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Problem with neck adjustment on Carvin

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Damian, Nov 15, 2000.


  1. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    Ok,

    I gotta be honest. Maybe that sounds funny to you, but I've never done a setup on my bass ( just minor bridge or pickups corrections ). Back home we had a technician who was doing all the work. Anyway, I have a Carvin now and the first time we "met" the neck was terrible ( E string was DEAD - not ringing properly ).

    I've taken the bass to 2 guys at local stores who was supposed know what they were doing. Wrong !
    Finally, I drove myslelf to Memphis, TN as told by the guy at Carvin ( also they extended the 10 days trial period for me to 20 days because of that )
    I found the guy ( TK ), technician who was working for Steve Ray Voughan ( that what everybody says ). Well, the fixed it, but when I got back home and played it for few days It got worse. AGAIN!

    I won't be going to Chicago anytime soon so I have to count on myself. I started setting it up by myself ( what a day ! ) but I can't seem to get to the point that strings will be pretty much at the same hight through the whole fretboard. They are OK up to 10th fret but are higher through the rest of the fretboard.

    Nither one of all those guys could take care of that - now including me.

    What am I suppose to do now ?
    Please help

    Thanks

    Damian
     
  2. lump

    lump

    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Damian,

    I do my own setups (I live overseas and am forced to be self reliant) and haven't had any major problems. Some questions before continuing:

    What do you mean by the E string being "dead?" Is it hitting the frets, or does it just sound dead? Is it just a bad string?

    How much relief are you giving the neck (truss rod adjustment)?

    How high is the action (saddle height adjustment)?

    What is the distance between the pups and and strings?

    How are you measuring these things? Eyeballing it ain't gonna cut it. You need a machinists ruler (one of the little metal ones; hardware store), a set of automotive feeler gauges (looks sorta like a pocket knife; auto parts store) and a decent tuner (or a good ear). A capo is handy for checking the relief, but I do it the Gary Willis way using my elbow. Check this out - http://www.garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/setupmanual.html

    As far as the string being higher towards the bottom of the neck, that sounds normal. The action is measured as the distance from the last fret to the string - that's where the string is highest over the fingerboard. And the relief (neck bow) should be greatest at about the seventh fret. Hmmm.

    One of Carvin's selling points is that you can get the action VERY low and it's still playable with a light touch. They ship their basses with a 3/32" action, but I raised mine to 5/32" because I lack anything resembling finesse (and it gives you more tonal options). I have to adjust things if I change string gauges or if the temperature radically changes, but other than that no probs (and I've really abused this poor bass).

    Carvin may not take your bass back at this point, but if there is something WRONG with it, they will fix it under warranty. You'll get stuck with shipping, but it may be a better option than screwing with it more and possibly breaking something.

    Lemme know what's up.


     
  3. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    Thanks lump for all the info.
    I'll go tomorrow and get the machinist rules so I can mesure all the points you asked for.

    As far as the E string, it sounded like DEAD between 3rd and 5th fret. I called Carvin and was told to get a PROFFESIONAL setup, not a setup by the someone who has no idea what to do :(
    Man, I went to the local store the other day and asked If they could do a PROFFESIONAL setup on the bass. The guy was joking and said - We don't have any proffesionals here.
    Well, WE WAS DAMN right ! ;)

    Man, Little Rock is a strange place. Ehh ...

    I know the strings go higher to the bottom of the neck but what I meant was that it's kinda HIGH!
    I can stick a nail part of my pinky in there. I've never had that before so I'm sure it has to be adjusted.

    Anyway, I'll let you know about messurements tomorrow so you can help me set it up

    I really appreciate that.
     
  4. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    BTW,

    Is there anyone at the board who knows ANYONE how can do that kind of a job proffesionally ( and maybe show me ) in my area ? It may be TN or better yet Arkansas ?
    It would be great to get that done once but GOOD. Then I can do just minor adjustments by myself.

    Thanks for any info.

    Damian
     
  5. lump

    lump

    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Yikes. That's way too high. Is it way high at the first fret too? If you've got a bad nut (not cut deeply enough), that'll definitely require professional help.

    Maybe one of the guys who adjusted it is a P-bass player that likes the strings an inch off the fingerboard (or worse, a geetar player). If the allen screws on top of the saddles are screwed way into them (more than say 1/8"), they boned your action. The screws should have been about flush with the top of the saddles when you got it, putting the action at 3/32". And if they raised your action way up without raising the pups, you'll lose all of your tone, and would account for the "dead" sound. And if they didn't adjust your intonation (the screws on the bottom of the bridge), that's gonna be whacked too.
     
  6. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    I think that is what happened, except the intonation - I can do that! :)

    I'll measure all that tomorrow and let you know.

    Thanks
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    How much time do you have left on the trial period? Is it worth this much work?

    My LB75 fretless needed the fretboard leveled when I received it. In hindsight I should have just sent it back. YMMV
     
  8. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    Brad,

    My trial period has ended. I don't think there is a lot of work to be done. I think If someone who knows how to set up a bass right could it done that within an hour. Unfortunetly I don't know anyone like that in here :(

    BTW,
    What do you mean by "nedded fretboard leveled" ?
     
  9. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    Ohh my GoD!

    I hate that city ;)

    I went to Home Depot and 2 different harware stores and .. NO machinist ruler. I thought : Whatever!
    I got some kinda pocket rule and measured the points you asked me about.

    I started doing this without that rules by eye, and gotta admit I was very precise. Anyway here are the measurements so far. BTW, I love the action very much, it stays in tune and the intonation is perfect. The only bad thing, I think the strings are too close to the pickups and there is no way I can adjust them lower :(

    24th fret - 1.5/32

    J pickup - 1.5/32
    HB pickup - 2.2/32

    Seems like it's TOO low :):)

    What am I supposed to do ?

    Am I right about the pickup height ? ( duuh )

     
  10. lump

    lump

    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Woo hoo! After 3 months, 2 replacement monitors, a new video card and now a new motherboard, I'm finally out of 16-color VGA!! I don't have to click on "Show a printable version" just to read posts anymore!

    But I digress. Damian, are you sure that from the top of the 24th fret to the bottom of the string it's only 3/64" (1.5/32")? That's almost lying on the fretboard. Are you getting a lot of buzzing? How much relief do you have? The first thing you want to adjust is the relief, then the action, then the intonation. If you don't do it in this order, you could tear a rift in the time-space continuum (not really, but it'll generally screw things up).

    There are several different ways to measure the relief, but since I'm a snob and refuse to own a capo and have only two hands, I use the Gary Willis method of holding down the E string at the first fret with my left hand and at the 24th fret with my right elbow. Using my free right hand, I slide a feeler gauge under the E string at the 7th fret. I like the relief to be about .015" which is about average. If you don't have a feeler gauge, that is ROUGHLY the thickness of two business cards; a credit card is about .016-.017". Just be CAREFUL adjusting the truss rod; on Carvins they turn pretty easily, but a little goes a long way. And you may have to let it settle before getting an accurate measurement. And if you change string gauges or even material, you'll prob have to adjust again.

    Adjusting the action is easier - just measure the distance from the top of the fret wire to the bottom of the string, and raise or lower the saddles accordingly. Just make sure you adjust both screws on each saddle evenly. Again, I like the action at about 5/32", but that also depends on the gauge of the string. I like .40-.100s, which have less tension than .45-.105s, and need a little more clearance when they vibrate. I can go down to 1/8" with .105s, but 3/32" is just too low for me (clackity, clack, clack). I also loosen the strings a tad to make this easier.

    Once these are done, you can go ahead and adjust the pup height if you want. If the above are set correctly you should have room to adjust the pup either up or down with the screws. With J-style pups, Carvin recommends 5/32" from the outside strings on the neck pup and 4/32" for the bridge (not sure on the MM pup). Because the E and G strings are of different thicknesses, this means the pups will be slanted a tad.

    Adjusting the intonation can be a b!tch, especially on the E string. But any time adjust the saddle height you need to at least check the intonation; raising or lowing the saddles effectively changes the length of the string as it slides over the saddle. Ideally, the 12th fret is at the exact center of the string; by turning the intonation screws you are adjusting the string length to center it over the 12th fret. Tune the bass, then (gently!) fret at the 12th fret. If you're sharp, you need to increase the distance between the 12th fret and the saddle by screwing the intonation screw clockwise; if you're flat (unlikely) screw counter-clockwise. Like the truss rod, a little goes a long way. You also may want to loosen the strings when you make the adjustment, or you'll dig furrows in the bridge with the saddle height adjustment screws (don't ask me how I know this).

    That's pretty much it. I didn't invent the above; I've gotten most of it from various internet sources, refined by trial and error. I'm sure there are others who would approach it differently, and taking the bass to a competent pro is still your best bet. But if you live in BFE, you can still do a decent set up yourself if you have the tools and take your time.

    Lemme know if this helps.
     
  11. SlapDaddy

    SlapDaddy

    Mar 28, 2000
    Damien, Call Rodney at 501-315-2600. Tell him Jay sent you.
     
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    My fretless fretboard had a couple of humps in it, brand new. This was a major surprise considering their claim for accuracy and gauranteeing low action. I had that done by a local luthier. The other problem I had was that the neck moved around, neccessitating trussrod adjustments way more often than I like (I've done my own setups, repairs, upgrades, etc. for years).

    If the Memphis tech fixed it, what was the fix and what was the end result? Why do you think it might have reoccurred.
     
  13. Damian

    Damian

    Jul 4, 2000
    WOW lump - THANKS! It's very helpful!
    I'm very suprised SlapDaddy is from HOT SPRINGS, AR :)

    I didn't know we have members from my area.
    Slapp Daddy, who's that guy ? Is he a tech or a musician ? If he's a musician, who does he play with ?

    Anyway, thanks for the number ...

    Lump, thanks man. It's a complete instruction on how to set up your bass. Basicaly, the only problem I have is with the neck. Strings height and intonation not a problem for me. Come' on, I have to see someone's doing it step by step, then I won't have any problem doing it on my own. Overall, that's one of the best ways to learn for me. I can see, I can do :)

    Thanks guys and SlappDaddy - lemme know :)
     
  14. SlapDaddy

    SlapDaddy

    Mar 28, 2000
    D, He's strictly a Tech. S