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More Sterling Setup Woes (the Gary Willis Setup sticky has failed me)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BassGod, Nov 15, 2006.


  1. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Alright, so I've got the action at a reasonable height. About 2/32" at twelve on the E, and slightly lower on the G. I still get tonnes of buzz above the twelfth fret though, even though I've tightened the neck. In fact, I think if I turn it anymore, it will start to have back bow. But that upper fret buzz won't go way.

    It happens a lot on the A string, slightly less on the D, and on the G only when I bend. So what's the deal? Should a fifteen-hundred dollar bass be doing this? :(

    Graeme

    P.S. If you'd like, I can provide some pictures to help illustrate the problem.
     
  2. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Thanks for the tips so far.

    I measured the relief as per your instructions, and there is a bit less than a credit card's width. So I'll loosen the truss rod a touch.

    I do have a few questions though:

    1. If I loosen the trussrod, won't that just make it buzz more in the upper frets?
    2. Also, loosening the trussrod will raise the action, which is high enough as it is. Can this be fixed at the bridge, even though the saddles are near bottomed out? (see pictures)
    3. As I said, when I bend the strings, they buzz more (the farther they are bent, the more buzz there is). Is this a normal occurance?
    4. Could this have something to do with the nut being too low or too high?
    5. Would you say, from what I've shown you, that this bass could possibly be defective (please say no!)?

    I've decided to attach a few pictures for you.

    Action at the twelfth fret, E string:
    [​IMG]

    Action at the twelfth fret, G string (too high):
    [​IMG]

    Relief, ninth fret:
    [​IMG]

    Neck bow (or lack thereof):
    [​IMG]

    Saddles, E string side (note bottomed out saddles):
    [​IMG]

    Saddles, G string side (note unevenness):
    [​IMG]

    I hope these pictures help. Any answers you can give me would be very much appreciated. Nothing frustrates me like a bad setup, or worries me like the chance that I could have a lemon bass.

    Thanks again,
    Graeme

    P.S. I've noticed that the saddle screws rest unevenly. One side always seems to rest higher than another, and this occurs on each string. Is this normal, or could it be the cause of my problem?
     
  3. TrooperFarva

    TrooperFarva

    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    It might just be the perspective, but it looks like there is some bow in that neck. Can you take a picture, from the headstock, looking down the side of the neck? Like this?

    [​IMG]

    Also, I find that when trying to reduce bow, it helps a lot if you take all the tension out of the strings, and then adjust the truss rod. I had a lot of forward bow in the L-2000 shown in the picture, and adjust the truss rod seemed to do nothing, until I took all the tension out of the strings, and then adjusted the truss rod. After that, I was able to give it a great setup.
     
  4. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Certainly. I must apologize for my crappy camera skills. It won't seem to focus properly, but these should give you a good idea. I find that the fingerboard seems to "bulge up" ever so slightly on the fretboard in one spot (sorta like on your bass at the second and third frets). It's a very gentle little curve, so I hope it isn't affecting anything.

    From the G side:
    [​IMG]

    A few points of view from the E side:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps. Thanks all.

    Graeme
     
  5. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    One more thing... this picture shows exactly how far I can bend the G string until there is no sound. It just doesn't produce a note at all once it hits that point.

    [​IMG]

    Graeme
     
  6. TrooperFarva

    TrooperFarva

    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    Ok, those pics were very helpful. You're right, there is no bow in the neck right now. Was this buzzing always there, or did you try to set it up, and then you had the buzz? Are those the stock strings on there, or did you swap them out? Is this your first sterling? How hard do you play with your right hand?
     
  7. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    the frets may need to be dressed, or evened out a little. how this done, i'm not quite sure... but i've heard it can take away certain types of buzzes.
     
  8. TrooperFarva

    TrooperFarva

    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    How close is the pickup to the strings? If the pickup is too close, the magnetic pull can screw up the sound/intonation of a bass. It seems kinda close on your bass, but it may just be the camera angle.
     
  9. emils

    emils

    Jul 28, 2005
    Croatia
    I say take it to a good tech for a checkup.
     
  10. The Craw

    The Craw

    Jul 31, 2006
    From the Ernie Ball bass FAQ:

    The ideal string height for our basses is 3/32" or 2.4mm between the bottom of the string to the top of the fret on both the E and G strings at the 12th fret. The G string can be slightly lower due to the fact that it is the smallest string.

    Both my SUB and Sterling are set up at 3/32" and I feel that's very low. I have relief set at about .006". No buzz here. But I think you're being unrealistic if you expect no buzz at 2/32" on the E.
     
  11. tadawson

    tadawson

    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    One key thing to take to heart - trussrods are NOT for setting action height! They are for setting neck relief - PERIOD! When you get the relief right, you set action height at the bridge. If you run out of adjustment range on the bridge, you add shims to the neck pocket to get things more back into the center of the adjustment range of the bridge. If you are trying to set action height with the trussrod, and the bridge is off, you will never be able to get it right . . . .

    And nut height should not be a factor on anything other than open strings . . . . when you fret a note, the nut is no longer in the picture . . . .

    - Tim
     
  12. SUNNyday r.

    SUNNyday r.

    Oct 17, 2006
    Bay Area
    Set it to the specs provided by the company. You can fight with it all you want but it won't change unless you have Yoda the bass guru set it up and even then. No matter what you do getting it lower just is not possible in alot of cases. Find a string that is comfortable to play and perhaps a modified touch. DON'T ruin your bass by twisting and turning and breaking your girl. Maybe it would just be best to find a really good set up guy(or girl) to work on it. I know setting up your own bass is what I would want but when you can't get it maybe try a new avenue. My thing is if I can't get it to come out amplified then it sounds good. Does anyone else get buzz unplugged and not too or at all when amplified?
     
  13. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    The buzzing was not there in the beginning. But in the beginning, the action was far too high, so I had to set up the bass.

    The strings are not stock. They're Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkies. The stock strings are Super Slinkies. The only difference is that the E and A strings are 0.005" thicker.

    Yes, this is my first Sterling. It's my first EBMM anything, in fact.

    I play with about medium strength I suppose. I dig in sometimes, and realize that that causes buzz. But usually my touch is not that heavy. I pluck directly over the pickup.

    Graeme

    EDIT: I noticed you have a Sterling. Would you possibly be able to tell me what your action is set at right now, as well as telling me how hard you tend to pluck, and if there's more or less bow in your neck than in mine? What strings do you use?
     
  14. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    This time I used a business card (not the credit card I used earlier), and put it between the fret and the string at the seventh fret. It seems okay. When I put the card in, it didn't push the strings up at all, but there was also no wiggling room. The action is higher now.

    With the relief now set, and the saddles still as they were before, here is a short clip of how the buzzing sounds. It's quite audible. I'm playing with the normal attack I usually do. The bending at the end is to show how the note cuts out. All of the playing is above the twelfth fret.

    Click here to hear buzzzzzzzzzz

    Thanks for your patience.

    Graeme
     
  15. The Craw

    The Craw

    Jul 31, 2006
    I've already said this once, but EB/MM says the ideal string height for their basses is 3/32" at the 12th. If you insist on setting your string height at 2/32", you're going to have to live with buzz. There's nothing wrong with your bass.

    I reduce the relief to well less than a business card's thickness, set the string height at 3/32" and I have no buzz.
     
  16. you need a fret leveling as no amount of setup is going to fix that if you like low action. my sterling with 10 years worth of heavy playing and fret wear has less buzz than that with a straight neck and low action at the bridge.
     
  17. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My action is the same, maybe a little lower than 2/32" of an inch at the 12th. Getting lower isnt really feasible. Thats 1/16" of an inch. You dont find many people playing with action much lower than that.
     
  18. BassGod

    BassGod

    Jan 21, 2004
    Do you get buzz with your Sterling above the twelfth?

    Graeme
     
  19. Manol

    Manol Too Sexy To Be Left Handed.

    Oct 9, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    May I ask, why are you piss-farting around trying to get this fixed yourself, when for a nominal fee you could take your bass to a tech WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING and can set your bass up to however you want it to be set up, and can tell you what you can and can't do?
     
  20. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    I gotta agree with Manol here. If you dont know how to set up a bass, I wouldnt recommend doing it on a $1500 bass. I used one of my beaters to practice doing my own setups, now I got it down pat.
     

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