Low Action / Soft Touch

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CultParadox, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. I'm know this has been done to death, but I have not been able to find exactly what I'm looking for...

    I am the proud owner of a gorgeous new Music Man SUB 5. I took it home, restrung it with my strings of preference (Ernie Ball 45, 65, 85, 105, 130) and took it back to the shop to have it set up.

    The setup is great. The action is very low. Thing is, I have to play with a very soft touch to avoid fretbuzz. I mean, very soft. I kind of got into this at band practice last night - I cranked my stack up and it kind of felt like I was barely doing anything at all, yet I was still getting massive volume and tone. On the other hand, if I dig in even slightly even for a moment I get punished unmercifully with fretbuzz that is bad enough to get amplified and blasted at me.

    My question is this: is playing with such a soft touch commonplace? Is this the soft touch that everybody is always talking about? Or is my setup poor?
  2. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    get the action set a bit higher.

    when i have my bass set up really low, i have to play really lite.
  3. ApeIsHigh81


    Aug 24, 2004
    Wow it must be really low with it being a sub5 / having the pickup placement where it is. Next time play it amplified at the shop where you get it set-up, and nicely ask the tech/luthier to adjust it to your settings. Maybe you can take it back as soon as possible and ask... they might do it for free real quick since you were just there.
  4. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    That's odd. What are the stock strings on the SUB 5? I would have imagined that an EB 5 string bass would have 5 EB slinkies on it.
  5. Well I replaced the stock 80 and 100 with an 85 and a 105.
  6. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    You could also lower the p'ups instead of the action.
  7. I don't understand? The pickup is fine.
  8. ApeIsHigh81


    Aug 24, 2004
    Yeah, why? So the fretbuzz that he dislikes is still there? :eyebrow:
  9. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    this is whats great about low action. you normally play soft, but when you want the sound of digging in, you just play a little harder. dont dig in like you would with higher action as youll just gett buzz/rattle. just play a little bit harder and youll get that digging in sound if you want it.
  10. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    My mistake, I guess it was too early when I read this hehe. I was thinking part of the problem was when he dug in it was loud.

    I guess to answer the correct original question, either raise the action, or see if the neck might have too much relief. The straighter the neck, the lower the action can usually be.
  11. Was the fretbuzz there before you got the bass setup?

    Other than what's already been mentioned, the only other thing I can think of is possibly a fret needs to be filed down. Is this buzz present all the way up the neck? On all strings, or just one?
  12. No the action is just too low for my playing style. I've decided that although I can accomodate my technique, I'd rather go back and have it set just a bit higher.

    Thanks everyone for your advice!
  13. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification
    slinkys are rather low tension strings and tend to flop around. how low are we talking here? below certain height you cannot play hard without buzz. a good fretwork will allow playing around 1mm at the 12 fret, but that`s pretty much it. anything lower and it will buzz.
  14. Hmmm, I measured from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the B string and it's about 1mm.
  15. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    That is really low. Try raising it to around 2mm.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    You have two simple choices... raise the action or adjust your technique. You've already decided on what needs to be done;)

    To your original questions... playing with a lighter touch/using higher amp volume setting is becoming more and more commonplace. Works for some and obviously it doesn't work for others who don't care to do it. Should you decide it is for you, as Narud already said, you'll find that getting the sound of digging is just a matter of degrees. That takes practice. IME using a lighter touch gives you the most manual control over your dynamic range.

    If that's what you want, it's time to practice. If not... raise the saddles. You can raise them yourself, no need to take it back to the shop.

    BTW pickup height can be an issue... make sure the strings aren't hitting the pickups when you play. People frequently miss that.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    That's most likely too low. Remember, B strings need more space to vibrate... even with a light touch;)
  18. I would love to raise the saddles myself, but the screws (I think they're called screws? The place wherein you put the allen key) are kinda stripped, and I'd rather have the shop that sold me the bass admit that they have to replace the saddles than have them tell me that I stripped 'em setting it up myself.

    That, and the bass didn't come with an allen key or anything, so I don't even have the right tools.