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Rick Turner Renaissance Fretless 4 - neck/action adjustment question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by pfschim, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I posted something like this several years ago, but I am back to seek advice again.

    The action on my Rick Turner Ren 4 fretless feels pretty good from about frets position 1 - 8, after that it is just too high. I really love this bass and have been getting calls for it more often lately so I'd like to get into better playing shape.

    Way back, I followed some advice here and shimmed the neck at the pocket (used some medium grit sand paper I think). The neck pocket on a Turner is curved/cut-away, so I cut the shim to follow the contour of the neck in the pocket. I believe I used just one sheet of paper for the original shim.

    If I understand correctly, the only ways to adjust the action on such a bass are:
    - shim the neck at the pocket
    - lower the bone nut (sand it down on the bottom ?) - on mine the nut seems to be well set.
    - lower the fixed bone (?) bridge (sand it down on the bottom ?)

    Any ideas on how I can lower the action across the full length of the neck evenly so it does not buzz on the lower fret positions and is low/even enough to play easily on the higher fret/positons.

  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Critical setup on a bass such as the Turner Renaissance Fretless requires a lot of attention to minute details. But it's worth it in the end. I have a similar fretless and it's not an easy DIY to get it right.

    The action is a combination of neck relief, saddle height and nut height, coupled with the requirement for a truly flat fingerboard (before relief is introduced). It requires really accurate work to get it there.

    You need to start with the fingerboard. It needs to be truly flat, no bumps, dips, irregularities - really, really flat. Then it needs to be installed and adjusted with a few thousandths of relief (some prefer none, but I like about 5 thou). Then you can size up the string height and consider what adjustments are necessary. Primarily you will want to focus on the saddle height, without losing sight of what might be required at the nut. Cutting down the saddle might be the right option, but that will depend upon the geometry of the neck-to body and the string break angle over the saddle.

    On top of all this you need to consider what you want from the bass. If you are looking for a Mark Egan kind of whine (mwah), or a more traditional double bass sound, you will need to adjust accordingly. And a lot of that adjustment to achieve your goal will depend upon your technique.

    Another words, it's not an easy answer. I would highly recommend that you seek the assistance of a qualified tech to help you through this process.

    Move up to Canada. I can help you. (Sorry mods - I know I am not supposed to elicit business - let's just say I am advocating the Canadian way of life - OK?)
    pfschim and Geri O like this.
  3. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    thanks Turnaround - and thanks for the invitation to try the "Canadian way of life" :thumbsup:

    I get that working on the Turner is a bit more tricky than the usual Fender style bass with a multiply adjustable bridge and neck truss rod.
    The neck is very even on this bass and it has just a little bit of relief. So, to my non-tech eye, I feel like the neck is not the key issue.
    Right now, the action is very playable from the lowest frets up to about #8 or so, then the general string angle vs the neck gets too high. What I would like is for it to be evenly low across the board.

    I did do the original shim that improved the overall action/feel of the bass, and I may try another stab at that because it's a pretty simple process and is easily reversible.

    Cutting down the bridge/saddle is a little trickier, and not reversible (at least not simply, plus I'd have to find a new bridge for it somewhere). But I could just remove some material from the bottom of the bridge and probably be safe. I think the nut is fine so I will probably not try anything with that.

    I am in the San Francisco Bay area and there are some very good techs here. I have taken my electric basses to Gary Brawer with nice results. I'll have to give him a call and see how he feels about working on an instrument like the Turner. The other option would be to take the Turner back to its home in Santa Cruz, which is not too bad of a drive for me (~1hr).

    thanks again
  4. Haroldo

    Haroldo Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2005
    North Shore, MA
    I've a very similar (if not the exact) problem on my Renaissance fretless 4. It, too, has what seems to me a darn flat neck - so I'll be attempting your shim tactic to see if I can achieve lower action on the neck above, say, the 8th or so 'fret.' I'll report on my successes and/or failures. Thank you for the suggestion!

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