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Should I attempt lowering the action on my P-Bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by allanmac00, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. allanmac00

    allanmac00 Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    I have a USA P-Bass that I love, but the action is rather high. It seems like I'm fighting with the strings unless I'm playing something real slow. I know that I can easily adjust the bridge height for each string, but will I also have to make truss rod adjustments if I do that? Is there anything else I need to keep in mind if I am attempting? Probably a noob question, but I haven't done any setup work before. Thanks!
  2. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Do it. It's not as hard as some people make it seem. There are videos on youtube that are helpful. There's a set from a luthier at Lakland, I think. The truss rod nut wont feel loose, but if you feel extra resistance, STOP. When I started messing w/ mine I did, as prescribed and made sure all the measurements were to factory spec. However, it never seemed "right". So I just adjusted and fiddled and I've got quite low action and it's quite easy to play.

    Its not all sunshine and roses tho because I apparently have a pretty heavy-handed slap technique that doesn't work on this setup. So I'm having to retrain myself, but I'm not exhausted after 30 seconds playing anymore.
  3. It's not that hard if you watch come videos on how to do it. You'd be hard pressed to find someone less mechanically inclined than me, and I do all my own setups on both guitar and bass. As an aside, I know everyone has their preferences, but I'm amazed how high the action is on most basses. I like a really low action myself.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    One of the best skills you can learn is how to be your own bass tech. Knowing how to change strings, set intonation, adjust the truss rod, and adjust bridge height are basic skills every bass player should learn. It will save you a lot of money through the years. I have a dozen basses and if I took them all to a bass tech twice a year for adjustments then I would be spending a lot of money.

    Most basses need to be adjusted twice a year due to seasonal changes and specifically due to humidity changes. Wood expands and contracts with humidity level changes. That is why your bass needs adjusting a couple of times per year.

    If you store the bass in a humidity controlled room then you will need fewer adjustments.
  5. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Absolute truth here. I've been playing about 25 years and it wasn't until last year I started to get comfortable with being my own tech for basic setup. I was always afraid I'd mess my bass up. I finally took the plunge li,e Ric because I was amassing more basses and I just couldn't justify a trip to my guy every time something felt off.

    It's very simple though as long as you have the right tools. I have a capo and feeler gauge for measuring neck relief, and a 6" ruler with 64ths for measuring string height off the 12th fret.

    Definitely don't put it off - it's no fun playing a bass that feels like a chore to play. I remember when I was 19 and got my first Carvin, I didn't even know you had to get them setup. I was ready to send it back because I didn't like how it felt. A friend suggested I take it to a shop for some adjustments. Guy spent like 10 minutes on it and handed it to me. I was stunned - it felt awesome.

    Good luck!
  6. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    It is not hard at all. All bassists should know how to do it themselves. Youtube has great vids on doing this.
  7. rockinrayduke

    rockinrayduke Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Henderson, NV
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Do all your own setups, it is super easy, I use the Jerzy Drozd pdf mentioned above but I don't recommend his radius gauges, they suck. Go get some radius gauges from tunemybass.com. I am going to assume it is also a Fender P-bass, they have factory specs on their website as well. It is really easy, and the rewards are great.

    So in short, yes you should attempt to lower it.