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Just adjusted the action on my bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Rycebag, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. Rycebag

    Rycebag Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    IMG_0283.JPG just took my bass in to get adjusted and they set to what it usually is at. Then I asked the tech if he could get it a tad bit lower he brought it back and said he had to straighten out the neck to get it lower. So I took it to rehearsals and was playing and some of the notes sound like it's being choked. Here is a pic of what I normally have the action at. is that a pretty normal height?
  2. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    For me, I go by feel, no gauges. At the bridge I just set the string as low as I can before I start to get fret buzz. When that happens I simply raise the string a notch until the buzz disappears and leave it there.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Exactly what I do. This is the benefit of doing your own set ups. Measurements make sense if you're setting up a bass for someone else.

    As far as why notes are choking, maybe there's a back bow in the neck?
    BassLover668, Rycebag and baileyboy like this.
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    You asked for it to be lowered, and the result is just that - lower than normal. If it's choking, you probably need a normal setup for your playing style.
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  5. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    I came across this as well. Action I refer to as "medium" is the one where notes ring equaly around the neck. When I set my bas lower, strings in some positions slightly touch frets, so notes get "choked". This is the verge of "buzzing".
    A tiny bow in the neck could cure this, if not - you need to set strings higher at the bridge.
    baileyboy likes this.
  6. Trisfae


    Sep 20, 2016
    Just make your own adjustments is best~

    Even without measuring tools you can setup your bass by feel and sound. It could take a bit of time but with enough trial and error you'll find what works for you and the bass and the strings on the bass.

    If you aren't sure how to do this check online and start with fairly small increments, even a 1/8 turn of a truss rod will start having repercussions down the bass.
  7. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    I have posted this before, this isn't the end all, but the four part tutorial will help you understand how to do a basic set up yourself. Sans the nut filing, everything is easily done with common tools. Instead of spending a lot of money on letting a tech set up you bass, take a few minutes to learn to do it yourself. You will not only save a lot of money, but you will also understand how a bass works, what causes certain things to cause problems, be able to fix issues that arise in the future, and get as close to a perfect set up for your playing style. You can pick up every tool you would ever need to do this work (excluding the nut files) for 30-40 bucks.

    If nothing else, you will now understand what you are paying your tech to do.

    farace, Badwater, R&B and 1 other person like this.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Turnaround probably nailed it. you can probably do setups yourself: the posts above have great advice, IMO: look at some of the online instructions.

    also: before you mess with anything: try a softer touch with your setup and see if you can't accommodate it with less aggressiveness. good luck! :thumbsup:
  9. Rycebag

    Rycebag Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    Yeah my style has definitely got more aggressive. I play with a pick 80% of the time. 2 years ago I use to have the action maybe as low as I just got it this week. I really like the sound that geezer butler and nick O'Malley from the arctic monkeys gets. They actually adjusted my bass for free cause I got a setup about 4 months ago
    JRA likes this.
  10. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Pick Playing requires higher action generally than finger style. A medium-low action would have about .015 relief and about .075 on the 1st string, .090 on the fourth. That's usually too low for pickers.
    RSBBass likes this.
  11. Rycebag

    Rycebag Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    They just put it back to what I usually have it at for free. Right around 80 65.. haha
  12. ErikP.Bass

    ErikP.Bass Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    I'm struggling with a setup presently and it's related to pick attack. Generally I use only fingers but am dedicating some daily practice time to get my pick playing together and am finding that I'm getting a lot of buzzing. Does anyone have measurements (relief and action) for a good setup for using a pick? The bass I'm setting up had a fret file done so I'm hoping that's not the problem.
  13. Rycebag

    Rycebag Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2008

    just seen this video and I feel confident about doing it myself with how easy carl makes it seem
  14. rpangelov


    Feb 14, 2017
    Well... I check this forum frequently... but my action drama did made me want to register here and share my opinion as adjusting your action can make you sound like SH*T....

    So - as the "right" action depends on the music style you play and ofcourse the way you play - pick or fingers, some people are probably more "heavy-fingered" then others. I play really everything - from Wild Cherry to Six Feet Under and I play in death metal band. I also use 5 string bass (Westone, but I think the brand doesn't matter that much). This is my second bass I ever own in my life - the first I had was 4 strings TCS and it had also pretty high action, but back in the days this was my first music instrument I ever holded in my hands, so I didn't wanted to mess with the setup... aside of that back than I didn't knew what the action was for.

    I got more related to what the action is for and as my inspirations are bass players like John Entwistle, Geezer Butler, Les Claypool etc.... they all (well maybe except Les) have very low action. I remember when I started to get familiar what the bass does... those bass players were really remarkable to me as you easily can hear every note they are playing and it sounded cool... rough and clicky... lots more heavier than using a pick. So I always tried to get that sound, because this was the only view of sound I had. Nowadays... still this is the best sound for me. I am just making this clear because I don't know what you guys mean with "low" or "high" action...

    When I got my Westone bass for first time - it was almost unplayable... the action was VERY high as the previous owner was guitar player which used the bass only for some recordings so he played with pick and he wanted just clear bass sound. I took the bass and I had to go straight to a session - I managed to play everything, but I didn't liked the setup because I had to listen very good so I can hear the strings plucking... I don't know for you but if I don't hear the attack when I play it can confuse me from time to time... but anyway - it had a nice sound. Maybe more suited for something like Red Hot Chili Peppers - punchy bass sound without fret rattling or something... very easily to mute!
    So I came home and I adjusted my action only by lowering it from the bridge. I lowered them to the point where there was very little space (like 0.1mm) between the strings and a simple bankcard which I putted on 12 fret.On the sessions I ALWAYS use Big Muff Deluxe - this is just the style we play... you can ignore it, I am just making it clear, so you can have idea of what I mean and don't make my mistake...NEVER! So I use Big Muff with the same settings all the time for the songs we play. As we play death metal with 1 guitarist I considered the Big Muff can make the sound of the band more complete without needing second guitar (well... it's a lot to discuss here but let's make something slightly different... right?). So the big muff give me the fuzz I need. The deluxe version have low and high filters, so you can get very heavy fuzz without killing the bass. Anyway... the sound is compressed and you have to setup your EQ in order to set your mid's a little higher (at least I do that). The second thing I always do is to put the treble almost to the max - depending on the amp I use. I put the highs also almost all the way up - combined with low action, I get this clicky sound as the strings are slightly touching the frets when I pluck them and it sounds for me good (i will record something so you can consider it your self). When I turn the muff off you get very deep clicky sound... but very powerful - it is pushing inside the room. You can compare the sound to the sound of Geezer (I mean the sound... I am far from his skills...!!!) but with distortion over it - not overkilling distortion... you can hear it good, but you still hear the bass.

    So... now you have idea what I mean by "low" and "high" action... here we go. I had gig 1 week ago. It wasn't my first.... my second haha (I really need to work on my stage behavior - DONT UNDERRATE THIS!). 2 days before the gig I was reading the very same forum and I've seen some people saying - how lower how better... some people say the have so low action the strings rattle on the frets... so I thought... LOL I have very high action as I can put bankcard between the strings and the fretboard without really touching them (with very very very low space between - once more maybe 0.1mm but enough for the bankcard not to touch them). What I did... is I lowered my action from the bridge even more - to the point where you hear the string rattling... ofcourse I was sure it is good when I readed that John Entwistle liked his strings "on the otherside of the fretboard". I played at home - I have small amp - something like 50W no brand or something, but it does the job. Well... it sounded something like Fieldy... but as I am not used to kill all the bass sound letting only the high's and the treble on... it didn't sounded good (I mean it sounded really like ****). I thought... well it's maybe because the amp is too small and I can't hear good the tones - it will be better when we go to the gig with a big amp. It wasn't... my bass sounded so bad I wanted to leave after the first half of the first song, and we had 8 more to go. It sounded so bad that I started playing very softly so you can't hear the bass that loud... I had to concentrate all the time on the playing because it wasn't a natural way to play for me. Welll... I didn't got any bad words about the sound, but lots of people asked of everything was okay, I seemed a little bit "too serious" - well... I was too serious as I had to concentrate at what I play so much that I wasn't able actually to make any contact with the public at all and this is bad for your overall performance. I was very angry about that, because this was our first gig sold out and it was very nice to see all this people, but this ****** my whole night so I couldn't get in the mood to enjoy the party at all. When the gig was over I went home at... about 2:00 o'clock AM and started directly adjusting my F*CKING ACTION AGAIN... I was really pissed. So I highet up my action back to the point were I was able to put my bankcard between the fretboard and the strings without anyspace in between, but also without touching them. I plugged my bass back on and there it was.... this warm,deep,kicking, wallshaking bass without death notes...frets rattling and any other fart coming out of my bass. I was really happy to hear that sound again, but still I can't turn the time back and make the very same gig proper again.

    So here my advice to everybody messing with it's action... take it with care as I am no professional - all I say is from my personal experience.
    First of all - DON'T MESS WITH YOUR ACTION IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO DO THAT - by time... it depends on your experience but to make it proper from scratch took me 2-3 days.
    2. GET TO KNOW YOUR INSTRUMENT! This is crucial part for every adjustment you will make on your bass. Every brand is different and there can be difference between the models, so take time to do your research.
    3. Remember that "low" and "high" action have no definition - there is no default settings for low action or high action as depends on you and the style you play. Read others opinion with not 100% trust!
    4. How lower you action, how better you sound - LIE! Low action can make your bass sound like ****. You will get the percussive sound of it, but you will have no sound as all the notes are dying from fretrattling - think of Fieldy from Korn. Maybe it sounds cool in Korn, but believe me, but the bass he plays on Korn you will never be able to play... for example Black Sabbath without sounding like **** The strings NEED DYNAMICS to produce sound. And as it is bass... you want this punch bass sound so you can see everybody bouncing on the rhythm you play... so you can bring the crowd to start the moshpit by grooving!
    5. If you have no experience and you don't know anybody who's experienced... don't every play with your truss rod! Truss rod is for adjusting the straightness of your neck... IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR ACTION! This is what a local luthier told me.
    6. If have your action set properly - tune your bass! When your bass is tuned... play a song like you are playing on stage - sometimes I have the intention to play gently at home... while on stage I am plucking the strings lots more harder - be careful with that!
    7. Don't ever sacrifice your sound only to get that clicky sound... if you have to lower your action that low you are probably doing something wrong. Every bass have it's "sweet spot" - on my bass it is somewhere between the pickups and the last frets - plucking there produces the sound I want. Plucking above the neck will produce even more percussive sound which is good for some parts of some songs... and ofcourse plucking above the pickups will produce more silent clicky sound. So like that... depending on what part of the song I play, I move my hand to get the sound I want and this is what I needed!

    It is a long post... but once more - this is my experience. I hope nobody will make my mistake! If you have question, I will be happy to answer them.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  15. Thuddy Waters

    Thuddy Waters

    Mar 20, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    This video leaves me with one burning question: Why doesn't fender offer a clear gloss finish??? It looks great with a tortoise shell pick guard, which they also don't offer anymore.
  16. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    My Fender has a clear gloss finish, though someone put a Squier decal on there.
  17. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Assuming your frets are fine, and you can't adjust your plucking weight, I would just loosen the trussrod a 1/8th turn to yield more relief. Picking with a pick is generally more aggressive and needs more space for the string to move on the initial attack: relief provides this.

    You may or may not need/want to reset your action after adding relief; it's up to your personal preference keeping in mind that it's a balancing act. If you can't achieve preferrred action for your playing style, more fretboard work might be needed to fine tune it.
  18. deeptubes


    Feb 21, 2011
    Virginia Beach
    Double spaces between paragraphs are your friend.
    Radio, JLS and 96tbird like this.
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    It seems you have come a long way in a relatively short period. Kudos. Keep an open mind and keep learning - you are showing some real promise.
  20. rpangelov


    Feb 14, 2017
    Well, thx about your sarcasm. About the double space... yeah :/ sorry for it.

    As I said maybe lots of what I say is not completely correct, but I assume you guys are more experienced.

    2 days I started to get fretbuzz on th 20-24 fret... so I adjusted the truss rod (counterclockwise) and the buzz is gone. As I watched the Lakland guy doing this stuff, I have done it in the same order. The only think I did not did as him is to match exactly the string height as he does - with inches. As he said - it's just a basic start point - you are free to up it or low it a little bit so I don't assume you can do much wrong here... it's matter of personal taste.

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