Action: How low is too low?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Schmorgy, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    So I've tried to get more into slapping and popping lately, having joined the cult of wooten. I've never really adjusted the action on my bass, having taken the default setting as the manufacturer's "optimal" position.

    That said, I feel like I may be struggling too much to get a solid slap or pop tone and I don't feel like it's stemming from my technique. It just seems like I have to press the strings down too much or pop excessively.

    So I'd like to ask: when it comes to setting action, especially for slap bass, what are some guidelines to follow for overall height? I'd hate to straitjacket myself by making slapping easy but causing fret buzz lower down on the neck.
  2. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Just do what's right for you. The lower the better! Experiment!
  3. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    too low is when it buzzes too much. The trick w/ wooten style slapping seems to be to back off. ALOT. He barely looks like he's doing anything.
    Let the amp give you volume.

    That all said, I've adjusted mine down(as low as I can without buzz) to try and emulate his style. It's actually difficult to hit them soft enough. Too hard and they buzz or you just end up muting them between your thumb and the fretboard.
    Oh, and another thing that helps me is to move closer to the bridge. I used to slap over the end of the fretboard, but now it's easier over the pickup.
  4. i recon i can play all the double thumbing and double pluckign much better with light gauge strings. victor wooten uses light gauge as well (at least his fodera signature strings are light gauge)
    and too low is when you get fret buzz with your standard touch
  5. billgwx


    Apr 10, 2009
    Centereach NY
    The answer is whatever works for you. That said, lower action may not necessarily be better. As I posted in another thread:

    From "Bass Setups of the Rich & Famous" at : "In the early '80s, Marcus had an amazingly low action of 1/16" (G) to 3/32" (E) (measured at the 12th fret), 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."
  6. That's a great article! I've used Sadowsky's specs when setting up my bass and got great results.

    One thing to add, when Rodger talks about Marcus Miller's past setup, I think Rodger bases those measurements on having the first fret depressed with his finger or capo. He mentions depressing the first fret before taking measurements earlier in the article.
  7. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    As long as the notes arent frettring out there is no such thing as too low for action imo.