Action Settings - What are your personal settings?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HalfManHalfBass, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Hi all,

    After spending far too many hours obsessing about getting all my basses to play at the same settings, it occured to me that maybe my expectations are far too high! I have always thought:

    The more expensive bass = the lower the possible action.

    But now I'm not so sure! I don't think this has been asked before or at least not for a very long time, but what are your PERSONAL settings for the action on your bass(es)?

    Taken at the 12th fret, from the thinnest string to the thickest, from the fret top to the underside of the string.

    This may be very interesting, as I know many proffesional players hang out here and I'd be interested to hear their settings as recording bass requires a clean as possible sound versus ease of playing action compromise IMHO.

    My settings:

    G, (12th fret) = 1.5mm (just under 2/32)
    E, (12th fret) = 1.9mm (just under 5/64)
    B, (12th fret) = 2 mm (approx 5/64)


  2. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    I can't believe with all the 'gear heads' around here that noone has a bass and a ruler....:crying:

    Maybe I really am a little too obsessed with all this!:D
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    My nut is at 2.5mm
    All strings are at 3.5mm at the 29th fret.
    That is the distance from the fingerboard to the string.
    The pickup distance to the strings is at 4.5mm.
    Too obsessed??
    I don't think so.:D

    Action to me is not at all about " as low as possible", although I used to be on very lov action( 0,5mm).
    I just think it feels and sounds better to not go too low, but that's a subjective thing .
  4. Hey, nut height is around 3mm and the strings at the 21th fret are at 6mm!
    I know most of you will think thats unplayable but im used to it and it doesnt bother me at all... Used to like my action as low as possible but i realised i could get a better tone with a high action and more dynamic in my playing so i started raising a little every few weeks untill i got to where i liked the tone and now im really action with a higher action.
  5. Hullaballoo

    Hullaballoo Guest

    May 2, 2006
    Suffolk, England
    Just over 1.0mm on the G, 2.0mm at the B. I too find a super-low action helps my playing, and I quite like a bit of "clack" on the note. There is no way on this earth that i could play at 6.0mm! I tried a friend's bass with med/med-high action, and made a real dick of myself in front of a room full of people. The lower the better say I! (I found the only basses that came out of the box adjustable that low were my MPG and ATK. All others have required a fret-level. (Lakland, Fender, etc)
  6. El-Bob


    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    I'd check my bass, but i don't know where it is :meh:
  7. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
  8. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    2mm on all strings.
  9. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    After making sure that the neck has a little bit of relief, I set all five strings' action to 3/32 of an inch from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string. Then I lower the G string by 1/64 of an inch and raise the low B by the same amount. So the final action of the G string is 5/64 of an inch and the B string is 7/64.
  10. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    Its more about how the bass plays rather than any magic set of measurements. 99% of the time I play with a pick and I tend to dig in pretty hard. The actions on my basses are as low as they can go without buzzing (too much). The intonation on all of them is spot on.
    Catbuster likes this.
  11. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    No, you can get a low and consistent action on a cheap bass if you know how to set it up. I mean, as long as the fingerboard is reasonably flat (and no high or low frets for fretted basses).....

    I pluck way back towards the bridge virtually all the time, I also have weak little hands with crappy wrists so I prefer a very, very low action.

    My rules of thumb:
    - action just above objectionable buzzieness at the heel (last few fret positions)
    - relief set for just under objectionable buzz at buzziest portion of the neck.
    - nut height as low as possible, i.e. practically at the fingerboard.

    I have no idea what the measurements are. Sighting down the neck, my fingerboard appears to be practically flat on my L2500 (my L2000 has a dip in it that I can't get rid of, so I might be ordering a radius block from stew-mac soon to try to fix it).

  12. Wow... so much math!

    At both the nut and the bridge, I drop the strings 'til they buzz, then back 'em up just a hair.
  13. Usually true, although playing style can make or break that.

    I should measure my stuff just for my info, but I never really measure. I'm more like Tim, but I set my action to be able to play with my harder technique (still fairly light) and set it up so I only hear minimal buzzing through the amp and raise it a hair from there.
  14. Exactly. After adjusting any neck relief if needed, I'll see how low they go without buzzing and then raise them until it feels ideal.
  15. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    It depends on what kind of gigs I'm doing. For the church gigs, it's a quieter setting with more emphasis on touch and dynamics, so I usually have a lower action and pretty close to flat neck with almost no relief. For the rock and blues gigs, I tend to play a lot more aggressively, so the action is higher and I set up with a little more relief. I like it so I can get a but of buzz and growl when I dig in, but still do deep and clean if I lighten up.

    Honestly, sometimes I just get in the mood to play with a slightly higher or lower action for a while, too! I generally change the action by adjusting the relief more than the saddle height, but that usually means going from "nearly straight" to "really straight". :)

    I've never been one to go for ultra-low setups, though, even on basses like the Curbows that can handle it--I just can't get the range of dynamics that I like, or the same growl when I dig in.

    Though it might benefit me, I've never really done a lot of measuring with my setups, so I can't tell you exactly what those string heights are--sorry!

  16. I know. Such a waste of Curbow talent and design. Sell to me, sell to me, sell to me, sell to me, sell to me.................... :p
  17. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    My personal settings are to adjust each bass depending on it's neck, strings and pickups and go with what feels best on that bass. I personally do not need each bass to be identically setup.

    Feel is much more important to me than the numbers.

    Good explanation of where to start and/or end.

  18. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    I own many many basses, and it's been my experience that price is not always reflective of action. As far as numbers, I don't have any. Each bass is different and you just have to experiment with each one. Sometimes I adjust the saddles first, sometimes the relief. A lot depends on where those things are to begin with. Then go from there. Your style of playing (and that includes several factors) will contribute to the action that you need/want. :cool:
  19. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska



  20. Ditto.. I have some $$$$ VERY small files used to drop this down.