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Basses with lowest action

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by psi, Jun 8, 2005.


  1. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Andy is, as always, right on.
     
  2. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    1/16" or 2/32" is good for me lately.
     
  3. My Japanese P bass has very low action. If I play hard at all i get tons of fret buzz though, but its a damn good setup for a light finger (and it came this way too from the ebay seller I was shocked).

    I might take it in to a shop to get the action slightly raised, unless someone would be kind enough to point me in the direction of a how to guide or PM me on how to do it :D .
     
  4. Silver Hammer

    Silver Hammer

    Aug 17, 2006
    This isn't an insult just me trying to understand- what is up with the obsession of low action? My basses action is in the medium range and whenever I've played basses with low action (mostly at stores as I've only owned one bass) and they've had low action I couldn't stand it. Maybe it was the stores setup maybe it was me iunno I just can't grasp how people would like it...
     
  5. David Vector

    David Vector Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2006
    Michigan
    Hehe, I had no idea my "big bro" even posted on here...stumbled across this by random chance. That Nobby was one of the basses that I was learning on when I first started out in my teens - my brother was kind enough to let me plunk around on his basses before I had one of my own.

    The Nobby was my favorite of his basses - it was such a unique-looking thing and sounded AMAZING - a lot like a Steinberger but probably even more biting and in-your-face. And from what I can remember, the action on it really was great until that neck problem started. Even though it wasn't mine, I was really sorry to see him have to get rid of it. It surely was a different and distinctive item to have in one's collection.

    As far as basses I've owned, I've had my lowest action on a Carvin LB-70 (which arrived from the factory with a perfect setup) and the Lakland 44-02 I just bought from another Talk Basser. Actually, that "cheap" Steinberger Spirit XT-25 I had for a little while came from MusicYo playing surprisingly well - the action on that was very low too.
     
  6. Pan

    Pan Lowdown User

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    I wouldn't like you to think you were alone in thinking this way! I lowered my action as far as possible simply as an experiment. Others will be affected by tapping, slapping etc. or the amount they like to dig-in. It can be an obsession with some I think.

    There are plenty of reference points and threads, magazine articles etc. about action and I think most stick around 3/32" which I wouldn't call particularly low, more average.

    It only mattered to me years ago when I had an awful Hofner Violin bass and the fingers would bleed trying to hold the strings down.
     
  7. My primary bass--a Fender MIA Deluxe-P--can be set up with very nice, low action.

    As a brand, I've found off-the-rack Spectors (even at Guitar Center) to have the most dependable, consistently low action.

    But the lowest and best action (IMHO, of course) I've ever found--in 40+ years of playing-- was an off-the-rack Music Man S.U.B. at GC! It must have been set up at the factory and packed very well for shipment.

    Bluesy Soul :cool:
     
  8. Low action tends to stop the strings (if you think about it, the pickups are magnets... they make the strings stop when they are too close)... That's why I set my action just like Jamerson... That and the fact that I play too hard, sometimes need to do the drop the tune a whole step, that ways feels better.
     
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    It's not just you. Some people play with a really light touch and for them low action works great. It also works great for tapping. I usually set up my basses to have medium action so I can dig in, and also to accomodate multiple playing styles (I can pick, finger, and slap, with different levels of expertise and sloppiness/clumsiness on each technique). Now, my fretless 6, since I only fingerpick on that and always play light, has pretty darn low action, but that's the exception, not the rule.

    I've had GTGs where people have brought basses with ridiculously low action. Dr. Phunkypants' Sterling I can barely even play without buzz buzz buzz but it works great for him.

    It's also pretty uneducated to think that lower "action" means a better bass. Any competently manufactured bass is capable of full adjustability, as long as someone knows how to do it. On some basses where the fretwork is really bad or fingerboard really uneven, this may limit the "lowerability" of the strings, however, often a rubber mallet is all that's needed to whip them into shape. Only really eggregeously horrible basses are not capable of very low action.

    If the neck wood is unstable it may require frequent neck tweaks to maintain the setup. In a very general sense, more expensive basses usually have more stable necks than cheaper basses, but there are plenty of cheapies with real stable necks (my ~$250~ list Brice 6 string fretless for example) and plenty of more expensive basses that need more frequent adjustment (my ~$1000~ list Palaedium).
     
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Spend about 5 minutes in the "Setup" forum here, start with the stickies.
     
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    This is why pickups have height adjustment screws. If the pickups are magnetically affecting the vibration of the strings, lower the pickups (unless you like the effect that it achieves).
     
  12. JHow

    JHow needs to practice more...

    Jan 10, 2007
    Jackson Mississippi
    I played a Cirrus 6 string with flamed maple a few days ago, and the action was incredibly low with no buzz
     
  13. permadave

    permadave

    Jul 20, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    for me, its easier on both hands to play a bass with a straight neck and low action...which is good because I have tendonitis in both wrists! I usually have to get the frets leveled when I get a new/used bass to achieve a super low setup. The only basses I never had to do this to were my old Pedulla and my Spector. I played a Nordstrand the other day at the shop and it had a truly nice setup, no buzz and effortless to play.
     
  14. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    In a perfect world, the action would be 1/32 and no buzz no matter how hard you played.:hyper:

    I love low action, but I don't use a pick and I play pretty hard. I can live with higher action vs. listening to the click...click...click on the frets, pickups, etc. when the action is too low.
     
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    This is completely wrong unless your "light touch" involves suspending the laws of physics. If you set your neck straight, you will not be able to achieve the low action, or even have your bass function the way it was designed.

    Take your bass, and stand it up so you can look down the neck from the headstock down. Now pluck the "E" string. Notice that the string vibration makes a kind of arc. The arc of the string vibration is smaller near the headstock and bridge, and largest at the 12th fret, the exact center of the string. No matter if you like your action high or low, in almost every situation, the ideal situation for a neck is to have the relief in the neck follow the natural arc of the string all the way down. If you set your neck straight, then the only way to achieve a buzz-free setup is to raise the saddles on the bridge.

    This comment isn't for Kaycee, this is for almost everyone on this thread

    FOR GOD'S SAKE PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR INSTRUMENT!

    We spend weeks, months, years learning to play this instrument, well spend some time learning how the adjustments on the thing work to set it up. Damn, reading this thread is giving me a headache. It's not rocket science, but it's not that simple either. It takes a lot lf learning and instruction. .....Kind of like - well- PLAYING THE DAMN THING IN THE FIRST PLACE......

    Sorry... Just exasperated that's all. There's a setup forum here on talkbass which is LOADED with great advice, many manufacturers have instructions on their web sites, many instructions exist in the manuals that come with the instrument. The information's out there, the tools often come with the bass, and if not, they are easily and cheaply obtained.

    God, do you people just drive your cars till the engine siezes or do you get the oil changed? A bass is not a very complicated thing.....

    Sorry for the rant....
     
  16. permadave

    permadave

    Jul 20, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Well...straight being a relative term is what I meant...obviously not dead straight as the neck has to have some relief to function properly. Probably should have made that more clear in an effort not to confuse someone new to playing. That being said, my basses only have VERY slight relief and they play and sound great IMO. The OEM setup specs for most instruments can be too conservative IMO.
     
  17. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    My SR4's both have really low action. Lowest I've really ever played. My Modulus Q5 has some pretty low action too, but not quite as low as the MM's...

    Not sure what the measurements are, cause I don't have a little ruler handy.
     
  18. lefty007

    lefty007

    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I have a light touch and use .95 string set, and I pluck with a raking-up motion, so a hardly get fret buzz because I'm not pounding down when I pluck.

    But lately I have going for slighty higher action - strings need space to breath/vibrate. . .

    But amongst the bass I have had with lowest actions are:

    Current American Jazz Deluxe
    Ken Smith BSR
    Yamaha TRB


    Those PLEK systems are the greatest inventions. I believe many manufacturers are now integrating them in their production, like Fender, and G&L.
     
  19. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I need to raise the action on my Hohner Jack headless bass, it has an incredly low action, so low that slap on it sounds pretty crap, but it's great for fingerstyle. Still, I think I'll raise the action on that one!

    I have heard that the Dean Jeff Berlin basses have incredibly low action, just the way Jeff likes it. I know he plays with a very light touch, and from reports, some people have trouble with those basses as their touch is to heavy to avoid creating buzz. I'd like to try one just to see how they feel!
     
  20. gillento

    gillento

    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    I just got my 5 string esh J back from Plek (plek.com). It had serious fret issues.

    They took care of that very well!

    I'd recommend it to anybody.
     

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