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How much Relief? (Fretted Basses)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Luis Fabara, Nov 5, 2000.

  1. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    According to The Setup Master class (By Anthony Jackson) The neck should be straight as an arrow with no relief for correct Intonation and playability.

    According to Gary Willis there should be a relief as a credit card.
    Is this a personal taste thing? Or there is a way that Basses should be properly set up.
    Low action is the goal. How much relief should I use?
    Should I compensate a straight neck with higher string height to avoid fret buzzes, Or is it better to have a slight relief with lower strings?

    Let's try to make this thread the definitive guide to Neck Relief Setup.

    [Edited by lfabara on 11-05-2000 at 11:54 PM]
  2. it's something that as a bassist i constantly wonder about, does there bare any relationship between the setup of a bass the effects it has on your playing,, i certainly believe there is. a good setup will reduce the amount of fatigue that u suffer from moving up and down the neck,, i play a varying amount of styles from slap to pop, rock,, so my setup isn't ideal for each but i believe that i can certainly try and reach the ideal. with so many contradicting opinions shouldn't we try to lay down or try to dicover what the optimum setup is then people can brach off an develope there own preferences,
    personally i don't have a clue what this is i just know that in 20 minute i'm off to fiddle !!
  3. The amount of relief is related to how hard you play. the harder you play the more relief is needed. Find a bass with an an action you like and measure the relief, the string highth at the top fret, and the string guage and brand. This is the starting point for your personal setup. I play my basses about where Carvin sets up their basses. Even before I heard ov Carvin. The relief changes with tempature so you may need to tweek the truss rod in the summer and winter.
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    This is only my opinion and what I say is open to agreement or disagreement.

    First, I dont think relief or the lack of relief has that much to do with action. By action I mean string height. The amount of string hgt. is more dependent on bridge hgt. than the amount of relief. If the "proper" relief is the thickness of a credit card you are only talking about a few thousandths of an inch of string hgt. over a flat board. I believe that the closer you can come to a flat board, the more playable a neck is.

    The truss rod is not put into a neck to allow action(string hgt, adjustments) to be made. The truss rod only serves one purpose and that is to eliminate buzz by introducing a bend in the neck. Some basses with some choices of string guage etc. will buzz with a flat board. Some basses can run a flat board and not be plagued with buzz.

    The one pitfall with a flat board is that any change at all thru temp. and humidity changes that tends to introduce back bow leaves you with a buzz monster. With relief in the neck, a small amount of movement in the back-bow direction wont introduce buzz. Flat neck produces zero tolerance to movement in the back-bow direction.

    I think it's extrmely important to make the correct adjustment to achieve a particular result. If the neck tilt or angle adjustment is correct, you can increase the angle and achieve a higher action. You can also raise the bridge saddles and accomplish what may appear to be the same result. The problem is that only one adjustment(bridge hgt.) will give the desired result without introducing other problems.

    Bottom line is this. All basses are different. The exact amount of relief for one bass may very well be different for another bass.

    Generally speaking, if everything else is in proper adjustment and you have a buzz problem at the first two or three frets, then some relief is needed. If the buzz occurs at the bridge end of the neck, bridge hgt. adjustment is in order.

    If you start out with a good setup and all of a sudden you start to get buzzes, chances are good that only ONE adjustment is needed to correct the problem. Unless the bass has been dropped or banged around a lot, chances are pretty slim that two or more things have gone wrong at the same time. Therefore two or more adjustments wont be needed to correct the problem.

    Bottom line is that there is no "right" specification for relief. Two basses of the same make and model will likely have different amounts of relief when properly adjusted.


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