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Action Too High: Saddles As Low as Possible, Relief and Nut Height Correct, Neck Shimmed

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by s_wood, Aug 1, 2020.


  1. s_wood

    s_wood Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Well...title says it all. I am trying to lower the action on my MIJ Geddy Lee Jazz. It's currently just a bit over my preference of 2/32", measured at the 12th fret, on the D and G strings, but both bridge saddles are as low as they can go. Relief is fine: 010" at the 7th fret. I've file the nut slots and the distance from the top of the first fret to the D and G strings is about .022" (measured with my feeler gauge without pressing down on the string anywhere). I've added a .040" neck shim made of maple.

    I have not filed the bridge saddles. Ideally, I would get the action to 2/32" on the G and D after raising the saddle on those strings a bit. Right now, it's almost there but the saddles are down as far as they will go.

    Before I screw up a perfectly good bass, what do you think I ought to do next?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  2. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil

    Jul 17, 2020
    Get rid of the shim and file those saddles.
     
  3. The nut slots could probably go little lower but that is going to have minimal, if any effect on your string action. Did you use a full length shim? If so, try a shim just at the front of the neck pocket. If it was a shim just at the front of the pocket then you need a thicker one.
     
    wcriley and JRA like this.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    If the saddles are bottomed out on a guitar with a bolt on neck the remedy is to change the neck angle by shimming the neck. In this case, change the existing shim.

    Filing the saddles is only an option on set neck guitars to avoid a neck reset. It is also an option on neck through guitars. This is a bolt on. Do not file the saddles.
     
    96tbird, wcriley, MCF and 3 others like this.
  5. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil

    Jul 17, 2020
    Another option would be to route the body to place the bridge deeper into the body, such as when you install a Kahler tremolo and can't lower the strings enough.

    Or, accomplishing the same thing, would be to file the Badass saddles. They are meant to be filed.

    I had this same problem with my 1998 limited first-run Geddy. Filed the saddles. It's been fine for 22 years.
     
  6. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Hold on! You are measuring the relief at the 12th fret? You want to be measuring it around the 7th fret when fretting at the first and where the neck meets the body. And that's a huge shim. You are doing something wrong if the action is still too high.

    Start by getting the neck relief at the 7th fret between 10 and 15 thousandths of an inch fretting as above. Then measure the string height over the 12th fret.

    Is your shim a partial-pocket shim, a tapered shim or a flat shim?
     
    Lesfunk, 96tbird, Reedt2000 and 4 others like this.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    0000.jpg
    https://www.talkbass.com/members/hearnostevil.370197/ , those saddles are meant to be filed for witnessing and string spacing. once you file a depth = you can't put the material back should you change things (e.g., different strings, different preferences, different neck, etc.), your personal success story notwithstanding. sounds like you have a wonderfully stable instrument and lucky player habits! others may need/want to adjust things, over time. ;)
     
  8. danbones

    danbones

    Sep 24, 2017
    Los Angeles
    i filed the badass bridge saddles on a neck through bass with great success. i don’t recommend it for others, but it can be done.
     
  9. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil

    Jul 17, 2020
    If you file too low, just raise the saddles.

    I don't see what the problem is here.
     
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :laugh:

    0000.jpg
    :wideyed: help: i can't raise the saddles high enough anymore!

    ;)
     
    Cliff Colton likes this.
  11. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil

    Jul 17, 2020
    If someone's that incompetent they shouldn't ever touch a musical instrument.
     
  12. Isaac J

    Isaac J

    Dec 26, 2016
    UK
    I've never used them but I've heard that the Badass bridges are perfect for creating difficult setups ... With the thick base plate and saddles leading to generally high action with little height adjustment available.

    As others have advised, it could be worth filing the saddles as that could get your setup working better. I'd double check the setup first though as that doesn't sound too great...
    Fret the 1st and 17th fret and there should be just enough relief to fit a business card between the bottom of the string and 7th fret. For the shim, 0.5mm I think is generally the thickest to use, which the neck screws nearest the bridge should screw through.

    In my experience though, the ONLY bridge that won't require you to put in a shim for a good range of height adjustment is the classic Fender style bent metal bridge.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    not the point.

    but as i said previously: if you did a fix that way and have had no problems/issues since = cool beans! i'd say you are at least lucky.

    'competent to touch an instrument' is a whole different bailiwick, and certainly not the OP's issue. ;)
     
  14. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil

    Jul 17, 2020
    Luck had nothing to do with it. Part of the setup of a Badass is filing the saddles and has been for over 40 years.
     
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    I had a bass with a Badass bridge. Couldn't get the action low. Removed it and put a standard bridge on it. Problem solved!
     
    Reedt2000, MCF and JRA like this.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    yep, i've filed grooves in mine, too, for the reasons i mentioned. badass bridges are really cool on some instruments! ;)
     
  17. s_wood

    s_wood Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    Brain cramp! I measure relief at the 7th fret, and relief is .010" there. String height, measured at the 12th fret, is almost right but only if the bridge saddles are all the way down. The shim is a full-pocket flat shim.

    I don't want to replace the bridge and I won't plane the neck pocket. Seems to me that I shouldn't have to. So, what's next?
     
  18. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    So that brings up two things: first, make a small adjustment of the truss rod to get that relief measurement down to .010". That measurement is taken at the 7th fret with the first fret and 16th fret depressed. EDIT: I see you fixed that.

    Second, a flat full pocket shim has far less effect on the saddle height compared to a partial shim or angled full pocket shim. You need an angled shim or a small shim at the 'bridge end' of the neck pocket.

    And a bonus third: yes you should notch the saddles in a BA bridge. No, they should not be very deep or used as a means to fix the action. The notches are just to set the string spacing.
     
  19. danbones

    danbones

    Sep 24, 2017
    Los Angeles
    a tapered or a partial pocket shim.
     
    Inara, Reedt2000 and MCF like this.
  20. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The problem is that you are using a flat full-pocket shim. You need a tapered shim or a partial shim at the heel. If the latter, somewhere between 10 and 20 thou will be plenty. If the former, .5 degree should get you there.
     
    Lesfunk, JRA, 96tbird and 4 others like this.

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