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Low Action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by B8ssMan89, Sep 27, 2004.

  1. What basses are there that have a really low action, or can get a low action without any fret noise.
  2. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Any decently made bass can achieve that with a proper setup.. Course there's only "so low you can go"..
  3. The only Fodera I played had almost no action, and didn't buzz at all.

    You can get ricks, low, but they buzz a lot.

    Uhmm... sounds like your looking for a high end bass.
  4. Both of my Carvin 6 strings are very low action... feel real nice and NO buzz...
  5. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    fender geddy lee
  6. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    I've heard through the grapevine that musicians prefer low action but GOOD (as in GREAT, pro) musicians prefer higher action because of sustain or clarity or something business like that, is this true?

    My Carvin and Aria both have uber low comfy action, like Mark said, it's all in the setup.
  7. I may be wrong, but I think it may have to do with what kind of music is being played. Just as heavy slappers like a wider string spacing...
  8. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    lowest action i've ever played was on an Aria Pro II Cardinal series.. i felt no change in string height when fretting a note... it was sorta wierd lol..
  9. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Chris Benavente is known for setting Bennies up with super low action. However, as long as the frets have been properly level, dressed, the nut has been cut correctly, and the truss rod functions properly, it really shouldn't matter who made the bass. The action of the instrument isn't something that's "built in" and fixed in time....it's continuously variable. ;)
  10. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND

    Like he said. ;)
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Any well made bass can be set up pretty low. And a well made bass with great fretwork can be set up insanely low.

    The lowest setup I have achieved so far on my basses is my Fender Jazz Geddy Lee. It is set up Victor Wooten stupid low.

    My Nordstrand was within a hair of the Geddy Lee, but I raised the action because the string pops on the D and G string were too compressed.

    My Peavey Cirrus is set up just a hair higher than the Geddy Lee too. Makes for a great tapping bass.

    And amazingly enough, I have my $99 SX BG-80 set up very low. Not quite as low as the others I mentioned, but lower than a lot of friend's high end basses that I have played.

    Now that I have learned to do a proper setup and get the action super low, I plan on setting up all of my other basses this way too. My T-40 is next.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    By the way, I am moving this to the Setup forum, since low action is more a function of setup than the actual bass.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    One more thing. Fret noise is more a result of technique than anything else.

    If I play my Geddy Lee in a quiet room with no amplification, you will hear some fret buzz.

    When I play it through the amp, there is no buzz. Unless I want it. If I dig in, I can get buzz through the amp.

    But if I play with a light touch, there will be no buzz.

    Same with all of the other basses that I have set up very low.

    Due to improvements in my technique, I can play with much lower action than I could as little as 5 years ago. If I had tried to play a bass set up like my Geddy Lee a few years ago, I would have sounded terrible, with buzzing all over the place.

    A light touch gives you much more control over your dynamics.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    My Brubakers, Elricks, Fodera, MTD, pre-Gibson Tobias, Bone and Ambush are all set up very low. My Elrick E-volution 4 is set so low I can fret it with my mind.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    For some, yes. For others, no.

    Not exactly a consensus.

    There's no reason you can't get excellent clarity and sustain with low action.

  16. tonynoriega

    tonynoriega Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I have been playing seriously for 18 years and just a few months ago, the highly regarded guitar tech at our local Sam Ash (30+ years of experience) told me that "some" fret buzz when an electric bass is played acoustically is perfectly acceptable. I hadn't heard that before. Is that common knowledge that I just missed?
  17. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Due to Banjo Frets (Mando frets are even smaller), I can get pretty dern low action on my Dingwall. Im sure others would agree, smaller frets = lower possible action.
  18. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I have super low action on my Stingray 5. Also in one of my Fernandes Gravity 5ers (an old one). On a newer one I recently bought I couldn't achieve such low action despite all the time I invested in it's setup. I tend to think it is due to poor fretwork (something that can also be solved but at no cheap cost). So sometimes fretwork is the limit. With good fretwork, any bass can be setup with very low action. In fact I have a Cort Curbow 5 for sale these days that allows super low action (incredible neck and fretwork) which combined with the super slim neck makes it almost as fast as the Stingray.

  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    It's common knowledge amongst people who know... but a lot of people don't know.
  20. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    In days gone by, a bassist had to really dig in to get a good tone. And agressive plucking styles like that required higher action to avoid buzzes. With the electronics available today, I don't really think that's the case. Many of the greats do play with higher action. I suspect it's because they started way back when that was the norm, or they started playing on equipment that would be considered sub-par today. (Gasp! Is this possible? Yes.) They developed a technique that worked for them and never saw a need to change it. We can not really fault them because they are the greats. But that does not necessarily mean it's the best way for the rest of us.