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Finding comfortable action on my Fender Precision Bass
I've been having A LOT of trouble finding comfortable action on my Fender Precision Bass.
Every time I get a set up by a guitar tech, I find that the action is either too high or
too low. Is there a "basic" set up that techs do at the Fender factories? If so, how should
I raise and lower each string? Right now I have it so that the E string is the highest,
and each string gets gradually lower. Any help would be gratefully appreciated!
Well Tom, you did it exactly right in my personal opinion. I set up my guitars that
way and it is correct because the diameter of the strings gets gradually smaller
from the E 6th down to the E 1st. Also, the larger strings have a much wider vibration
or motion area than the smaller strings so they need the extra clearance above the
fretboard so they won't vibrate against the wood.
I believe everyone has a special
personal feel for where they want each string to set and that is why the techs cannot
nail it just right for everyone. Generally speaking they usually set it up the way
they would do their guitar which is really a big mistake. Even when I build custome guitars
I always ask for the specifics each player wants. I usually get it right like they want the
first time but once in a while someone will want to split that hair four ways and read just
a tiny bit. This is also something that will change slightly as the instrument ages and
the wood completely cures in and settles.
Even the best woods and workmanship still
has to allow some space for a small amount od settle in change. Actually a guitar needs a break
in period just like a new pair of shoes. Personally I like a low fast action for more progressive
playing. A heavy metal guy that likes the hard heavy crunch rhythm needs heavier strings
and a higher action. Those long bnig lanky bass strings can really get a wide fat
motion and usually needs a higher action on the strings.
I would suggest starting
with the neck alignment being sure to get the straightest fretboard possible.
Then dressing the frets as straight in alignment as possible. When these two
are at the best that neck can yield then is the time to start setting the string
height to where each string has the feel you want for you. You should have no fret
or string buzzes then. Don't even worry abiout intonation at all until all the other
stuff I mentioned is finished. Then at the last stage set your intonation on each
Now you know at this point by doing these things in the proper
order you will have your bass settings at the best it can give. You juist start from
the foundation up with the neck and rod and so on. Example: if you set the intonation
perfectly and then change the string height even a tiny bit, you just blew the intonation
and would have to readjust it again.
So the proper order or sequence is
more important than most techs even think about. I learned this when I had to redo
my own every time I had a tech do it. Experience is the best teacher. Don't
be afraid to go for it. Dive right in and learn you can do it yourself.
You will do it over several times but this will help your playing ability
believe it or not. The more you learn about the geometry of the instrument,
the better you will play it by that knowledge. Don't let any tech tell you
it is set wrong if you know it pleases you. When it is where you like it,
you will play better and with more confidence.
String height question on fretless bass.
The B string on my acoustic is acting funny.
Hey Rick, The B string on my acoustic is acting funny. When I tune it to a tuner, or harmonic tune it,
the major E Chord sounds fine, but when I play a "D" chord, the B string seems to sound Flat, I can
tune the string slightly up, but then the chords requiring the string to be open sound off.
Is this an Intonation problem, or is something out of whack with my back bridge, which doesn't seem
adjustable since it is an insert type. Any thoughts........???
Desperate in South Carolina,
I have seen so many acoustic guitars with the same problem. B strings are proned to be the most problem
string on the guitar. I would first look at a few things: How old are the strings? Sometimes the B string
when it gets some war and time it tends to be hard to split the difference between E and D chords. You get
it right in one and the other is off, you get it right in the other and the first one is off.
Most people just try to split the difference and live with it but I hate doing that. try a new string but
also the new string has to get some stretching done before it stablizes too. If this does not prove to be the
problem then nest see if the fret that sets the B string while playing the D chord is worn badly more so than
the other frets. That can cause intonation problems to show up especialy on the B string. If that doesn't
prove abnytghing then it has to be the overall intonation. To solve this problem you must adjust the intonation
of the B string by shortening its total length when played open "B".
There is a sneaky way to do this.
Put a very tiny drop of supper glue in the slot at the nut and at the bridge then recut the slot after it
is set hard. When you reslot for the string make the slot sloped outward from the guitar at the nut and at
the bridge so when it pinches off the string its total length is a tiny bit shorter which will make it play
more sharp. Whe youmake a string longer it plays more flat. Think of it as the B string is a tiny bit too
long to fret properly.
Also, if the glue makes the string just barely taller in the slot it makes you press
the B string further downward before it frets thus making it tighter on the fret than before which also makes
it fret a tiny bit more sharp. After doing this tune it to open E where the B string is right. Now when
you play the D chord the B string will fret a bit more sharp than before and should correct the problem.
I would be sure first though if the string is bad thru wear or too much metal fatique. Give this a whirl
and I bet you will see an amazing difference. Let us know if it works. Actually you could put a tiny
piece of paper in the slot at the bridge and at the nut just to test the theory. Just think geometry and m,ake
the string overall length a little shorter. Sometimes the slots are nut cut properly to cradle the strings.
The slots need to be very close to the side of the nut and bridge favoring the pinch points of the string.
The width of the nut or the saddle at the bridge can make a huge difference in the length of the string
where the vibration of the string happens.
I believe the difference in the height of the B string will be
where you see the best correction happen. Remember when you press down on the B string if it is set higher
then you have toress it harder and further and that will make ir play sharper on the D chord but it will
stay the same when you play the B open in the open E chord.
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