Setup:: Neck Adjustment

Neck adjustment is usually the first item of setting up a bass properly. This may require purchasing a special tool such as a torqs wrench or allen wrech.

Before attempting bridge adjustment, you should determine if your bass needs neck adjustment first.  This is because, if you adjust your neck after setting up the bridge and strings, you will likely need to do your setup all over again since you have changed the dynamics of you bass.  If your neck is straight on both the high side (G string side) and low side (E string), and there are no problems like excessive string buzzing, then proceed with adjustment of the bridge.


Now, a little bit of bow in the neck is not a bad thing, especially if it on the low side, since the lower strings vibrate more.  Typically, you should not have more than about 1/24 inch (1mm) of bow over the length of your neck.  If your neck arches toward the strings, you need to adjust this out of the neck.  Usually, there is an adjustment at either the head of the bass or at the but of the neck. 

If you have a bolt on neck and you cannot find the adjustment, it may be hidden at the butt of the neck, like the photo above, and you may need to loosen the strings, and loosen the neck from the socket.  This will require that you loosen and or remove the screws in the neck plate on the back side of the bass. 

The adjustment tool used to adjust the neck varies from instrument to instrument.  Some use a flat blade screw driver, or allen wrench, or torqs driver, so be prepared.  If it is possible to have the strings on and in tune when adjusting the neck, this is the best scenario.  It is recommended that you do not make excessive adjustments quickly.  Some basses have double truss rods in the neck, like the Rickenbacher, so that each side can be adjusted independently.  However, most basses, have only one truss rod for the neck adjustment.  If you have an allen or torqs type adjustment, take care not to ruin the end, because of you do, your neck adjustment days are over. 

Adjust the neck so that it is straight in the length direction (from the nut to the body) or adjust it so that there is a slight bow away from the strings.  The latter will sometimes allow for a lower playing action of the strings.

After getting the neck adjusted correctly or optimally, then proceed to bridge adjustments.


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