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which basses have low action by default?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ericmknight1906, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. When I shop for a bass my main concern is playability. I've purchased thousands of dollars of basses over the past 10 years and indeed, have wasted thousands of dollars searching for that right feel. In 2011, I'm still struggling. I am looking for a 5 string bass that was meant to have stupid low action. I understand that bass action can be adjusted on all basses. But, i believe with some basses, you won't have to work as hard. When I say low action, I'm talking about Victor Wooten type low.

    I'm looking to spend between $0-$1000.
    and the name brand doesn't matter.

  2. Morkolo


    Aug 11, 2003
    I'm not sure if it's what you're looking for but I've always found Ibanez to come pretty low out of the box with plenty of room to come down more.
  3. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    I've played newer Fenders that had low action, actually. Never used to find that on stuff hanging on a wall in a store before last year...

    Rics, if you find a good one, get the benefit of crazy low action.
  4. +1 Ibanez, the SR700 series.
  5. It'll vary from bass to bass.

    Large production companies aren't going to have the instruments going out the door perfectly setup for you (some people will play harder and want a higher action, for instance). Getting a bass, off the wall, with the action you want, will be down to luck more than anything else.

    Find a bass you like and get it professionally setup, find someone locally who knows what they are doing, tell them what you want and you should be fine.
  6. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    As far as manufacturers who make basses with low action in mind. Id say jackson & BC Rich are two of the best. Ibanez is good to. Diff not fender. You gotta ussually shim them even for medium low action. Lol.
  7. A Peavey Cirrus is what you are looking for. Most other basses require a fret level, nut adjustment, and proper setup to get really low.

    I play the lowest action basses out of anyone I know and the Peavey is the only bass I've encountered that can do it without me working on it. Although my G&L came pretty close.
  8. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    +1 on Peavey Cirrus though I've had really good luck with G&L and Lakland.
  9. Anything off the rack from The Musician's Den in Evansville, IN. Tim sets up everything before it hits the sales floor, no extra charge. Last time I was in there, he had a used MIM Jazz that played better than any other Fender I've ever touched....$399 with hardshell case.

    As far as stock/new/budget items go, check out CV & VM Squiers and also Peavey Cirrus BXP. Some are better than others, of course, but both have a pretty high percentage of "keepers." If all else fails, get a fretless and re-string it with light-gauge Fender tapewounds :)
  10. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    My Spector Euro gets crazy low action, far lower than any bass I've owned.
  11. +1 to the Ibanez SR series as well as the Peavey Cirrus. They're TOTALLY different basses, but in this department they're both excellent.
  12. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    This is a ridiculous conversation, with lots of bad info floating around. Here's your definitive answer: NONE OF THEM. Not a single company will offer an instrument that is perfectly set up out of the box. NOT ONE.

    Think about it: these instruments are being made in the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, EVERY DAY. Fender gives their techs less than 20 minutes to set up a guitar before it gets packed up in the box. There's absolutely no way that they're concerned about quality to a level that you, as the musician playing it, will care about. For an instrument to really play well, it needs to be set up to rather exacting tolerances: down to about a thousandth of an inch or so. These giant companies simply can't afford to concern themselves with this - they get it "good enough" and then shove them out the door. It's laughable to suggest otherwise.

    Also, I would say that it's incredibly rare that any instrument maker produces a guitar or bass that doesn't need a fret level. Frets need to be exactly dead level with each other, otherwise it's simply not going to play super clean with a low action. Your Fender, Gibson, Peavey, etc., all have their frets installed without glue, by a giant hydraulic press that mashes them all in at once, without any concern or inconsistencies in the neck/fretboard. Most companies don't do any fret leveling after they've been installed, and those that do, just use a PLEK machine, which at the factory level isn't perfect either. The notion that any sizable factory is putting out perfect instruments is patently absurd.

    A really good professional tech can make your instrument 10x better, especially with quality fretwork. Sure, you can get somewhat decent results on your own if you own a few hundred dollars worth of tools and the practice and patience to learn how to do it right. But don't ever expect your instrument to be completely perfect right out of the box. If you get lucky, rejoice. If you're like 99% of other instrument buyers, get some fretwork/setup work done, and you'll be a lot happier.
  13. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    What Ben said. I don't think there's anything else to say, as that's the truth. And he said much better than I could and would have. :)
  14. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    This. Definitely this.
  15. Lee H

    Lee H

    Nov 30, 2011
    Redding CA
    this is a question I have never even considered. I am so anal about setting up my gear, I would never even think about an original setting being correct. I hate to admit it, but I am almost OCD about my setups. I am not kidding, I recheck each one after the weather changes, each time

    Oh well, there are a lot worse things I could be obsessive about:rolleyes:
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    While I'm sure he can speak for himself, I don't think the OP is talking about out of the box action. I think he just mean a bass that's built with the intent of having the lowest action imaginable.
  17. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I would suggest finding a bass with a neck that feels comfortable, then have it set up to your liking. That being said, Lakland (Skyline) and MusicMan seems to have the best fret work that I have seen out of the box, at least in your price range, which would lend itself to lower action without a fret dressing.
  18. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    The OP didn't ask "which instruments come set up perfectly from the factory".... he asked "which ones have low action by default". These are two different things. A bass can absolutely have low action and not be set up perfectly .... just like you can set a bass up perfectly and have high action. Typically speaking, some manufacturers have their techs set up within a tolerance of a specific action height. No, that doesn't mean the instrument is perfectly set up.... but it does mean that a company like Peavey or Ibanez is far more likely to have lower action "out of the box" than a Rickenbacker, simply because the quick and dirty setups they do at the factory are designed that way. With you, I agree 100% that getting a proper setup, even on a new instrument, is gonna increase the enjoyment for the instruments owner.

    However, to answer the OP's question... a few have been mentioned, but also look at the radius specs on the fingerboard ...the larger the radius, the flatter the fingerboard, and the more likely it is to be able to have lower action and not fret out while bending notes. Companies with larger radius fingerboards also "typically" will set up their instruments to a lower height before leaving the factory.

    But yeah... like Benjamin says, I would certainly include extra money in your budget for a proper fret leveling and and setup after the instruments purchase if low action is a primary concern.
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles

    For the most part I agree with most all of the above. The exception to all of this is the Carvin Bromberg bass.

    I like my action low, with as little buzz as possible. Two of the three Bromberg basses I've played came from the factory playing like sports cars. They just begged to be played up to the 24th fret. The third bass just needed a slight turn of the truss rod. (new bass)
    I believe you can request a low action setup from Carvin. For playability out of the box, the Carvin B25 is about as good as I've seen, especially at the price point.
  20. Ben, so are you saying that Very low action can be accomplished on any bass with the right setup and that there are no basses that are designed for the low action player in mind?

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