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Action height?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by catty, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. catty


    Mar 25, 2006
    I recently acquired a fretted BG. As a fretless player, I have a question regarding action height. Currently, it's very low producing rattle with a moderate attack. However, when plugged in it still sounds good, and the fret buzz is unnoticeable. Will raising the action in order to eliminate fret buzz improve the plugged in sound?
  2. PBass101


    Jul 3, 2008
    How could it? If there's no audible fret rattle coming through the speakers now, there isn't going to be less should you raise the strings.

    Just get your action to where you're comfortable with it.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Is it rattling at the lower frets or in the upper range, or all over?

    It wouldn't bother me if I'm not getting it through the amp, but it may you. If it's only down low, then check your neck relief you may need to give it a bit more. In fact. checking relief is always my first move when checking for a buzz...its most liable to be causing difficulty.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The golden rule of fret buzz for electric guitars:

    If it doesn't buzz through the amp, it doesn't buzz.

    Yours doesn't. There is nothing to fix.

    Enjoy playing your new bass guitar.
  5. catty


    Mar 25, 2006
    How could it? I'm thinking that the vibrating string is being restricted and, thus, sonically inhibited. But while this would be a problem with acoustic instruments, I'm thinking that it's not so much with electrics.

    Re neck relief: the first thing I did when I acquired this guitar was take an excessive amount of relief out of the neck. I prefer just a tad of relief, then adjust the action at the bridge. The thing looked like a bow when I got it, with very high action. I don't know if the former owner liked it that way, or just wasn't aware of how to correct it. Anyway, it's kind of cool having super-low action--not that I need it, but if there's no reason to raise it, I won't.
  6. catty


    Mar 25, 2006

    That makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    There is a subtle difference though. If there is fret buzz acoustically, this is doing two things to the string vibration.

    First it is imparting of some of the string energy to the fret it is buzzing against - this will reduce change the decay characteristic of the note - shortening the "sustain".

    Secondly, the buzzing against the fret will add some harmonics into the signal that were less prominent otherwise.

    Neither of these is a bad thing. Just personal preference. So you may not need to "fix" it.
  8. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Raising the action can improve the tone. Nothing to do with the fret buzz, more to do with less magnetic pull (i think).

    This is taken from the Sadowsky set up guide.

    "In the early '80s,Marcus had an amazingly low action of
    1/16" (G) to 3/32" (E), but he realized the bass didn't "speak" very well that way. Going to a slightly higher setup has given
    him a wider range of articulation."
  9. catty


    Mar 25, 2006
    Thanks Dave--that makes sense as well. I'm familiar with general acoustics and do lots of set-up work on acoustic instruments. Some of this can be applied to electrics, I'm sure.

    What I did was this: I rescued this bass from a pawn shop...its neck relief was so extreme that the truss rod required a couple of full turns to render it almost dead level. Last night, I backed off about a quarter-turn, which brought up my action just enough to eliminate most of the buzz. Yet, still low. A very nice playing bass now.

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