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Fretless Fender Jazz Bass Setup

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cassius, Sep 20, 2005.


  1. cassius

    cassius Guest

    Sep 20, 2005
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Hey everyone, this is my first post so I hope I don't step out of line anywhere. Feel free to correct me.

    In short, I just today received a fretless Fender jazz bass (standard issue) that I had ordered from www.musiciansfriend.com, having read their return policy and feeling confident that I could get my money back if I needed to.

    That said, I'm quite pleased with it for the most part. Unplugged it sounds great, even with the flatwounds that everyone cautioned me would be extremely dull. I'll give them that on the electronic play, but the instrument itself sounds great.

    So there's one issue--the electronics. But that's fairly common from what I understand. I'll check and make sure, but I'm going to assume for now that this bass was assembled in Mexico, and I have heard not so good things about the jazz pickups from that region. Anyways. I digress.

    The REAL issue I have (since I can just upgrade those pickups... by the way ANY suggestions on what to upgrade the pickups to is welcome) is that on the high string, a.k.a. G, there is about a 2 whole note range of sort of deadness--a complete lack of sustain. It occurs from C to Eb, but is most noticeable at Db and D. Or frets 5 through 8. Basically the note just dies after maybe a half-second or a second. It's very sad.

    How might I go about fixing this problem? Or is it intrinsic to my particular guitar, or to this model? Should I return it? I'd LOVE to just fix 'er up, but I know very little from a technician's perspective. I'm not even all that great at sighting the neck--I second guess myself a lot--and adjusting the bridge.

    One suggestion I got was to intonate the guitar by increasing/decreasing string length, but I don't really see how that's going to help.

    Any ideas here??? Thanks everyone.
     
  2. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Common problem with those necks sadly. Do a search on deadspots or dead spots.
     
  3. cassius

    cassius Guest

    Sep 20, 2005
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Yeah except... nothing too specifically helpful comes up. One was about an entire dead D string, and that seems to be it. Is there some basic problem here or is it the neck itself? Again, I don't know enough.
     
  4. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    It has to do with the wood of the neck, and the shape of the neck as related to the way basses are just made in general.

    I think theres a product called Fat Finger that is a metal clip you put on the headstock, the added mass moves the deadspot to a place where it wont be noticeable, ive heard they can be quite efficient.
     
  5. quallabone

    quallabone

    Aug 2, 2003
    Your problem has to do mostly with the fact that fender and gibson still use the equivalent of a coat hanger as a truss rod. In most cases there just isn't enough mass in the neck to keep the dead spots at bay. Try the fat finger. If that doesn't work then I think you should return the bass and order another one. Maybe you'll get a neck with denser growth rings next time.
     
  6. cassius

    cassius Guest

    Sep 20, 2005
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Thanks for your suggestions. This is quite depressing, I gotta say. It's such a great guitar otherwise.
     
  7. Yeah this is why you don't buy new Fenders online. I'd return it and buy a bass that you can play first, if possible.
     
  8. quallabone

    quallabone

    Aug 2, 2003
    After working in a high end guitar store for a solid 3 weeks I found out that when it comes to fender/gibson guitars/basses usually 1 in every 6 or 7 is worth spending money on. Usually that one is fantastic. Hopefully you get a good one next time. Or you could buy a new neck.
     
  9. If I were going to buy a Fender long distance I would call Larry Miletich at Music One Workshop in Kalispell, Montana. They are a Fender Gold Level Master Dealer and they will hand select the instrument for you. Tell them what you want and don't want. It may take some time to find specifically what you want. If you don't like it, send it back and they will work harder to find a better one.

    I haven't used them, but I have friends who have and are very pleased. Check out their website at http://www.musiconeworkshop.com/
     
  10. cassius

    cassius Guest

    Sep 20, 2005
    Springfield, MO, USA
    That store doesn't appear to even carry basses.

    And yeah, I know buying online isn't the best idea. But you can't find a fretless Fender Jazz here in town without putting half down so they'll order one--and **** that. So...... yeah there's yet another predicament.

    A lot of people have just been telling me to try adjusting the truss rod--would that really make such a difference? And I'll let you guys know if the fat fingers work, but again, none in town.
     
  11. tadawson

    tadawson

    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    Unless the setup/action is wrong, I can't imagine that the truss rod would do anything other than cause more problems . . . .? ? ? ?

    - Tim
     
  12. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    Actually, a truss rod tweak can change/lessen/even eliminate the dreaded C#-D dead spot on the G, as it changes the stiffness of the neck. BUT if the action and relief are perfect but with a dead spot, then changing the relief might lessen the dead spot at the expense of good playability. It can be a devil of a time finding the balance.

    If you're otherwise happy with it, try the Fat Finger. Or learn to avoid using that position for sustained C#s and Ds. Notice you won't have that problem with the same notes on the D string.
     
  13. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    UK
    I too have a slight dead spot around tje 7th fret position on my MIM Jazz fretless. Other than that it is a fantastic bass, the neck I've adjusted since I replaced the startard heavy Fender flats with TI flats is now so fast with a great low action. The TI's have also helped lesson the affect of the dead spot.

    Has anyone tried using a compressor/sustain to get around the dead spot problem? Woudl it help?
     
  14. Stox

    Stox

    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    Get the bass or the neck replaced
     
  15. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    The overwhelming majority of Jazz Basses have dead spots at the C# and or D on the G string. It's the mass of the neck and the headstock mass. You can either increase the mass of the headstock (what the Fat Finger does) or stiffen the neck (why many manufacturers including Fender use graphite stiffeners in some models).

    Nothing worth returning the bass over usually. Along with the Jazz Bass' strengths come some flaws (the heel likes to rise up over time, too).
     
  16. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Syracuse, NY
    I have the same thing on my MIM Ash Jazz bass. Doesn't really bother me, as I prefer to play those notes on the D, but it's still a bummer.