PJ neck bow

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Puhhk, May 29, 2020.

  1. Puhhk


    May 29, 2020
    Hey everyone!

    I have recently bought a used 1999/2000 PJ custom made bass and I ran into some problems.. the neck definetly doesn't look straight to me. Can anyone help me out/guide me in which way I should turn the tross rod in order to get it straight? I would really appreciate it. And I've seen that there's a problem with the G string height.. it's the lowest I can possibly get it at the bridge but the action still looks quite high.. other strings go down normally. I'm guessing it might be the neck's fault since it's not straight yet.. or maybe the nut?

    Thanks in advance!

    Attached Files:

  2. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    Loosen the truss rod for more bow in that direction, tighten the truss rod to straighten it from it's current position. Just make small adjustments, set it down for a bit, check it again later in the day.

    You don't want it COMPLETELY straight, especially if aiming for low action. It will need some relief (curve) to keep strings from buzzing on frets.
    Vinny_G and Puhhk like this.
  3. Puhhk


    May 29, 2020
    I'm kinda new to the whole PJ bass shape in general so that area around the nut look's a bit off to me.. doesn't look like it's bend or anything?
  4. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    I can't claim to be a skilled luthier or anything, and definitely couldn't tell you much just looking at pictures.

    But there's no harm in trying to set it up as best you can. My guess is that it's just sporting a pretty significant upbow right now. Which isn't so much a bad thing as a setup/preference issue.

    When checking/setting relief you're pretty much limited to the fattest string on the bass. We measure relief to determine the necessity of a truss rod adjustment, i.e. more or less curve in the neck.

    Here's a screen shot of Fender's setup guidelines for their basses.


    THe top is measurements of relief. You might use a standard business card, or better yet if you have the appropriate ruler you can be precise. Basically, fret the first fret (use a kapo or someone else's hand) and also fret the 17th fret. Measure the distance between the fret and string somewhere around the 5th or 7th fret with both the first and seventeenth frets fretted. Basically you should be able to slide a standard thickness business card between the string and the 5-7th fret without the string moving.

    If the string moves when you slide the card in, you want more curve, if there is an obvious huge gap between the string and the card, you can afford to straighten the neck a bit.

    The bottom is string height at the saddle, and you get a bit more leeway with personal preference in this regard.. the important factor is enough height so that string isn't hitting frets between your fretted note and the saddle unless you want them to when you dig in.

    How much relief you need, and how much string height you need is largely dependent on string gauge.

    Lighter strings need a bit more height at the saddle because they vibrate in a larger pattern. Fatter strings = more tension, so the truss rod may need to be tighter to keep them from pulling more bow than needed out of the neck.

    #1 how does it play? Does it play well? If yes, maybe it's fine as is.

    If not, I.E. fret buzz - first check relief.. if it needs adjustment, just do 1/8th turns at a time. It shouldn't need forcing, sometimes they do, but personally, if I felt like I might be hitting a wall on the truss rod nut, I'd take it to a pro.

    Once satisfied with the relief measurement, then adjust saddle height. Lower them to where you think you want them, keeping the fretboard radius in mind. Tune to pitch, play them, if you hear buzzing, loosen the strings, raise the adjustment screw 1/8th to a quarter turn for each saddle adjustment screw (if a saddle has two screws you want them at even height), tune to pitch, play them again. Rinse repeat. Further adjustment may be required in the process of intonation.

    Not trying to assume how much you do or don't know about setting up a bass, but this is basically my setup process any time I change string gauge or get a new bass.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
    Puhhk likes this.
  5. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    Hard to tell anything from a photo, but looks like you need tighten the truss rod a bit (turn it clockwise). Go slow. If it won’t move or moves too easily, stop and take it to a pro.

    I personally don’t measure it, I just adjust until it feels like how I like it. Truss rod first, then saddles at the bridge, tune up, then adjust intonation. Repeat as needed until you get it how you like it.
    Puhhk likes this.
  6. Puhhk


    May 29, 2020
    I will give it a shot and let you know!
  7. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    The thing about adjusting your bass is it’s all reversible as long as you go slow and keep a record of what you do. If it’s really out of whack you may need to repeat the process making small adjustments at a time over a bit of time. See how you go!

    Vinny_G and Puhhk like this.
  8. Puhhk


    May 29, 2020
    I always go slow and careful so there shouldn't be any problems. I've got a good bass it just needs some adjusting for my liking :)
  9. Tazziedevil


    Apr 2, 2019
    What I mean is be systematic about your process- don’t randomly adjust the truss rod and then randomly adjust the saddles in case you need to backtrack.

    Puhhk likes this.
  10. Puhhk


    May 29, 2020
    Will keep in mind!
  11. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    Those pictures aren't going to show anything, you need to shoot up the side of the neck from the body end.
    The best way is to hold the neck in 1 hand cradle the body with the other hand, put your nose level with the neck near the bridge. Now it will be very obvious if it's flat, back or front bowed.

    Most modern basses are Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey. However I had several basses in the past that were actually reversed.

    Also take care of the neck first before messing with the bridge or nut.

    Good luck,

    p.s. the pictures do look like really high action to me.
  12. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    I hope it's only the pictures, but it does indeed look like the bands occurs more severely at frets 1-5... A shot up the side of the neck would be helpful.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  13. Skullheadrac


    Jun 13, 2018
    So Cal
    Resurrecting this thread. Pretty sure one of my bass' neck is bowing. Anyone know what can cause it? Its rarely played (once a month-ish) and stored standing up in an SKB hard case. I've had it since it was new and noticed this (as the action seemed super high) a while ago when I restrung it. Now it seems to keep causing strings to die rapidly
    I'm going to take in to a pro this weekend, but I'm wondering if something I'm doing is causing it.
    Also, its stored inside my house and there's no humidity here. I store other basses similarly and none have this issue
  14. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    Changes in humidity. Necks are made of wood and wood moves. Each bass reacts differently to this.

    If you happen to breathe when you're inside your house, then there's humidity.