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Roscoe set-up and intonation

Discussion in 'Roscoe Basses' started by Diego, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    I wanted to start this thread for the following reason:

    My SKB3006 has the fastest slimmest 6 string neck I have ever played. I ordered it with a thin neck profile and Gard and the guys at the shop just did an amazing work. This neck is so fast, so thin and so silky smooth to the touch is just addictive! The best thing is that I love to play with a very light touch and almost no neck relief. My bass is set-up with an almost dead-flat neck (which I believe has numerous advantages to it, as some of you may have read in a Bass Player magazine article by the great Anthony Jackson)...the relief is about 0.2 milimeters (sorry I'm trained in metric system, but this is less that the thickness of your average piece of paper). The action is also super low...about 1.5mm on the B string and less than 1 mm on the G string (about 0.5 mm maybe)...and believe it or not it does not buzz whatsoever!. Simply stounding. What a great piece of work (and of neck engineering!).

    Changing gears a bit now, I think it would help our fellow Roscoe-ites to know some details about set-up or maybe some people will have questions about it they can post in this thread. It is also interesting to know what is the set-up other fellow Roscoe-holics have and how they use it IMHO.
  2. ThePerfectBass

    ThePerfectBass Supporting Member

    We normally shoot for 4-6 64ths on the low-B and taper it down to the G or C by 1-2 64ths.

    Keith likes to drop the D and G strings a little lower than I like...but when they come in, the treble side is usually ULTRA-low...

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  4. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I think that the most important thing in tweaking the action of your Roscoe is to leave the saddles alone! :D Virtually every Roscoe that shows up to my shop arrives with killer low action and is usually very close to being in tune (just a few cents off on the lower strings). But, action is a personal preference issue....you can and should set your bass up how you want. But, you should be able to make most action adjustements by simply tweaking the truss rod....a quarter turn here, a half turn there. I know that it's tempting to go straight for the saddles, but you shoutl generally start with the truss rod. ;)
  5. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA

  6. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Yes, but with a caveat - if you are not 200% confident and comfortable adjusting your trussrod, PLEASE take it to a professional that knows how to do the adjustment.

    The simplest and most correct way to adjust your action is also the simplest and most common way for the uninitiated to foul it all up. You CAN actually permanently damage a neck by misadjusting a trussrod.

    That said, yes, this is the "correct" way to fix a playability issue with our bass. The bass is set up with very low action in the shop, but when it ships, the neck can move a bit, usually, it needs just a TOUCH of relief after shipping, if anything. But, if you don't know HOW to do this, please have a professional attend to it. If you break a rod or cause a permanent warp from misadjusting your trussrod, it COULD void your warranty!
  7. ThePerfectBass

    ThePerfectBass Supporting Member

    I'll second this! :)
  8. Diego


    Dec 9, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    I should have added that I have never adjusted the rod on my bass since it came at the end of the winter. It is warm and humid now in NYC and the neck has moved only a bit (less bow)...simply put, it is a very well made very stiff neck! It has been almost dead-flat since it came. With the weather change I feel it is a teeny tiny bit flatter (almost zero relief) but still no buzzes.
  9. poptart

    poptart Commercial User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Owner: Bass Direct
    Silly question - but worth asking, which way to turn the truss rod allen key to do what to the neck. I also have not adjusted my neck after 8 months but warm weather has caused a little fret buzz.

    Good info about adjusting the saddles though.;)
  10. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    I'm glad this forum is here.

  11. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    OK, primer on trussrod adjustment time! ;)

    The trussrod pulls against the tension of the strings, the strings will tend to pull "up" on the headstock, the trussrod pulls "back" on the headstock against the string tension. Adjusting the trussrod is really balancing between the two tensions (of course the stiffness of the neck also is in play, but for ease of discussion, we will leave that out! ;) ).

    To give the neck relief you will loosen the trussrod, if there is too much relief you need to tighten the trussrod.

    If you are getting "buzz" in the middle to lower frets, you don't have enough relief, typically. To get that corrected, you need to loosen the nut on the trussrod. If you have really high action in the middle to high frets, you may have too much relief in the neck, and need to tighten the nut on the trussrod.

    Typically, I "sight" along the neck, using the string on each side as a reference. A properly set up neck will appear to be almost parallel to the string, dropping just very slightly from the nut to the last fret. If you see it rising up to the string in the middle, then dropping away toward the end of the fingerboard, there isn't enough relief. If you see it dropping away in the middle, then "rising" toward the end of the fingerboard, it has too much relief. For some players, particularly those with a "heavy hand", a bit of relief in the middle of the neck is good, to allow for the larger travel of the string when it is struck with great force.

    The rules are simple:

    A LITTLE goes a long way. I never turn a trussrod nut more than 1/8th of a turn at a time before checking it again. I also prefer to wait a while between turns, allowing the neck to "settle" a bit (there is a trick to make it settle faster, but I WILL NOT tell it to anyone!!! :eek: ).

    Lefty loosey, righty tighty. You use that little ditty while looking at the neck from the bridge on basses with the trussrod adjustment at the heel of the neck/body (such as ours). On basses with the trussrod adjustment at the headstock, you would use the same ditty, but reverse your point of view, and you would say it looking from the headstock toward the bridge.

    Any other questions, feel free to ask! :)
  12. poptart

    poptart Commercial User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Owner: Bass Direct

    Beautifully put - I have printed that off and stuck it on the office wall.

    Many thanks.:)
  13. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I see no reason to mess with the setup on either of my Roscoes. I have never owned basses that have played so perfectly (for me) right out of the box (and one of them I bought used).:)
  14. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002

    The first area to check is the truss rod adjustment but if your neck has the correct amount of relief......leave the truss rod alone!:)

    Whether it's the truss rod, the bridge adjustments or shimming the neck, if you're not a competent repairman, take your bass to someone who is.;)
  15. cuebill


    Nov 26, 2005
    Bluefield, WV
    Oh geez...all of this talk of "ultra low action with no buzz" is absolutely killing me. I just can't wait to get mine. I have never been able to get the action low enough on any of the basses that I have ever owned (although a Warwick Streamer SSII did come close once.) I have come to realize that most basses do have their limitations when it comes to "low" and "ultra low acton" and fret buzz. From the way it sounds though, the Roscoes will be just what I need. Most of the people who have ever picked up my basses and tried them out have usually said that they are "too low for them to dig in", but I am just the opposite. I can't can't seem to get them low enough. This is actually quite thrilling for me to think that I will obtain something that I have been wanting since buying and selling so many basses all of these years just to find "the one" as far as a playability that suits me.

    BTW, there's no really good bass tech's in this area so I guess I'll just have to take a drive and visit Dr. Keith and Dr. Gard if my Roscoe's get sick. ;)
  16. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    My Roscoes' have very low action, with no buzzing whatsoever. And I do dig in quite often, but they handle it beautifully. The only other bass that I have owned that was able to handle action this low was a Peavey Cirrus 5 that I owned a couple years ago, but IIRC, it wasn't quite this low and totally buzz-free.
  17. Gtrslngr


    Jul 10, 2007
    I'm having trouble finding the right allen wrench to fit in the area for the truss adjustment. I just want to add a little relief. There's not much room in front of the rod to get a wrench in there. I've never had this trouble with other guitars/basses I've adjusted. What size is it? I don't want to scratch my bass trying to get a wrench in there.
  18. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    My Roscoe needs a shim, a fret-level job, the saddles tweaked, etc. It's going to be worth it though.
  19. Carlo Bowry is a guitarist who teaches at the Liverpool Instutute for the Performing Arts, and he plays an Ibanez Joe Satriani sig model with the lightest of touches and with incredible skill. I used to be a journalist on Sounds and Kerrang (UK music mags) so I've critiqued a lot of musicians and Carlo is one of the most technically accomplished I have ever had the pleasure to hear. That I have worked with him off and on for the last decade is just jam.

    He recently picked up my SKB 3005 and said "[profanity deleted] me!!! This thing has a lower action than my [profanity deleted] guitars!"

    Roscoe set 'em up nice.

    Carlo can be found in you tube under the name Carloguitaro (his vids sometimes feature members of the Mothers of Invention, often Jimmy Carl Black or Ike Willis, guesting with his Liverpool - based Frank Zappa tribute band The Muffin Men). I'm delighted to say that my ugly mug appears on none of the vids, so no critiques of my bass playing possible... :) One vid is from the 10:10 Ensemble gig at the Glastonbury Festival which is the Muffins with a splinter group of "more adventurous" musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

    He's worth checking out - even though he is a treble guitarist... :)

    I know this is all a bit off topic - but he LOVES Roscoes and knows a thing or two about set ups. Roscoe can't be bettered in his opinion.
  20. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Both my new to me Roscoes are set up quite well. Who knows what has happened to them since they left the factory years ago.

    However the fretted saddles are bottomed out and I think it could actually go lower. The curious thing that happened is the bass came with a set of very worn DR which still sounded great but I put on a new set and the bass did not feel as 'low'. Any suggestions given that the saddles are bottomed out? I could give a small turn the truss rod.
  21. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    When I switched from the D' Addario strings to the Black Beauties I made a slight truss rod adjustment and adjusted my bridge height (I play with a real light touch). I have since change the strings twice using Black Beauties. I have only had to fine tune the saddles for intonation sharp or flat.

    I take my SKB3006 to Guitar Center, Sam Ash and other local shops pretty regular under the pretense of trying out amps, I actually like showing it off and giving serious bassist a chance to try out a Roscoe. The first thing they notice is the beauty, the second is how low the action is without any buzz and how easy it plays.

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