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Having trouble with neck relief

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by revilotisam, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. revilotisam


    Feb 9, 2013
    So my bass was playing perfect except I had a little fret buzz on the G and D string from maybe the 5th-12th fret. So I figured I needed to add a little relief to get rid of the buzzing since the string height didn't seem to be the problem. So I turned the truss-rod counterclockwise hoping to add more bow to the neck. After a bit every single string was buzzing a little so I decided I'd stop messing with it right there and just take it to a store. A week later I got my bass back- it was absolutely unplayable. The strings were so unbelievably high off the fretboard I might as well been playing an upright. When I went to try a few little slap lines I had massive amounts of trouble because the strings would barely smack against the fretboard to make the characteristic "slap". The saddle and bridge heights were set way way up- I'm gonna guess I had a solid half inch between the string and the 24th fret. The bass was dusty enough that I could tell where everything had been set before they worked on it...so I figured I'd start undoing what they had done by lowering the bridge and saddles. Every single note was completely dead at the original saddle height- there was no relief at all. I had heard about warwicks with reversed truss-rods in the past so I figured since "adding relief" added more buzz maybe I was going the wrong way. So over the course of a few days I've been going clockwise maybe 2.5 turns in total now. The bass is playable but with very bad fret buzz between the 1st and 12th frets. I bought a caliper to hopefully put the relief dilemma to rest once and for all. With the 1st and 24th fret pressed down the string touches the fret at the 7th fret. Its a 2001 warwick thumb bolt0on 5-string. I'm not going to take it to any other store ever again- I need to figure this out for myself so it can be done correctly. I need a way to KNOW which way the truss-rod needs to be turned to add relief. Why when I turned it counterclockwise to start did it begin buzzing MORE and on all strings?

    So I mostly need some tips on measurements I can make to know for sure if I am adding or decresing relief. Right now the string just touches so there is no measurable difference I can use to tell. I am completely unable to play my instrument- it has been two weeks now. I am getting desperate I just want someone who is able to setup a bass to please bail me out here. I paid to have it done and it completely backfired.
  2. Andyman001

    Andyman001 Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    If it touches at the 7th fret you've put if in a back bow, turn it the other way.

    Also, in a standing position with the bass on the floor holding the headstock at arms length, "sight" down the neck and compare the strings to the neck, you should be able to see weather back bow or relief is present.

    Also read the sticky's at the top of this forum, very helpful.

    setup guides
  3. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    As per the Warwick owner's manual, you were doing it right. CC to add relief. There is a chance you have a bass with a pronounced forward bow, maybe....weird.
  4. revilotisam


    Feb 9, 2013
    Thanks for the info. It has no bow at all. I'll start going back the other way tomorrow. I'm a little worried because turning it this way at least got the strings off the fretboard enough for notes to ring out a little- but maybe if I go far enough it will start to add relief after the strings are resting on the fretboard? So maybe its back bowed and once I straighten it out I can get back to having a normal relief? Oh who knows I'll just keep messing with it until the neck is broken or the stupid thing plays again. I think maybe its just time to get back to drums...
  5. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Backbow is concave and foreward bow is convex...yours is forward by the sounds of it, even though you think it's flat...is it easy to turn the truss rod CC?
  6. revilotisam


    Feb 9, 2013
    Well a week ago before I had it "professionally setup" I had gone CC to add relief. At that point every single string began buzzing and turning it CC any more had no resisitance- like it was turned as far as it could go or something. I wish I had just turned it back to where it was...but instead I brought it to a store and they absolutely RUINED my bass. I've gone about two turns in this direction- if I turn it back CC two turns every string will be flat on the fretboard (they wont make any noise if plucked)- if I turn it beyond that you think it will eventually start to ring out again?

    I guess it looks slightly too straight- like perhaps its bending the other way now. So I suppose if I turn it back CC it would go completely straight before adding relief (worse before it gets better). But I had already tried turning it all the way the other way (eventually the truss rod turned effortlessly with no effect) and it ended up increasing my buzz. Is there a circumstance where adding more relief will make the strings buzz more? I just wish I could have it back where it was before the store got ahold of it. It'll take me a solid 4 days to get it back to where the strings are flat on the fretboard before I can see if going CC will end up adding relief or if Ill end up like last time. Either way I guess it can't get any worse its not like I can play bass atm. I'll report back in a few days once I've gone back the other direction and see if it ever gets any better. Thanks again everyone for the tips.
  7. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    In general, insufficient relief will cause more buzzing on the lower frets, and too much relief will cause buzzing on the higher frets.

    With the first and 24th frets pressed down, you should have about enough room to slide a credit card in a the 7th fret. If you have a feeler gauge, try for about 0.015", give or take 0.005". Just loosen the truss rod a bit at a time until you have it set.

    Once you have this set, you may still experience fret buzz. At this point, you simply need to raise the saddles a little at a time until it disappears.

    With the relief set correctly, you should be able to get the action down to about 1/8" of an inch clearance at the 24th fret, depending on how hard you play.

    If you find that you have to raise the action unreasonably high, you may have some worn nut slots, or a high fret somewhere. At which point, you'll probably need a pro. As in, not someone who works at the store you took it to before. And not Guitar Center. Find a local mom and pop that the local musicians like. Try to talk to bass players in your area to see who's good.

    Don't worry, you'll get this figured out. And you'll learn some invaluable stuff in doing so. Hang in there and keep the faith. And for God's sake don't go back to drums. We make fun of those guys on this forum. ;)
  8. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i have a thumb 2002 BO6
    these basses adjust really nicely; i had a slight wow in mine that bugged me-
    i loosened all the strings for an hour, oiled the FB, buffed the frets and strung er back up. wow disappeared and took 1/3 turn to adjust the neck and now is stable.
    i had a 2005 corvette 6er and it had almost the same situation except that bass responded even better.
  9. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Ok well then it sounds like your neck definitely has a forward bow with no tension. With single-action rods, when increasing relief, you're removing the truss rod's effect and letting the neck settle into it's natural position, which unfortunately for you is "beyond flat", instead of a normal backbow direction. Other than upping the string gauge I can't think of anything except possibly a truss rod replacement (like a dual-action rod), or as a last ditch effort, some type of heat treatment to the neck, that's a professional job which costs $$$...

    Or a new neck.

    Good luck.
  10. revilotisam


    Feb 9, 2013
    That's great to hear! Unfortunately I don't own one of your basses. I took mine to a good luthier- all he said was that the truss-rod was really difficult to turn. He's going to get back to me tomorrow with his diagnosis once he's had time to look at it. I do have a corvette 4-string from the late 90's that still plays awesome and the truss-rod responds as expected- maybe I just got an unlikely dud.