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How common is fret leveling on bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by longfinger, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. Hey all,

    How common is it than a fretted electric bass will need it's frets leveled?
    Do basses in the $900-$1600 price range leave the factories with frets that are not really level when set up to professional standards? Do makers and sellers rely on people setting the string height high enough to avoid buzzes and discovering these issues?

    thank for sharing stories and info...
  2. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Personally I've never had to have the frets leveled on a new bass. I just wait til they get chewed up or have problems. Also, I've owned a lot of Warmoth necks which are great, and they usually attach a notice that you may have to level the frets initially when you assemble. I've never had to do this with their stuff as of yet either.

    I do know that sometimes this is necessary, I've just never had to have it done right off the bat. Did you buy a new bass that needs the frets leveled?
  3. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    never had the need to do it in over 30 years.
  4. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    A good fret-level will insure your bass playes its best.
    No matter how much you spent on it.
    Worth it IMO on any new bass..(or old one)
    ElBecko59 likes this.
  5. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I'd say it depends how picky you are.
  6. Hey thanks for the input,

    I just bought an older German Warwick Corvette. I'm not sure how much it's been played in the past 7 or so years. The frets seem fine in regards to wear and grooves. But, I just bought it and went to have it set up, and when the neck is perfectly straight on the bass side, it has a hump on the treble side at around the 12 fret. (Straight edge sits flat on bass side, rocks a bit on the treble side.)

    I want to be more precise and exacting than I was before in regards to instrument setup and my playing, because I want to refine my skills and take it up a few notches from where I am now. That's why I got the german made Corvette over the far less expensive Rockbass. They felt and sounded different even when unplugged. So yes, I want to be 'picky'.
  7. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses

  8. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    First thing I do when I get a new bass (even if used but new to me) is to level the frets and recrown.

    I can ALWAYS get better action that way. Always.

    That being said, I wouldn't level the frets of a new Sadowsky or high-end Fodera or MTD unless I couldn't get them to play well otherwise, which is unlikely . . .
    ElBecko59 likes this.
  9. stflbn


    May 10, 2007


    The only bass I've owned that I've never had to tweak frets on is my Regenerate Guitar Works bass.

    A 2007 Fender 5-string Jazz Deluxe got delivered today and the first thing I did tonight was yank the neck off it and deal with the frets on it.

    Yes... it played fine as it was. But it plays MUCH better now.

  10. Hi.

    While almost every instrument that has passed through my hands (mainly guitars though) regardless of the brand/price/value/vintage, has benefited from fret levelling+re-crowning.

    A lot of instruments can be very good right out of the box, straight from the sweat-shop without any setup, but with fret-levelling and good setup, they're great.

    So as cnltb said: "I'd say it depends how picky you are." , holds very, very true.

    In that case, a close inspection will reveal the cause for the hump and a good repair person can make it un-noticeable. Either by re-seating the fret(s), levelling the fretboard, or levelling the fret(s).

  11. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Fort Wayne, IN
    I do fret levels on every bass that I can't get the action where I want it, which is most of them.
  12. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    (Snicker) Well said...
  13. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    +1, any new fret work that I do (guitar or bass) get's a leveling,re-crowning and polishing, once the rods are adjusted to the preferred tension. This ensures that you will by far get the lowest possible action possible, without fret buzzing. Not everyone likes real low action though, but there's room to do so, if ever needed without too much trouble.

    Besides, I won't sully what little bit of a good name I have by having sub par fretwork.
    bassguyky48 likes this.
  14. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 26, 2020

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