low action buzz, possible nut height issue

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bass-er, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. bass-er


    Aug 7, 2017
    I've got an ibanez sr600, decent player, 5 piece neck, 34" scale bass. I've recently had the frets dressed and polished, when I got the bass back, the action was too high for me. I've removed almost all of the relief. With a capo at fret 1, and holding down fret 24, ive got probably .15mm spacing at fret 14 on the low e string. Open, the G is a very tight 1mm at the 12th fret, and the E is 1.2mm at the 12th fret.

    I'll get fret buzzing between the fret and the nut. Its noticable when I fret the note, but won't buzz when i finger strum the string.

    Im thinking about removing the nut and placing a small shim to test it out, but wanted to ask before i effed this thing up.
  2. Flippy


    Jun 9, 2017
    1mm of action is very little, I don't think it's physically possible to avoid fret buzz there unless you pluck the strings with your breath.

    Your description states that the buzz occurs on a fretted note, not an open string, therefore nut has nothing to do with the buzz
    David Jayne likes this.
  3. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Hey mate, I've not set my action like that - however, high nut slots usually cause sharp notes on the first few frets - they should be cut down almost as low as one fret height to minimize this.

    As for action, I too like my necks pretty flat, so I'll drop the action down to about 2mm above the 12th fret across all strings and adjust from there. I'll check the height above the 24th fret; if it's less than the height at the 12th fret there is too much relief.

    Each bass is different - harmonics cause buzzing on my custom fiver so I set it a little high for my tastes, but this isn't an issue on my six string so the B is right at 2 mm or maybe even just under that. I don't use capo's to fret a note and check it; I'll play some songs on it to check the sound. Some basses I've had get clanky when set low, others have not exhibited that behavior.

    The nut is usually the last thing I'll have looked at after everything else is set - and if it needs work I'll have a tech do it, unless it's only a small adjustment that I can handle without tools.

  4. Can't really help to much, but I have my action between 1.4-1.8 mm. Can't give accurate measure. Getting old. Probably more towards 1.4 though.

    It's a wormoth pbass I put together. Before attaching the neck, I had it leveled, and I did the nut my self. I't has graphite bars in it, so a solid neck.

    1.4 mm is pretty low, but I use La Bella 760 FMs that are pretty Heavy Gauge. I try and play with a medium light touch with no buzz, but if I dig in a little more, it gives me the right amount of fret noise, not buzz. I'm Happy with it.

    Guess to have super low action you need Leveled frets, lighter touch, stiffer strings, and be happy with some fret noise when you start to dig in.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    You don't have enough relief in that neck, and you're measuring it wrong. Capo the first fret, fret it where the neck meets the body (18th fret I think in your case) and measure the gap at the 7th fret. It should be between .25mm and .4mm. Set it that way and see if you still have "back buzz" - i.e. buzzing between the fret and the nut.
    hondo4life, 96tbird and Flippy like this.
  6. bass-er


    Aug 7, 2017
    Manufactures specs are .35mm at 8th fret. and that is what I set it originally. Action's too high.

    Not trying to start a debate about how high or low an action should be, that dead horse doesn't need another beating, the scope of the question is really about adjusting the nut height and asking for input from anyone with experience with that.

    I think I've found my solution, its an adjustable brass nut. These 5 piece jakota/bubinga necks on some of these ibanez sr's are pretty stable.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    The manufacturer's spec is good. If you are finding the action too high with that relief, you should be adjusting the string height at the bridge, not the neck relief.
    There's too little relief from the measurements you gave, whether you like it or not. Back buzz is a natural consequence. Sure the nut can be too low, but the way to determine that is by measurement. What's the string clearance over the first fret now?
    96tbird likes this.
  8. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    I see you are new here, so I have no idea how you would know what horse has been beaten. Frankly, I'm surprised @Turnaround even bothered to respond a second time after your rude uninformed post. @Turnaround is well known around here to provide some very good advice, which frankly, I don't believe that I have ever disagreed with something he has said. He is correct and he was nice about, you don't understand how to adjust your bass...you would do well to listen.
    96tbird likes this.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yep. There's a reason that ALL instrument makers spec relief yet you choose to ignore it and great advice from professionals. Get your relief in spec then set your action THEN try reducing relief as flat as you can take it.

    Raising the nut for your problem is a fools errand. This is a relief issue you are dealing with. There isn't any glory in a flat neck if it doesn't perform properly.

    You want it perfectly flat then open up your wallet and get a skilled pro to sculpt your frets and be prepared to pay them an amount commensurate with the time and skill involved.
  10. bass-er


    Aug 7, 2017
    I am new yes. I would like to respectfully say that just because I disagree with someone doesn't mean I am being rude to them. If discussion on different ideas was frowned upon, you wouldn't be able to post your disagreement with me in this forum.

    "You have no idea how I would know what horse has been beaten." Well, I've actually have been doing a lot of reading on talkbass.com before registering an account. One of my personal pet peeves is when a newcomer asks a question thats been asked a hundred times without doing a search in the forum for questions that have already been answered. I hope now you have and idea how I might know what horse has been beaten.

    @Turnaround, no disrespect intended, I just don't happen to agree with you, I hope you understand.

    Now, back to my original question, here is some context:

    Famous Players Setup/Action?

    that thread back in 2005 is pretty good. I'm a victor wooten fan, will be going to one of his hartke clinics at my hometown this November. His action is low, he plays fodera basses. yes, they are badass, yes they are multiple times better than an ibanez, and yes, they have plekd compound radius.


    They have some pretty good information on setting up a bass in general:

    How to Set Up Your Fodera

    trussrod link

    They also capo the 1st fret, fret the 24th, and measure at the 8th fret. Their video on the above link is pretty good regarding trussrod adjustments, I found it useful in my bass setup. Jason Disalvo also mentions adjusting the nut as some players might like. (i'll need to add the relief from .15mm to .25mm)

    The next link, Jason talks about setting the action, and mentions that a player should only set the action once, and make seasonal adjustments to the trussrod only.

    He also sets his bass up with 1/16"(1.59mm) action at the 24th fret of the G string, and the same for D and A. He sets E at 3/32" of an inch.

    I've talked to the luthier that dressed the frets on my ibby, he builds guitars and basses,(actually made guitars for travis tritt and his guitarist), and he said, hell yeah on the adjustable nut and its really just a player's preference on how he/she wants the instrument to respond.

    peace out \ /
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I understand perfectly, and I don't see any disrespect in the fact that you disagree. I personally disagree with some of the setup methods in the Fodera video you posted. I still respect the Fodera team for what they produce, but I believe they are missing out on some detail points. They specialize in building fine instruments, and I wouldn't pretend to tell them I know better how to build. I am a specialist in setup and repair, a field with a very different skill set, and I am not looking to them for the best advice in my field. And from these differences, creative innovation is born.
    Loring, Rallypoint_1 and Zooberwerx like this.
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    It sounds like you haven't read my numerous posts on why an adjustable nut is an unnecessary gimmick. For any given bass there is only one nut height that makes sense, and it has nothing to do with a player's preference. It's not a matter of taste, it's a matter of geometry. It's like you are trying to balance a pole, but you would prefer the look if it leaned to one side a bit. Too bad about your preference if you really want the balance.
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    One quick to roll the relief out of the equation....almost...when checking nut: Gently press down any string at the 3rd fret. The resulting gap between the string and 1st fret should be .003-.005" as measured via feeler gauge. Couple of added concerns:

    *Bad string install possibly? No witness points, inadequate break angle, etc.

    *Industry standard for relief is .012-.014"[email protected] has already mentioned this...to accommodate the physics of a vibrating string. YMMV depending on the quirks of your particular instrument.

    *It's easy to kick a neck into the dreaded "S" curve.

  14. bass-er


    Aug 7, 2017
    I installed the bass strings, its possible they are wrong, but i've had this problem before and after i took the bass in to get the frets dressed. I did put SS low riders, so the buzzing is much more pronounced. I've done a little reading regarding the S curve you mentioned. That might explain some things. I suppose the neck relief discussion is assuming i have a straight neck, and it might not be. what a pain in ass