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freebie bass needs work

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Clbe, Jun 3, 2003.


  1. Clbe

    Clbe

    Dec 13, 2002
    Elgin, IL
    I was fortunate enough to get a free Conklin Groove Tools 7 last week. I've been working on the bass for the past couple of days fixing what appears to be neglect by lack of attention to the beauty. I now have a functioning fretless 7 that sounds like it might be awesome EXCEPT that I can not get the action low enough to my comfort zone without buzzing.

    Here's what I've tried so far.

    Corrected extreme bowing to just flat and then added a hint of relief - adjust saddles - tune. Nope.

    Added more relief - adjust saddles - tune. Nope

    Replace nut with grooves that were ground almost to fretboard level - goto almost flat - then some relief, then some more. Nope

    If I raise the saddles so that I can get a solid buzz free glissando, the action is simply too damn high.

    I'm thinking that maybe I should shim the neck on the outer edge of the joint (closer to headstock) to add raise the nut relative to the bridge but it's so close to level I don't want to "f" with it.

    Am I missing something obvious? This is my first fretless bass to play with. I'm not a luthier by any means but am able to setup any of my or friends fretted basses with no problems.

    Help!

    Clbe
     
  2. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Sounds to me like you did everything right. Have you ever played a fretless before? Could it be that 'buzz' is actually 'MWAH', which many people find very desirable on a fretless bass?

    Try plucking closer to the bridge, with finger moving parallel to the body rather than perpendicular...that is one of the ways I use to reduce the amount of MWAH on a fretless.
     
  3. Clbe

    Clbe

    Dec 13, 2002
    Elgin, IL
    Legit question. I do happen to know the difference.

    I was talking to a guitar player friend of mine yesterday and he suggested that there might be "peaks and valleys" in the fretboard. I did my darndest to visualize this in bright light using the strings and reflection of the strings off the fretboard but can't really tell.

    After letting the neck settle from last night, I checked it this morning and saw something I didn't see before. The bass side of the neck appears lower relative to the unmoving portions of the bridge than the treble side. This is at the 24th fret and sighted from the head stock. Coffee hasn't settled in so I'm not sure what this implies except the shim idea is getting stronger in my mind.

    I was so excited to get this bass. I've got a Rick 4001, Alembic Elan, Fender J, Carvin Custom 5, Chapman Stick, and now this once I get it playable.

    I'm contacting Conklin to see if they have any advice.

    Clbe
     
  4. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Sounds to me like there are high or low spots on the board. Repair dudes usually will "true" a fretless board for under $100.

    Is the buzz localized to certain spots on the board? How high do you need to raise the strings to get it to stop? Is the rattle on all strings, or just certain ones?

    Mucking around with the nut will only affect the open strings, so your attention should probably be on the bridge and fingerbaord.
     
  5. Clbe

    Clbe

    Dec 13, 2002
    Elgin, IL
    The buzzy zones are on the low strings around the 10th to 15th fret lines. This general zone gradually shifts to the 7th to 12th on the high strings.

    Clbe
     
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Sounds like you either have a hump or some grooves. You'd be able to see the grooves (from string wear). The hump is harder to see without a long, accurate straightedge.

    Neck shims will only change the neck angle. Buzz is caused by the string rattling against something ahead of the anchor point. If you play with the geometry of the neck/angle/string run, it's hard to come up with a scenario in which shimming the neck to increase the neck angle will get rid of buzz. At least it is for me.

    If I were you, I'd be looking to get the fingerboard trued. You need accurate straight edges and it's generally done by sanding out the hight spots with a trued, radiused sanding block. If it sounds like something you don't want to do (it's messy and not trivial to do), then you should take it to a decent luthier. If the job costs $100 or $150, that's still a great deal for a seven string bass.
     
  7. Clbe

    Clbe

    Dec 13, 2002
    Elgin, IL
    This is starting to sound like what the problem is. While I'm willing to take this on as a project bass for learning things like... truing a fretboard... it would be a massive loss if I messed this one up. It's a really nice axe.

    Here's my last concern - it's an ebanol fretboard. Are they "sandable"?