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Straight Necks?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassbully43, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I am a bit confused. All of my basses and most guitars i have ever owned have a vey slight bow or curve in the neck towards the head stock...Relief as they call it. I set up my own basses.. lower strings or raise and adjust the truss rods so i have no buzz but low action. I talked to a guy who owns a shop here and he said there should never be any bow in a neck they should be straight. I have never had a neck stright that did not buzz.I thought some relief bow was normal....am i right or have i been wrong all along. My basses play well at a low action and never a buzz.
  2. jetsetvet

    jetsetvet Banned

    Mar 24, 2005
  3. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I always went with fretting the bass at the 12th fret and the distance from the 12th fret to the 1st fret should be even about the thickness of a credit card or a hair higher. I have never used a feeler gauge just eyeballed it. I thought i was right but he said "nope" no bow only straight never any bow. Thanks for clearing this up.
  4. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    I dropped my action and added SIT Silencers to kill the noise i was getting from steel strings (rounds) The bow in my neck is very slight just enough to take out any first fret buzzes....this is just what The Sadowsky link one of you guys gave me said he does. Thanks...I never could see a neck being a straight plane when the strings vibrate up and down at least not to straight with a low action....i have set up guitars with thin strings like this but never a bass.
  5. jetsetvet

    jetsetvet Banned

    Mar 24, 2005
    The idea of just fretting at the 12th fret and then going for a "credit card" of relief is a bad way to measure neck relief because it is a measurement of relief as well as the height of the string slots that are cut into the nut. One must either fret or place a capo at the first fret to eliminate the nut slots as a factor in measuring relief.

    As far as the guy who says zero relief is the only way to go.....he is just plumb wrong. I own a Travis Bean bass which has absolutely no relief (and no truss rod - no way to adjust for relief) and unless the strings are set quite high, it will buzz when played firmly in first position. (It also has no radius, which took some getting used to.) But with a Bean, this buzz is a part of the sound, and is not a distraction when hearing it through an amp. (Better for loud rock than mellow stuff IMHO).


    Even guitars need some relief to their necks. Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray and Eric Clapton had/have their setups with lots of relief, so I once read.
  6. A credit card's thickness between the 1st and 12th frets is more relief than I would shoot for. Maybe between the 1st and last fret. You still have to fret the 1st fret (or use a capo) to keep the string in a straight line for checking relief.
    One thing I have noticed is that string tension has alot to do with how straight you can setup the neck. Tighter strings don't seem to vibrate as wildly as looser strings. Basses with 35" scales seem to have more tension on the strings. I can setup my ESP F204 with just a touch of relief and it plays very well. A touch too much relief and it just downright SUCKS...
    String gauges affect this too. Lighter-gauge strings have less tension and would probably require just a touch more relief.

    But.. your tech is wrong. All basses (and guitars too) need some relief.

  7. 59jazz

    59jazz Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma Supporting Member

    I have always had lots of relief in my bass necks, although I read recently, that Dan Erlwine (spg?) preferes a STRAIGHT neck. So I adjusted my RB5 neck to near straightness (.003) with .045-.130 strings. The bass plays like butter, even with the action set a 3-4/32's. The flats I'm using seem easier to wrangle.

  8. +1