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Short scale low action? Not gonna happen?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Diesel Kilgore, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. I love my short scale Jag, but dang it if I have to keep the bottom of the strings at about 3/16-1/4'' off the 12th fret without it buzzing. No matter how much I adjust the neck. Not that everything is crap, it just seems like the limitation for this bass. I feel like my fingers are playing hot potato just to keep from stumbling over strings. I would love it just a touch lower. But no matter how much I adjust the setup it wont do it. What kind of action are ya'll able to get with your short scales? Is what I am experiencing normal for short scale?
  2. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    Unfortunately, there is a reason some basses cost $299.99 and some cost $2999.99 and this is one of them. You can try shimming the neck.....
  3. I hear ya. But say I had a regular scale, no matter price....would I be able to go lower?
  4. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I hate to ask the dumb question but have you adjusted the neck?
  5. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    A shim might do the trick . Set the truss rod for slight relief , intonate , and see if you can drop the bridge any .

    My Dano Longhorn has pretty low action without buzzes . It's a good example of a cheap instrument that plays as well as something much more expensive . Sounds great too .
  6. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    There's nothing about short scale that will require high action. Further, there's nothing about low price that will require high action. It's all in the setup and string choice.
    I play exclusively medium and short scale basses, and with one exception everything I've got is cheap.

    Work with somebody who knows what they're doing and learn to set it up. Just adjusting the truss rod, or just shimming, etc. often isn't enough, those things all work together. And if you play with a heavy right hand try a heavier string. The shorter scale will require less string tension to reach the same pitch, so the string will be easier to "over play" which will give you buzz no matter what.
  7. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    ^^^ This
    Price point does not have anything to do with it ether. I have two Epi EB-O's one being the ultra cheap plywood one. They have very low action. A proper set up is important but technique is very important too. Are you slamming the strings? A $3500+ 35" scale bass will have string rattle with a bad set up and bad technique
  8. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Depending on the design, low action to where the OP wants it might not be possible. I had a Dean Jeff Berlin that buzzed up and down the neck unless I really tickled the strings or had them so high it was unplayable. I had the frets leveled and the bass professionally set up and nothing improved it. I fault the fact that the headstock wasn't angled and there were no string retainers = Non-existent break angle over the nut.

    The radius matters as well. While I like how it feels, I can't play a 7.5" radius neck because the action always feels like it's too high.
  9. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
  10. Im no luthier but am able enough to setup a bass. Ive adjusted the neck with these strings 5 times and set the action on each neck adjust and it just wont give in. I forgot to mention my strings are stainless rounds. I didnt have this problem with flats, I could get them lower. But I like the strings im using. Guess I will live with it. Its not un-playable at all. Just preference.
  11. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    The flats are most likely higher tension, that does make a difference with getting low action.
  12. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    Might check the nut slot heights then. But, yea, maybe if everything is optimal and you still don't like the feel then that's all you get with that particular bass.
  13. swamp2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I have GHS flats on mine, and I have it set up for probably the lowest action of any bass I've played. It's a dream to play.

    Being short scale has nothing to do with being able to set it up low.
  14. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Like they said earlier , try putting a shim under the neck .
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Scale length has nothing to do with action. Some of my short scale basses have lower action than the long scales. It's all in the strings and the setup, although it may help to have the frets leveled if there's any unevenness to them.
  16. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    Proper setup, fret level and crown and increasing the break-angles over the nut and the bridge would help matters.
    The rest is a combination of physics against the limitations of the instrument's initial design.
    But yeah, shimming the neck a bit to increase the string's break-angle at the bridge is a good place to start (in my experience).

    I also like the Hipshot 3-string trees and place them close to the nut so the break angles mimic the same on the E string...it again, ime, helps taut and focus the strings, and may help. At least it does with the tone.
  17. thiocyclist


    Sep 19, 2012
    Adjust the action to match the radius. Fixed.
  18. FWIW, I have no trouble getting my short scale Hofners, Eastwood Classic IV's, and my Fender Coronado to what I would call "low" action. I think set-up skills are important, and string type/gauge/tension can make a big difference.
  19. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I don't get that. 'Splain, please.

    See, I've shimmed necks to get the action lower when the bridge saddles were bottomed out as low as they'd go. Done it several times, and used the micro-tilt on my old Sting Ray, too.

    Can't see how shimming the neck would do anything at all to the break angle of the strings across the nut.
  20. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Hey, OP--I learned a good setup trick from Gary Willis's 101 Bass Tips book. It's worked very well for me.

    The key thing is to note where on the neck you're getting the buzzing, as you lower the action. Buzzing only in the first seven frets tells you there's not enough neck relief. Buzzing only in the high register suggests there's more neck relief than the bass needs. Buzzing all up and down the neck tells you the neck relief is right but the action's just set lower than the fretwork will allow. And buzzing on only one fret points to a problem with the adjacent fret.

    So to set the neck relief I lower the strings gradually until I get buzzing, adjust the truss rod as suggested above, then raise the bridge saddles just enough that the buzzing stops.

    If the frets haven't been leveled accurately, you just won't be able to get low action.

    I bought a precision straightedge from Stew-Mac to use in setting up my basses. It's easy to measure the neck relief very precisely with that. And they sell a miniature straightedge, which they call a Fret Rocker, IIRC. The idea is that you can quickly identify problems in fret leveling.