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The fingers want, but the bridge says no

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by magic papa, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. I'm trying to set up a super-low action on my MIA P-Bass. I get no buzz although the bridge is at it's lowest point. Have a feeling I could go down a tad more and still get no buzz.

    The screw simply rests on the bridge plate (see photo) and apart from cutting it I have no other ideas. Unfortunately to get the right intonation the saddle ends up in this back position which raises the action, but I'm not sure what else to do with it.

    Would replacing the bridge with some other type help?


    Attached Files:

  2. I have filed material off the under side of bridge sections to fix this.
  3. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    The saddle is too low for the action you want. Adding a shim, a strip of shim material,
    to the inner end of the neck pocket will allow a higher saddle height for the same action

    Some bridges may have lower saddles. Someone may have a recommendation. Otherwise,
    shimming would be the way to correct that.

    The saddle appears to be too far back for a typical intonation setting. Especially with a
    low action. Is it just the E that is that far back?

  4. It's E and A to a lesser degree (attached is the photo from the top). It varies between string types, but with these (Rotosound 77) it has to be that far back.

    I guess shimming would be something best left for a luthier to do.

    Attached Files:

  5. nolezmaj

    nolezmaj Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    I had similar problem on my ex Yamaha. I used file and sandpaper to take off lower third of a saddle drum, and shortened screw a little. Worked perfect.
    I didn't like the idea of adding shim to the neck pocket (probably paranoid of me).
  6. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    To me, it looks like flats that are strung thru the body, and are curving over the saddle, rather than having a defined witness point... If setting the witness point doesn't get you where you want to be, you can:

    - shim the neck
    - remove the saddle, and grind the bottom to allow for lower adjustment
    - deepen the groove the string is in

    - georgestrings
  7. Yes, there are bridges that go lower. The Babicz Full Contact goes really low, but that's going to cost you $100. I'm sure there are others, and some are no doubt cheaper, but a neck shim is going to cost you almost nothing.

    Do a tiny bit of research on the web and try doing the shim. You can always do something more expensive or destructive if you don't like the results.
  8. I've been indeed thinking about a Babicz bridge. It's more expensive, but far less probability that I will botch the job.

    Although shimming doesn't look that risky either, I can take it out if it doesn't work. Sounds better than grinding anything.

    What material would you use for shim? I'm assuming it should be something rather non-compressible. Some people recommend ordinary cardboard, but I'm not sure about it.

    Found a couple of threads about the shim materials, looks like business cards get lots of love.
  9. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I see two problems in the photo.

    First, it looks like the strings are flat wound and going through the body. This is not recommended by most makers of flat wound strings.

    Second, there is a really bad case of lack of witness point at the bridge. If that were corrected the E string would intonate with the saddle more forward than it currently is. And it would lower the strings significantly. But I wouldn't try to set the witness point until you have restrung through the bridge instead of through the body.

    Concerning the original post, it is a classic case for shimming the neck. And as was pointed out, it's reversible if you decide to go back. No so when grinding a bridge.
  10. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    ^ this. That arc over the saddles is what is goofing with the intonation being so far back. If you set witness, you'll be able to make that string fret out I bet.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Shim the neck.
  12. Shim. At least try it- it's cheap, easy and reversible if it doesn't work as advertised.
  13. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Witness before shim. ;)
  14. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    deviated prevert
    For shim material, I have seen (and used) many business cards over the years. I have seen one thickness used, up to 3 or 4.
    I have also seen gift card, credit card, and even a piece of circuit board.

    Whatever works.
  15. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Personally, I don't like to shim - in fact, I never do it unless it is absolutely necessary... I definitely would not be changing that bridge out, though - IME/IMO, it's one of the best bridges ever made, and unless you go BAIII(which I wouldn't recommend), it will require a bit of "surgery" to swap out...

    Truthfully, grinding(filing) a little off the bottom of the saddle, or deepening it's groove is not a big deal - and the saddle can be replaced, if needed later on...

    BUT, I would straighten out that E string curvature before I did anything else... I would bet that top loading that E string, and setting a proper witness point will probably get you where you need to go...

    Can you get a low enough setting with your G string??? - if so, your problem is most certainly that curved E string...

    - georgestrings
  16. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Maybe - we don't know how low he's tuned, though - and I've had to set saddles pretty far back when setting up basses in tunings lower than standard, in order to properly intonate...

    - georgestrings
  17. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    Install this bridge. Smaller saddles, and you can install your strings top load.
  18. Witness points, yes- as well as redoing the whole setup; but I challenge the OP to try shimming and let.us know what happens. Slightly increasing the neck angle by shimming will increase the distance between bridge and nut- which should improve intonation in this case.
    This method has worked for me in similar circumstances
  19. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Shim, shim, yes, yes. Absolutely when needed and this may well be needed in this case. Agreed; all good.

    I'm a shimmer too. Don't get why some resist the notion and say things like it being a band aid. Nope. Totally legit.