Uneven String height no matter what I do...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Peeved T-40, Mar 17, 2021.

  1. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    Basically, the strings are far too close to the firs fret which means I have to keep the bridge high to keep it from buzzing as much as possible so the strings are much higher off of the last fret than the first. If I bring it down to have an even height, it's buzz city and not in a growly bass kind of way.

    I've toyed around with the truss rod but I really don't thin that's my problem. The neck is flat.

    I actually put a slight bow in the neck to bring the string away from the first fret a but which does help but that means there's uneven string height in the middle of the neck now.

    What do I do?
  2. legalbass


    Jul 2, 2020
    Well, a couple things: first, the overwhelming majority of bass players will dial in some forward bow or "relief" with the neck; very, very few play with a dead flat neck with no relief. Second, it is normal for the clearance of the bottom of the strings and the top of the frets to increase from the first fret to the last fret on the fretboard.

    That said, there could be something going on giving you insufficient clearance of the open strings over the first fret. Nut slots filed too low, for example.

    Could you snap some pics and show us the situation at the nut and first fret?
    sissy kathy likes this.
  3. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Do you have any measurements?

    It sounds like the nut slots may be too low. But other issues can make it seem that way. A quick check is to depress the string between the 2nd and 3rd frets and observe the gap between the string and the 1st fret. What do you see when you do that?

    - John
  4. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    Pics of the nut/first fret and 7th fret

    Attached Files:

  5. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    I don't have any measurements. What am I looking for when I press down between the 2nd and 3rd frets?
  6. RedJag


    Mar 2, 2016
    San Jose, CA
    If you’re getting buzz at the first fret, either the fret is too high or the nut is too low. I’d recommend bringing it to a tech who can fix it up.
    mexicant likes this.
  7. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    It actually needs to be taken to a tech for a multitude of reasons and I'm having nightmares about the bill...
  8. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    With the string pressed down, observe the space between the top of the first fret and the bottom of the string. There should be the slightest gap.

    Those pictures do not tell a good story. It needs help.
    legalbass likes this.
  9. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    Yeah, there's pretty much no gap at all when you do that
    legalbass likes this.
  10. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Even a hair can be enough. If the string actually touches the 1st fret, that likely won't work.

    On my basses, there's just the slightest hair of a gap. I'm just trying to help you assess if the nut slot depth is an issue.
    legalbass likes this.
  11. legalbass


    Jul 2, 2020
    I'm sorry but your best bet is to bring this bass to a guitar technician to properly diagnose and remedy. The string clearance over the frets in those photos looks like a fairly high action to me and if that is what you have to do in order to avoid the open strings buzzing out at the first fret, I'm willing to bet that there isn't much you can do on your own to resolve this. Yes, there will be an invoice involved but, if it gets your bass playing the way you need it to, won't it be worth it?
    JKos likes this.
  12. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    There's a subtle relationship between nut depth, relief ('bow'), and your adjusted height over the last fret that will adjust out to a well-playing bass. You're just taking wild swings at what needs to be done, without knowing what you don't know. It could buzz on the first fret from a bum nut, too much truss rod, any number of things.

    You may be sweating the bill from a professional repairman, but what's worse? A bass you can't play, or money well-spent to have it adjusted properly ? Besides, it may only involve reeling back in the changes you've made.

    I'd urge you to spend that money with a real professional repairman, NOT some guy's 'brother-in-law that works on geetars once in a while'. It may well be less than you think.
    JKos and legalbass like this.
  13. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    It touches the first fret when I do that. In fact, It touches the first fret even when I press down at the 9th
  14. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    Dude, I'm not an idiot so don't talk to me like one. If I take it to a tech, he's not going to just "un-do the adjustments I made". I made the adjustments because the thing NEVER played right. I didn't just screw it up because I felt like randomly shaging with it for no reason. It was shaged up to begin with. But maybe you're right. Maybe I should be terrified to try and fix it on my own. Adjusting the truss rod might make it burst into flame! And after all, why should I even bother learning how to set up my own instrument? Don't worry though, I'm sure that guys brother in law will take good care of it.
    bobdabilder likes this.
  15. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    There's nothing better than learning to fix it yourself.

    I meant no disrespect.

    We often see these types of questions here, and frankly, it's impossible to diagnose these things remotely. It sounded as if you had not found the reason for the question yet, so I suggested a qualified pro. We've all been there right where you're at. I routinely turned a bass or two into a plank until I studied up on adjustments a little, then I got it. You can too. Get the right repairman, and he may be willing to teach you a lot.

    Otherwise there's lots of online resources, many often posted here in TB. Here's Fender's method for their basses, but the general process and most of the quoted dimensions work on most basses:

    How do I set up my bass guitar properly? – Fender

    A little knowledge, and a longer fuse, goes a long way.

    Best of Luck,

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  16. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Yup, that's a clear case of too much truss rod.

    I hate when that happens, why can't they just cut it the right length them brother in laws to guys.

    But I guess that's what happens when your sister marries the wrong husband.

    Proper ones don't grow on trees these days.

    If everyone was just a master luthier we wouldn't have this sort of problem, personally I blame society.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
    Slater and legalbass like this.
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    @J Wilson gave you some things to think about. His post was not disrespectful. You need to relax.

    Fear of the unknown makes most people just stop and do nothing. Here's the simplest way to find out whether or not the bill for your setup will be high. Take it to the dang tech. Ask the tech how much it will be to fix the bass. Simple as that.

    Once you get one proper setup done, then you can spend some time reading amd/or watching videos on how to fine tune your bass to your liking. Setups are harder than they appear at first. It takes experience to become proficient at it. You'll have that experience at some point.

    Nobody spoke to you like an idiot. Everyone is trying to help, including me.
  18. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Bring it by my house for a second opinion...for free. Too far of a drive? No problem...maybe there's a fellow TBer in your area who will do the same.

    Virginia Beach...4th house on the left.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  19. mexicant


    Aug 28, 2012
    Mid Michigan,USA
    Try an experiment, put a small piece of paper between the nut and string,if your problem is gone then your nut slot is to deep. If it is your nut,I have used baking soda and crazy glue to build the nut slot up. Or you can buy a new one. Good luck!
  20. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    They are supposed to be higher off the last fret than the first. They shouldn't be the same height.
    legalbass likes this.