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Neck setup


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I recently noticed that the fretboard on my main bass is perfectly flat...no relief. I remember Tom Capasso mentioning something about this in a thread not too long ago. What are the pros and cons of this? Is it common to have a bass set up this way? What are the pros and cons of having a relief in the fretboard?


I find myself wanting to experiment to find exactly what I like both with this and string height at the bridge. Any input is good input.

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I do parallel strings with flat neck. I have had to tighten a few truss rods or shims under the neck base (bass wood no pun intended...pronounced like the fish) in 3/32 increments.


Local hobby shops have bass wood.

Bill Roberts Precision Mastering

-----------Since 1975-----------

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I prefer a bit of relief, especially with my fivers with 35" scale. Without some relief, I get fret buzz - but I dig in a fair bit, and prefer a medium to medium/light action. YMMV.


It's a personal choice, but I almost always tweak some on a new bass. Learning how necks react to adjustments is a great tool - just remember to make SMALL adjustments, and wait a day or two to see the results.


If possible, check the manufacturers' web-site. Some will offer their set-up defaults or make them available upon request.



FWIW (a 'good news' story):

I recently bought a Lakland Skyline JO5 (used). The neck was straight as an arrow and had a good bit of fret buzz. I wasn't able to dial in any relief and e-mailed Lakland about the problem. It wasn't a warranty issue, but I sent it to them anyway.


Long story short - I got it back within 2 weeks time, and I'm not sure exactly what they did, but it is perfect. And, at a price (including shipping both ways) that was cheaper than the initial bench charge of my local tech.


Great customer service... small wonder it's my 3rd Lakland.




Confirmed RoscoeHead

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The purpose of relief is to reduce or eliminate fret buzz. As long as you aren't getting fret buzz or aren't getting what you feel is TOO MUCH fret buzz, then I can't think of any cons to your set-up.


Feel free to experiment with it though, if you're so inclined. As long as you don't overtighten your truss rod, anything you do can be reversed fairly easily.

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I can't see bass action being perfectly flat for the simple reason that the bigger strings (B-E-A) need more space to vibrate than the thinner strings (D-G-C). It's why fretboards are cut to a radius instead of a plane.


Or am I missing something here? Is it possible your fretboard was cut so precisely that all the strings can be evenly distanced from the fretboard? I don't think even Carvin can do that and they have some pretty precise CAD/CAM tooling.


Oh, never mind. I forgot that the Keebler elves can do this. That's why their toll-house cookies are so perfect. My apologies


Oops, one more apology is required. I've just been advised by the shop steward of the Oompah-loompahs that their craftsmanship in all things chocolate is second to none. Of all people, I should have remembered that. Now I have to go host an arbitration meeting between the two unions to settle this.

Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into! :D

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Many factors go into this - the style of playing you use, the style of music, your attack. You have to experiment to learn what height you need at what part of the neck.


While you are thinking of this, look at the height of your strings across the neck. Is your neck flat across, or is there a radius? Do you set the heights differently for each string? Jeremy and I had discussed this (3 years back?) - I have a 19" radius, and I take into account the thickness and "vibration travel" (how much does the string move when you pluck it - more for the B than the G). I end up with the strings closer to the board as you go from B to G, but it's a "soft curve" due to the neck radius.


Fred - I want to live in the old luthier's place - the guy who is old and going out of business. That way I can leave my warped neck / bad strings bass in the workshop at night, and the magic elves will do a perfect set-up before dawn. :)




Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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