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Uh oh, Hondo

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by New2bass2, May 10, 2017.

  1. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    So I got a new bass today for $40.00 worth of old Tonka toys that were rusted and taking up space . It's a Hondo H-815-bl , nice little bass but the action is very high to me . I'm new to bass and I was looking for a cheap beach companion to pluck around with without worrying about anything. To me for now I just have been playing without amp , i figure when I can do something more than "smoke over water" I'll plug in to hear me do better .
    Ok, so I took the neck off and put 2 Buisness cards as shims in it and it didn't really do anything , maybe I should have used playing cards but Buisness cards were on hand . Anyway the neck seems strait , i cranked down on the tress rod and still way to high for me . I know it's a very cheap bass but I could be willing to get it professionally adjusted but will anything work to get the action lower .. the neck is sweet looking and feeling to me and I like the very short size .. enclosed pictures hoping someone knows a way to shim a cheap old toy ..

    Attached Files:

    PortlandBass77 likes this.
  2. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    This was fun , remind me to come back
  3. What about the bridge saddles? Are they as low as they will go? If so, then you will need to shim the neck properly. Specifically you only need to shim the rear half of the neck pocket in order to provide some tilt to it. It wasn't clear to me how you shimmed it. If you shim the entire neck pocket you will simply raise the neck straight up but it won't affect your string height nearly as much as tilting the neck.

    Also, when you sight down the neck, how much bow (neck curvature) do you see? It should only have a very slight bow, if any.
    Tbone76, DevinWard369 and Wfrance3 like this.
  4. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    Yes, I did forget to mention the bridge saddles, the 1st thing I did was lower them all the way down , as for the neck I have a really hard time telling what it's doing , just my prospective is off of how and what I'm supposed to be looking at or for , maybe my depth presumption or I haven't developed a bassist eye . I want to say if anything it has a dip in it around the 6 fret to the 12th fret , but again I'm really not so sure , left to right the spacing of the string on the neck look even enough ..
    I did put 2 waxed Buisness cards under the whole neck , i was just hoping to raise the neck closer to the strings , it was worth a shot .. in the pictures I have a tape measure on the neck and it reads 5/8 Ish , is that very high action ?
  5. 5/8" is way too high. First thing to do is get that dip (bow) down to a minimum by tightening (clockwise) the truss rod. Be sure to loosen the strings first and lay the guitar across your thighs while seated so that you can help push the neck with your weak hand while tightening the truss rod with your strong hand. This will minimize the chance of stripping the threads on the truss rod.

    Use 1/4 turn increments and allow at least an hour (some say overnight) between 1/4 turn increments. This will also be a good test to determine whether or not the truss rod is still working.

    If adjusting the truss rod takes the bow out then you must evaluate the string height. If it's still too high then a shim in the rear portion of the neck part only is in order. Usually the thickness of one business card is enough but two could be required in extreme cases, and the axe should become playable at this point. It would not be uncommon to find that you then have to raise the bridge saddles to keep the strings off the frets.

    Two caveats...If the truss rod bottoms out and freezes before the neck straightens out then it is possible in most basses to install a shim washer to allow more adjustment. On the other hand, if the threads in the truss rod are stripped then you'll have to question whether or not to even continue. It will likely cost considerably more than $40 to repair and you can buy some nice used Squier basses for as low as $50 or $60.

    The above instructions is where you should start, IMHO. I'm not a Luthier but there are several good ones on the site here. I will defer to their expertise should they choose to chime in.

    You might also want to post your questions in the Hardware, Setup, and Repair section as the more expert repair people tend to hang out there.
  6. Put a clothes peg or something similar on the E string 1st fret, put your finger on the last fret then cast your eye down the neck. The string will be straight so any neck bow will be clearly seen.This will let you know if the relief needs adjusted. The action makes no difference at this point so get the relief right and move on to step two :thumbsup:

    Hold down the E string 3rd fret,try and slip a business card between the string and 1st fret.If there's plenty of space you need to file a small amount out of the nut. Do this for each string and only do tiny amounts of filing.You just want the business card to slip under the string. Then step 3

    Check the saddles. Here you can use the pickup height as a rough guide, you don't want string too near the pickup or you'll lose volume.

    @Olde Axeman must be a faster typist than me :D His advice is solid, between our two posts you should get a good set up.
    Tbone76 likes this.
  7. Still chunkin' along at 55 WPM. Keyboarding skills may well be the best thing I ever got out of high school, some 50 years ago...

    I can't tell from your photos what kind of truss rod you have. If it requires an Allen (hex key) wrench then make sure you get the correct metric size. Using the closest size U.S./Imperial hex key is not a good idea at all. If you wallow out the hex socket then you've injected a whole 'nuther element of frustration.
    kodiakblair likes this.
  8. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    I understand completely, olde Axeman . And thank you Sir for offering me assistance.
    At this time I'm not sure I want to file anything , kodiakblair. But I will look back at a later time if that is the way of achieving low action for this bass . Thank you as well . This morning im going to tear it all the way down and clean some salt spot on the pickup screws , bridge , ect .. the thing is I didn't notice the bow at first intill I tightened the truss rod , and if I tighten it and I did it should have bent backwards some , atleast that's how I'm thinking that works . So after I tear it apart and clean it im going to loosen the truss rod again and shim the neck and then go from there . I'm guessing I traded rust for firewood but if I can lower the action any it still could be my beach beat around bass as I had planned . I'm kinda thinking to break down and buy me a fender ; )
  9. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    I really hope the hex wrench I have is the correct size and make , i will double check that right away .. just took more pics , hard to see the bow

    Attached Files:

  10. Andyman001

    Andyman001 moderation must be taken with a grain of salt

    Feb 11, 2010
    S/E Idaho
    Where you at? If you are close to So Cal, I'd be glad help you to get it playable.
    Tbone76 likes this.
  11. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Fret at first fret and at fret where neck and body meet. The highest clearance in the middle should be about a business card thickness. Adjust with trussrod. Do this before any other adjustments.
    kodiakblair, mngnt and cdlynch like this.
  12. Yes, you have the idea of the truss rod. Tightening it (clockwise) should force the neck backwards, reducing or eliminating the bow. If you think you've bottomed out and it needs to go tighter still then you'll need to get a truss rod washer/spacer for the nut.

    While you've got the neck off, see if you can easily and completely remove the truss rod nut (not the entire truss rod) and put a dab of grease or even vaseline on it. It will make the effort required to turn that nut sooooo much easier. It's a common practice.
  13. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    My names Andy to , ty brother im in N.C.
  14. New2bass2


    Apr 15, 2017
    Thank you , everyone ..
  15. Lug nailed this, but it's possible that your amount of relief might need to be higher than a business card. My basses are more like 1/8" in the center of the fretted positions. That judgement will depend on fret buzz when everything else is set correctly. Start with a small gap and work your way up if you need to, but not far. Remember, truss rod adjustments are ONLY for neck relief, NEVER for the action. Once the relief is set, everything else must be done with shims and saddles.

    If you jam cards of any kind in the neck pocket to create an angle, you run the risk of causing a ski jump at the body from having a gap in the pocket, which is certain to bum you out. Avoid that mess with angled shims. Start small!
  16. From the last pic, in the first set, I can see you have considerble bowing.
    If you are going to have the neck off anyway, that would be a good time to
    lube the trussrod nut, maybe add a washer under it and SLOWLY crank
    it until the neck is very slightly back bowed.
    When I say slowly, I mean like 1/4 turn, eat lunch, another 1/4 turn go to the grocercy store,
    another, then mow the yard, etc. :laugh:
    Don't worry, the string tension should pull it straight again.
    If you get it straight when it's off, then try it with two cards
    under just the end of the neck pocket closest to the bridge.
    Don't start filing until you have the neck worked out.
    That is harder to undo. ;)
    As long as the truss rod hasn't stripped or the neck twisted, there is a real chance
    of getting it worked out. :D
    That neck didn't get it's bow overnight and it needs some time to correct.
    It may even move some after a day or two when you think you re finished.
  17. Mo cowbell

    Mo cowbell Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2017
    This has nothing to do with your bass but rather Smoke On the Water.... I was listening to Roger Glover playing on Machine Head yesterday .....I was one of those guys who didn't listen to Deep Purple growing up....anyway, I was thinking how Smoke On the Water played like Glover played it wasn't as easy as I thought!
  18. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    2 things i have not seen mentioned...when adjusting the truss rod, i apply back pressure to the neck in the direction i want it to go. in other words, don't rely solely on the pressure of the truss rod to move the neck bow into place; rather, move the neck bow into position manually as much as possible and then tighten the truss rod to hold it there. check 'ADJUSTING A RICKENBACKER TRUSS ROD' here: Rickenbacker Truss Rod Adjustment

    also, i would recommend setting it up with lighter gauge strings and perhaps tuned down a half step or whole step just to see if it becomes reasonably playable before ditching it entirely.
    Tbone76 and msiner like this.
  19. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Not a guitar tech by any means, but:
    Do you know that you have a working truss rod? You might be adjusting, nothing...
    Also, if a shim is warranted, cardstock seems like pretty compressible stuff. You might have better luck with some super thin wood veneer material.
    You should be able to look up specs on your neck that tell you the distance the strings should be from the frets at given places on the neck I'd start there. Get it in stock spec and set your intonation. Once you have it where it should be, then you might be able to "customize" it a little to fit your playing style, then set your intonation again and you should have a fine playing little bass there. If you like the idea of being able to setup your own instrument this looks like a good one to learn on. It's super sharp looking. My first real bass was blue!
  20. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I had a similar model Hondo strat. same issues. used a shim (a rather large shim) and it got the action down to a beautiful playable height. similar with many a fender guitar/bass.
    gregmon79 and kodiakblair like this.
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