how much neck relief is acceptable?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by taurus1, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    I just bought a 2003 60's Ri Jazz Bass mim.
    I noticed it had a fair amount of relief so I removed the neck and tighten the truss rod nut, it was already almost maxed.
    it didn't seem to do anything so I removed the truss rod nut and clamped the neck for a couple days.
    I just reinstalled it and there's still a bit of relief with the nut maxed out.
    how straight should the neck actually be, I know a little relief is ok but how much?
    is the neck pooched
  2. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans

    Nov 29, 2008
    It's difficult to give a general answer, since every bass is so different, but as a ballpark starting point, I usually set a bass with about 1/64" relief, then see how it plays, adjusting (rarely more, but sometimes less) until it feels right. YMMV, yada, yada, yada.
  3. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Standard setup is usually .015 to .025 or the thickness of a couple business cards Max.
  4. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    thanks guys
    looks like it's .035, maybe a little more and the nut's maxed out.
    would spacers help?
    is this not looking good?
    I used to play hockey and we'd curve our sticks with heat, do I have to get the heat gun out?
    HP246 likes this.
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yes spacers will give you more thread space to tighten it further and get it where you want it. They move the nut back away from the beginning of the threads.
  6. Killens84

    Killens84 Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    The neck radius will play a factor in how much relief to set. The lower the radius, the more neck relief it will need, and vice versa. For example, a neck with a 7.25" radius would need more relief than a neck with a 16" radius. That's just a general recommendation that I've gathered from some various setup guides that I've learned from.

    .015" would actually be the max that I would set for myself. The two basses I own are a Mike Lull P bass and a Mike Lull jazz bass, both 4 string with a 12" neck radius. I keep the relief on both of them set at .012". I've played on basses before where the relief was set above .020", it was almost unplayable to me.

    I learned to do my own setups a few years ago, using Fender's "Bass Guitar Setup Guide" as a reference. I found their recommended settings to be very close to my preferences. This is Fender's recommended neck relief settings, according to the radius of the neck:

    Radius: 7.25" --- Relief: .014"
    Radius: 9.5" to 12" --- Relief: .012"
    Radius: 15" to 17" --- Relief: .010"

    Granted, that's just a general recommendation, but it fits my preferences very well. Someone with different tastes and/or playing style may prefer different settings than that.
    Clyde75, Ed Byrnes and peter-j like this.
  7. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    thanks, I'll have to find some
    great info, I'll find out what the radius is, thanks
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    The .012-.014" reference is a great starting place irrespective of the radius.

    Nodak Savage and peter-j like this.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Riis is right, we're talking two thousandths of an inch. Whoa! As for your original question, a neck needs adjustment whenever it needs adjustment. The same changes on two identical basses will yield two different results.

    Adjusting a truss rod is not magic, it is a simple procedure that all players must know. I was talking to a kid the other day that is sending his Rickenbacker over 1500 miles for a truss adjustment by a specialist. LOL. I read the manual for old type Ric rods and can do it easily for him. I swear half the bass players in the world think a genie lives in there. ;)
    Nodak Savage and _Obra_ like this.
  10. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    yeah it's not something I've ever been too concerned with until recently. one of my friends is a guitar tech who's worked for Joni Mitchell, KD Lang etc., he would do my setups. I've even done refrets with the help of bandmate in the past but this truss rod issue is a new one for me.
    I have to find some spacers and see if that does the trick.
  11. 49sfine


    Apr 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    From what I've learned about these things (granted that may not be much and it certainly is never enough!), you do want some relief on your neck no matter what - be it fretless or fretted. I tend to use the 'business card gauge' and like to keep the relief within 2 cards worth; one card thickness is optimum. I supose I should just measure what that is (mm though), but since card stock varies, I haven't bothered. It was good to read about the Fender guide though - very helpful and confirms what I've been doing already. Thanks!
  12. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    It may continue to "Flatten" out a bit depending on how high your bridge is. Can you get nice low action and make it playable with Bridge adjustment?
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    A satisfying intellectual belch that clears the mind if ever one was written.
  14. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Made my morning...:D
  15. darkstorm

    darkstorm Guest

    Oct 13, 2009
    Sounds like a problem neck if truss rod is maxed and you cant get dead flat neck. I go for minimum relief myself and wouldnt own a basss whose truss rod doesnt allow any play room with minimum relief. Makes bass unaccepotable if heavier gauge or heavier tension strings where ever used. I use 45-105. This also creates real problem for playability if weather changes made adjustment for flatter needed.
  16. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    EH, Those MIM P-basses play like a dream with a little extra relief. I'd play the %#$ out of that baby. Drop the saddles down and have at it.
  17. ubnomnar

    ubnomnar Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    So Cal
    Lownote38 likes this.
  18. Some say that .012 is the "standard", but up to .03 (a credit cards thickness) is fine, and what I prefer. If you play on your lower frets a lot or if your fretwork is less than stellar - having a tad more relief can be helpful relative to fret buzz. In reality - it's just not much more, and won't change the playability.
  19. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Actually, it is two and a half times as much. That is a lot.

    If the fretwork is less than stellar, fret dressing or replacement is the remedy.
  20. ubnomnar

    ubnomnar Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    So Cal
    If I had a neck with 0.030" relief I'd buy a quill of arrows and a bail of hay :bag:

    IMHO... a player's preferred neck relief and action is a very personal choice. Set it up how you like it :bassist:
    Cliff Colton and ComeHomeShane like this.