First "REAL" self-setup on my '83 SB-2

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First "REAL" self-setup on my '83 SB-2

Postby SailRI » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:45 pm

(Disclaimer - I'm a novice/newbie to most things - this may not excite those of you who work on your own)

So a month or longer ago, I decide that I'm going to try and clean up my '83 SB-2 purchased on New Year's Day. I wanted it to just look a little shinier and crisper.

So I take off the strings, remove each saddle and put them in their own labeled bag, and try to wipe down the gunk with a little bit of denatured alcohol. Came out a little bit hazy in spots. Enough to scare me that maybe this is actually NOT the thing to use as a degreaser?

Then a bit of mild 3M rubbing compound on the back. Followed up with the Meguiar's Paint Cleaner/Polish/Carnauba wax on the body, just a little wax on the back of the neck and headstock. The haze is gone, things are shinier.

I hit the saddles with a touch of Simachrome polish, to bring out a little shine. I thought of hitting the tuners too, but the roadworn patina is just too good to shine them up. Then I dipped the saddle screws in a little Marvel Mystery Oil and wiped off the excess. Then the bass sat for a month while I worried there was no way I'd get everything back together without losing something, breaking something, or just screwing up the relief or string height. So I just didn't want to fail. I'd put strings on before, even tried to play with the intonation of another fully setup bass. But this bass had once had a quick "in the middle of a lesson" setup by my instructor once, and we'd not had any luck on intonation with the screws all the way in on two strings, so it had been definitely off at before the strings came off.

Today, I decided to try.

Put a final coat of wax on, QTipped out the corners of the bridge, and put on some Dunlop medium nickels I had bought at Daddy's for $10 a year ago, mounted once on a Squier, and then removed and put them back in the box... Brought things slowly up to tension, and tried to tune it up by ear a little. Failed miserably, with the strings basically laying across the frets all the way down the fretboard.

So I tightened up two small adjustments to the trussrod to add some relief and the strings came up a bit. I remembered hearing about saddle height, and the fact that since the fretboard has a curve, the heights won't be identical. So I raise up the middle ones a bit, the outer ones a bit, the middle ones a bit more, and tune again.

And shock myself! The strings are on. No buzz in the first four frets. A little buzz on the last four frets on one string only, so I fix the saddle height on that. All four strings are in tune. Harmonics on the 12th frets are ALSO right on. String height - not so bad! I did not destroy the truss rod or strip the nut.

So I plug her in, bring up the volume only .
Wow!

I normally have neck pickup only, tone almost all the way down, and the roundwounds that were on it when I bought it were the ones I had taken off. And who knows how old they were. But they had a decent Motown muffled vibe.

Today I had accidentally put it on both pickups, tone 75% up, and tried her out and the sound was fantastic. I mean it had never sounded like that before. Good tension, no buzz, had some "gank" going on, seemed a bit quicker to play than before, clearer. And that sound is not something I can replicate with my Tribby L-2000 . (Shinier too, or did I say that already?)

I'm just enjoying the satisfaction of being able to do it myself. Of not failing or breaking. And of getting a great new sound out of my Black and Maple vintage SB-2...

Thanks for listening.
Bill
Here's some "before" shots. http://betruf.com/SW2Web
SailRI
 
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Re: First "REAL" self-setup on my '83 SB-2

Postby Ken Baker » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:58 am

Isn't it great when you do it yourself? A nice feeling of accomplishment, a little education, and saving a few dollars is always good.

Please keep us posted on how your experiences go moving forward.

A couple little things you might find helpful:

1. If you have a three bolt neck, it's important to be VERY judicious in the use of the Precision Tilt (that's the neck tilt adjuster). A little bit goes a very long way.

2. While you will normally see an immediate change when adjusting the trussrod, bear in mind that it will take a day or so for the neck to settle in completely to the new setting. This is because you're moving wood, and sometimes it needs to be coaxed with a little extra time.

Ken...
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Ken Baker
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