Help a newbie to fretless set up!

Help a newbie to fretless set up!

Postby freshelfpie » Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:09 am

Posting this both in the G&L and Fretless sections. I've a G&L L-2500 unlined fretless, help a bass setup newbie out. I've only tweaked truss rods once or twice and never on a fretless. The factory SIT strings have given up the ghost. My fretted L-2500 benefitted greatly from a switch to heavier, nickel-wound strings, probably what I'll put on this bass. Specifically, DR Nickel-Wound Low Riders, the .045-.130 set. Beter signal strength, beefier, growlier B string. A bit harder on the fingers with the extra tension. I will probably have to tweek the truss. Yikes, that scares the crap outta me. Anyhow, I guess I want to know how to keep the mwah factor, the growl factor, and the nice bark factor intact. Any suggestions for a similar-tension string to the stock S.I.T.s? If not, how do you set relief when you dont have frets? Do heavier strings have less mwah? Less bark? More growl? I'm kinda in the woods here. The bass plays like butter right now, but the strings are dead as doornails. I'd hate to screw this up, please help!

Re: Help a newbie to fretless set up!

Postby rsnell22 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:55 pm

I've been running DR black beauties on my defretted L-2500. Before that I had some Elixirs that were real good, too.
I've also used DR Low rider Nickels on both fretted and fretless basses, again with real good results.
I'm a round wound fan, though. Your mileage may vary.

To check the neck relief, hold the bass in playing position, and then hold down the string at the first "fret" position and the 13 to 15th or so. The string now becomes the straightedge, and you can look below the string midway up the neck, and measure with an automotive feeler gauge, to get the amount of relief. I usually run .010" or there abouts on mine. I sometimes run a little more with a new set of strings as both the string and neck break in a bit, and then go back to the .010" or maybe a squeak less. The less relief, the more "mwaah", usually, but action has a lot to do with it, too.

If you need to adjust, the word is go slow, 1/8th of a turn at a time, and then let it settle a day or two. If you are tightening, loosen the strings to make life a bit easier on the rod nut. Tighten to reduce the relief, and loosen to increase it. Don't even try without the right wrench. If you haven't done this before, get with someone who has. This is no time to be either too proud to ask for help, or to be a ham fisted gorilla on the wrench.

I seldom talk about setup without publicly thanking Dan Erlewine, and Frank Ford, neither of whom I've ever met.
It was Dan's early articles in Guitar Player that started me down the road to being able to set up my own basses.
Frank has tons and tons of good ideas on his site, that I have borrowed from for many years.

I can't imagine not being able to set up my basses. It's the only way I've ever got them to feel right to me.
Location: Western WA, USA

Re: Help a newbie to fretless set up!

Postby kennans » Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:05 pm

The bass will tell you if it likes the strings or not.

Do not fear the Truss Rod. Make small adjustments - half turn or less - and check it two days later. My fretless necks are flatter than most fretted. And remember; right tools for the job.
Road Dog
Location: Bay Area

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