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shimming vs lowering action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by gimmeagig, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. I have a Moon JB 5 bass that allows me to lower the saddles a bit to get the action where I want it but I could also shim it.What are the reasons to shim a neck vs just lowering the saddles.Both bring the string closer to the fretboard.The angle is a little different.Is that enough to bring different results?What effect on where the buzzes occur does shimming have?Is one method better than the other?I'd like to have reasonably low action and still be able to hard pluck without too much buzz while keeping keep a full round tone.Seems like the tone gets kind of onedimensional when the action gets low.
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That one dimensional tone is why some people raise their action. You do have to ease up when it's low.

    But you should never shim if you can get your action as low as you like it already. Shimming is only done for those necks that bottom out and you still can't get the action low enough. The end result is pretty much the same.
  3. todd 4ta

    todd 4ta

    Apr 3, 2003
    I agree that, for me, shimming is a last resort.

    I will only shim (or microtilt) a neck when one or more of the bridge saddles is at its lowest point, and the action is too high.

    This happens on most of my pre-EB Stingrays. I lower the G-string saddle all the way down, and the action is still too high. I shim the neck to get the G-string right, then all the other strings/bridge saddles are within a range of adjustment I need.
  4. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I think you're speaking for just about every bassist and guitarist in the world here.
  5. I suppose you're right.
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
  7. I agree with the others. Shimming is the last thing to to try. You're right too. Shimming changes the angle of the strings as they cross the neck.
    I've never run across a bass that didn't have enough saddle travel up or down, but I'm sure they exist.
    Shimming helps with basses that have their neck relief set right, but still have an unusually high action at the higher frets, and a good action at the lower frets. There's no way to lower the saddles without fretting out at the lower frets, and tightening the truss (when it's already adjusted properly) isn't the answer. You'll just end up pulling a backbow that causes all kinds of problems. That's when you shim, changing the neck angle slightly, and bringing the upper fret action down.

  8. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Funny, I was searching for an old thread about shimming and found this one. I guess some questions never get old...

    I found one! It has the same symptom described above with the G string bottoming out, and the B saddle doesn't go high enough for a tapered B. :rolleyes:

    I ditched the tapers, negotiations in progress ;)
  9. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I have shimmed almost all my basses. I like to add a litle tilt to the back, and lower my action without bottoming out the saddles.

    These days I have a problem with my SR506, the neck is too high in the pocket on relation to the body. And the sadles are to the top and the action is still low. The neck is not yet tilted to the back.

    What to do? Change Bridge? or sand the neck at the joint?
  10. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    Man, Ibanez is the one manufacturer I've never had any neck problems with. (Of course, I haven't tried every brand on the planet!) Both of mine have nice low action with very little relief and never needed a shim.

    First, do you use tapered strings? If so, try switching to a non-tapered set. Your saddles will be much lower.

    Next easiest thing to do would be look for a replacement bridge with higher saddle adjustment.

    I wouldn't sand a neck heel unless it's an extreme last resort. Even then, I'd almost rather just sell it and buy a different one without that problem. If the SR506 is MIK, look for a MIJ model - the serial # will start with "F".
  11. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    I replaced the vintage bridge on my 61 jazz with a Gotoh a while back. Between the thicker plate and thicker saddles, I could not get the action low. I put the vintage bridge back on.

  12. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador

    The Bass is New... is one of the newer SR506.
    I agree, Normally Ibanez necks are very well positioned.

    No, I dont use tappered strings.

    The Neck is actually high in relationship to the body, thats why Im thinking of sanding it.
  13. I have a G&L that when I lower the action by lowering the saddles I get some buzzing on frets 1 and 2. What would be the best way to get rid of the buzz. Right now I have the action raised just high enought to avoid the buzz but I'd like to lower the action back because I like that feel a heckuvalot more. I've thought about filing those two frets down a little, but before doing anything I figured I'd better ask my fellow TBers.
  14. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    I had to shim my eda905, I'm sure it compromised the sustain etc., But I guess my ears were to simple to tell the difference in . I was happy with what it did for the playability however. Peace