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HELP! Is this a truss rood issue? Or simply action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Salamenster, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Hi,

    I have the feeling that my action is really, really high. It's 3.5 mm at 17th fret (no capo) at all the strings.

    I have the feeling that there's a huge bow in the neck, wich is weird, because I had the truss rod set up by a professional last week. When I played it there, it seemd fine. When I got home, it was bowed again... >.<

    It could be the climate in the house, it's winter here now and it's mildly freezing.

    Anyway, here are some (bad quality, sorry... >.<) pictures for you guys to judge if it's a truss rod issue or not.

    I'm at the point of giving up hope with the action and just play it the way it's set up right now, even I find it quite high.
  2. The other two photos:
  3. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    One thing is assessing an instrument from a picture is impossible. So, Assuming that all parts function properly, a setup is in order. Pay someone or learn how.
  4. gdavis


    Oct 18, 2012
    Sounds like he just had it professionally set up.

    To check the neck relief, hold the E string down at the first fret and last fret, then look at the gap between the string and the fret at the middle (around 7th fret). Probably shouldn't be much more than .5mm.

    If you think something went out of whack as soon as you brought it home from the tech, I would just take it back and see what he can do for you. I would expect he would at least take another look at it no charge, it shouldn't change drastically if everything is working correctly and you didn't let if freeze outside all night then bring it in to a heated house or something.

    I would also suggest learning how to do setup yourself. It's not terribly difficult, just takes patience. You can find plenty of info on google and youtube.
  5. So... I need a bunch of tools, isn't it? Any company that supplies set-up packages of some sort? A all-in-one kit?
  6. rockinrayduke

    rockinrayduke Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Henderson, NV
  7. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I wouldn't say a bunch of tools. A capo and a feeler gauge are a good start. I would think the bass should have come with whatever tool is necessary to adjust the truss rod.

    I think a lot of people don't understand what a feeler gauge is - I know I didn't. Very simple and should be found at any hardware store I think:


    I use .015 to measure for bass relief.
  8. gdavis


    Oct 18, 2012
    Typically all you need are some wrenches which usually come with the instrument and a ruler or feeler gauge. Maybe a screw driver for the truss rod cover if there is one. The actual tools vary a bit depending on the brand of instrument so there isn't a "standard" kit. A set of standard and metric allen wrenches is always good to have, you can find that at any hardware store or there's something called the "roadie wrench" that's like a swiss army knife of common guitar tools. You'll have to look at the truss rod nut to see what that takes if you didn't get a truss rod wrench with the bass.
  9. It's about .9mm... big deal?
  10. I'll most def look for one of those! I've also favorited the Garry Willis site... I think I need to step over my fear of breaking things and just try to do my own set-ups..
  11. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Hey, I was right there with you for a while - always afraid to break something. Just go slow. On the rare occasion I do need to adjust the truss rod on one of my basses, I never do more than 1/2 turn a day, and I can't remember the last time I needed more than a 1/4 turn.
  12. gdavis


    Oct 18, 2012
    Probably more than I would like, but it depends on the instrument and your playing style.

    Here's what I do:
    First I adjust the saddle height by fretting notes at the 14th fret and up and setting the action just high enough to not get buzzing on these frets.

    Then I adjust the truss rod to get the neck as flat as possible without getting buzzing when fretting notes from the 12th fret on down to the first fret.

    And ya, like bunkaroo said, small adjustments on the truss rod, no more than 1/8 of a turn at a time if that and give it time to settle. If it doesn't seem to be doing anything, don't just keep cranking on it. From what I've heard, some basses have a hard time keeping the neck from bowing, though I've never encountered the problem myself.
  13. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Everything I've read about setup says you should adjust the neck before any saddle adjustments, as you can likely counteract the saddle adjustments by changing the neck relief. Now if what you're doing works for you, cool. Someone new to it might have problems doing it that way though.

    Regardless of how high the strings are off the fretboard, fretting at the first and last takes that out of the equation and makes the string a straight-edge to use for measuring the gap at the 7th fret (or middle) with the feeler gauge. Once the neck is good, you can measure your string height and adjust the saddles from there.
  14. Arial Bender

    Arial Bender

    Oct 28, 2012
    Largo Fla.
  15. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    I didn't see it on the GW website, but it is best to loosen ALL the strings a bit before tightening the truss rod. You have a hundred-fifty-ish pounds of string tension on the neck when tuned to pitch. It is way easier to tighten the truss rod with that tension relieved first.
  16. gdavis


    Oct 18, 2012
    Everyone has their own way of doing things. If you know what you want the relief to be then yes, using the string as a straight edge works. But ultimately what matters is how it plays, not the actual numbers.

    The relief will affect the overall action, but the neck typically doesn't start bowing until beyond the 14th fret or so. Above that where the heal of the neck is, it stays pretty flat. So the neck relief won't affect those notes when fretted. If you change the neck relief after adjusting the saddles then yes, the open string action will change but it won't affect how the fretted high notes sound. If you feel that making the truss rod adjustment made the open action too high, you could lower it at the saddles again but you will get buzzing again at the higher fretted notes.

    I've found this to be an easy straight forward way to get it playing well all over the neck.
  17. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    You can get by with only need a few tools:
    (1) allen wrench to adjust height of bridge saddles
    (1) allen wrench to adjust truss rod
    (1) screw driver to adjust forward/back of saddles (intonation)
    (1) credit card to measure neck relief

    Note: sometimes the tool required to adjust the truss rod is not an allen wrench - this varies by manufacturer.
  18. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses

    Which is why I said "if what you're doing works for you, cool".

    I will say that when I started doing my own setups I think I would have had a harder time getting it doing it the way you're doing it.

    In most cases I am using the manufacturer's string height recommendations as a starting point for string height after the neck adjustment, and those measurements are with the strings open, not fretted.

    The way I learned, the truss is never about adjusting the "action" - it's simply about getting the neck relief where you want it. Now you may find that the standard-ish .013-.015 thickness between the string and fret at the 7th when capo'd is too much or too little depending on your style. But in order to avoid aiming at a moving target, getting the neck back to where you expect it to be is always a good first step IMO. If you know your bass always feels good when you start with .015 relief, it makes more sense to start with the relief adjustment than the saddle adjustment.
  19. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    That is the first setup guide I've seen that recommends helping the truss rod when tightening by applying some pressure - that is a *great* idea! I'll definitely be doing that from now on.