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Lower Action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by salsjag, Feb 24, 2004.

  1. Fender '62 Reissue Jazz Bass

    I have a '62 RI J Bass and would like to lower the action on my bass. I have straightened the neck via the truss rod as much as I can and have lowered the strings as low as possible without getting fret buzz. I feel the action is still too high compared to my '69 my P Bass other J basses I've played. Can you give me any suggestions on what I may be able to do? I heard one solution might be to place a shim in the neck socket. If this is an option can anyone provide any help on how to do this and what I might use as a shim?

  2. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Here are a couple of links that Treena Foster provided in previous posts regarding general setup -- I provide these here just in case.


    I got these from the following TalkBass thread

    There was another one somewhere that links to a PDF file containing an article about how Roger Sadowsky does setups.

    Regarding shims -- I'm no expert, but I recently used a combo of truss rod adjustment and shimming to get my action where I want it. After searching this site and (If memory serves me) other internet sites about shimming, I found there to be a spectrum of opinions about how best to do this. Some folks have said just use paper, a business card, or the like. Others have explained that one should use something more solid, like wood veneer glued into place and sanded to make flush (to ensure there is no gap between the neck and body, and thus minimize tone loss).

    I personally used a single business card, cut to fit the back of the pocket (closest to the bridge), used a hole-puncher to make holes for the screws, and that did the trick for me. I haven't been able to hear a loss tone, however, I didn't record my bass before and after so I'm talking memory here. Also, my guitar teacher has ensured me I will one day face the wrath of the guitar tech gods.

    It may not come up immediately, but some searches of this DB will probably turn up more specifics than what I can remember here, and others' views on this.

  3. Giraffe

    Giraffe Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    San Diego, California
    Shimming usually isn't necessary unless your bridge saddles are bottomed out, sitting flush on the bridge plate. Shimming can cause problems when the flat section of your neck is bolted tight against the bottom of the neck pocket, which now is no longer flat. An experienced tech can make a tapered shim that covers the whole bottom of the neck pocket, but why try to do this if it is not going to help. It may or may not hurt the tone, but it is not going to help, for sure. If you can't get your action as low as you want it, maybe you don't have enough relief in your neck to suit your playing style. The neck should kind of curve around the vibrating string, and if you hit the strings hard, a little more relief may allow you to lower the saddles enough to lower the action to where you want it. Adding relief alone will actually raise the action, but you might be able to lower the saddles enough to more than compensate for it. If you are serious about learning all of this, get the Guitar Player Repair Guide, read it, and you will understand how all the elements of setup work together to give you the action that is right for you.
  4. Lower Action
    Thank you all for your input.


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