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Username: gregbump

Post Number: 1
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 8:07 pm:   Edit Post

I've loosened the nut all the way on the lower truss rod of my Europa, but the neck under my D & G strings is still flat.. no slight bow that I need to prevent fret rattle.

I tried loosening the other truss rod to get some bow on the bottom of the neck, but then the top of the neck (under the B & E strings) has too much bow.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Many thanks.
Senior Member
Username: rami

Post Number: 466
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 9:06 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Greg,

Whenever I encounter a similar dilemma, I start by loosening both truss rods until I have enough clearance on the offending side. If it doesn't help, then I'd raise the bridge until I have the clearance (remember to loosen the strings first).

Once the bridge is raised to a ridiculously high point, retune the strings, check the gap and adjust each truss rod individually until you achieve the gaps on either side that your looking for. Remember to retune the strings after each adjustment to maintain proper string tension on the neck.

Once the neck is properly adjusted, you can start lowering the bridge to a point just before the frets start to buzz. Remember to keep retuning the strings after each adjustment.

You may have to re-adjust the intonation after the neck and string height are adjusted.

Good luck,

Advanced Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 394
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 10:07 pm:   Edit Post

In some cases, you may just have to resort to a heat treatment of the neck.

Just my opinion, but it seems to me that Alembic tries to build things such that you need only a modest amount of truss rod tension to achieve the proper relief (and I think this is a good thing). For various reasons - using much lighter gauge strings, playing the bass in a different climate, or even just the continued aging and adaptation of 'the tree' - you may find that the proper relief adjustment may no longer be achieved.

From what you have described, it sounds like you are in this situation. Certainly, try Rami's suggestions first, but if you truly understand, and know how to measure, a "slight bow" - well, if you can't get any, then you have a different problem, and raising the bridge will not be a satisfactory solution.

It's not really a big deal. As I understand it, if you sent it back to Alembic, James would stand there with a hair dryer blowing on the neck for about 15 minutes (he gets really bored, but hey, it's part of the job), which softens the glue that bonds the fingerboard to the neck, and perhaps the bonds between the neck laminates as well, and then simply press it into a slight curve and waits for things to cool.

Presto, the neck itself wants to have some relief, and you now have more range in your truss rod adjustment. If done carefully, this can also compensate for a slight twist, where one side of the neck wants to bend more than the other (you sound like you may have a little of both).

I hope I'm not explaining this incorrectly, and I certainly wouldn't want to try it myself (for reasons I won't go into, even though I'm bald I seem to have a fairly powerful blow dryer laying around here somewhere...).

But if this is the problem, you can perhaps find someone locally to do the deed.

If you have recently changed strings, or moved the instrument to a different climate, you might want to tell us a little more about that.
Intermediate Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 192
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 10:27 pm:   Edit Post


If it's any solace, I too encounter problems adjusting the neck/action/relief on my Alembics (and my other basses). Why? I use light gauge strings (.40-.95 Rotosound RS66LCs, or DR Hi Beams, .40-.100). I have fits adjusting my basses to achieve the lowest possible action.

On my Dragon's Wing, the truss rods are let out all the way, and are just snug. On my Spyder, not as much. And on my Europa, I've had to adjust the nut. All of them are still eminently playable and with the action I want (fairly low, but not on the fretboard!). You just have to play with it a bit in order to use lighter strings.

Alembic ships their basses with standard gauge strings (.45-.105). I find those too heavy for my liking and playing style, so I just live with the fact that I'm going to have to adjust every bass I ever buy in order to use light gauge strings. I will tell you that Alembics (and other makes) respond well to standard gauge strings well, and not so well to lighter gauges. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for this, but all I know is I can't stand standard gauge strings (might as well be using telephone cables IMHO). I therefore have to make adjustments. If you're using lighter gauge strings, you may have to as well.

Bottom line: tinker and play with it. You will eventually find your reward.

Best of luck,

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1583
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 6:55 am:   Edit Post

Hi Greg, welcome to the group!

You might want to try this. Back off both nuts until they are both loose. With the strings tuned up, let it sit for three days. Then see if the neck has moved enough to allow you to adjust both nuts properly.

I've noticed that with some basses it can take a few days for a truss rod adjustment to take effect. So in the example you mentioned where your treble side nut was loose and you loosened the bass side nut, it may just take a few days for the adjustment to settle in.

Also don't forget to account for humidity. It's a strange time of year up where you live as far as humidity goes. At my house, outside the humidity has been in the teens recently with high temps in the 70's. Today the outside humidity is in the 80's. I've kept the windows closed and maintained an indoor humidity in the mid 30's.
Username: gregbump

Post Number: 2
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 7:32 am:   Edit Post

Thanks to everyone for the feedback, it's very much appreciated.

I did some digging through the archives here and found a couple similar threads after my post. You guys are very nice to keep offering the same friendly advice over and over!

Anyway, I backed off the upper truss rod completely (so that both nuts were completely loose), then I started tightening both nuts equally and a little bit at a time. I did this in combination with the technique where you fret the string at the 1st and 24th frets to get enough space for a single playing card at the 7th fret.

Now the neck that I thought was flat really is flat, and both truss rods have tension on them. After adjusting the nut and bridge heights, my strings are right down on the neck like I like it and the buzz is greatly reduced.

I've been playing my Europa 5 string for 12 years now (after another 10 years on some pretty junky basses). I was blissfully content with the setup I'd been using (which hadn't been touched in years) until I discovered the FAQ and Must-Read section here. I read all those great threads with everyone debating string height, playing light vs. hard, etc., and it really got me thinking about my own playing style and ideal setup.

So thanks for the help and the inspiration. I haven't been this jazzed about playing in a long time.
Advanced Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 398
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 7:41 am:   Edit Post


Welcome to the club. Hang around and you will no doubt discover that your experience is SOP around here. Keep on playin'!

Bill, the guitar one

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