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How can you tell if the neck is straight?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by btrag, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. btrag


    Mar 7, 2005
    Just like the books instruct, I tilt my bass to eye-level and view the neck from the perspective where my eyes are just above the bridge. I cannot detect a downward or upward bow. I've tried this with many basses, and can't identify anything. Can anyone clue me in to what exactly to look for to determine straightness of neck? Please be specific!
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    You could always get a yard stick and hold it up along the edge, making any deviations more visible.
  3. Capo the bass at the first fret and hold down the E string at the last fret. The string then becomes a straight edge...you can then see (and measure) the amount of relief (bow) in the neck.
    Micah D likes this.
  4. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Would the frets seem to be closer toegther than they should be if there was forward bow and further apart than they should be if there was back bow?

    Either way doing it by eye like you mentioned would seem to be something you'd need plenty of practice to get right and a really good eye.
  5. I suppose to a very, very miniscule degree, you may be right but I don't see what difference it makes.
  6. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004

  7. cerrem


    Apr 4, 2006
    San Diego
    If you don't have the best eye for sighting the neck..get yourself a machinist straight edge ruler.... Lay that down on the fret board and there will be no doubt what the heck is going on.... You don't always want to compare the 1st fret to the last fret...this is because the bow may be at different locations depending on the particular bass you have...
    You need some minor amount of bow (relief) to allow for natural string vibration from buzzing into the frets.....
    SOme players like the feel of extra bow, and also it's a way of cheating to getting rid of buzzing when your in need of fret work..but the penalty is that your intonation adjustment will run out of room....Some Ric basses, such as 4001 tend to bow in a higher location, due to the wacky bending truss rods in those models...
    I usually check for bow by pressing the string at the 1st and
    15th/16th fret....because sometimes there is rising tung.. I check both sides of the bass, the E string then the G string...since typically you only have ONE truss rod, you usually will see more bow on the E string side, if not then your doing good...if this becomes a concern...then find a gauge that is more eqaual in tensions ...no bass is perfect, unless you buy some custome made Hi-End bass... SO if you have rising tung problems.I make the neck a little more straight than usual, then raise the action to compensate...

  8. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
  9. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
  10. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    When I "eyeball" relief as you've decribed, I find it helpful to shift the focal point of my eyes slowly from the butt of the neck to the headstock and then back again. Also, hold the bass / neck so that the surface of the butt of the neck is in the same "plane" (at the same elevation) as the headstock end of the neck. Also, be sure that your line of sight is along the edge of the fretboard (not the middle).

    The best way to measure relief is with a straightedge as described above.

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