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Setting string heights on a Fretless

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Rynojackax, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. Rynojackax


    Apr 20, 2015
    Hi Guys!

    I'm very new to this forum and decided to sign up because there was a TON of useful information on here, and the community seems super friendly. Bass players are usually great people anyways, right?!

    Anyways, to the matter at hand, I own a beautiful Jazz Standard, American Fender Fretless bass. The tone, and feel of this bass is just so beautiful. But I'm wanting to set the string heights correctly and knowing proper use of the, I guess it's called Truss rod. I've tried before to mess with the settings of the bridge and everything, but have a rattle at the head where the strings come over and meet the fret board. The style I mainly play is Jazz, Latin, or whatever my college combo decides to play. I also have a 5 string Jazz Standard (fretted) as well, and would love if any of you knew a good string height for this as well. I use this mainly for funk, or if Chart 9 (Birdland) is called! (Or 11, being Chameleon ;).)

    I know that string height is all preference, but I don't want to incorrectly do anything to this bass. I never was taught how to modify certain things on a guitar, so I never knew how! Some of y'all might think I'm crazy for owning such a great bass but not knowing how to operate on it, but I was very lucky and fortunate to get my hands on it :).

    Thank you guys and I'm excited to share my knowledge as well as gain a vast majority of knowledge here on this forum!
  2. rogerb


    Aug 31, 2010
    There's a sticky thread for the set up.

    Depends what you mean by rattle, could be the strings not wound correctly around the posts? Easily checked if you upload a photo of your headstock and first few frets, then set up and see if the problem still persists.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    @Rynojackax, what you're referring to is known as a setup. It involves adjusting 1) the truss rod, 2) pickup height and/or slant, 3) string height & spacing, and 4) intonation. Factors 3 & 4 are to be adjusted at the bridge, specifically tweaking the bridge saddles.

    It's an interactive process, as tweaking one parameter often means having to tweak or re-tweak one or more of the other parameters, which then may require going back to re-adjust the original parameter, in ever finer increments, until you've achieved the best balance of trade-offs possible for that particular instrument. It requires a bit of skill and patience, and it's especially important for the fretless bass - even more so than for a fretted bass. But it's not complex or difficult, and just requires a little learning and a little practice.

    If your fretless has never had a professional setup, I'd suggest that you bring it to a competent local luthier or guitar tech, and have it done. If the guy is willing to take a bit of time with you, he might demonstrate exactly what he's done to your bass, and the reasons why. With some practice and experience, you could soon learn to do it for yourself. But it's definitely a good idea to have at least one professional setup done initially, to establish a baseline setup to which you might subsequently refer.

  4. jjmf

    jjmf Supporting Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    Edmonton AB Canada
    what would be considered a good string height on a fretless ? (ie distance from Fingerboard to string when fretted at 1st and last fret or 1st and 17th fret etc)

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