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Setting up new Fender J-bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by hammong, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. hammong


    Apr 11, 2001
    Sparks, Maryland
    I just purchased a new Fender American Deluxe Jazz 4-string, and the string height seems too tall for my taste. I play mainly finger style, and would like a lower action.

    I checked the height of the string between the 4th-8th fret by holding down Fret 1 and Fret 12, and the spacing was uniform and looked to be about 1.5 business cards thick (1 fit, 2 didn't).

    Should I lower the action by making a truss-rod adjustment, or by lowering the bridge? The bridge looks like it came from the factory "all the way up".

    Ideas? I'm leery about adjusting it myself, but don't know of a good bass technician around here to adjust it for me. (suggestions for the Towson Maryland area are welcome!)

  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
  3. Here's an easy way to do it without getting in over your head. You will want to adjust your string height at the bridge. It sounds like your neck is in proper alignment. Take your allen wrench (or screwdriver, I forget) and turn each of your screws down 1 complete turn. Retune and check the action. If it's right, stop. If it's still too high, repeat the process with another turn on teach of the screws and check again. Keep track of the number of turns. If you remember how many you lowered the bridge with, you can put it back to where it was.
  4. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Congrats on the new bass! Aren't Jazzes sweet?

    If I can put in my .02 in addition to what Hambone and Turock said:

    If you don't have the hex keys needed, pick up a ball-end one to fit the truss rod end (mine takes a 3/16"), a set of smaller ones, and one of those blade-type feeler gauge sets. A capo also makes life much easier, but it can be done using a second pair of hands instead.

    Download the bass setup instructions from Mr. Gearhead (as Turock said), and first measure your neck relief at pitch using the capo and feeler gauge - I set my Jazz to .014. If adjustments are needed, go slow! No more than a quarter turn on the rod at a time, and no more than 3/4 of a turn per session before you let the neck rest at least overnight (IMO). (When I changed my Jazz over to Fender flats, the neck didn’t quit moving for a week!) Don’t forget to detune before you crank the truss rod, and retune before you measure. Also, be sure you tune to pitch before you let the neck rest overnight - you need that tension for an accurate measurement.

    Then, it's a simple matter to adjust action. I use a 7/64" hex key as a feeler gauge to set my action height. It works for me...

    Good luck! There's no real mystery or difficulty involved in doing basic adjustments like this, as long as you use the correct setup data, go slow and DON'T FORCE ANYTHING!
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Greg, if you can't get it sorted out, John Thurston does excellent setup work at Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe... it's right up the street from Bill's House of Music in Catonsville. Worth the trip.

  6. hammong


    Apr 11, 2001
    Sparks, Maryland
    Thanks everyone!

    I've now have my bass set up the way I like it, and hopefully the neck won't move to much in the next few days.

    All it took was about 1/3 turn clockwise on the truss-rod, and about 1 full turn lower on the bridge screws, then I raised my pick-ups. It plays much better, and sounds better too!

    Thanks again.


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