Some setup question
Hello everyone! I have a few setup questions and would appreciate any help.
I have a Fender Jazz Bass.
1) When talking about setting up low action vs buzz, do people largely mean open string buzz or fretted buzz? I've been adjusting the saddle height and have no open string buzz at all, even if I dig in, but do have some buzz on various frets. Is it ok? Can I go lower?
2) Should I check whether the action buzzes unplugged or thru an amp? Because the buzz is largely absent when I'm playing thru an amp. And there's almost no buzz until about the 7th fret even unplugged. Is that the perfect setup?
3) The action seems perfect on lower frets (the money area :)) but looks and feels a bit high after the 12th fret. Is it normal? I've checked Fender recommended height ( ~ 2mm at 17th fret), but people seem to think their recommendations are a bit high...
4) Starting at around the 15th fret on the E and A strings, the sound is quite dull with little sustain. Is it normal? (I know you're not supposed to play that high on the lower strings but I'm checking the set-up so thought I'd ask).
5) I've just had the bass set-up by a professional so I'm not doing anything to the truss rod or the nut. Just playing around the saddle height. The bass was well set-up (even before taking it to the tech to change pickups), but the action turned out to be a bit high after I came home and really started playing so that's why I started messing around with the bridge height. I'm a total newbie at this, as you can see....
6) I've heard the saddle position/inclination should follow that of the neck (meaning the E string and the G string saddles should be a bit tilted), but just now I've watched a video on YouTube (this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2DlwxSIPA0) and he says they need to form a perfect line. Which is correct?
Thank you! I know probably all these question have been answered here at one point or another, but having them together in context seemed preferable.
You are asking a lot of good questions.
1. Setting up deals with all aspects of the instrument's playability. Open string, fretted, all the same. There should be no difference between the two when it comes to fret buzz.
2. One can usually accept a bit of fret buzz unplugged since it's not always evident when amplified. Some even prefer a bit of fret buzz even when amplified, feeling that it adds a bit of grind to the sound.
3. If the action seems a bit high at the 12th fret, lower the saddles. If you start getting more buzz there than the lower frets, you need to raise the saddles a bit. It should play with the same amount of buzz all up and down the neck when you dig in.
4. On the upper frets, the sound gets a bit more muffled - that's normal. If it bothers you, you can try lighter gauge strings which can help a bit.
6. The saddles should not be tilted. When they say the saddles should follow the fretboard radius, it means that the A and D strings should sit a little higher at the bridge than the E and G saddles - following the curve that's in the fretboard. But each saddle should be flat - not tilted.
If you want to tackle bass setup, I really recommend watching the four videos by John Carruthers on YouTube and then following his steps.
The first one is here:
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