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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All my years of taking apart different guitars and setting them up, I have not once setup a bass. I think its about time I dive into it, as I am not happy with certain things. My biggest issue is when I hit single notes, there is no sustain. What can I do to fix this? Is that due to too high of an action? Should the pickup be higher? I know absolutely nothing about setting up a bass.
 

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I setup my bass the same way I setup my guitars. I believe all the same general rules apply, except that I think bass strings vibrate at a greater amplitude, so you may want to target your action a touch higher than your guitars.
 

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The thing about bass is that new strings are like ten zillion times more important than on normal guitars. If you're having tone issues, start w/fresh strings and diagnose from there. I always thought bassists were always broke mooches with no gas money because they were just lazy. Turns out it's at least partially because they have to spend like 40 bucks on a pack of strings every other week.

As far as the sustain - you really have to fret bass perfectly to get it to ring true, especially when recording. Matt(ayus) pointed it out not long ago in a diatribe somewhere and he was spot on. You have to be really precise when playing clean, fast basslines otherwise you just make a mess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As far as the sustain - you really have to fret bass perfectly to get it to ring true, especially when recording. Matt(ayus) pointed it out not long ago in a diatribe somewhere and he was spot on. You have to be really precise when playing clean, fast basslines otherwise you just make a mess.
This could be the issue as I do struggle when playing a bass. My 1st attempt will be to lower the action to see if it helps with easier fretting.
 

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Are all the notes not sustaining, or just a few like the 5th through 8th frets on the G string?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Heres an example; I put a small section of the isolated bass in the beginning so you can hear it. After that it goes into a rough idea of a song I am working on for context. Maybe a compressor would help?

 

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On my Spector's I like just over 5/64's on the low E and just over 4/64's on the G string. Some folks like the necks set straight - I usually add a little relief (around .012") because I play hard and a flat neck causes too much rattle.

Fresh strings and fretting the note correctly just behind the fret will always help. I like some fret buzz when I play (the strings will rattle a little on the higher frets) because that translates to growl and cut in a mix and live. Others want every note to ring clearly with no fret buzz, which will require a lot more work on the players part. Compression can help with sustain, however overdoing it will also kill your dynamics too.

I listened to your clip and didn't really hear anything off...
 

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It doesn't sound like its lacking sustain? My problem is I compare everything to professional recordings and I am just some dickhead recording when I have time on a laptop.
For me, the notes weren't held long enough to hear the sustain or lack thereof... bass will always have a huge attack when the note is plucked or picked.
 

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I thought that sounded fine, too. If there are problems with the bass setup, you're going to notice it more if you have a cleaner tone than that. The overdrive masks a lot of problems, just like it does on guitar.

As everyone else says, fresh strings are a big key for recording. Gigging bassists often prefer older strings, but strings really lose their 'zap' quickly for recording--more so than for guitar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I thought that sounded fine, too. If there are problems with the bass setup, you're going to notice it more if you have a cleaner tone than that. The overdrive masks a lot of problems, just like it does on guitar.

As everyone else says, fresh strings are a big key for recording. Gigging bassists often prefer older strings, but strings really lose their 'zap' quickly for recording--more so than for guitar.
The strings are relatively new and to be honest I never noticed a big difference after replacing them before. It could be because I do prefer a distorted Fear Factory type of bass tone for my lower tuned stuff.

Well, I guess I could be nuts as usual and need to add some post fx to level it out more.
 

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Heres an example; I put a small section of the isolated bass in the beginning so you can hear it. After that it goes into a rough idea of a song I am working on for context. Maybe a compressor would help?

Maybe you should just play one note and let it right out to show the sustain?
You're playing new notes all the time :flex:
 

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You should determine if the bass has a sustain issue or not by playing it cleanly through an amp, not distorted to death through a recording console. Go up and down the neck, note by note, and let the notes ring out completely. That will tell you if there is an issue inherent to the bass itself. You will almost certainly find a shortness of sustain on the G string between frets 5 and 8, unless you are playing something like a Modulus, Zon, or other carbon necked bass. Maybe play those notes first, and then start with open E so you know what a lack of sustain sounds like.

Take 5 minutes, do exactly that, and you'll find out if the issue is with the bass or somewhere else in your chain. There's no point in continuing to trouble shoot if you aren't taking steps to rule out individual components to your overall recorded sound.
 

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It doesn't sound like its lacking sustain? My problem is I compare everything to professional recordings and I am just some dickhead recording when I have time on a laptop.
Sustain is somewhat overrated on bass. It's not usual to hold notes for a long time. What you really have to watch out for is dead spots--where the notes are muffled from the beginning or die immediately. I didn't hear any dead notes in your clip--it all sounded right on. However, if you recorded a clip with a clean sound (or reprocessed this clip with a clean amp VST, if that's how you roll), then it'd be easier to tell if any of the notes are weak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Take 5 minutes, do exactly that, and you'll find out if the issue is with the bass or somewhere else in your chain. There's no point in continuing to trouble shoot if you aren't taking steps to rule out individual components to your overall recorded sound.
I did this for a little bit last night and felt like none of the notes were ringing out enough. 1st attempt was lowering the action and pickup. Nope, buzzing galore and still no sustain. So I went in the opposite direction with raising the action and pickup. Bingo! That fixed it! One thing I want to change is the low B string. I think it is too thick and with a thinner string it will sustain even more.
 
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