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ultra low action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassist4ever, Mar 22, 2002.

  1. okay im trying to get my bass to ultra low action... ive got it down to less than1mm at 1st fret and about 2 at 20th i was thinking about raising the neck up and slipping a dime into the neck pocket to try to raise it up a little more?

    would that work or do i need to use somethign thats a little less damaging to wood?
  2. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    Id say put a pick in the neck pocket. You can choose exactly what size you want--it says right on the pick.
  3. Just remember that to get ultra low action usually requires a top quality fret dress from a really good luthier, even on a brand new bass, unless it's a boutique bass. Production line Fenders etc have fairly poor fret levelling straight out of the factory, even some so-called "handmades" like G&L.
    Also, why do you want ultra low action? To play at the speed of light? Bear in mind you will lose a lot of dynamic ability when you go too low. Most luthiers today consider a measurement of 1/16" under the G string, and 3/32" under the E and B, measured at the 12th fret with the string depressed at the 1st fret, to be a low action.
    I once played Jeff Berlin's Palaedium, and it was so low it was unplayable for me. I could not play it without getting heaps of fret rattle.
  4. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Low action? whats is this "Low action"? do some people have this???? I have maybe a bit to HIGH action. I can put my pinky in between the strings. What josh said about neck tilt is right on. exuast your other options first, if you havent.
  5. low action is where it takes very little effort to fret a note..... since you said you can put your pinky under the string i would suggest you go to a tech and have him/her look at it... you have too much relief in your neck and/or your bridge saddles are raised extremely high......

    at first fret i cant put my smallest allen wrench under the string.... which is like 1mm.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    While this may be true in general, there are quite a few exceptions. For example, for anyone schooled in the Gary Willis method, low action is the norm. Gary's Ibanez with the ramp has very little clearance between the string and the pickup but I don't hear Gary's playing to be limited dynamically. The same is true with Matt Garrison, who sounds huge live.

    It takes practice.
  7. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Maybe i should have said i SET my bass this way.
  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    "Maybe i should have said i SET my bass this way."

    I just measured the thickness of my pinky and it's about 1/2".

    How in the world do you play with this high an action? Better still, why would anyone choose to do so?

    The intonation has to be completely out because of string stretch when you fret it. Not to mention the lateral strain that is being put on the neck.

    I would consider your string heighth to be too high on a double bass, much less a BG.

    To each his own, I suppose. :)
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I always liked really low action, I like the sound you get when you dig in with really low action - that popping like sound - I also like the dynamic of effect of having the action a little bit higher. As with most things I want the best of both worlds. My solution - I have fairly low action on my main bass (but not ridiculously low), and I have heavier strings and a little higher action on my other basses. Practice with my other basses tricks me into thinking I have insanely low action on my MM (my main bass) cuz I'm stupid when it comes that kind of stuff.

    I'd be real hesitant to start wedging things into my bass to make the action really low. With super super low action you have to barely touch touch the strings with yer plucking hand - and that's no fun. In the house it may be fine but when ya hit a stage with any kind of adrenaline going, if you're anthing thing like me - it'll be nothin but clackity clack city.
  10. MatW


    May 10, 2000
    UK, Swindon

    Joe made a good point there. Sometimes when I play my bass after I've left it for a few weeks, or after playing another bass with a very low action/slick set up, my bass feels like it's got the highest action in the world. On the other hand after a good practise session and you're flying all over the fretboard I think, 'This bass has a great action'. The point is that you can't always trust your first instinct.

    In the end, I paid for a professional setup and haven't made any serious changes since. I know the setup is okay, so if the action feels high then it's because I need to practise more.

    Obviously, it's down to taste but I wouldn't go overboard on getting the lowest possible action. Technique has a huge part to play just as much as fret jobs, etc.
  11. HEHEHE.....i sent my spector to gary brawer because i ****ed the neck up...it was really bent outof shape...horrible high action and it buzzed like crazy...i am having PLEK done on it...its going to be sweet! lowest possible action without fret buzz YAY!
  12. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  13. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    If you have the bass set up to get action of roughly 2 millimeters (that's barely 1/16") at the 20th fret, I would say that you already have it "ultra low." It has to less than that at the 12th fret.

    In fact I have never seen a fretted bass with action any lower than that. Especially a bolt-on wood neck.

    You have to allow enough room for the string vibrate. You already must have a very light touch along with outstanding fret work to be able to play the bass like it is.

    While Washburns are good instruments, I would wager that the wood necks are nowhere near stable enough to hold the action you currently have. If it doesn't buzz now, give it a while. All you need is a temperature or humidity change and it will either be buzzing or higher than it is now.

    Anything lower than that would be overkill.

    But FWIW, the adjustments that you are considering would take a much more precise shim job than simply sticking a pick under the neck. If you do that, you are going to upset the balance of what you now have and may not be able to get it as low as you currently have it. Action that low requires everything to be perfect. You may have stumbled upon a great thing. Don't screw it up.

  14. humm...i had it down that low and then the next day had to raise it like.05mm and it was fine...

    washburn makes good instruments cept i SWEAR that i have a low/high fret with high being the most probably at the 10th fret.... the guys at my local store are just players and dont really have the tools to file frets.....
  15. The action on my P is pretty low.Stupid question here,what is the best way to measure your action to find out how low/high it is?I am thinking ....feeler guage?Like what one would use to set the gap on a spark plug(remember doing your own tune-ups,kids?
    :D ).

    All I know is that every other bass I have played or looked at has had a much higher action than my p.
    I find it makes slapping a bit more difficult though.
  16. i just found mine and measured at first fret... right above the fret i have a height of .66mm...
    i think that is considered ultra low... but if i play hard i get buzz way up on the neck like above 12 fret so my board aint flat enough yet.
  17. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    I think it is easy for one for to get too obsessed with low action or some other playability factor. For 95% out there meduim-low action is going to be sufficient enough to pull off any technique, provided one has practiced it enough.

    Besides, low/mid/high action seems pretty relative, no?
  18. Makatak


    Apr 13, 2002
    New Zealand
    hey man ,
    are you talking about unscrewing your neck , and putting a coin under it ??? , im shuddering .
    you should almost be able to get your strings to sit on the neck if you have your bridge [ saddles] at its lowest adjustment , remember a low action feels great but you may have to go to a light set of strings , 40 to 95 or 100 should work , any difference in fret height might give you buzz if your neck hasent got enough relief , id say slip your local guitar guru a few beers and get him to do it PROPERLY ! , you wont know yourself , good luck:cool:
  19. ultra low???

    what? you want to sound like fieldy or something with that annoying metal sound? Kids
  20. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    I checked and my jazz bass is 5/64" at fret 12 to the bottom of the E and A and 1/16" for the D and G. Slightly lower on my 4001 and slightly higher on my precision.

    I'd consider this pretty low action. I can make them all rattle somewhere on the fingerboard if I dig hard enough.

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