Measure the action
I´ve read all the stikies about how to set-up the bass. But I see that there are different aporaches (at 12th fret, at last fret, you have to press down at 1st fret and measure at 12th fret).
What´s the correct way?:confused:
String height is measured at the twelfth and last fret at the bass (E on a four string) and treble (G on a four string) sides. This measurement is usually taken in sixty fourths of a inch in the USA.
Relief measurements are made primarily by two different methods. The first is to use a dedicated, precision ground straight edge. The second is to use a string as the straight edge.
When using a precision straight edge, the measurement is taken at the seventh fret using a set of feeler gauges. Most precision straight edges sold by luthiery supply houses are long enough to span from the first fret to somewhere around the fifteenth fret of a 34" scale instrument. In the USA, the feeler gauges will be graduated in thousandths of an inch. Slide a leaf of the gauge under the straight edge at the seventh fret. If it does not fit between the edge and fret, try a smaller leaf. If it moves freely, try a thicker one. The correct size will fit comfortably between the two surfaces and move with a little bit of resistance. In short, the correct leaf will not fall out due to gravity, but will move easily.
There are many ways people use a string as a straight edge. Most of them involve sprouting a third or fourth limb prior to commencing work. The easiest and most reliable way is to employ a capo.
Set the capo at the first fret. Push the string down at the fourteenth, seventeenth, fret at the neck body joint, or last fret. The choice is yours because it is not important which fret is used, only that all measurements are made from the same fret. It is true that there will be some variation in the measurement depending on end point.
Using the feeler gauge is trickier with a string. It is hard to get a good reading measuring against a surface (the string) which moves easily. Most people try different leafs until they see the string move. Since this is a game of thousandths, this method can lack some precision. But again, if the methods remain constant, reasonable and repeatable accuracy can be achieved.
Business cards are sometimes recommended as a substitute for feeler gauges. They range from ten or fifteen thousandths up to forty five thousandths. They are a poor substitute for a five dollar tool.
N.B. It is important that all measurements be made in the playing position. Gravity can and does affect the neck.
Thanks for the info 202dy.
Just measure/mike a few diff picks, or plastic pieces then while fretting 1st fret and last fret, then see what 'sticks' at 7th or 9th fret.
Make notes and use for future ref.
The question is about action not relief.
Measure action at the 12. Do not fret the string.
OP, Do you know the difference between action and relief? Make sure you know.
For sure 202dy, just wanted to nudge OP into making sure he was using the correct terms. Some posters here were talking relief. His thread title says action. I am confused. :)
Hi, sorry for the confusion. I was asking about action only, not the whole set-up process. I do my own set-up but in the case of the action I find different aproaches. So I wanted to know what´s your aproach on this issue.
In other words: How do you measure your action?
String height is measured in the playing position from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string at F12 as strung. Don't push on anything.
Sorry for the confusion.
i don't measure mine at all. i start out by setting it low as i can get it until i start getting some fret buzz. usually way up on the neck close to the pickups the last fret will start to buzz a bit first when you play the note of the fret before the last one. as long as the neck is set almost perfectly straight. it will have a small amount of relief (or bow) in the neck since it's necessary. you should always set the trussrod or neck relief first before you adjust the saddles. so once i find it barely buzzing i raise the saddle up a tad more so it doesn't buzz. usually one string will buzz before the others do so you just match the other strings up to the same height from the fretboard as the other one that was buzzing after you get it set right. the 2 middle saddles should be basically the same height up off the bridge and the E string saddle will be slightly lower than those two. the G string saddle will be even lower since the string is smaller.
it's kind of a guessing game in some aspects. the g string is always lower to the fret board and pickups than the other strings since it's smaller and sits down in the saddle more. you don't want it too low or it will be super loud when you play that string compared to the other strings. i like to find a happy medium where it's just a tad lower than the other strings. the e string will be closer to the pickup if it's a flat pickup than the 2 middle strings are. on most basses the neck is rounded but the pickups are flat. some pickups have the poles down a little lower on the e and g strings and raised up more on the a and d strings to match the roundness of the fretboard. i just set the two middle strings the same first and then put the e string slightly lower and the g string slightly lower than the e string. that's a good starting point to work from. you can make any fine adjustments as necessary until you are happy with it.
you then check the intonation using a tuner. the open string and the same string played at the 12th fret should be the same note. if it's flat on the 12th fret you adjust the saddle to make the string shorter until it matches. if it's sharp on the 12th fret you adjust the saddle to make the string longer until it matches.
of course you can have a bass where the frets aren't all even. some will be higher or lower than others. this can cause buzzing anywhere on the fretboard and you have to have the action higher to keep it from buzzing or get a fret job done by a professional to make them all even.
there's really no exact science when it comes to a bass setup. it's all personal preference.
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