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Adjusting string height for low action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Knavery, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. Knavery

    Knavery Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Hey all,
    I'm curious... I've read the set up guides on how to work on my new Fender American Standard Jazz, but it was a lot more in depth than I may need.

    See, I've always taken my instruments to a luthier to have them set up just due to their price. However, I just purchased a Fender Jazz and would like lower action.

    My luthier already set it up, but I'd like to lower it myself if I can. My question is do I need to adjust the truss rod after I lower the saddles on the bridge? I'm afraid I won't be able to get it as low as I'd like. In that case, what would you suggest? Thanks!
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    The simple answer is that you don't have to adjust your truss rod to lower the saddles, but if you have very little relief in your neck, you'll likely get some buzzing as you lower the saddles. If you don't want any fret buzz, you'll likely need to loosen the rods a tweak or two to allow for the lower saddles.

    It's iterative. Although you adjust action with the saddles and adjust relief with the truss rod, they both affect action to an extent. Too much relief and it can create high action over a portion of the neck. Too little relief and you get buzzing.
  3. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    If you've already taken it for a setup, you probably won't need to adjust the truss rod unless the weather changes drastically or you change string gauges.

    That said, one of the most important things you can learn aside from actually playing your bass, is learning to do a proper setup.

    Not only will it save you a TON of money, but there's gonna be times when your luthier isn't available and you need something done NOW, like when something goes wrong on a gig.
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Does your Jazz have the bullet truss rod adjustment at the headstock end or the phillips adjuster at the butt of the neck?

    +1 on learning to do your own adjustments. It's against the business princliple of some luthiers to share their techniques (an d it's hard toblame them for that!), but I was fortunate to have a guy let me watch him work on my bass for 45 minutes 30 years ago (it helps to tell them you're moving away and won't likely ever be able to bring your instruments to him again - which was true!).
  5. Knavery

    Knavery Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Thanks for the tips guys. My truss rus is adjusted from the butt of the neck or where it meets the body.

    I watched a couple videos on Youtube and actually it looks like a breeze. I will probably need a set for working on my bass however.
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Truss rod controls relief.

    Saddle height adjustment screws regulate string height.

    The procedure is to adjust the relief first. Then adjust string height.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yup, and i find that if i want low action, a straighter neck gets me there.

    adding more than minimum relief makes the strings feel further away, the opposite of the goal; if you then drop the saddles to compensate for the higher feel, you get buzz up high.

    it's all dependent on the quality of the fretwork; the more perfect the fret-leveling, the straighter you can get it without too much buzz.

    the other key detail is the nut slots; they almost always have the strings too high from the factory.

    fix that detail and it'll feel better regardless of what else you do; don't fix it and nothing else will help.