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Messing with my Truss Rod

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by slapfunk987, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. slapfunk987


    Feb 8, 2011
    On my Marcus Miller 4, the saddles are in the lowest position possible and still the string height is not low enough for me. I have noticed that there is alot of relief in the neck probably due to seasonal changes.
    Question is should I adjust the truss rod to "close to straight" considering that the saddles are already in the lowest position or should I just take it to tech??
  2. Boom762

    Boom762 I AM the one who Booms! Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Lubbock, TX
    If you dont feel comfortable with it, take it to a tech. Otherwise I would adjust it very slightly and wait a few hours. When I say slaightly, I mean like from 1 o'clock to 11'oclock. Ive had basses that needed a full rotation to get straight and others that needed just a nudge. if its an old bass id take it to a tech anyway. I had an old bass where when I adjust it, the truss rodd broke inside somehow and wouldnt change a thing after that. whole neck made a crack noise.
  3. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    If you you know what your doing just turn the truss to flatten the neck out more.
    If that dosent work you most likely need to put a shim in the neck pocket.
    None of this is hard to do so my suggestion is do it your self.
    Plenty of info on here.
    I learned from here so anybody can.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Saddle stuck low is a case for shimming, not trussrod adjustment which should be made before any string height adjustment.
  5. Sorry to be the truth teller (or poo in the punchbowl) but if you are unsure which to do first, you may want to take it to a tech and either watch, or ask afterward what was done to correct the issue so you'll gain knowledge.

    As far as the shim idea, if the neck in question has 1/4" relief, a shim is NOT the first thing to try. Shims help when the the relief is correct and saddles won't lower the action any further.

    OP, if you want to do it yourself, use the sticky. The Jersey Drodz (sp?) link has a lot of useful info and is downloadable in PDF form for the savin'.

    Good luck!
  6. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    I think what you meant was he should first remove some more of the relief before deciding the saddles are where they going to end up? And then consider the shimming.

    OP - I know others are in the shimming camp but if you have basic barrel saddles and only need like another mm or so, filing the bottom of the saddles is generally quick and easy. Screw the height adjusters up out of the way, hold saddle with those screws straight up, 30 seconds against a file will make a nice flat on the underside of the barrel that will allow it to drop further. ;)Get them just right and you have a full contact bridge.:D
  7. thedane


    Sep 25, 2011
    Dude...STOP messing with your truss rod....you'll go blind!
  8. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    The truss rod is not meant to adjust the action! At all, ever! Yes, it's nice to have something you can adjust easily with a wrench, but that doesn't mean you should use it for anything but the job it's meant for - taking the bow out of the neck. Before anyone starts in on their instrument, they should learn how to do a setup properly. Watch your tech carefully and ask questions before you try it on your own.

    I liked the go blind comment.

  9. stanley00


    Mar 15, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Tighten the truss rod to remove some of the bow and then readjust the saddles. Not a big deal.
  10. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    If your saddles are all the way down and the action is still too high, you need to apply a thin shim to the rear of the neck pocket toward the bridge.

    This has been the way Fender has corrected this for more than 60 years.

    I use a 1/4" wide piece of business card cut to match the neck. Just lay it in the pocket at the rear, attach the neck and usual and reset your string height.

    All the best,

  11. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    Raf I strongly disagree with your opinion that the truss rod is not part of adjusting action - changing the bow in a neck greatly effects action in the lower frets 1-10 since that is where most neck bow occurs. I'd agree not much change in the area the OP needs the change, i.e. the upper frets to saddle area. For many of us who like low action along the entire neck, adjusting the relief lower/flatter is the first thing we do. Then dropping the nut height to avoid string break related intonation issues (sharp #), then saddle height. Which requires movement of the saddles forward/back to accommodate the changing degree of string bend that results.

  12. SlappyWhite

    SlappyWhite Banned

    Mar 6, 2014
    The action on your bass may never be low enough for you. It's the BA II bridge. They only go so low, not as low as the stock Fender type.
  13. My rule of thumb: If you need to ask - take it to a qualified tech.

  14. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Measure the neck relief first. (You can read how to do it in the tech forum, and there are good videos on it.) If the relief at the seventh fret is greater than .015 or so, then adjust the truss rod.

    But if it's somewhere between (say) .010 and .015 and the bridge saddles are all the way down on the deck, a neck shim is in order.

    Best advice I have to offer: read up on setups (the whole drill) first, and make sure you understand how all the adjustments interact. Get clear what the adjustments are about before you start messing with them.

    Another great source is Gary Willis's 101 Tips for Bassists book. He's got a very good treatment of setups in there.
  15. The short answer is, yes.
  16. Tbone76


    Aug 24, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    I believe the Marcus Miller bass has the 3 bolt Micro Tilt adjuster for the neck, which will make the same adjustment as a shim on a 4 bolt neck. Get the relief adjusted according to Fender spec, then see if the neck needs more adjustment via the micro tilt.
  17. slapfunk987


    Feb 8, 2011
    Just to update, I did adjust the truss rod and pretty much put the neck back to straight. Action is about where I liked it before but string height relative to the curvature of the fretboard is (and always has been) a problem. This may be because the Badass II string slots were not filed deep enough in to the saddles. They are essentially just resting on top of the saddles. And I'm not comfortable filing that or shimming so string height is playable for now and am happy with the adjustment. But now I think I'm just going to suck it up, pay the $100 for a good setup and take it to a tech. Thanks for all you guys help. Appreciate it...
  18. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    64 Audio · DR Strings · Source Audio · Hipshot
    Woah woah woah.... not sure where you're at, but $100 for a setup seems pretty high to me. I have a local tech that charges $50, and THAT seemed high.

    If you can, find a tech that will let you watch as they make adjustments. It will save you a ton of money over time, and it will take the mystique out of adjusting your own instrument. As others have already said, learning to do a proper setup should be Class 101.

    To whomever said that adjusting the neck to get proper action is a no-no, I too **strongly** disagree. Setup, when done properly, is a good balance between neck bow, saddle height and neck angle. I can now notice when my truss rod needs adjusting when the action gets a bit too high, or low. Adjusting the neck can allow you to raise or lower the action slightly, and not have to go through the hassle of adjusting each saddle. There have been times I've adjusted it on the fly, during a gig, to get the action where I want it. The truss rod is there to be adjusted, not turned once a year and left alone.

    Oh, and as a side note, anyone having a hard time turning a truss rod... meaning you get resistance... DON'T force it! Every bass I get that has a tough truss rod, I remove the truss rod nut, and fill the threads with vaseline or grease, then put it on again. Makes adjustments so much smoother, and a lot less scary.
  19. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    64 Audio · DR Strings · Source Audio · Hipshot
    Before adjusting the micro tilt, take a few minutes and read the instructions on how to do so. Seems like common sense, but I've heard of people ruining their neck for lack of knowing how to make this adjustment. Once you know how to properly use it, they are invaluable to getting great action.
  20. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Shimming the neck is a breeze, and doesn't require very much of a shim to radically alter the geometry. I've had good luck using masking tape. Two strips across the inner neck pocket and one at the outside will lower your strings an 1/8" or so.