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Simple list of steps for lowering action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassguy74, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. I have a Squier P-Bass first of all, since you guys probably will have to know that to answer the question.

    So what I'm desiring is a list of all the steps, in "plain English" as it were, on lowering the action. I already see the allen-wrench holes on the saddle that I will have to use to lower each string; I just need to know if there's more to it than just lowering each string, and if so, what.

    Thanks guys!
  2. 1) Check neck relief and adjust if there is significant concave bow, tighten 1/4 turn to see if that helps
    2) Adjust bridge saddle height
    3) Check nut slot depth
    4) if needed add a shim to the headstock side of the neck pocket.
  3. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    1. Adjust truss rod if needed for allmost dead straight neck. Just slight hint of upward curve. Retune bass.
    2. Adjust each bridge saddle for lowest possible so that theres no significant fret buzz. A little clank is ok, so long as this doesnt transfer to amp as string buzz rattle or notes dieing out from fret interferance. Retune bass.
    3. Play bass useing all the strings. Depending on your playing style you may find it feels like either the D &/or G string or the E string is too high somehow throwing off your string to string thing. If possible lower that string or two a quarter turn or slightly more. Retune those strings.
    4. Look down the neck toward bridge. Bring your face down to around the 12th to 17th fret area looking at the bridge. Do any of the saddles look slanted rather then horrizontal to the bottom plate of bridge? If so, correct this by either lowering one side or rasing the other, or raising one side a little and lowering other side so its horizontal. If you have a locking bridge, now is time to lock it. (this is via a small set screw that locks the saddle down so it wont move). Retune bass.

    Play and enjoy.

    If the nut was not cut to allow for slightly lower D & G strings, so that theres a slight slant going from thickest to thinnist strings. You might concider getting a new nut. If your not able to get as low action as you want. Or if just wanting to max out action.

    Do not buy a bass or guitar that requires a neck shim if this is avoidable. Better made basses have their neck pocket cut so that not only is it a tight fit for the neck. Its also done so real low action is possible and the neck slightly tilts rearward. Rather then being straight flat horrizontal to the body top. Imo. But if yours needs a shim, use minimal thickness possible and put shim all the way back to pockets rear. Me Id rather use folded qaulity grade paper then any other material for this. With a little bit of elmers regular or elmers wood glue on it so it theres minimal airpocket and a little bit of hold shim onto pocket securely. Sure shims not gonna go anywhere once necks rebolted. But till then I'd rather have little bit of glue there to keep it in place. Normally in any bass or guitar Ive worked on that needed shim, Ive also then also covered the entire pocket with this type of glue as well. Then of course rebolted neck. The glue acting as a filler for any gaps and to give tighter fit of neck to body. But normally I'm just not into any bass or guitar that needs a shim for either action improvement or that little bit or rearward tilt mentioned above.
  4. I agree that shims are the last resort. But sometimes you just need to if something is really jenky. I use folded light grit sandpaper so it doesn't shift any. I don't glue the pocket because I find myself switching necks! Fender used shims a lot in their earlier production so it's not totally radical. But better build basses should not need a shim.
  5. I think shims are a routine matter of maintenance and adjustment. If not needed, great. If needed, no problem - just do it.
  6. That is all guitar lingo that lost me *really* fast. LOL
  7. What's a shim, and what's a pocket? LOL
  8. Thunder Pulse

    Thunder Pulse

    May 12, 2007
    Since you don't understand any of the advice that's being given, you really shouldn't try to do this yourself right now. Take it to a professional and have it set up, and be there when the work is being done so you can see what's involved.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    (with bullhorn) "put down the screwdriver. step away from the bass."
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Agreed... it's hardly a badge of shame.

    The advice to avoid basses that need a shim is a good way to miss out on potentially nice instruments.
  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  12. Lizooki


    Feb 24, 2008
    AGREED! If you didn't understand that, take it to a shop or you'll just end up ruining it.

  13. I did wind up taking it to a shop, and paid only $10 cuz the guy was nice. LOL I am lucky because $30 is what they originally quoted me!

    Anyways he lowered the action. I also found out, in the process of buying a used bass for my godson at the pawn shop, what a "shim" is, as well. So now I know what it is, how to use it, and how to put it in. :) Well for the most part. LOL

    The action lowering I didn't see done because I left the bass there as they wanted and came back a day or two later when they said it was ready. So eventually I'll have to practice it on other basses so I can learn.

    Thanks for the tips, and the bullhorn shouts guys! LOL
  14. Jibudo


    Mar 13, 2010
    Porto, Portugal

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