Action adjustment or warped neck

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dhclark76, May 28, 2005.

  1. dhclark76


    Mar 26, 2005
    Disclaimer: I've searched the site I've read a lot of the info out there, but I'm posting this for some reassurance and clarification.

    When I first purchased my bass, I didn't know the first thing about setup. The bass seemed fine at the time, at least it felt good to me, but maybe this was my inexperience. Since then, I'm beginning to have some concerns regarding my neck and the general setup of my bass.

    First, I actually tried to sell my bass a couple of years ago when I was leaving for and trying to get money for college. When I sold it to a guy via eBay, he told me after he recieved it that the neck was warped. I hadn't noticed this, and was kind of suspicious, because it always seemed fine to me. On the other hand, I was in CA and this guy was in NY and I shipped it in the summer, so I wondered if maybe it had possibly warped during shipment. Needless to say, I refunded the guy and he returned the bass. In the meantime, I didn't play it for a few years while I was away at school. Now that I've started playing again, I have some concerns with the bass and noticed some problems, but I'm still not sure if the neck is actually warped or if this guy psyched me out and the problem is really something else.

    Here's the problem...
    At the 12th fret and above (towards the pups if I'm saying this right) I get bad string noise when I attack the string hard and sometimes when I release the string. Admittedly, the action is rather high at this end. On the other hand, I did a relief test as demonstrated through a link I found on the FAQs sticky (i think) and the relief on the neck seems to be fine (which would indicate that the neck isn't warped, right :confused: ). So I'm wondering, would simply lowering the bridge saddles help get rid of this noise? Or, was this guy right about the neck being warped.

    Just as some extra info. The bass is a no-name jazz composed of Warmoth and Fender parts. So far as I can tell The circuitry and pups are Fender and I was told when I purchased it that the neck is a Warmoth (not sure about the body). The neck is a birdseye maple with a rosewood fingerboard, and it is finished, and it also doesn't seem to have any dead spots so far as I can tell. I don't know if it's quartersawn or not, and I don't know if this even makes a difference (i.e. would a non-quartersawn birdseye neck be more likely to warp :confused: ). So any info you all have would be great.

    If you need more info, I'd be glad to post pics or provide more context if needed.


  2. Doug,

    Several things here - some add up, some don't - let's go over them one at a time. Your relief check would still be OK even if these conditions exist. First off - "Warped" - can mean a lot of things to different people. I've seen it mean simply that the neck is out of adjustment or that it's twisted depending on who decides the term. Warped would actually be where the fretboard remains relatively flat but curves like a bend in the road - not a likely scenario. You can tell if it's warped by comparing the strings with the sides of the neck. The strings are perfectly straight. If the sides of the neck show a curve, you've got a warp. "Twisted" is a more likely condition and that can come from wood stress and failure. This is where the plane across the nut and the plane across the fretboard at the heel end are not parallel. You can see this by sighting down the neck and comparing to see if the nut is parallel with the end of the neck. It will be a subtle difference and don't be fooled by a nut that's been cut slightly higher on one end. You can't do anything about a twisted neck through adjustment. The other thing is that the neck really isn't in good adjustment. That would just take an adjustment of the trussrod and some tender loving care. If you neck really is a Warmoth (you can check by removing it and checking to see if it has the Warmoth stamp on it - they all do) I wouldn't assume right off that somethings the matter with it. They do a pretty tight job of engineering and manufacturing their necks and their construction is such that failure rate is very low.

    So in the final analysis, lowering the saddles won't eliminate your noise - it could make it worse. You should have the bass setup properly by a pro or learn the process yourself and do it. It sounds like that's all that's needed here - at least a proper diagnosis can be made with it on the bench and all of the angles can be looked at as a whole.
  3. dhclark76


    Mar 26, 2005
    I'll take a good look at the neck taking your advice into consideration. I really don't think that it's warped, but I would guess that it could use some kind of adjustment. My mission this summer will be to find a good Luthier (rather than simply a "technician") in my area that really give it the look over it deserves.

    of course, my biggest concern is just the wierd string noise I'm getting above the 12th fret. Sounds are always so difficult to explain or assess through text, so I that's probably something that I'll have to actually demonstrate for someone. In the meantime I'll keep reading up.

    Again, Thanks