Dead frets after shimming

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by PennyroyalWe, Oct 13, 2020.


  1. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    Yesterday I shimmed the neck pocket of my de-fretted Squier VM TB with a Stew Mac .5 degree angled shim. The bridge was bottomed out and I wanted the strings a little lower, so shimming seemed the right answer. While it did fix the issue of the bridge being bottomed out, I now have “dead spots” where the note sounds buzzy and choked out on the D and A string in the 17-18 fret range. It has a 2 barrel bridge, if that matters. Measured with my string gauge, all the string are nearly even height from the fretboard, at 1.75mm @12th fret. The only things I can think of are either the shim did something funny to it, or the fretboard there is more uneven than I thought...or the shims are making whatever unevenness there much more apparent. The bright side is that at least it’s way up on the neck where I nearly never play, so it’s not ruining any of my playing, but I would like to have the bass play well over the whole instrument.
     
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    It has nothing to do with the shim and everything to do with the height of the strings over the frets. That clearance at the 12th fret is quite low - I assume you are measuring between the bottom of the string to the top of the fret, not the top of the fretboard as you stated. Assuming you meant top of the fret, you will need very even frets to get it buzz free with 1.75mm clearance and you will need a light touch.
     
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  3. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    It’s fretless, hence measuring from the fretboard. You’d call that too low? That’s about where I have all my basses, any higher is about where I’d start calling it “medium action”. Guess it’s just what I’m used to, I’d like to stay below 2mm if I can.
     
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The bass has been de-fretted, as he said early on in his post.
     
  5. You have indeed discovered that your fingerboard needs work up there. You've likely got a bit of a 'ski jump' happening. The cure is to level and maybe even (my preference) cut in a bit of upper-level 'fall-away.'
     
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  6. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Sorry - misread the original post. 1.75mm is still quite low. And you will need a really level board at that height. It can be done, but fretless is even more demanding than fretted - on a fretted instrument the space between frets doesn't need to be level, just the fret tops. On a fretless every mm along the length of the board must be level. And as with a fretted instrument, the lower you want the action, the more critlcal it is that the board is really level. And the shim is still not contributing to the problem.
     
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  7. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    That’s what I’m afraid of :/
    Did the shim cause the ski jump, you think?
     
  8. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Nah, you just discovered your fingerboard isn't as level as you thought when you lowered the string height.

    In @Turnaround 's defense, the title of the thread does say "Dead frets"!
     
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  9. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    There’s one less thing to troubleshoot. I’ve heard the micro-tilt systems have caused ski jump, wasn’t sure if that was what’s going on here
     
  10. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Neither shims nor micro-tilts cause ski jumps - it's a myth.
     
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  11. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    This is why measuring is pretty meaningless.
    Use your ears. Raise your strings until you don't have an unacceptable buzz on any frets. That's the lowest you can go without leveling those frets.
     
  12. Bloody unlikely. But if you want to be sure, use a thick full-length shim instead. Rather that tilting the neck it will raise the neck evenly. A little harder to pull off but will give the same result (lowered action) as a back shim.
     
  13. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    He did use a full-length shim.
     
  14. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    There sure a lot of myths. :thumbsdown:
     
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  15. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    You bet!
     
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  16. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I agree with others that you've now pushed your action lower than the flatness of your neck allows. You need higher action and/or a flatter neck. 1.75 mm is about .068", which is quite low.

    .080" or so is about where I run my D and A strings.
     
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  17. PennyroyalWe

    PennyroyalWe

    Sep 2, 2018
    Oregon
    I have raised the saddles a smidge and it seems to have alleviated the issue. Thanks all, I feel silly for asking about such a simple issue.
     
  18. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Down here in SE Virginia, if you pull your car onto a railroad crossing and kill the engine, the ghosts of Confederate soldiers will push your vehicle out of harm's way.

    Riis
     
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  19. I said thick.... not tapered. But I suppose it doesn't matter either way..
     
  20. RSBBass

    RSBBass

    Jun 11, 2011
    NYC
    Pretty sure StewMac shims are all full length.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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