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action on my gibson t-bird is unbearable

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by thedarksession, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. i can't get this thing to play to my demands! the D string is like 10 inches off the neck and it's a battle to play everytime. that three-way bridge hasn't really helped much at all, either. any tips? :crying:
  2. hmm.. truss rod adjustment :)
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Please don't be offended but do you have any experience doing set-ups?

  4. me ?
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yeah, you my friend! Sorry I was vague with my last post.

  6. yeah.. kinda.. I'm just an amature.. but I had an epi thunderbird and I could make the action there really low by lowering the bridge and adjusting the truss rod a bit :)
  7. yeah, i tried the trustrod method, but that made the strings too loose, and so they slapped on the frets too much.
  8. MESS WITH THE TRUSS ROD AS A LAST RESORT!!! Serious damage can occur with you over turn it, so only do it if you really know what your doing. Look at this website to see about set ups.

    Can you post pics of your bass so I can we can see. mainly pics of the bridge.

    I know Tbirds can be troublesome at getting them set up right (I own one, I should know...), and getting the action the way you want. Its really hard to tell what your problem is without going into more detail/ no pictures.

    Have you checked your saddles? Are you adjusting the 3 bridge screws while looking at them from above? When I mess with the srews on my Tbirds bridge, I always lay it on my bed, and get on my knees and look down the neck from behind the bridge to make sure things are even. But again, for me atleast to try and help you, I need more details.
  9. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    With a little care anyone can adjust a truss rod, in fact, it should be an essential skill for any serious bass player. You can't always get to a repair shop every time you need an adjustment.

    The main point is, NEVER force it if it is tight. It is probalby bottomed out, and you will break the truss rod if you force it. But if you excersize caution, and only turn it 1/4 turn at a time when it will turn easily, you will be ok.

    This is a good tutorial on how to do it:


    An example of when I really needed to be able to adjust a truss rod myself: My band was going on tour in Japan. We flew over, putting our instruments in checked baggage, in flight cases. My bass ariived ok, but the change in temperature and pressure affected the neck relief. All of the strings were laying on the fretboard as the neck had a backbow. I had to play in a few hours, and there were no repair shops around. I adjusted the truss rod myself in about 10 seconds and went on my way.
  10. 69'Vette


    Jan 28, 2003
    Cedar Hills, UT
    Most of the people who complain about the 'horrible' three way bridge on some Gibsons do so because they have no idea how to set one up properly. The bridge was designed to work with the truss rod. If you tweak only one of them, or adjust them improperly, you'll end up with the problems mentioned above.

    I've gotten two or three Thunderbirds at very low prices for that very reason. The previous owner of one even thought the trussrod was shot (and that one is my favorite newer one now. Perfect neck and action). All it takes is a proper setup and your Thunderbird can have action as low as most people would ever want.
  11. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Take it to a reputable luthier, have them set it up.
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Boy, Zink, you got some great responses. Here's my two cents worth:

    Adjust your truss rod first or at least verify its within specs.
    I do this by holding the E string down at the first and last (22nd, 24th?) frets. The remaining gap between the string and top of the 12th fret should be about the thickness of two business cards. You can use a capo to assist with the project...or grow a third arm! A perfectly straight neck is undesirable as is too much bow.

    Once you have the neck adjusted, raise / lower the bridge accordingly. I had an EB 3L with the 3 point bridge; hated it. I ripped it off and replaced it with a Leo Quan Badass. I recall that the stock bridge profile did not match that of the neck which made tweaking difficult at best.

    Good luck!