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Another action question.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dj150888, Sep 11, 2008.


  1. dj150888

    dj150888

    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Ok, so my action is very high towards the bridge end of my bass but if I lower the saddles any more, the first few frets (particularly the first fret) is buzzing very heavily. Is there any way of rectifying this? Will putting more/less bow in the neck help?
     
  2. Yes, and less.
     
  3. prokfrog

    prokfrog

    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey
    Your nut may be too low. Fret at the third fret. do you see any daylight under frets one and two?
     
  4. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Many times I've found that when the first few frets are buzzing on a bass that has a relatively flat neck, loosening the truss rod slightly (thus slightly increasing relief) eliminates the problem.
     
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Bass set-up is a system, so don't start adjusting things until you figure out where the problem is. Start with the truss rod. While tuned to pitch, fret the lowest string at the first fret and the last fret. Generaly you want a very small gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the 7th fret. Adjust the neck for the right amount of relief without regard to anything else yet.

    Once the neck relief is set, then start working on the action. If it's still too high on the higher frets, but frets out on the lower ones, your neck/body angle may be wrong for the way you play. If it's a bolt-on neck you can generallly adjust this with shims or any neck angle system the bass has. But it's really pretty rare that you have to mess with this part of the bass.

    Then check the nut as prokfrog says. I fret the strings at the third fret, and want just a very tiny bit of clearance between the strings and the first fret.

    jte
     
  6. dj150888

    dj150888

    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Ok, after checking, the neck is pretty much poker straight and with the naked eye, theres no visible gap over the first fret when fretting at the third fret. Where should I go from here?
     
  7. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Since the bass' neck is so straight, the next step would be to loosen the truss rod just a little bit.

    Loosen it about 1/16-1/8 of a turn at a time, checking the neck's relief after each adjustment. Keep in mind that some necks don't react immediately to truss rod adjustments, you may have to wait a half-hour or more if you don't see an instant change in relief.

    Like JTE says, you'll want just a little bit of space between the 7th fret and the string (while you are reading the relief by fretting the first and last frets), about the thickness of a business card.

    Since there is no gap at the first fret when you're fretting the third, it is possible that your nut is too low. BUT, if you aren't getting any buzz when playing the strings open, the nut is probably not the problem.

    Just in case though, if adjusting the neck relief as described doesn't help, you can tear off small pieces of a matchbook and put one or more of them under the buzzing string(s) nut slot(s). If that fixes the buzz, your nut is too low.

    If that doesn't get rid of the buzz, let us know.
     
  8. dj150888

    dj150888

    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Thanks everyone. If the nut turns out to be the problem, is a nut replacement the only way to fix this?
     
  9. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Not necessarily, but it would probably be the best for the tone.

    The matchbook trick can be a "permanent" fix for the low nut. I know a couple of professional musicians who still have little pieces of paper or matchbook under their strings at the nut.

    You could also shim the entire nut itself my taking it off, sanding the bottom flat and then gluing a hardwood veneer shim to its underside. I wouldn't recommend this unless you've got a little experience removing and re-gluing nuts.

    Again, a new nut would probably be best for the tone. Fortunately, a nut replacement is a relatively inexpensive operation if you're taking the bass to a luthier or repair tech (generally between $30 and $45).
     
  10. This is a very imformative thread. Thanks to all for your input.
     
  11. prokfrog

    prokfrog

    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey
    I recently bought a pre-cut graphite nut to replace my plastic nut that turned out to be too low. Through some searches here, I found a method that worked great for shimming the nut. Nut removal is not rocket science, but does require some care not to remove pieces of your fingerboard with it.

    Anyway, that said, from a previous thread i found here, I took copy paper and super glued it to the bottom of the nut. The paper soaks the glue so it dries like graphite, and you can sand it etc. repeat the process until you are at the height you want, then trim / file the overhanging paper off the edges and color with a black sharpie, and you're done. It worked great for me.
     
  12. dj150888

    dj150888

    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Thanks again for all the input everyone, it'll be Monday before I get a chance to test the matchbook solution, busy weekend. Til then I've raised the action back up a bit.
     

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