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Sanity check...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pd_5string, Aug 6, 2002.

  1. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Ok, this is a sanity check...

    Recently I had a Fender bass that was setup, leveled, crowned, polished by a super luthier here in the area. However, when I got the bass home, for the last two weeks, I have noticed that the last 3 or 4 notes on the D and G, and to some degree A strings are so buzzy to the point that they rattle when the string is plucked even lightly over the neck pickup.

    I took the bass in today, and the luthier set my relief back to .015 inches (yes I know, but the information is valuable) and said that relief is to be set between .014 and .016 ideally, and should be left there, and truss adjustments are only to keep the neck in this range (The bass was at .020 when I brought it in to clean up the lower registers and minimize fret buzz down there)

    He then starts to RAISE the action of the strings, and keeps going to the point where it becomes too high for my comfort level (and yes Brad, I did a "taste test" and was able to determine the difference between 4/64 and 4.5/64 of an inch on the G string). Even at this point, after raising the action to 6/64, there is still significant rattling on the upper 4 frets of the instrument (from fret 18 and up). Interestingly, the difference between fret 17 and 18 is like night and day. If 0 was NO buzz and 10 was full out rattling, it goes from like a 3 to a 10 in one fret, and stays that way until the 22nd.

    Now technically, he was able to determine that there are no high frets, b/c he wasn't able to "rock" any straight edge on the frets, and he checked to see if the 22nd fret was high as well (you won't see a rocking, but would see light passing through at the 21st fret) But still, the problem is there, and to the point that the notes in this region would pretty much be unplayable...so the luthier starts lecturing me on how I should just worry about playing the bass, and not listening for rattling (hard to miss this kind of rattling, this is the note cancellation type, and he was even able to duplicate it with very light touch) ...bear in mind that I demonstrated to him what I thought was acceptable buzzing about 5 times before this, on the Fender, and wasn't looking for perfection, and told him as such, but was at least looking for the last part of the neck to be in line with the rest of the neck in terms of the same amount of fret buzz, to which he said this is "impossible."

    Am I wrong to expect the last part of the fretboard to play similarly to the other 80% of it in terms of fretbuzz?

    The final "solution" is that he is going to taper the frets off (plane them lower and lower starting from the 18th and approaching the 22nd fret) very subtly in hopes this fixes the problem.

    What do you guys think? Am I being too picky?
  2. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    So is it mainly buzz and less note being heard when you play? My basses have never buzzed that badly in the upper frets.. I could play every fret on my stingray without much buzzing.. its the same with my Elrick..

    If its bad enough to bother you then I say its not ok and you shouldn't just deal with it.... its kinda wierd that he did all that with the bass and there was still buzzing...
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I have no desire to offer an opinion and then watch it turn into a whinery. No comment.
  4. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    i'm not an expert by any means, but if some notes buzzed and others didn't, the first thing i'd check would be the trussrod. Maybe that .002 window isn't enough for your bass. Then again maybe i shouldn't suggest something that would snap your neck.

    on a similar note, i had my frets crowned by a local luthier who specializes in fretwork for both guitars and basses, and when i got it back the action was set too low for the strings to vibrate freely under a light touch. Maybe its a guitar luthier working on bass sort of thing.
  5. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Neither of my Jazz basses rattle on any fret unless I am really hammering the strings.
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Well, it is a new, wooden neck bass that just got shipped from somewhere else in the world. So, I would expect the neck to be freaking out for the next several months at least.

    I wouldn't spend a ton of money to get the ultralow, perfect setup, because it is going to wiggle in and out and you are going to end up really POed that you have spend a few hundred bucks and the bass still buzzes. It will always move around, but especially so the first year.

    If it were mine, I would raise the action and play it for what it is. At least for a couple of years until the neck settles down a bit.

    I have owned 4-5 four-string basses with those skinny little jazz necks, they all tended to wonder with the weather.

    Ever tried graphite? They don't do that you know. I have heard great things about Zon :D
  7. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Precisely why I have grown to love graphite. Modulus, though, not Zon.

    But seriously, I haven't ever had that problem with any of the wooden necked basses that I have owned. The only one that I had a bit of trouble with was a US Hamer Cruise 5 2Tek. But with a couple trips to the shop, it was cured and I was happy with it.
  8. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
  9. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Me too, but still, I have always wanted a Fender and I am trying to get this one at least passable.
  10. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    The Fender does have graphite stips in the neck, and the neck is pretty stable after I make an adjustment, it really doesn't move. Even raising the action to a ridiculous amount doesn't seem to fix the problem. I think once the luthier finally adjusts thoe last few frets things will be fine.
  11. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Once again, how low is your action? It is hard to make this kind of comparison without knowing how low your strings are.
  12. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Yeah, I agree. That is one thing my Modulus won't do, and that is a classic Fender sound.:(

    So, I sometimes find myself wanting one as well.;)
  13. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i have a new MIA fender jazz and i haven't even had to do a set up yet! keeped like the factory and it sat on the wall for awhile. and there is no buzz on any of my frets unless i beat them with a hamer. and the strings aren't high either. maybe there is actually something wrong with yours. bring it to a fender dealer.
    and hopefully you haven't voided your warrenty by doing all of this fret work.

  14. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    wow, man, i think you're just unlucky. i have 17 wood necked basses, and none of them have ever given me the kind of trouble that you seem to be getting with your new one.
  15. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Im not sure if I missed this but can you hear the rattle thru your amp?? Or just acousicaly??

    A tech I know actually had a stethascope(spelling???) to listen to subtle sounds in the wood/neck. I heard of a rattling truss rod/support rods before.
  16. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    True. I like my action fairly low, but It may not be as low as yours.

    On the other hand, yours is still buzzing when the tech raised your action fairly high. That is what makes it an odd problem.
  17. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    I actually just bought some tools from Stewart Macdonald to measure all this stuff...I know I like my string height around 4/64 on the G and 5/64 on the E...although I didn't know this until this guy measured my existing setup, and that has become the benchmark.

    On a whim, I said to the luthier, "Raise the D from 4/64 to 6/64..." higher than what I am comfortable with, and he did, and the buzz was still there...interesting thing is, you don't even have to dig in, it is just apparent when you play lightly over the neck pickup...this guy was amazed (as was I) since all frets seem to be level, but apparently that isn't good enough. And by the way when I mean buzz, I don't mean that little bit of buzz, I mean a string bottoming out, complete rattle (it isn't the truss, it is the string againt the fret)...

    The annoying thing was how the luthier started saying that there is no way to make a guitar play as well in the upper registers as in the lower registers, which I think is bunk, as all my zons can achieve this, and there is no reason a Fender can't either.
  18. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I would just like to say I think it's kind of funny (funny in a bad way) that when a "professional" has done everything he knows to do and still can't fix something, even though he must know damn well that it isn't right, he tells you that you're being too picky and you should worry more about your playing than the bass' rattling. :rolleyes:
  19. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Ya' know, I'd love to offer my opinion, Peter, but...then again...

    I don't think I will.;)
  20. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    metro Detroit
    There are many different things that could make an instrument buzz like you are describing. I usually set my basses up so that the neck is STRAIGHT, no relief, and if the rest is set up right, I can get the action really low with no buzzing. If you continuously have problems with this instrument, I would suggest you (or a tech) examine the nut. If the nut is cut too deep on one string, it could actually cause another string to buzz. This is often something that is overlooked by someone who is not seen this problem before.

    I quick test may be to put a bit of paper or cardboard under the strings in the slots at the nut. If this stops the buzz, then you just have to figure out which string, or strings, are cut too deep. After determining that, you either need a new nut, or if you want to be cheap (not recommended if you are trying to be a pro tech) you can drip some superglue (idealy mixed with the same material that the nut is made out of..in most cases bone) in the slot that is too deep. If you add too much glue you will have to refile the slot. Also, if the slot is too wide for any string, it could cause that string to rattle, whether you are playing that string or not.

    Hope this helps.


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