Repair work left buzz in Vintage Fender P 12th fret on..
I had a luthier lower my action for me, when I got it back the action looked to be slightly lower, but my saddles were almost maxed high. So I have room to lower 'fer sure but... the buzz will only get worse. He claims the buzz would be reduced with a fret job. For one thing the frets look "healthy" to me and since it is a '76 I am concerned with it losing value..
First off any thoughts why the 12th fret and higher would buzz (some kind of bow in the neck I presume)? Again I really don't see an obvious warp but who knows.
Is something like this fixable, maybe with shimming, or take to a better luthier to adjust the neck?
Sounds like the frets may need to be levelled. If the frets are worn in some areas and not others it will create high spots where buzz occurs.
Sounds like two things going on here: One, the neck WAS shimmed... a lot.
Two, you just might need to have the frets leveled.
This happened to my Jazz bass when I shimmed the neck. I'm not an expert, but it seems that the small change in neck angle caused by the shim allowed me to get lower action, but it also caused buzzing problems on the higher frets. I ended up leveling the last few frets (15+) at a slight angle so each fret was slightly lower than the one before it, and that seems to have fixed the problem.
I put a few layers of tape on the 14th fret (fret before the buzzing started) to make it taller than the other frets, then sanded the last few down with a radius block and sandpaper. One end of the radius block sat on top of the taped fret (no sandpaper on that end to prevent the tape from coming off), the other end had sandpaper attached and was leveling the frets beneath it. Using the black sharpie method to see which frets had been leveled, it was easy to see that the last fret was leveled first before the sandpaper finished the job on the 15th fret, creating a sort of down ramp at the end of the fingerboard.
This was done on my beater jazz, so I wasn't extremely worried about ruining its value; nonetheless, it worked like a charm. Maybe that is something you can discuss with your luthier.
Could be the somewhat common ski jump where the neck bolts on. A fret level isn't unusual for an older bass.
Sounds like someone shimmed the hell out of your neck. I'd personally go for a geometry that was a bit less radical, and if some of the trouble frets in the area of 12-up need a leveling have that done. You shouldn't need to max out the saddles to get a good action, even with a shim.
I'd echo what others have said about the ski jump, although there could be a few different remedies here;
First check and make sure that shim is right, to do this you need to first get the neck relief where you like it.
From there lower the strings until they just barely touch the top of the last frets.
If the shim is right at this point your bridge should be as low as it will go with the strings touching the frets.
If there's still room to move the bridge down at that point it's shimmed too much and you need to remove shim/make it thinner.
Second if you're having buzzing up high you may be able to counter that by taking relief out of the neck and raising the bridge to bring it back to where it was, thus increasing the angle over the upper frets while maintaining the same overall action.
With that though If you are unsure of what specs you like (measurement wise) I'd recommend starting somewhere solid in the way of setup specs.
The fender setup guide listed on their site is a good place to start, then either get the proper tools to diy or have it done and go from there.
Also if you pay for another setup ask the right questions/ make the right requests.
For example, tell them that you want fender spec and you want the neck angle as described above.(Fender doesn't spec the neck angle)
Being specific or diy'ing it is the only way you're going to be sure you truly need fret work or not.
Best of luck.
Is the guy who worked on it someone you trust, with a good reputation for vintage repairs?
Mordechai, he is more of an assembler (buy bodies, buy necks, done!), but he is know around our group to be able to do repairs.
So a fret job shouldn't really be a negative with a vintage bass? I realize an unplayable vintage bass is more of a negative..
I just recently did the same as Neek to my Squier jazz bass. The only frets that really needed leveling were 14-20. I angled them also for the best playability. Turned a mediocre bass into an awesome player.
The good news is that you're not far away from Woodstock, Poughkeepsie, and a bunch of other places that I know have decent techs and luthiers. :) Maybe you can convince Mike Tobias to work on it. ;)
And no, a well done fret job does not detract from the value of a vintage instrument, because who wants a vintage instrument that's unplayable? I don't think you're talking about a serious fret job unless you have heavy undisclosed wear, and if its too much lift for a fretjob to help on, there are other options, albeit somewhat more invasive ones. It also could just be a high fret that needs a bit of calming down.
It probably wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion, especially if you think the frets look pretty healthy. Leveling the higher frets(higher in register) to compensate for a thick shim is sometimes necessary, but you want to be sure. Working with an older bass can take some finesse and experience, IMO.
If the saddles are now maxed in height, then to me it sounds that he used too thick of a shim.
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