What's wrong with me!?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bryan bailey, Jun 28, 2003.

  1. No matter how hard I try I cannot dial in a low action non-buzzing setup on any of my basses. What am I doing wrong? Am just overshooting truss rod adjustments. Am I just playing too hard, or inaccurate? What could be wrong?
  2. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler Guest

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    I'm not sure about the Alvalerz (sp) you have, but the rest of your stuff probably wasn't built well enough to take a low setup. It could be uneven frets, a nut that is cut too low, or, of course, it could really be you. But generally speaking, Squiers can't take a low setup.
  3. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    I'm not trying to be a smart *** but the problem could be that you really don't have a firm grasp on the set up procedure.

    You ask if you may be overshooting the TR adjustments. If you don't know how to diagnose a misadjusted TR, it is very unlikely that you will get it properly adjusted. Same with high frets, nut and bridge.

    The adjustment that needs to be made can always be determined by where the buzz is located on the neck. The WORST thing that one can ever do in setting up a bass is to make any adjustment just to see if it may correct a problem. Changing the bridge height will mask some of the problems caused by neck tilt/angle adjustment but one ends up with two misadjustments instead of one. Add a little relief to the neck "just to see if it helps" and all of a sudden there are three problems and it's getting real dicey trying to diagnose where the prob really lies.

    My suggestion is to start again at yard one with your set up and very systematically do it in the following order: Relief, bridge height, intonation and pup height. A quick search will turn up the instructions for each of these adjustments, but if you run into a specific prob, just ask and we'll walk you through it.

    Good luck and above all, be patient.

  4. My TBC was hand made in America, so :spit: :rolleyes:
  5. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Why can't a Squier, or any other assembly line bass, be set up with a low action? The physics of set up applies to all basses, boutique or mass produced.

    Not meaning to be argumentative but I would like to know what you base your statement on.

    In my opinion, a Squier can be a great instrument for the money. Only, however, if you are willing to make all the little adjustments that weren't made at the factory.

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    From experience, I do feel that some basses I have played, just could not be set up with a low action.

    I think the classic case is Paul McCartney's Hofner - it is quite well-documented how it wouldn't intonate above about the 7th/8th frets and always had a high action for most of the fretboard.

    Whereas, other high-end bases I've played, with wide flat and straight necks, were almost impossible not to set up with very low action! ;)
  7. PICK

    PICK Guest

    Jan 27, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    I agree with this statement. Some basses, expensive or otherwise, simply can't be set up with super low action.
  8. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Intonation and low action are two entirely different things. If the fret spacing is not correct on any fretted instrument it wont intonate properly. I've seen many, many Squiers, Washburns, Ibanezes Peaveys etc. that had no intonation problems.

    I have to wonder if the instruments that you've played that had high action and couldn't be adjusted to a low action had went through the same initial high quality set up that a high end bass recieves before it leaves the factory. I seriously doubt it.

    If a bass has a faulty neck, whether high end or low end, It may not adjust properly. The cheapest Squier in the world comes with a warrantee! If a new Squier wont adjust to a low action because of a faulty neck, the neck can be replaced at no cost if a warrantee claim is made.

    There are several things that can cause a bass to not adjust (action wise) properly. The main things are fret problems and neck relief. Had the basses that you played had the frets leveled and crowned? Had the nut been precisely fitted?

    I know that you are a proponent of a straight board. Were the instruments that you describe as being faulty set up normally or with a dead straight neck?

    A sound neck with a good, accurate fret job and a proper relief profile will adjust well, regardless of the brand name or price range. It's not a matter of price range, it's a matter of physics- plain and simple. :)

  9. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    How low are you going. One mans low action is anothers "strings on fretboard" action. If you try to make the action too low on any bass, it's gonna buzz depending on how you attack the strings, how much relief is on the neck, etc.
  10. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    physics? plus geometry? quality of construction? amount of attention paid at the factory? how low is low? This thread seems to have raised as many questions as it's answered. I thought I may as well add on.

    I'd like to go back to something pkr2 said, and I hope it's true:

    "The adjustment that needs to be made can always be determined by where the buzz is located on the neck."

    Could you expand on this a bit? I know buzzing on only the open string is a nut that's too low, but what about buzzing at frets 2-5? 7-9? above the octave? What's the practical difference between 0.005" and 0.015" relief?

    My "method" (just for relief and saddle height, let's steer away from intonation/pu height/nut slots for this) has been to experiment between no releif and about 0.020", then saddle height adjustment based on getting no buzz for as hard as I intend to play. I've generally ended up with a somewhat medium low action as a result, releif around 0.007" for fretless and 0.013" for fretted. But what are the "rules of thumb," especially for what to do based on where the buzzing happens (which for me seems to always fall around frets 5-8 on the E-D strings, above the octave on the G string).

    Thanks folks.
  11. Without adding anything to the discussion here, I would like to second Pkr2 and his advice. Without fail, his "back to basics" approach is the proper way to look at this problem and it will yield improved results EVERY time.

    We should always keep in mind that a setup (whatever it entails) will be as different for each bass as there are basses that are different. A bass that "can't be set-up" will fall into 1 of 2 categories IMO: (1) There hasn't been enough time spent in attention to details to make sure the instrument is correct. or (2) 1 or more components of the instruments is faulty to the point that no adjustment will help.

    There are far fewer instruments falling into the second category than the first.
  12. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    :) Yep! Plus mathematics, acoustics, mechanics and biology. That's what makes it fascinating to me.

    The rule of thumb that I follow is to adjust the part of the bass that is physically located closest to the buzz. your diagnosis of a faulty nut is not only correct, but notice that it's the closest adjustment to the first fret.

    A bridge that is too low will buzz from about the octave to the end of the fingerboard. Again the correct adjustment is the one closest to the problem.

    Keep in mind that rules of thumb should be used with a grain of common sense. Don't go ruining a truss rod just because a rule of thumb says less relief is needed. Things like a bending truss rod , a dual action or a dual truss rod neck don't follow the rules though.

    "but what about buzzing at frets 2-5? 7-9? above the octave?"

    2-5 buzz= add relief. 7-9 will not buzz if 2-6 & 10 to end of finger board do not buzz. If it does, it indicates high fret(s). Buzzing at the octave and higher indicates a low bridge.

    Each adjustment has a slight bearing on all the other adjustments. You can't go through a step by step set up and nail it the first time through. Each time you repeat the process the action further improves.

    As to the meaurements (.005 - .015) and the practicality of those measurements, YMMV but I don't ever use a feeler guage to set up a bass unless I am setting one up to customer specs. The correct relief is attained when the buzz just disappears on frets 1 - 5. It doesn't really matter what the measurement is.

    Sorry to be so long winded.

  13. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Great stuff, just what i was looking for, thanks again pkr2!

    (Of course I now have to re-do the setups for five basses... but this kind of info will take away some of the voodoo.)
  14. lonote49

    lonote49 Guest

    Jun 29, 2002
    Cottage Grove, MN
    That was a great post, pkr2. When you think about it, it's all common sense. I am still learning (at age 54) but this kind of information is just what I need. Thanks!
  15. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler Guest

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    I am base my statement on how a squier would be more likely to have a less time spent of leveling the frets, would could be something that prevent low action. I am not saying squiers can't be good, I am just saying that they are more likely to have problems with things like action, IMO.
  16. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    The statement that your post actually makes is that "generally speaking, Squiers can't be set up with a low action".

    That's the way that I understood what you posted and apparently the original poster read it the same way, 'cause he didn't seem real happy with your response. :)

  17. geezer316

    geezer316 Guest

    Jan 26, 2003
    Like so many people said before me,it could be one of many problems or a combination of a few or many.My bass is perfect for me,the action is low ETC,but when my buddy plays it it buzzez's terribly.So it can be a technique issue,or maybe something else entirely.I myself also own a Squier jazz bass,its plays great far better than many Squiers i have encountered,But it does'nt go as low as my higher end fender basses.I did everything possible to get it perfect,such as set-up's,trying different strings,truss rod tweaking ETC.The bottom line is it will never get as good as I like like my basses to be,so i am now going to get a new neck and go from there.Have you tried frett-leveling ? did you ever bring it to a liscensed bass tech or luthier ?.It can be a pain and such but try to get is as good as possible,if you cant get used to it and accept it for what it is(a low end bass)then go drop a 1000.00$ give or take and buy a bass that can reach your goals.:cool: