This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Bass with John Patitucci, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Bass with John Patitucci.
Join Now

Beginner Upright Bass
Intermediate Upright Bass
Advanced Upright Bass
Music Theory
Beginner Electric Bass
Intermediate Electric Bass
Advanced Electric Bass
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Bass Lessons: Electric Bass: Basic Bass Setup

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Beginner Upright Bass

+Intermediate Upright Bass

+Advanced Upright Bass

+Beginner Electric Bass

+Intermediate Electric Bass

+Advanced Electric Bass

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Jazz Bass

This video lesson is available only to members of
Jazz Bass with John Patitucci.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Bass with John Patitucci. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Bass Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
Now in terms of how we set up the bass,
this can be very subjective.
Many people have different ways
that they like their bass to feel.
The string height, the types of strings.
Let's start with the types of strings.
I have flat wound strings on this bass.
Because I was thinking,
when I was putting the site together,
it's more of a jazz based site,
so we wanted a warm, thick sound.
Flatwound strings give us that warmth and
that thickness that is sort of
on the way to an upright bass.
That's why I chose that.
Now, having played all kinds of
styles of music for many decades,
I've used all kinds of different strings.
Roundwound strings for slapping or
brighter more pop, rock settings.
Things where the instrument
had to be extremely punchy and
cut through a very loud ensemble.
Use round ones for that.
On my six-string bass, which you'll
see later, I have a combination.
I use half rounds,
which are kinda like round ones but
they're ground down at the top to make
it a little more mellow sounding.
And so those are the three
basic types that I've used.
There's either flats, flatwounds,
which is the darkest.
Half rounds,
which is on the way in between.
In between flats and roundwounds.
And then roundwounds,
which are the brightest.
Even in roundwounds there's nickel.
Ones made out of nickel that I also
like that are warmer and still bright.
So then there is stainless steel,
which is the brightest of the bright.
So that's the types of strings and
they've come a long way with strings,
I mean when I was first starting
to play in the 60s, late 60s,
I think really it was flatwounds and
then roundwounds came in.
So we have more choice
than ever which is great.
Now string height.
As I look down at my bass I
like to have room between
the string and the finger board.
The fret board.
I don't like to have to
not be able to dig in.
I want to be able to dig in when I'm
So that means that my height,
I adjust it so that I can have dynamics.
If I want to play really soft
I can do that.
If I want to play real hard
I can still do that without making a lot
of noises and getting buzzes.
Some people play very low action and
make it work.
There's a lot of great
players I know that do that.
And there's some players that I really
admire that have it really high also.
I sort of have my medium, but
mine's higher than a lot of my
students and things nowadays.
Because people like to have their's low so
they can do effects like tapping,
where they tap with their
fingers on their right hand.
So, they have to have
the action very low for that.
So my preference is to have in mediums
sometimes a little higher because I
play acoustic bass, and I'm used to big
thick strings high off the finger board.
The best thing to do is to try to
set it up so it's comfortable, so
you have dynamics, so
that it is not buzzing but
it's not too high because if
it's too high sometimes it
hampers your pitch your ability to play
in tune even though you got frets.
If the instrument is not set up, which
brings me to my next point, if its not set
up properly,the bass will play out
of tune even though it's got frets,
believe it or not.
So, the bridge height, and
the truss rod are how you adjust the,
the height of the string and
the curvature of the finger board.
So, I would encourage you to find
somebody local who's very good at it,
to show you some things,
and me for instance,
I use a guy in New York city
who's very good Evan Gluck.
He's able to find the right
bridge adjustment.
This is the bridge right here.
The saddles on the bridge, you see
the things that the strings sit on.
Those are saddles.
Those have to be in an arc.
So that there's playability
as you go up and
down the strings,
you know your fingers are different sizes.
Your middle finger is
longer than the others..
And so, there's this kind of arc where the
G string side is one way, and it comes up
a little bit, then the D and A and maybe
comes back down a little bit on the low E.
There's that to think about.
So I have, my arc, kinda like that.
And then I like to have it, like I said,
so, a little higher, so that I can dig in.
Then, there's the curvature of the neck.
The fingerboard and this,
they adjust with a truss rod, which is,
there's a little screw at
the end of the fingerboard.
That's a bit more complicated,
and I don't recommend that you
dive into that by yourself.
But you go see a good
luthier repairman and
you have him show you what's happening.
Because when you turn it tighter,
it changes the arc of
the actual fingerboard.
And then when you release it,
it makes it, so
one way makes it sort of convex and
one way concave, if that makes sense.
So I would go to repairman.
Have them explain that in detail to you,
so you know what's happening.
Because it's amazing how different it can
feel when those guys do a couple of tweaks
with the screwdriver.
All of a sudden
the instrument feels great.
And so, its important to get some training
on that by a really a good professional.
I learned how to intonate my own bridge
and that's something you can learn.
And basically, all that entails is first
you play the harmonic note [SOUND] and
make sure that's in tune, its already
moved, [SOUND] since we started talking.
So I'll just show you on one string.
So here's a G string.
I play the harmonic at
the twelfth fret and
then I'm gonna simply
press my finger down at
the twelfth fret and it should still
read in tune and in this case, it is.
Once we have played our note at the 12th
fret, and decided that it was, we played
the harmonic and it was in tune but when
we fretted the note, it was flat or sharp.
You see these screws at
the back side of the bridge,
there's those little screws typically
they are phillips head, and
you gonna turn it clockwise, to make,
if the note is sharp when it's fretted,
you turn it clockwise and
it'll bring the note back.
If it's flat, you turn counter clockwise.
So these are little screws that you
need to adjust to intonate, you bridge.
Now these bridge saddles are the things
that move forward and back.
So as we move these screws behind
the bridge, the saddles move forward and
back so that we can have an equal
spacing between the 12th fret note
to the bridge itself, and also to the nut
at the top of the bass by the head stock.
That's the way it works.
And so I would encourage you to
visit a luthier and also think about
making sure that your action gives
the string a chance to vibrate.
And that there's enough space between
your string and the actual frets.
Now, tension is another thing.
There are different gauges of strings.
So I use a medium gauge set.
I like to have my G string be .45 and
the D string .65
about a .85 on the A and
a 105 on the E string.
That's my my preference.
That's a pretty good across the board
way to have your bass setup and
I would recommend that as
a start if you're beginning.
And then if you've been playing awhile
I'm sure you've already sort of
played around with string gauges and
you can feel the difference.
And the lighter the string the easier it
is to bend and move around and shake but
sometimes it's not as thick sounding.
That's my take on bass set up and
string set up.