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String Alignment Running Uneven Down Neck? (Hard to Desrbie)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MarMar, Nov 16, 2020.

  1. MarMar


    Sep 9, 2020
    This might be a silly question and I'm finding it hard to put into the proper words, but why do some basses appear to have their strings running diagonally up and down a neck or closer to one side of the neck?

    Or maybe this is a better way to describe what I'm seeing - I've seen some basses where say the G string has barely any space between it and the edge of the neck on the first fret, but as you go down the neck to the 12th fret, there seems to be more space, and all the other strings do that in parallel. This would mean the E string looks like it's almost hanging off of the near side of the neck once you reach the 12th fret or whatever.

    Is this a serious issue with the neck or maybe the bridge? Can this be fixed? Does this affect play-ability? I saw a couple instruments I am interested in purchasing where the strings look closer to one side of the neck than the other on the lower frets and then the space grows as you go to higher frets.
    Peter Torning likes this.
  2. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    Okay (and I'm really sticking my neck out here as I know little about making guitars) I read somewhere that necks can be set this way because, over time, the extra tension exerted by the E and A strings pull the joint over a little as it settles. Offsetting it means it will straighten out in time. But don't rely on me. Someone intelligent will come along soon. ;)
    Peter Torning and MarMar like this.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It's a setup option when you have a bolt on neck. You loosen the screws slightly and give the neck a yank to one side.

    I do it to most of mine because I never play the E above the 12th, but I use the G frequently up there and I'd rather have a bit more room on that side so it doesn't catch the edge of the fret when I do vibrato.

    It can also be an optical illusion when pictures aren't taken from exactly square with the instrument.
  4. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    The first thing this has me thinking is that it's a bolt-on bass with extra wiggle room in the pocket, and with a neck set at an angle. Or possibly adjustable bridge spacing (a la vintage Fenders) with the placement out of whack (or in whack if you like it, I could see value in extra room for the G string up higher).

    I've got a bass with a wiggleable pocket and just setting it how I want & bolting in securely has done the trick. I've also discovered I'm pretty particular with my string nut placement, and that can definitely change the string profile; if the G is TOO close to the edge at the nut, I'm fitting a new one.

    If it's on a neck-through bass, I might be creeped out...
    MarMar likes this.
  5. MRV


    May 9, 2020
    I'm not so sure about this - based on both D'Addario's and GHS's string tension charts, the E and A strings are not higher tension than the D and G strings. In fact, they are almost always slightly lower tension. This is assuming a balanced tension set of strings on a 34" fixed scale bass.

    This is a large part of the whole multi-scale thing a la Dingwall.

  6. If it is a bolt on you can loosen the screws a little, pull it over where you want it, and retighten the screws.
    Happens more when there is more neck pocket clearance then it needs.
    Not uncommon on 70s Fenders.
    Wambemando and MarMar like this.
  7. MarMar


    Sep 9, 2020
    Thank you everyone for the thoughtful responses. It sounds like this, in some instances, could be done intentionally as part of "setting up" the bass because it serves a sort of practical use (more space for your fingers on certain frets you might use). I never really thought about that. It also sounds like it can be corrected (to one's liking) in basses with bolt-on necks. I feel like I am learning something here. :bassist:
    BertnErnie and 2tonic like this.
  8. jpmcbride

    jpmcbride Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    If you're not used to working on basses or guitars this might seem severe. Or you might think he was joking:) But it really works. Just loosen the bolts a little, then slowly apply pressure to move the neck in whichever direction it needs to go and then tighten the bolts while holding it under tension. Works great.
    mikewalker likes this.
  9. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    Welcome to TB.
    If you're not learning something on this site.....
    You're not paying attention. ;)
    Splash7 and RSBBass like this.
  10. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    Hipshot’s Kickass bridge is an easy alleviation to this situation. Fully adjustable string spacing @ the turn & tightening of a few allen screws.
    I snagged one for my latest Jazz build to get 100% accurate pickup pole spacing and lo and behold— perfect string spacing was a welcome result as well.
    (Photographic evidence: the lower of the two basses pictured below)
    slagheap, TrevorG, BertnErnie and 3 others like this.
  11. Of the few MM Stingray basses I’ve owned plus the ones I’ve checked out in the store I’ve noticed their G strings are close to the edge of the fretboard. I didn’t like that but I could get used to it.

    However, they were parallel rather than diagonal as you’ve described.
  12. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    This is why I like the bridge style that allows you to change the string spacing. You can usually correct these things.

    Anyone ever see how some 70s Gibson Les Pauls just have the bridge in the wrong spot? So they cut the saddles in a weird way to make it line up?
  13. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    slagheap likes this.
  14. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    Personally I have no idea of what possible basses you are looking at with this problem. But this string alignment issue has been a problem for a while. Seems to more of an issue with imports.

    It is all about where the pups are and the the bridge is installed. Along with neck position if a bolt neck. (Neck thurs are an another issue all together) Some manufacturers aren't so great at getting this right. And since lots of variables are here, impossible to tell you how to fix it. It can be a multitude of problems. And it is possible it can never be properly corrected.

    I've seen imports that the bridge is off set and the pup installation is not right. So in that case it is buyer beware.

    Without exact measurements and good photos, it is an impossible task to give answers to the problem. So best of luck.

    My question is why would a manufacturer set up an instrument for sale that was not properly aligned????? After all, it's not rocket science. Only has to do with measurements and a straight edge normally.

    So personally I'd be leery of anything with bad alignment if I was spending my hard earned cash.
    MarMar likes this.
  15. MRV


    May 9, 2020
    My MIA Fender Jazz came with this Fender high mass bridge which helps dial in string spacing and alignment:


    My Warwick also has adjustable saddles as well to get that perfect alignment (but it's pretty fiddly and I generally don't mess with it).

    I also have a couple Squiers with just the cheapo Fender bridge with no left/right saddle adjustability, but to be honest I haven't had any real issues with spacing or alignment on any of my instruments.
    MarMar likes this.

  16. That was an option on most 70's Fenders:laugh:. They should run right down the middle of the neck, if the neck pockets is sloppy sometimes the neck will tilt one way or the other, usually towards the G string side with resultant G overhang, very common on 70's Fenders as the neck pockets were too big on some of them, you can usually fix it buy loosening the neck and moving it and really tightening the neck screws so it won't move. If it's on a neck through maybe the bridge was put on a little to the right or the left of where it was supposed to be..
    MarMar likes this.
  17. slagheap


    Dec 23, 2011
    poor string neck/alignment is super common and this is a great remedy.
    TrevorG likes this.
  18. Ggaa


    Nov 26, 2018
    Saw a tech many times whack a Fender neck against a carpet covered bench.
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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