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action on basses

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mahc, Dec 24, 2005.

  1. mahc


    Nov 14, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    How does everyone get the action on their basses so low? When I tried, the strings start to buzz and shake like crazy (This is on my SX P/J Bass)..do you adjust the truss rod and bridge for the strings to go low?

  2. rok51

    rok51 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2002
    Crawfordville, FL
    I try to set mine for (on a 4 string) about 5 to 6/64ths at the 12th fret on the E string. Fretting at the first and last frets simultaneously, I look for about 1/32nd at the 8th fret. If you are experiencing buzzing around the 5th fret, you need more neck relief (bow)...tighten the truss rod-carefully! I pre-stress (bend) the neck before any truss rod adjustment. Go slowly...no more than one-quarter turn at a time. Let it settle in. Retune to pitch and check. Buzzing at or above the 12th fret will be related to either neck angle or bridge height. If the neck does not have a tilt adjustment, experiment with shims under the rear (only) of the neck pocket. Adjust the bridge saddles to follow the contour of the neck when viewed from the back end of the bass. If you have buzzing on open strings and the neck relief and bridge seem okay, the nut is cut too deep.
    Setup is a trial and error thing. Don't be in a hurry. You need to discover how your particular bass responds to adjustments...they are all different. Once you have it 'locked in'...jot down some measurements so you can more readily repeat your setup next time.

    Good luck!

  3. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
  4. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    There's no money better spent than a professional set-up from a good luthier or set-up person when you purchase a new bass. Per the post earlier in the thread, getting a relatively low, non-buzzing action is a combination of neck relief, saddle height, nut slots, string gauge and individual fret height. Sometimes, its a very simple adjustment that makes all the difference. Other times, a few frets have to be filed, or the nut needs to be recut, etc. A good, professional intonation adjustment can make a world of difference also... sometimes it's not as easy as just checking the 12th fret harmonic to the fretted note with a strobe tuner.

    Spend the $30-$50 one time, and assuming you don't change string brands or gauges, you will be able to then manage your action with a simple truss rod adjustment every once in a while.