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Why does my MM SR have more relief on the bass side of the neck?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Balkan, Feb 20, 2008.


  1. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Hi guys -

    After reading the materials on this board, I've tried to become more exacting with my setups using a feeler gauge, string action gauge etc. And what I've found is that my EBMM SR bass seems to have more relief on the bass side of the neck than the treble. Specifically, with the capo on the first fret and pressing down the highest fret I get about .010" from the 7th fret to the bottom of the E string, but only .006" on the G string. If anything I should think the measurement would come out the other way give that the E string is fatter.

    Is this problem?
     
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Can you tell when you play it?

    It might not be neck relief, strictly, but maybe that the frets were not levelled properly.
     
  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Shawn is correct. It could be some unevenness in the frets. It could also be that the fingerboard is not as level as it could be. It could also be an anomaly in the wood that it is stiffer on the treble side than the bass side.

    Quite frankly, if it were a neck with dual truss rods those measurements might be perfect. Think about it. The G string does not vibrate as widely as the E string. Therefore it can function with less relief.

    The question is: Does this condition cause any problems?

    If it does not make unexpected noises when it is being played all is right with the world.
     
  4. jrfrond

    jrfrond

    Jul 11, 2006
    NYC
    Tech Director, dBm Pro Audio Services, New York
    It's not the frets, it's a twist in the neck. This is the diagnosis when you have more relief on one side than the other. This is NOT necessarily a bad thing, and in this case, it's what I call a "good twist". You see, the thicker and lower-pitch the string is, the wider an arc is travels in when it vibrates, which is why bass and guitar setups have the bass side graduated up slightly from the treble side. In this case, the extra relief is already there, so you can probably set you action pretty low if you wanted to. The bottom line is that, if it isn't causing a problem, there is nothing to worry about.
     
  5. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks for all your responses which I am just reading now. It turns out that I actually have pretty much the same issue on my Fender P-Bass - both "good twists" as John terms them.

    So . . . my next question is what parameters should I use in setting the relief? All the guides I have read suggest a single measure for relief. E.g., should I use the factory specs for the E-string and let the rest fall where it may?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  6. I measure relief the same way on all my basses: Not unlike the original poster, capo on the first fret, press the string on the last fret (or sometimes where the neck meets the body, depending on the instrument), and I measure under the eighth fret with an old Fender Thin guitar pick I use as a feeler gauge (which I think is about .017" or thereabouts).

    I've never seen an instrument that was the same on both sides of the fretboard, so I usually set with emphasis on the treble (G string) side, and let the low side fall where it may, as I know the gap will always be greater. Just my $.02.
     
  7. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks and very interesting. So you use the G-string at the benchmark? Some of the above posters seem to be suggesting that the G-string can actually make do with lower than normal relief, which is what suggested to me that maybe I should focus on the E-string.
     
  8. Well, relief at the E (or B) in my experience will always be proportionately greater than the G string side. If I adjust for a given relief on the E string side, I may likely find not enough relief on the G string side, and even though the skinny strings don't need as much room to vibrate, they need some room, at least with my playing technique. And I'm aware that many, if not most, manufacturers recommend gauging from the fat string side. I just found my own way with it, and it's become routine for me.
     
  9. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    No such thing as a good twist, IMO. Just means you have a bad piece of wood.
     
  10. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks - I wasn't aware that most recommend measuring on the fat side - so that's what I'll do for now, and I'll keep your method in mind if it doesn't work out for me!

    - Thanks!
     
  11. jrfrond

    jrfrond

    Jul 11, 2006
    NYC
    Tech Director, dBm Pro Audio Services, New York
    Not necessarily. Things happen to wood under tension. There are MANY fine guitars out there with slight twists. It's what sometimes happens as wood stabilizes. Square truss rod channels and dual truss rods can help, but these are design issues. Most guitars have a single, round truss rod, and the wood will just twist around it. Here again, if it doesn't affect the instrument, it's not a bad thing. In more extreme cases, it can be corrected by judicious fret leveling or fingerboard planing.

    Wood is THE BEST material for musical instruments, but also highly imperfect. It is what it is, and we shouldn't get crazy about minor flaws.
     
  12. 0.004" difference from the E to the G? Given all the variable involved, and that we are talking wood and not stress relieved titanium, I'd say it's an extremely good, no, scratch that, stellar piece of wood.
     
  13. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks Bullshark (on behalf of the wood, of course!). I appreciate the post, although your comment raises the question for me of why I should be bothering with precise feeler gauges if these differences are so small!!
     
  14. jrfrond

    jrfrond

    Jul 11, 2006
    NYC
    Tech Director, dBm Pro Audio Services, New York
    I build and repair a lot of gear, namely guitars, drums and amps, and have been for over 30 years.

    In my educated opinion, there are FAR too many musicians and would-be tinkerers that break out the feeler gauges, straightedges, oscilloscopes, granite plates etc., ad nauseum in order to measure minutia which, ultimately, means squat. They go "looking for problems", when in fact, the instrument might play and sound perfect.

    I'm going to go out on a politically-incorrect limb here: WAY too many of these musicians should be concentrating MORE on their playing, rather than the mechanics of the instrument, and I have found that, overwhelmingly, many of these same players often have a lack of talent, to varying degrees. Not necessarily in their playing, but sometimes just the management of their setups. Guitarists who don't know how to properly change strings or set their amps, drummers who can't tune, sound engineers who can't mix.....and they all want to blame SOMETHING for their deficiencies, when the answer is actually in the closest mirror. This isn't conjecture folks. I've seen it MANY times over, sometimes many times in one week. Remember, the service business is my life.

    I am NOT saying that one should not get to know their instrument and the basic mechanics behind it, including learning how to set it up. But beyond that, unless you are intent of turning this into your livelihood, as I did, you are probably worrying a lot over very little, e.g. .004" more relief on your bass side. As I said, no problems = "No Problem".

    There is a reason that professionals such as myself and others exist in this world. It is to separate the flesh from fantasy. I rely heavily on my car for gigs, so am I going to get that funny noise under the hood checked out, or fart around under there myself and possibly make the problem worse? There are times when you need to let professionals do the evaluating, and you concentrate on the music. DIY is a cool thing, but can also inhibit the creative process.
     
  15. If you setup instruments for a living, you want to tell customers exactly what's happening with their instruments, and maybe even keep records, so it would be a healthy procedure IMO.

    But if it's for your own instrument, I'm not sure why you'd do this; maybe for experimenting with different setup to find how it's best for you? For myself, I eyeball it and it's more than good enough for rock 'n roll. We are talking musical instrument setup after all, and not a PW800 jet engine main rotor shaft...
     
  16. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA


    AWESOME.​
     
  17. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Here is why: It gives one the ability to quickly repeat the former setup. Pretty simple, really.
     
  18. As usual, J. Frondelli speaks wisdom!
     
  19. Balkan

    Balkan

    Aug 8, 2005
    New York, NY
    Well put John. Just so you know where I'm coming from I'm basically a DIY newbie who just wants to be able to his own basic setups at home without having to pay someone every few months - relief, action, intonation - that's it. I have no plan to mess with frets, nuts, shims etc. And I have no interest in endless tinkering, but the attraction of precise measurements is that it seem less daunting to follow precise instructions than to do something by feel that I don't have much experience doing. So for me, measurements are a way of letting me spend more time playing rather than having to worry about the tinkering. Because this is all new for me though, I'm just trying to settle on the basic measurements I want to use. And once I have a good setup, I'm not planning to keep tinkering until it feels clear that the time has come.
     
  20. Thats harsh. I understand what you're saying but we do this because we're passionate about our instruments. I think its fully legitimate that an inquisitive mind would want to know anything they want to know about it and learn as much as they want about setups. The OP's question is as theoretical as it is practical because he just wants to know.

    I'm the same with electronics and tube amps. I'll never be a tenth as good as many posters here and no where near as good as my local tube guy- but that's not going to stop me from finding out everything I need to know about my B15 to keep it in good shape. It's a passion- and doesn't detract from my playing. In fact the amount I've picked up about the amplified signal and what makes good tone is astronomical.
     

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