Flea Fender active bass high action

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cesar200791, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. cesar200791


    Feb 29, 2016
    Hi there, this is my first post, I'm sorry if there is already a topic about this.
    I recently bought this bass and it's a really great bass, I've been playing bass for 14 years and this is my first fender ever, I have an Ibanez sr1600, and a Warwick German Corvette, so I'm not used to this type of body and neck, but I am getting used to it very quickly, I like that there is no open wood so it doesn't need that much care of the wood, cuz that is such a pain with my Warwick.

    Anyway, my problem is that I feel the action high after 12th fret, it's not terrible but I already set the bridge as low as I could, and I'm very used to set the action extra low, and I can get it with the Ibanez and the Warwick, but I can't with this fender, and it doesn't even buzz or anything, so I know it could be lower and sound good l, but I can't do anything else, the neck is fine, I checked the truss and it's surprisingly fine, I didn't even have to adjust it , so I think that it's just the type of bass that has the action higher, I want to know if any of you has experience with Warwick or Ibanez type bass and with fender basses, please tell me if it's normal that the action is higher than Warwick or Ibanez, because this is my first fender, I'm even thinking in modify the bridge so it can be lower, or if there is some adjustment I'm missing, I'd appreciate some help over here.
    I'm sorry for my English, it's not my first language, and also is my first post, love y'all bass community
  2. Mr. Jiggy Fly

    Mr. Jiggy Fly Supporting Member

    Welcome to Talkbass.

    Sounds like your neck has too much relief. Does the truss rod adjust at the heel end or headstock end? How did you check the truss rod? With a straightedge or eyeballing it?

    It could also be that the neck pocket angle is too extreme and a shim is needed to even out the angle. But because you specifically point out that the action -above the 12th fret- is too high, i'm guessing the issue is neck relief.

    Also, did you adjust string height to match the radius of the fingerboard?
  3. Things to know and tools needed:

    Truss rod adjustment is at the heel of the neck. It's a 3/16" hex socket. The fingerboard radius is compound - 12" - 16"

    I may be wrong, but I believe a 16" neck radius gage is correct to check for the saddle/string height adjustments follow the radius across the neck.

    String height ruler.

    Capo and feeler gages to measure neck relief. A straight can be a quick and easy way to judge the relief as you do truss rod adjustments while the neck is off to access the socket at the heel. Doing up to quarter turns of the nut at a time is ideal.

    Maybe... maybe you'll need a neck shim at the back of the neck pocket, made of business card or wood veneer. TBD.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
    tindrum likes this.
  4. cesar200791


    Feb 29, 2016
    Wow thank you for replying so quickly, I was actually gonna wait untill tomorrow to check if someone replied.

    I will try to explain myself, given I struggle with English.

    So I checked the neck by tapping with a capo on the first fret, and with my finger tapped on the 13-15 fret, and I checked the separation of the string from the fingerboard, the way I measure is by inserting a card between the string and the fingerboard (I know it's not the bets way to do it, but it has given me good results with my other basses), the point is that I could barely insert the card so my guess is that the truss rod is fine (but I'm open to hear something different), I don't have a straightedge for the moment, and I am in quarantine, so I won't be able to get one right now, so...

    As I said, the action I don't think is terrible, maybe it's just different from my warwick, I read somewhere that this particular bass, even when it has a jazz body type, the neck is from a p bass, and also read that the action is particularly higher on the p bass (but I don't really know barely anything from Fender basses)
    Also when I borrow my Warwick to someone who never has played one, commonly I hear that the action is very low (maybe that's some good thing about the Warwick, specially German ones)

    I hope the problem is not the neck pocket angle, because I don't want to unscrew the neck

    And finally, yes I adjusted the string height to match the radius of the fingerboard
    20210723_025153.jpg 16270272327481152176850848507527.jpg
    So, this is my bass, I know you won't be able to see the exact height of the strings, and as I said I don't have a straightedge for the moment, also I know I'm probably being fussy, but if there is a way to make even better this bass I'm sure I will do it.
    Thanks for replying!!!
  5. cesar200791


    Feb 29, 2016
    Thanks for replying, I have the wrenches that fender gives with the bad to make the adjustments, and right now I'm in quarantine, so I won't be able to get everything else, I feel comfortable with the bass, I just want to make it perfect to me, I hope that the neck shim at the back of the neck pokey not be necessary, I've never done that and also is very difícil to find honest Luthiers here in México
  6. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass.

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Unscrewing the neck to shim it is common. Also to adjust the truss rod you need to remove the neck. For a shim use a piece of a business card or thin card stock in the neck pocket.
  7. Your written English is fine. If anything, it's better than what a lot of native English speaking people present, sadly.

    Anyway, using the business card and capo is a good and resourceful way to check the neck relief without metal feeler gauges.

    There's little or no reason to fear or to be nervous about unscrewing and re-screwing the neck to do adjustments. Fenders were designed for this without complexity. I've done it countless times and it's never caused a problem.

    As far as comparative setup of P versus J basses or P vs J necks is concerned, they are essentially mechanically and functionally the same. The only differences pertain to nut widths, neck thicknesses--front to back--and profile shapes. The fundamental intent of Fender's design is to allow equal potential amounts of adjustment to the neck relief and string action height, high or low.

    I hope that helps.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  8. cesar200791


    Feb 29, 2016
    Wow, I always adjust the truss rod without removing the neck, good to know, thanks
    godofthunder59 likes this.
  9. You don't need to remove the neck to adjust the truss rod. The notch in the body is there so you can get a screwdriver/hexwrench to it without neck removal.
    Rick_Bass and lfmn16 like this.
  10. cesar200791


    Feb 29, 2016
    Ok, you convinced me to unscrew the neck, I'll do it tomorrow, and post what happens, I hope everything will be fine, thank you very much! Hope this bass get even better, I'll keep you updated!!
    Bass Man Dan likes this.
  11. Good luck. If you have good internet access I recommend searching some instructional or guiding videos about it, probably on YouTube. Watching those for good tips and seeing it done in practice can help put the mind at ease before doing it yourself.
    JimmyThunder likes this.
  12. Some basses have bigger notches than others, many no notch at all.

    The notch in the Flea active bass is quite small and the truss rod nut is a hex type. It largely depends of the type of hex wrenches you have or whatever hex wrench Fender might have provided with the bass; whether the wrench has a ball type end to allow a tight enough pivot of the wrench while engaged with the hex truss nut, within the restricted notch in the body.

    Loosening the screws off enough to lift the neck in the pocket while retaining screw remigration and keep the screw and neck plate assembly together.
  13. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA

    Don’t remove the neck if you don’t need to.
    mdogs, Rick_Bass and Grinderman like this.
  14. I agree, as long as you can get the job done without messing up the truss nut and or the body/finish, there's no need to do extra work.
  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Right after I posted I saw your post about the notch being small on that particular bass. Looking at the photos posted by the OP I see what you mean. It does look pretty small. Hopefully an allen key with a small enough short leg can be found to do the adjustment. I hate having to take off a neck, or even just loosen and tilt it to make truss adjustments.
  16. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Here's Fender's own procedures:

    KA-01903 · Customer Self-Service (microsoftcrmportals.com)

    Set-up is a blend of neck relief (truss rod), string heights over the last fret and matching those heights to the fingerboard radius, and assumes that the nut was cut correctly and the neck angle is good. Generally no one adjustment fixes everything, it's the combination.

    This link lists the small handful of tools you need, and do your adjustments in the order as it's written. It's not the easiest thing to understand at first, but you will understand the more you work with it.
    Gregc57 and Grinderman like this.
  17. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I have that identical bass. Never had problems with the set up and there's still play to go down some in the bridge with pretty low action. The access is tight for the truss rod, but the allen key that comes with the bass works fine. Does sound like you need maybe a little relief in there or a shim.

    BTW, its a fantastic bass! By far the 2nd favorite bass in my arsenal. I'm really surprised they didn't catch on and sell better, but Fender really had a lousy series of marketing videos for that bass with Flea. Didn't show anything very well to show off the amazing tone and the pre-amp installed. Just Flea being Flea and a lot of noise. Shame.
    Lackey and SirMjac28 like this.
  18. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Do not remove the neck every time you make an adjustment. You only may need to do that once or twice to find the right thickness shim. Once you have that, you'll should only need to tweak the truss rod occasionally, without removing the neck, with seasonal changes. If you are in a climate controlled space, you may never need to tweak it.
  19. I enjoy doing setups and adjustments but taking necks off is definitely a chore, alongside fishing pickup leads through tight body cavity holes/wireways, especially the thick ones with pull-back Gavitt cloth.

    This is the best tool for that job on the Flea active. The long T-shape with the ball type end are the key features.

  20. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020