How To Set Up A Bass Guitar

So you’ve taken the dive, and you’ve decided that you want to learn the bass guitar!

You’ve bought it and it’s in a box in front of you, or perhaps you have several components all laid out on your table or in your bedroom.

How To Set Up A Bass Guitar

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn a new skill. Soon you’re going to be learning some sweet bass grooves and practicing them for hours!

But there’s just one thing – how exactly do you get started? If you find yourself wondering about this, then don’t worry!

You’ve come to the right place. In the article below, we’re going to be showing you everything you’ll need to know about how to set up a bass guitar.

We’ll take you through each step of the way, from initial steps to eventual tuning and how you can start learning to play!

We’ve also made sure to include a short FAQ that will help answer any additional questions you might have leftover.

Step 1. Take A Look At What You Have

Depending on where you bought the bass guitar, there are various states that you may find it in before it’s ready to play.

Firstly, take a look at your bass and check out if everything is with it.

If it’s an acoustic bass, then the only thing you’re going to have to worry about are the strings If it’s an electric bass guitar – do you also have an amplifier?

Whatever version of a bass guitar you have, the most important first step is to see whether or not it has the strings already attached.

f it does – then you just have a few small steps to go before you can start playing. If not, then we’re going to have to attach them.

Step 2. Cleaning The Fretboard

If this is a pre-owned bass guitar that is yet to have its strings attached, then you might want to give the fretboard a good clean before you attach its new strings.

Take a slightly damp cloth and run it over the neck and the fretboard.

Then go over again with a dry cloth to remove any dust and debris. This small step will go a long way to how nice your guitar looks a month or two down the line.

Step 3. Clean The Body

Use that same method to clean the body of your guitar.

Be careful with moisture or water when passing over any electrical components. Generally, we suggest using a dry cloth if possible.

How To Set Up A Bass Guitar

Step 4. Stringing Your Bass Guitar

First, take a look at the head of your bass guitar. This is right up the top where the strings tie over the metal parts and can be tuned using the machine heads.

The path from up here, all the way to the bottom of the body is where you are going to be threading your strings.

One by one you are going to pull each new string through the bottom and up to the top, bending the string around the nut and wrapping it while pinching the tuner with your other hand.

Make sure that you wrap each string very tightly around the nuts.

After this, you gently turn the machine head until the string is tight onto the nut and that it’s taut all the way down the neck.

Repeat this with each string to make sure they’re fastened and ready to go!

Step 5. Tuning Your Bass Guitar

This is the part that often fills new guitarists with dread! But tuning your guitar doesn’t have to be nerve wracking!

Thankfully with a bass, we only have 4 strings to contend with, but it’s very important that they’re in tune before you start playing. Opens in a new tab.

In time, you might be able to tune your bass guitar by ear, but that usually takes a while to learn. Without this skill, there are two main ways that you can tune a bass guitar.

With an electric tuner – You can use an electric tuner to tune your bass. These are inexpensive and purchasable at almost every music store.

You play a note and then the tuner will tell you how close you are to the true note. Continue to do this until you’re in the clear and you’ll have a completely tuned bass guitar.

With a piano or other guitar – All you really need are the notes played for you, with this you can slowly tune your own note until you’re in tune!

Related: How to Wire a Guitar

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Get Somebody Else To Set Up My Bass Guitar?

Musicians are social and often happy to help newcomers with their instruments!

If you’ve bought your guitar at a music shop, it’s likely that they’ll help you set it up for free. If not, any musician friends can help you to set up your bass guitar!

Does A Bass Guitar Need An Amp?

You can still play a bass guitar without an amp but it won’t make much sound.

Electric guitars are designed to be played through an amplifier. If you have an acoustic bass (which is just as awesome but slightly rarer), then you won’t need an amplifier in order to play it loud!

If you still have some more questions, keep reading for our FAQ Section.

Final Thoughts

After this, you can let your guitar rest for a while so that the wood properly settles, and then pick it up to play! It’s important to note that you’re likely to have to tune your guitar almost every time you play.

This is because bass guitars go out of tune every so often.

Some of the other steps mentioned in this guide – including cleaning the fretboard and neck, are maintenance jobs you should do regularly and will ensure that your guitar stays looking good for quite some time.

We hope that this guide has helped you to understand the basics of setting up a bass guitar and that you now feel a lot more confident about taking your first steps!


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