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Fret Level question.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by phangtonpower, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. I live in the country side of Japan. There are no real techs where I live, so they have to send it off to the Yamaha Factory for any major repairs. I asked them to do a fret level. Now my Japanese isn't that good, but I've brought 2 people now that understand English very well to explain. One a guitar player, but has never done or heard of a fret level.

    The first time, it took me about half an hour to explain what I wanted to do, so they sent off. I got it back and they removed some fret buzz that was noticeable, but here's the thing. No matter what, my e string buzzes on most frets when I have my action set a little over 2mm. Hence the reason for a fret level.

    Got it back, set it to about 2mm again and it still buzzes. They say they did the job, but I feel nothing has changed. This is my first fret level. So my question is that can they do a fret level and still have it buzz at exactly the same height that the E string was at before?
  2. JasonLamb


    Aug 17, 2007
    What kind of bass is it?
  3. It's an Ovation Magnum.


    The frets are actually in good condition. I could probably fix the problem by adding relief, but the neck has 3 graphite rods in it and even with fairly heavy gauge strings, it wont move. IT's strung with La bella flatwounds with a .109 e string. Relief is at about .3mm. You can only adjust the bridge on the E string and G string side.

    Stock action height is supposed to be at about 3.1mm. A little high for me. Bottomed out the bridge and added a shim. I can get it to the height I like it now, but only the E string side buzzes on all frets, so I was thinking a fret level would fix it.
  4. So I guess my question is, is it possible to get a fret level and still not get the action to the height I want? Is 2mm too much to ask for with fairly heavy gauge flatwounds and a medium touch?
  5. JasonLamb


    Aug 17, 2007
    If that is around 4/64ths then yes, it is probably a little low.
  6. skeels


    Jan 14, 2013
    Is it perhaps the nut slot?
  7. 2mm is a little over 5/64ths.
    Well the tech at the shop checked the nut height with some feeler gauges and he said it was fine. It could be a possibility since I don't know how to measure the nut. Plus they probably have sent it off to Yamaha already, so I wouldn't be able to check.

    Edit: Actually thinking about it, open E had no buzz.
  8. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Your gonna have to go over the whole bass from
    Nut Height
    Saddle Height
    Freight Height on the buzz side...maybe there not fitted correctly on the E side.They may need a slight hammering to get them level (really).
    Neck Straightness counts.
    It could be a little twisted on that side of the buzz ?
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Wait a minute! Are you saying the bass has graphite rods and is so stiff the neck doesn't bend? Is there a truss rod in it? If the neck is super stiff (like say my Modulus graphite) then you don't exactly "level" the frets, you have to actually build the relief (means the bow in the neck where the center of the neck is about a credit card thickness...or more depending on how hard you play... lower than the ends) into the frets. If the frets are actually LEVEL and the neck is too stiff to bend under the tension of the strings to put a bow into it, you won't have any relief and the action will have to be higher to stop buzzing.
  10. Yup. It does have a truss rod, and I've loosened it, but it pretty much stays where it is. The relief to me seems fine at about .3mm, or 1/64th inch. I honestly wish I could add more...

    So the tech just keeps raising the action instead trying to help me figure a way out on how to fix the problem. He's not a real tech though so he can't really help diagnose the problem and because of this when he sends it out to Yamaha, he can't explain what to do.
  11. The shop checked nut height and said it was ok. The saddles can not be individually adjusted. The entire bridge assembly is lowered or heightened to keep the radius the same with the neck. The neck is pretty straight since it uses graphite rods. It does have a small amount of relief. So pretty much the frets have to be worked on, but the only tech in my entire prefecture has no idea on how to fix the fret buzz and just raises the action.
  12. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I was personally requested to take a look at this thread and chime in, so here we go:

    If your low E is buzzing on every note, then there's only two possible scenarios. One, is that you've got a bad E string - it happens more often than you would think. Second, and this is my hunch, is that you've got a problem at the bridge.

    Magnums don't have very much downward angle coming out of the bridge saddles to where the ball end seats. Without sufficient down pressure on the saddle, it's possible the string could buzz, as it's rattling around in the saddle. You can test this theory by holding the string down behind the saddle and then play the E string. If the buzzing is reduced, then you need to do a few things to fix it:

    Pull the neck off, place a shim in the neck pocket close to the bridge, replace the neck, and raise the front of the bridge to your desired action. Since the Magnum's bridge is adjustable at the front, and pivots on a fixed pin at the back, this will increase the break angle of the string against the saddle, and will increase down pressure on the saddle. The string shouldn't buzz in the saddle with sufficient angle. Dig?

    It's also possible that the saddle slot itself needs to be back filed. You can take a small round file, and run it through the saddle slot a few times at a slight downward angle towards the bridge, which should give you a definite witness point for the string.

    Check your bridge angle first, and see where that leads you before you do any filing. Good luck.

    EDIT: You shouldn't need any more relief. I set my Magnums at .1mm relief and they play fine.
  13. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    When did you move back there?
  14. That's a wonderful bass. As for the string... 2 mm doesn't seem like so much action to me, honestly. Try inspecting fret by fret with a straight gauge (a credit card works).
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I moved back in October, with the intent of starting my own guitar repair shop here (strangeguitarworks.com). I had reached my limit at SF Guitarworks, and the next step was to own my own shop. Plus, San Francisco has never felt like home to me, and I'm glad to be back.
  16. Thanks for the input Mr. Strange. I have already put a shim in it since the action was a little high with the bridge bottomed out, but I will definitely look at the bridge again once I get it back in a couple weeks.

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