needs be. Carry on, geez!

  10. you are correct about the capacitor. It is for the tone control. There’s an article on this manufacturer by Gibson: http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/Orange-Drops-Busting-Tone-Control-Capacitor-Myths.aspx

  11. I think calling it "ghetto" is either racist or cultural appropriation. Either way. Shut up

  12. Hey Scott. I have a mega Shuker  5 string that I cant stop the b string from buzzing everything else is perfect . Any ideas ?

  13. Should the strings be the same distance from the neck at the top and bottom as my strings by the bridge are about 2mm and 3mm to 4mm down by the 12th fret and I’ve turned the Allen key screws down a full turn already

  14. Proper way to measure your neck relief is to fret the 1st and 15th fret and measure from the top of the 7th fret to the bottom of the high and low E strings (G for bass). Average neck relief there should measure .005" to .008" (5 to 8 thousandths). The easiest way to do this is to capo fret 1 and finger fret 12 (with your off hand), then use a feeler gauge to measure at the 7th fret. I went to college for lutherie, and this is how my teachers taught us, and this is how I do it at work.
    *make sure to take all measurements while holding the instrument as if it were being played. If it's sitting flat on its back, gravity can affect the measurements.

  15. You always blow me away with your playing

  16. Yeah I don't like glossy necks!!

  17. the sprague cap is the cap on the tone knob, most likely n.o.s. i build guitars and basses hewre in the us, we favor old nos russian oil caps from the 40s
    the basses we build the necks have an oil finish no poly or any crap like that.

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