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changing action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Lord_Matt, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. Lord_Matt


    Mar 30, 2002
    hi, I bought a second-hand Fender P-bass Special (attached pic), and it has quite high action, can i just lower them myself or is it better to take it to a pro... my question is do i risk doing damage to the neck or something if i lower the action myself???

  2. Do some reading in this forum on How to do a Setup. It is fairly straightforward.

    ..I'll wait for Treena to see this and post up her links. ;)


  3. Lord_Matt


    Mar 30, 2002
    10x, i found the link of Treena from other threads... my question seems to be a very common question around here... (i have been absent from talkbass for nearly a year now :( )
  4. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    I recommend giving this a shot before going to a pro. What do you have to lose? If you screw it up, the pro will fix it. Also, you'll be able to ask the guitar mechanic wise questions with a little experience under your belt. Who knows, maybe the setup will turn out OK, and you won't need the services of the pro any longer.

    Will you damage the neck? I doubt it. If you're worried about this, then don't fool with the truss rod. But if you read Treena's link on setups, you'll know to move the truss rod a little at a time (1/4 turns, no more than 1/2 a day, according to the article). Also, the pressure technique of bending the neck while tightening is important.

    But hold on! The truss rod may be OK as is. Have a look at the "relief" (as described in the article) and if it seems fine then leave it. Instead, you can try adjusting the nut and bridge to achieve lower action.

    Many people seem reluctant to alter the nut; but remember, the nut is replaceable. Check to see the nut is set at the right height. Press the string down on the second fret. There should be a very slight clearance between the string and the first fret. Less clearance obviously means lower action.

    How much clearance? You should barely be able to see the "gap" between the string and the first fret. You'll know it's there though, because if you tap the string against the fret it will go "tink" (still holding the string down at the second fret - you're actually forming a straight edge).

    If you have an excessive gap here, lower the strings at the nut by filing the nut grooves. Be careful to take off a little at a time! Take off too much and you'll be raising the nut with a shim, making a new nut or going to the pro.

    Then, adjust the bridge so the strings are as low as possible without buzzing. Set the intonation and voila.

    I'm no pro - take the above info for what it's worth.
  5. Lord_Matt


    Mar 30, 2002
    10x guys, i'll play around with my bass tomorrow
  6. 10x, Matt, that's a sweet P bass special you have there.


    I suggest doing the setup yourself, as you have read, you can use the Gary Willis setup manual, or try the Fender Manual.



    The Fender forum is also very helpful and has Fender Reps, if you need one on one help.


    A couple other things to consider, is to check the string guage and try to lower your action by lowering the bridge saddles.

    If all else fails, you can take your bass to a Pro and pay them 35.00 to 60.00 and have them set it up for you. Make sure to watch them if they have time to show you what they are doing, it's a great way to learn!