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intonation or pickup height problem ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fugacity, Oct 4, 2005.


  1. fugacity

    fugacity

    Dec 4, 2004
    Hillsboro, OR
    Hi all,

    I'm in a progress of ressurecting an old bass guitar from church. It's a Peavey Foundation. Right now what I've done is straightening the neck. The action is low now, which I like. But, with that, the string sound is much more metallic (extra buzz, highly sensitive, etc), which I don't like. Is this a problem of intonation in which I have to move the bridge saddle ? or is this more of a problem of pickup height (string to close to pickup) ?

    Thanks,
    Roy
     
  2. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Well depends on what your really talking about. Buzzing is usually the action being too low, or the neck has too much relief for the low setup. The lower your action, the straighter your neck will need to be, at least from my experience. I prefer as low as I can get it, and usually means little to no relief in the neck for me.

    The sensitivity is likely pickup height though as you said.
     
  3. Roy,

    It could be a combination of several things. When you adjusted (straightened) the neck, how much relief did you leave in it? If you pulled it too straight this could be your problem. If the neck relief is good, the action might be a touch too low.
    Intonation adjustments aren't gonna cause that metallic/buzz problem.
    Check the pickup height. Try backing them down if they appear really close. See if this has any effect.
    Does that Foundation have the neck-angle jack screw in the neck plate? If so, it's possible that the neck angle could have been set to give a more playable action at the higher frets. When you straightened the neck, this will automatically make the action lower at those higher frets, and the action could be too low.
    I'd check to make sure that there is a touch of relief (forward bow) in the neck before making a bunch of other adjustments. Hold down the 1st fret with your left hand, hold down the 12 fret with your right hand, and use a right hand finger to press down somewhere in between on a fret. See if the string moves down a little. If it's flat against the frets, there is no relief and the truss needs to be backed down a touch.

    Let us know how it goes..

    Mag...
     
  4. fugacity

    fugacity

    Dec 4, 2004
    Hillsboro, OR
    Magneto.. I checked the relief.. and there's definitely still some space there for more tightening. Now I am wondering if this metallic sound is always the consequence of low action. I lowered the pickup height slightly and increase the saddle height slightly (doesn't this contradict the point of straightening the neck?), and found that the sound is less metallic now, but not much less.

    Roy
     
  5. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    No it doesnt contradict straightening the neck. Action is a matter of playability, not really sound so much, at least in my opinion. I play with very low action, and I dont get any metallic sort of sound. I also have banjo frets on my bass though, so maybe that has something to do with it.

    If you still have some relief, try taking it almost all the way out (but dont adjust more than about a quarter or half turn per day and let it settle).

    BTW, are you still getting buzzes? And is it all over the neck, 5th fret and deeper, or 12th fret and higher?
     
  6. fugacity

    fugacity

    Dec 4, 2004
    Hillsboro, OR
    When you increase the bridge saddle height, doesn't that mean increasing the distance between the string and the fretboard which increases action ? pardon my question, I haven't totally understand yet. What does string height do to the sound?

    There's no more buzz (that is, string touching the frets when vibrating) in any area. The action is good now, actually I'll try to lower it even more.
     
  7. Yes, it means you are increasing the distance between string and fretboard.
    Keep in mind that adjusting the truss rod in the neck is not for adjusting string height. Sure, it does pull those higher frets down a bit, but it's for adjusting the amount of bow or relief in the neck. Different basses play better with more or less relief.
    When you raise the saddles, you are raising the strings away from the pickups, so it will affect sound a bit, depending on high you go. Sometimes, you'll find yourself needing to raise the pickups a bit too, to keep a certain tone.
    Did you read the sticky FAQ at the top of this forum? The Gary Willis site explains alot about setups, relief, string height, pickups, etc.. Good place to start..

    Mag...
     
  8. Hookus

    Hookus

    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    The Fender web site has a great easy to understand setup FAQ.

    Releif: Adjusts the amount of resistance of the neck to the pull of the strings. Hold down the 1st and last frets, then check the distance between the eighth or ninth fret and the E string, look for about .02" to start with.

    Saddle height: Adjusts the height of the string at the higher frets, like 8 to 10 and up. Once you get the proper relief, set the saddle height up just far enough for the buzz to go away.

    Pickup height: Hold down the string at the last fret, and set it about 6/64 or so from the E string at the neck, then a hair closer at the G string.

    And don't forget your intonation. If the strings are new, some of the noise will go away later, but if you still are not happy with the string noise, go to half-rounds.