Major action problem

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fretbuzz85, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. fretbuzz85


    Nov 1, 2004
    Hi, ive recently acquired a 2nd hand fretless bass and the action is driving me crazy. Its preventing me from getting the low action i desire.

    Now, heres the problem. the neck is straight from the 12th fret to the 24th fret, but from the 1st to the 12th fret, its sorta like and up down hill. From the 1st to the 5th fret, the fretboard goes inwards, such that the action is lowest at the 3rd fret for this area. From the 5th to the 12th fret, the fretboard goes outwards, such that the action is highest at the 8th fret.

    Ive tried tightening and loosening the truss rod several times, but it doesnt change the shape of the fretboard from the 1st to the 12th fret. All it does is give the general relief. But even with up-bow or back-bow relief, my action has to be absurdly high.

    anybody know anything about this..
  2. eldave777


    May 24, 2005
    Sounds like you have a 'twisted neck'. Is it possible that the truss rod is broken? I know you got this used but a twisted neck or broken truss rod is not really repairable. Get a cheap neck from Warmoth and go from there. Cheap neck from that an oxymoron?
  3. jeffhigh


    May 16, 2005
    You may just need to have the fingerboard dressed level. If the truss rod is working fine then this should fix the problem.Basically the equivalent of getting the frets levelled.
  4. fretbuzz85


    Nov 1, 2004
    Im not sure if the truss rod is broken, but i can still twist it to tighten or loosen the neck, does that count as unbroken?

    And from experience, a twisted neck can be straightened. I did it for my other fretless bass, but it was a case of twisting and the fretboard is rosewood. The repair guy did this method of heating up the neck with this long flat heating apparatus and clamped it shut. It turned out well. Im not sure if this method will work thios time however, because this is not a case of twisting, more of an up down rollercoaster ride actually, AND the neck of this new bass is ebony.

    jeffhigh, this dressing of the fingerboard you are talking about, is it like shaving down the neck until its straight again? in that case, would the fretboard end up being thicker/thinner in certain areas?
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I would say that being able to work the truss rod does qualify as unbroken. Off to a good start, but don't mess with it anymore.

    And yeah, your description of a FB dressing is correct. It doesn't cause thin spots or anything because the amount of wood they'll remove is so small that you'll probably never notice it's gone. It might be a little more to get it done because your FB is ebony, but it shouldn't be too horribly expensive. I think I paid $60 for a dressing on my maple neck fretless a couple years ago.

    BTW, I agree with jeffhigh. That's what it sounds like to me is wrong with your bass. If it's ebony, the likelihood of you having a twisted neck is pretty low. Actually, after thinking about it, I'm a little surprised you would have high spots on an ebony neck. You definitely need to have a tech look at it and figure out the problem for you. Ebony's not a wood that just develops humps out of nowhere. Was the guy you got it from into doing repairs on his stuff?
  6. fat-J


    Apr 10, 2004
    Salem, Oregon
    Hey fretbuzz, if your neck moves (relief changes) when you adjust the rod it's working fine, and it sounds like you've been able to get some adjustment out of it so you're probably cool there. What I would suggest in diagnosing the problem is first to adjust your neck as straight as possible, but don't go morethan a 1/4 turn or so at a time and give the wood time to move, or finish moving before checking for straightness or you may end up with some backward bow. Scince it sounds like there could be an issue with how level the fingerboard is check the straightness of the neck at the seem where the neck meets the fingerboard with a straight edge first. When you've established you have your neck adjusted straight you can then check the fingerboard surface. From what I can gather it sounds like you might find you just need the fingerboard leveled which is a job that should cost less than trying to straighten a twisted neck or just replacing it. I've heard of (seen) guys trying to take out string marks from fretless boards only to leave the board with high and/or low spots. It's not super uncommon. Good luck.
  7. fretbuzz is a funny name for a fretless player
  8. fretbuzz85


    Nov 1, 2004
    ok, thats some cool info there. I never thought of measuring at the seam between the FB and the neck.

    Ill try to get some pictures in by tonight, there's a crack in the finish at the seam at the 1st fret or so. Will also take pictures of the measurements im doing on the straightness.

    JimmyM, this local luither just quoted me a basic price of SGD350 for the FB dressing, thats close to US700 and considering i got the bass for SGD380, thats a tad expensive for me.

    And yes, fretbuzz as a nickname is kinda funny now that i play fretless bass, but i used to play guitars full time when i started using that nickname.
  9. fretbuzz85


    Nov 1, 2004
    Ive taken some pictures of the problem spots ive been telling you about.


    this is the 1st fret to the 5th fret, there's a gap there if you can see it


    These are measurements taken at the seam between the fingerboard and the neck, it actually seems quite straight to me


    measurements from the 12th fret to the 17th fret. Quite straight, no gaps


    action at the 24th fret. The action is very high to me. I dont know why this is so, but the action seems the highest at the 3rd fret, and it takes the most effort to press the strings down there too.


    lastly, this picture shows a crack in the finish at the seam at the 1st fret. There's a crack on the other side too and extends to about the same length. Looks as if the fretboard seperated from the neck.
  10. jeffhigh


    May 16, 2005
    If the fingerboard has separated from the neck then this must be rectified before doing anything else.
    the actual leveling is easy and could be done yourself with msimple tools. definitely not $700 worth.