#1
Okay so I just bought a new bass, an Epi Tbird Pro, and I got it to not fret out but now the action is so damn high my fingers are slipping underneath the string at the 6th fret. How do I set it up correctly?
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#3
I was thinking I'd probably have to do that. I'm going to adjust it now and let it sit then see how it is
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#4
Remember, the truss rod is not the main/only factor for fixing your action, so don't overdo it. Fret the first and 16th fret (use a capo or two), and measure the gap between the string and the 7th fret. One or two business card thicknesses is all it needs to be.
#5
Quote by PiercedBand
Okay so I just bought a new bass, an Epi Tbird Pro, and I got it to not fret out but now the action is so damn high my fingers are slipping underneath the string at the 6th fret. How do I set it up correctly?


Yeaaah, I don't know where you bought it from, I wouldn't buy from them after this... where I've bought my guitars, when they haven't been used, they have a setup to perfection and if a customer likes a higher action, well, then you can easily adjust the bridge and so on... better that way.
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#6
Quote by PiercedBand
Okay so I just bought a new bass, an Epi Thunderbird Pro, and I got it to not fret out but now the action is so damn high my fingers are slipping underneath the string at the 6th fret. How do I set it up correctly?


Pick up a book called "How To Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great" by Dan Erlewine. About $20 on Amazon, and probably the best $20 accessory for your guitar.

Judging by what you've done so far, you've taken it pretty much completely out of rig.

My first suggestion would be to take it back to where you bought it and have them set it up correctly. If you can't do that, take it to a good tech and have HIM do the job. He'll tell you if you've got a twisted/bowed neck and/or if the frets aren't level, etc.

Keep your hands off the truss rod. Altogether.
#7
Quote by Deliriumbassist
Remember, the truss rod is not the main/only factor for fixing your action, so don't overdo it. Fret the first and 16th fret (use a capo or two), and measure the gap between the string and the 7th fret. One or two business card thicknesses is all it needs to be.


The truss rod is not even a *minor* factor for fixing your action.

The very best thing you can do is leave it alone until AFTER the rest of the guitar has been set up and the action is where you want it.

"One or two business card thicknesses" is far too much. Relief, if you have any at all, should be somewhere between .005 and.010" on a guitar, and I set that with feeler gauges from a spark plug gap set. You should NOT be setting it using the string clamped down, either. It should be done with a stainless straight edge (18" or so for guitar, longer for bass) and the aforementioned feeler gauge, not the string and whatever you have in your back pocket.

The old "rule of thumb" if you didn't have feeler gauges handy, was that you should barely be able to get a New Playing Card between the fret and the string, but that's only if you have nothing more accurate available. Business cards vary a LOT in thickness, and two is far too much.

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Precision_Neck_Adjustment_A_Simple_Method_for_Consistency

If you're setting your action by cranking your truss rod, you're really screwing things up.
#9
I agree with Delirium - I setup up my own basses in the following order:

Neck relief (truss rod) first
String height (action) second
Pickup height third
Intonation last

The order is important to set it up correctly. Adjusting the truss rod AFTER everything else will CHANGE everything else.
#10
Quote by Deliriumbassist
One or two business cards is fine. You cite Premier Guitar in your link - I've just gone and checked, and their bass setup guide even agrees. It, and I, also disagree with it being the last thing done. It should be the first.

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/DIY_How_to_Set_Up_a_Bass_Guitar


There's a LOT I disagree with Tony Nagy about. In this particular case, he spends all the time to set up the bass and says the last thing to check is whether the frets are level. At that point, if the frets are NOT level, the strings come off and he starts all over again.

Essentially, the ONLY reason he needs to set relief first is that the guitar he's working on has the truss rod buried in the heel, and he needs to remove the entire neck to get to it.

I don't have any basses like that; my truss rods (all two/both of them) are accessible with the neck on the guitar. In order for Nagy to check the relief on that guitar, he's got to remove the neck, tweak the truss rod and then put it back on again (risking changing the neck angle while he's at it). And if it's off, he starts over again, because there's no way to check your work until after you get the string back on the guitar under full string tension. Do you suppose he's using your brand new strings during this process? Normally I like to allow the neck to sit a while under tension to see if the relief changes. Do you realize how long this setup is going to take if you want to do that? His entire setup is a series of "that should be close enough" guess-steps.

After that, his setup is fairly normal, except that it looks like he's setting the action by measuring (finally a tool!) the distance from the fretboard in the photographs. Since action is the distance from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string, that wouldn't make sense. Probably a photo anomaly.
#11
Quote by smtp4me


Neck relief (truss rod) first
String height (action) second
Pickup height third
Intonation last

The order is important to set it up correctly. Adjusting the truss rod AFTER everything else will CHANGE everything else.


Unless your pickup magnets are exerting a LOT of pull, I don't really set pickup height at that point.

And I'll do relief prior to or after intonation, if it's already nearly perfect. Adjusting the truss rod after intonation, if it's a small amount, usually doesn't affect much of anything. And it won't "change everything else" -- action will basically stay the same, pickup height will stay the same, intonation is usually not affected. That said, I'll double check both at the end of the setup.
#12
dspellman - Agreed on pickup height. I only adjust this if I change the gauge or brand of strings.

With the truss rod, if you loosen it the neck will bend inward towards the front of the body. As it bends the distance between the strings and the fretboard & pickups increases, which would require a re-adjust of the action and possibly the pickup height. This is why I always do the truss rod first.
#13
Okay, so all of the "when" aside, do you think the OP now has back bow that needs to be truss-rod adjusted?
#14
Quote by dspellman
Okay, so all of the "when" aside, do you think the OP now has back bow that needs to be truss-rod adjusted?


If the action has to be raised significantly to stop fret buzz then yes, I'm thinking the neck has back bow. This would mean loosening the truss rod, and the result will be that the strings are even higher. Personally I would re-check everything after such a change.
#15
Quote by smtp4me
I agree with Delirium - I setup up my own basses in the following order:

Neck relief (truss rod) first
String height (action) second
Pickup height third
Intonation last

The order is important to set it up correctly. Adjusting the truss rod AFTER everything else will CHANGE everything else.


"Adjusting the truss rod AFTER everything else will CHANGE everything else"

agreed but, setting up a guitar means doing the tasks over and over again in a circuit. you can't just do one thing and move on to the next assuming that you are done with it. since a guitar is a system nearly every adjustment on it effects another to a degree.

pick up height generally last unless it's really bad in the first place then you should drop them down until everything else is set up then bring them up -last.

action effects neck torque. higher= more leverage on the neck (more up-bow). you need to be working action and neck relief together back and forth until you are where you need to be.

i generally do tuning and intonation first because it gives me a base line. i know this is going to change by the time i'm done but it's so very easy to do. imo if the tuning and intonation is set then while i'm working the other adjustments, i can at least have a reference point. final adjustment is usually intonation and tuning again.

hard to have a functional "dead flat" neck on a bass -there's just so much more string excursion esp. on the longer scales. if you look at warwick or ibanez factory specs. (for ex. warwick .023" to .039", ibanez .012" to .020") it's pretty high actually. or course we want better but a lot of this also depends upon the player's style.

set the instrument up in the playing position. propped up on it's neck or laying flat on the bench ignores the effect of gravity on long bass necks and heavy strings. ime setting up the instrument as close as possible to how it's going to be used makes a difference.

if you have a bass with neck pocket truss rod adjustment -well, you know your punishment. clamp the strings down to the headstock with a cushioned irwin clamp or a two capo's. then loosen the tuning. this way you won't have to remove the strings from the posts.

heavy slappers, pickers, and drop tuners are going to need more relief vs. sensitive pluckers playing jazz on tape wounds. string tension & gauge plays a role as well that's why i consider an instrument a system. lot of things going into it.

begin rant:

-the neck pockets on bolt-on basses always seem to be buggered up and the hardware always seems to be loose. neck pockets have hunks of paint, glue, an an amazing amount of body filler, paper and masking tape "shims", sawdust, and other bullshit. and if the owner has stripped the threads, pulled up wood going from the neck onto the body. if i'm doing a comprehensive set-up for someone i'll pull the neck and clean up the pocket, scrape the pocket floor and neck tenon flat as possible and do what i can to make sure the neck makes clean and tight contact to the body. when assembled you should not be able to see feeler gages slip into the joints.

-tighten up all the hardware. tuners, everything.

-ground wire. a lot of mfg's route the ground wire through the body and mash it under the bridge. can't do much about the big dent in the wood from this but i will pull the bridge and grind off a small patch of plating where the ground makes contact with the base plate. a little bit of extra insurance for a solid ground circuit.

-bridge hardware. loose saddle springs, saddle set screws not evenly adjusted and or loose and often of the wrong type can cause "mystery buzzes".

some things about modern production level instruments bug me. it's almost like the outside is all that matters but in fact (imo) the whole thing matters. opening up a guitar whether it's a bass, electric guitar, or an acoustic always reveals the "dirty truth" and it's interesting what one finds.

/end rant
Last edited by ad_works at Dec 7, 2015,
#16
ad_works - Agree with everything you wrote. Honestly I'm lazy. I normally go back and double-check everything before I'm finished with a setup, but I still do the truss rod first in order to hopefully reduce or eliminate additional adjustments later.

I have a capo and padded wood clamps, feeler gauges, radius gauges etc. I've tried following the factory specs (e.g. Fender and Ibanez) for neck relief. I end up adjusting it anyway after I set it to the factory spec, usually by sight. As you mention, I hold the bass in a normal playing position and then sight down the fingerboard from both ends. Then I sight down the neck from the bridge (flat) to make sure the neck is not twisting.

I used to own a Rickenbacker 4003, which was a pain in the arse to setup. Dual truss rods and such.
#17
Quote by Sakke
Yeaaah, I don't know where you bought it from, I wouldn't buy from them after this... where I've bought my guitars, when they haven't been used, they have a setup to perfection and if a customer likes a higher action, well, then you can easily adjust the bridge and so on... better that way.


I've never personally played an Epi that didn't have a higher action than normal from the factory. My Accubass is like that and I've played a few tbirds and Cassady signatures like that as well. However, I've never seen one as bad as the OP describes.

I'd like to touch on something Sakke talks about here. If it were my bass I'd take it back and make the shop either get the bass set up gratis or take it back for a new one. It also really drives the point that you need to play the hell out of anything before you lay any money out and walk out of the shop.
#18
Quote by anarkee
I've never personally played an Epi that didn't have a higher action than normal from the factory. My Accubass is like that and I've played a few tbirds and Cassady signatures like that as well. However, I've never seen one as bad as the OP describes.

I'd like to touch on something Sakke talks about here. If it were my bass I'd take it back and make the shop either get the bass set up gratis or take it back for a new one. It also really drives the point that you need to play the hell out of anything before you lay any money out and walk out of the shop.


good points.

indeed, the op's seems worse then usual. fwiw, mfg's often default to higher action because if a guitar buzzes they can't sell it. i've been told by numerous salesmen that a buzz is an instant sales kill. besides, if the shop has set-up capacity, they make a couple of bucks making "adjustments". it's like building a middle man into every sale. plus a gig bag, and an extended warranty all of which are generally post purchase costs and are "optional" of course.
Last edited by ad_works at Dec 8, 2015,
#19
Quote by dspellman
The truss rod is not even a *minor* factor for fixing your action.

The very best thing you can do is leave it alone until AFTER the rest of the guitar has been set up and the action is where you want it.

".

And as soon as you adjust your Truss Rod the action alters.
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#20
Quote by John Swift
And as soon as you adjust your Truss Rod the action alters.

The action alters because of the neck having too much relief. Not the other way around.

The idea is that you set the bridge up exactly how you like it, and adjusting the truss rod if the playability of the guitar changes. A mistake that beginners all make is assume that if the guitar isn't playing as well as it was before, to adjust the action. When really the cause of the problem can only be caused by neck releif. If the bridge hasn't been adjusted, how could the playability be altered otherwise?
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#21
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
The action alters because of the neck having too much relief. Not the other way around.

The idea is that you set the bridge up exactly how you like it, and adjusting the truss rod if the playability of the guitar changes. A mistake that beginners all make is assume that if the guitar isn't playing as well as it was before, to adjust the action. When really the cause of the problem can only be caused by neck releif. If the bridge hasn't been adjusted, how could the playability be altered otherwise?


Aren't you aware that altering the neck relief alters the action?
But what many of you don't realise is that raising or lowering the action changes the intonation.
If you lower the action by altering the neck relief it takes less travel to play at the 12th fret therefore the note at the 12th fret will be slightly flat.
If you raise the action by altering the neck relief it takes more travel to play at the 12th fret therefore you sharpen the note.
This is why you set the neck relief first.
A big PS take the tension off of the strings before altering the neck relief
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#22
If neck is causing the problem, adjust the neck. It's as simple as that. And when you are getting fret buzz, it's pretty much always the neck that's causing the problem.

Before changing anything, it's always best to do some measurements. First check the neck relief. If you have back bow or too much relief, you can't have low action. It makes no sense to touch the bridge if it is not causing the problem. That should be common sense.

If your neck relief is fine, then something else is causing the problem and you shouldn't touch the truss rod. Raising your action can fix the fret buzz but it doesn't fix the problem really. Well, sometimes your action is really too low. But before adjusting it, maybe do some measurements. Is the action lower than what the manual says? If yes, that could potentially be causing the problem. But if it's what the manual says or higher, then it's not the action that's causing the problem and you should not touch the bridge.


Just use common sense. I don't understand the debate in this thread. I mean, to fix a problem, do you just start messing around with things or do you try to find what's causing the problem? (And this is not really directed as an insult to you, TS, it's more about the stupid debate in this thread.) You can't fix a problem by doing something that doesn't have anything to do with what's causing the problem. And that should be obvious.

So TS, check your neck relief first.

Actually, the best thing to do would be to take the bass back to the store. They should do a free set up.


And yeah, adjusting action before adjusting truss rod doesn't really make sense because after adjusting truss rod you need to readjust your action. If you do it truss rod first, you don't need to readjust your action.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 23, 2015,
#23
Quote by John Swift
Aren't you aware that altering the neck relief alters the action?

Of course it does. But a problem arises when noobs notice the action on the guitar going higher and higher over a long period of time and immediately assume the bridge needs to be adjusted. When by doing that, they're only compounding the problem. The string height is not what needs to be changed.
But what many of you don't realise is that raising or lowering the action changes the intonation.

Who is arguing otherwise?
A big PS take the tension off of the strings before altering the neck relief

There is no need to do this. It's not going to damage anything and detuning the strings to adjust the truss rod makes it a pain in the ass to know how much you're actually adjusting the neck releif.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Dec 23, 2015,
#24
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Of course it does. But a problem arises when noobs notice the action on the guitar going higher and higher over a long period of time and immediately assume the bridge needs to be adjusted. When by doing that, they're only compounding the problem. The string height is not what needs to be changed.

Who is arguing otherwise?

There is no need to do this. It's not going to damage anything and detuning the strings to adjust the truss rod makes it a pain in the ass to know how much you're actually adjusting the neck releif.

You can actually break the truss rod by attempting to remove forward neck bow whilst the strings are at in tune tension.
Adjustment increments of one quarter of a turn are best unless the bow either way is quite severe.
One final point, if the instrument is not new fret buzz can be caused by fret wear, this happens where a fret can wear down a little causing the string to buzz on the next fret (towards the bridge).
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Last edited by John Swift at Dec 23, 2015,
#25
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Of course it does. But a problem arises when noobs notice the action on the guitar going higher and higher over a long period of time and immediately assume the bridge needs to be adjusted. When by doing that, they're only compounding the problem. The string height is not what needs to be changed.


The only reason neck bow should change is if you change your strings and fit a heavier or lighter gauge, there is something wrong with the neck if the relief alters otherwise.
Even on the cheapest of instruments the truss rod should be stable.

If string rattle/buzz is down to fret wear in most cases stoning and not re fretting is the cheapest and easiest solution.
I had my 1965 Fender Jazz Bass (that I bought new) stoned twice.
I have never had to alter the truss rod on my current far eastern 5 string Squier for which I paid £219.
I do all my own setting up other than fret work and have done for many years.
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#26
Quote by smtp4me

The order is important to set it up correctly. Adjusting the truss rod AFTER everything else will CHANGE everything else.


Exactly.
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#27
Quote by smtp4me
dspellman - Agreed on pickup height. I only adjust this if I change the gauge or brand of strings.

With the truss rod, if you loosen it the neck will bend inward towards the front of the body. As it bends the distance between the strings and the fretboard & pickups increases, which would require a re-adjust of the action and possibly the pickup height. This is why I always do the truss rod first.


And then you find that under tension the setting is incorrect, then what do you do?
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Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
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1x15x10 + horn
#28
Quote by dspellman
intonation is usually not affected. That said, I'll double check both at the end of the setup.


My bold=Really
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Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
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1x15x10 + horn
#29
Just drop it off have the truss rod adjusted and the action lowered. probably like $30. That bass rocks with lower action. Great bass man