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Action and fret buzz

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Spikeh, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    So I want a really low action, I actually really prefer to play with it... I prefer the tone it gives me, and it gives my trace amp more output (at the moment I have to have the amp on an input gain of 10 to get anything out of it!) and I like it better for slapping. However, when I lower my action I get insane fret buzz - in fact, as my action is at the moment (quite high if you askm me) I STILL Get fret buzz on my e and a strings.

    You guys go on about having low action all the time - do you lot just put up with the fret buzz, or is it something to do with the bend of the neck (relief?) or something else I'm missing?

    I don't really wanna play about with my truss rod in case I snap it :*(
  2. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    You should take it to a tech and have them set it up if you don't feel comfortable enough doing the truss rod adjustment yourself.
    Those of us who talk about having low action either:

    -Play with a lighter touch
    -Have a bit of buzz as part of our sound
    -Have a bass that allows for low action. My Cirrus has really low action and I don't have to lighten up my touch at all. It all depends on how well the neck was built and how well the frets are leveled.
  3. so loosen it first instead of tightening it... carefully

    Wait, OK, right, you're worried. what bass do you have?

    My recommendation is to give it to an expert, but then you'll never become an expert without that first step.

    The truss rod is there, in essence, to add the stiffness the neck needs to counteract the string tension, right?

    so, logically, slackening it (anti-clock) will let the strings win the game, so you'll get concave bow in the neck. tighten it too much (clock), and you get the opposite, which means the middle of the fretboard is touching the strings and the height at neck-end and nut is huge.

    so there's the deal, right. tighten it if you need the headstock backwards (towards your body), loosen it if you need the headstock forwards (away). think of the fight between strings and truss.

    Many people say to take your strings off first and use a straight-edge. I don't usually bother, as long as the thing is well in tune, then you can use the strings as straight edge.

    fret the #1 fret, and fret your highest (20, 22, 24, whatever) . look in the middle of the neck. what's the gap at the 7th or 8th fret?

    if it's high, tighten the trussrod (very, very slightly, a 1/4 turn is a long way). if it's touching, slacken it off, then give it some time to rest (the wood doesn't immediately spring back). with each adjustment, give it time to rest. it's wood, not elastic.

    after each adjustment, play the thing all the way up the neck on every string, then look down the neck like you're sighting a rifle. Buzz could be a too-low action or it could be a bowed neck. The trick is to get the neck straight(er), and adjust the bridge up and down to get the best height you can. it takes some experience. most players have some bow in the neck, but it's very, very slight. that's where the experience thing comes in, knowing how much bow is good and so on. the good guys are ninjas at this, I'm just a roadie who knows the mechanics of it.

    Anyway, some (cheap) basses have a short trussrod and are slightly doomed if a bow comes in where you can't adjust it. Good ones are trussed all the way

    my personal bass runs with a very, very slight bow in the neck. I slap it, so I don't want it to be too sensitive. A jazz player may be flatter than me, so consider your style and don't forget to consult other sources. I'm not a setup ninja by any means, but I still do my own setups and setups for my mates, and they're OK-ish. ultimately, you're the player, so you're the judge.

    all the same though, paying someone else means you have someone else to blame. think about that.
  4. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Thanks guys - I'll certainly take all of that into consideration - I did read the stickies at the top, and all of Gary Wilis' site... I'm comfortable with adjusting my bass, but I was just wondering if the problem was specific to anything.

    I'll give them a go, think I need a different sized alan key for the truss rod though!
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    DO NOT USE THE WRONG SIZE ALLEN KEY FOR THE TRUSS ROD! You will strip it and never be able to move it if you do. I cannot stress that enough. You are looking for a world of trouble and expense if you strip your truss rod nut.