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Shim My '78 Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jeff5311, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Help! I have acquired a '78 Fender Jazz that, after some TLC sounds great.

    However, in an attempt to get the action lower, I've bottomed out the bridge saddles (E and G strings) and maxed out the micro-tilt.

    Would it make sense to shim the neck instead of using the micro-tilt?

    Or it there some way to shim the micro-tilt plate itself to get the neck to rock back further?

    Thanks in advance!!!
  2. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    do you have a badass bridge or something on there?
  3. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Nope. Just the standard, original bridge saddles. It also looks like the neck pickup is sitting too low in the body cavity. Like maybe the neck was routed too deep?

    Any advice? I've never had a bass with the micro-tilt thing before.
  4. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    crazy. i cant imagine the neck pocket being routed that deep that your maxing out the microtilt and still bottomed out. id say just shim it and see if it gets where you want it. when i had a badass on my 78 i used the micotilt and thats all i needed. i eventually took it off though. ive got a badass on my 74 and have a good amount of shim in there to get the action low.
  5. Lazarus.Bird

    Lazarus.Bird Mr. Personality

    Aug 16, 2010
    Never had to shim a bass that had micro-tilt, but if you have the micro-tilt maxed out and the saddles are still bottoming out I would just set the micro-tilt to zero and shim the neck. Micro-tilt is nice when it works but yours isn't so you might as well just shim. Sounds like you know what you are doing so I don't think it will be a problem!
  6. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Just to verify the obvious: are you loosening the neck screws before adjusting the micro tilt?

    Normally, the micro tilt has more than enough adjustment...a lot more. If it doesn't I would recommend shimming the entire neck pocket with a piece of metal shim stock (probably .040 or .050 thick). That should get you in the ballpark and then you can adjust the micro tilt until it's exactly where you want it.
  7. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Ha! I don't really know what I'm doing... I've never shimmed a neck before.

    Do you guys just use the standard business card? I can't imagine the business card being thick enough, but I guess a few millimeters goes a long way?
  8. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Yep. I'm loosening the neck screws when I'm adjusting the micro-tilt. I was hoping I could just keep turning the micro-tilt, but it stops. Maybe there's something wrong with the micro-tilt???

    I was hoping for the easy fix. Oh well... time to take the neck off and inspect the micro-tilt and maybe try my hand at shimming.
  9. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Can you post a few pics of the neck pocket/profile?
  10. ubnomnar

    ubnomnar Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    So Cal
    Excessive neck relief (forward bow) can also play a role in the inability to get low action.

    If both the bridge saddles and the micro-tilt (adjustable shim) are at their limits... it seems that something "additional" may also be out of whack.

    Have you verified that your neck relief is "in the ballpark?"
  11. jeff5311


    Jan 27, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    Yeah. Neck relief is fine... just where I like it. Fretting at the first and last fret on the E string, and I can see a little bit of "air" at the fifth fret. It's not completely flat, but I was a surprised I could take this "vintage" neck this flat without buzz. But of course, it could be due to the the neck pocket being too low.

    Oh I forgot to mention, I DID swap out the original bridge saddles, with Fender threaded saddles. This was mainly to maintain better string spacing. However these saddles seem to be roughly the same height as the originals. The original saddles I had awefully low as well.

    I'll see if can post pics.

    Is the micro-tilt suppose to allow for a lot of tilting of the neck? It seems I can only go 3 full turns either way...

    Thanks again for all your help guys!!!
  12. ubnomnar

    ubnomnar Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    So Cal
    Have you been able to get the action set to where you like it?
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, something's weird here.

    loosening, the micro-tilt should keep going until it's no longer pressing on the neck at all, and will turn freely even with the neck tightly bolted down to the body.

    tightening, you should be able to get the strings lying dead on the frets well before the screw runs out of thread and falls out of the metal piece holding it.
  14. merkaba22


    Oct 25, 2009
    I want to see pictures too.
  15. Sonicone


    Feb 7, 2012
    Losen strings, take off neck, take 1/4 of a business card and place it between the two screw holes closest to the body. put the neck back on and tune guitar. From here you may have to adjust the saddle height to prevent buzz. If the thinkness of one business card wasnt enough just take 1/2 a card fold it in half and do the same thing. It worked wonders for my brand new jazz bass :) I was spoiled with the awesome low and smooth action of an Ibanez for years but love the tone of jazz basses. The brand new Jazz bass I have sounds sweet but it was labor to play it. The business card trick really works and is easy to do :) Still doesnt play like an Ibanez but it's MUCH better and the tone makes it worth the change.
  16. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    The microtilt's an allen screw, so it shouldn't stop in either direction, unless it's butted up against the plate in the heel of the neck, and the neck screws are tight. I'd suggest taking the neck off, and having a looksee at that allen screw.

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