Questions with...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassmcgee, Sep 9, 2004.

  1. bassmcgee


    Sep 8, 2004
    Got a couple questions. Ive been playing bass for maybe 2 and a half years or so. Im not a bad player or anything, and I recently got a new bass, but I dont get some lingo, or what not.

    What is low and high action? How can i change it?

    Different kinds of strings? The softer one or something, whatever its called. Whats the good and bad for each type.

  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Welcome to Talkbass!:cool:

    Action refers to the height of the strings from the fingerboard.

    There are three ways to adjust your action.

    The most effective way is the trussrod, but it also affects the relief of the neck. If you adjust it too much, you can wind up with the strings too high to be played in the upper register, or so low that they 'fret out'.

    You can fine tune action at the top of the neck by filing or shimming the nut, depending on whether you want to raise or lower the action at that end of the neck.

    And finally, you can raise or lower the bridge saddles. This is the easiest, most basic way to adjust your action is by raising or lowering the bridge saddles. This is most effective for the action in the upper register, but has a subtle effect further up towards the nut. But if you simply adjust the bridge saddles without adjusting the truss rod, you can wind up causing the action to get worse instead of better,

    All of these (except for the nut)are usually adjusted as part of a setup. A competent luthier or guitar repair person can adjust your truss rod and bridge saddles, and make an instrument that previously was very difficult to play into a real hotrod. Of course, if you prefer higher action, a good setup person can do that too.

    You can give adjusting the saddles a try yourself, if you have the right allen wrench. You can raise and lower them and see the subtle effect they have on your action.

    For a complete setup, if you have never adjusted your truss rod before, I would recommend taking the bass to a music store that has a repair person on staff, and see if he/she will let you watch them do a setup on your bass. It costs from $40 - $100, depending on the place and the part of the country you are in. Shimming or filing down the nut(if necessary) are usually not included in this price, but this is something that is not as commonly needed as a bridge or truss rod adjustment.

    Do a search in our Setup forum for more information on action and setup.

    As for strings, there are many kinds and brands out there, with varying tension.

    Generally speaking, nylon tapewounds have the lowest tension, roundwounds have more than those, and flatwounds have the high tension of all. But there are exceptions to this rule.

    String gauge affects tension too. Generally, the heavier a string, the greater the tension, all other things being equal. Strings are commonly measured in thousandths of an inch.

    A typical medium gauge roundwound set is from E to G .100 .080 .060 .040

    Search our Strings forum for more info.
  3. 4string4ever

    4string4ever Guest

    Apr 18, 2004
    Orlando, Florida
    Yeah, what ^^HE^^ said.....
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Heh, the end, no reason to go on further, he just gave you the most biblical answer to an action related question possible. I woulda gone for like a 2 sentence thing :p