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Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Troubleshooting » Archive through February 17, 2014 » Adjusting the action on a Fretless Essence 5 « Previous Next »

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Username: videroo

Post Number: 6
Registered: 5-2012
Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:06 pm:   Edit Post

As you may have seen, I just traded for an Essence fretless 5. The action was ajusted very low and fast, so much so that the E and A buzzed at the first few frets (the 5th sting on this one is a high C) and the high C was dead until you get to the 5th fret. I raised the action at the bridge slightly and it corrected both issues, it still plays and sounds great and still has fairly low and fast action. What is the point of adjustting at the nut ? Will that make a difference in tone or ? Or is it just another way to adjust the action. My inclination is to just leave it where it is now but, if there is an advantage to adjustting the nut, let me know. Same basic questions regarding adjustment to the truss rods, I don't think it needs any adjusting, just wondering what I might gain or lose if I did. Thx, Videroo
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1486
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 5:12 pm:   Edit Post

For a start- I'd recommend you read Joey's post on setting up your Alembic. His setup instructions are for a fretted bass, but the description of bridge/nut adjustment and the approach to truss rod tweaks will still be quite helpful.
Senior Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 442
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 8:49 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Gary,
I own an Epic 5 string fretless, and love playing it. I had to set it up when I first got it, and that included a trip to my luthier for a fingerboard dressing. It had an annoying buzz at the 3rd fret but not the sought after mwah sound. After the dressing, the thing plays beautifully. For a fretless, I find a slight bow to the neck for a little relief seems in order for the correct sound. A dead flat neck will buzz too much, and too great a relief will be hard to play. My action is super low, and I try to play with very relaxed fingers and hands. The adjustable nut can fix some things, but I would touch it as a last resort, like if you change to a different string gage. I adjust my basses in this order: Get your preferred string gage and a new set on first. Adjust the truss rods for a slight relief at the 12th fret.(see Joey's post). Let it sit a day or two. Adjust the bridge height if necessary. Adjust the intonation. Adjust nut last if at all if the first 2 or 3 frets still buzz or are too hard to fret.
Have fun!
Senior Member
Username: mario_farufyno

Post Number: 785
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 7:53 am:   Edit Post

It looks that truss rod need some relief
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1869
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 3:28 pm:   Edit Post

Here's a quick (and great) action tutorial from a fretless master, Gary Willis:

I'm not a fretless player, and while generally it's the same, fretless is still a different animal, so I'd certainly defer to GW.

J o e y
Username: mica

Post Number: 7741
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 7:26 pm:   Edit Post

You cannot be afraid to adjust the truss rods. Think about this: the ONLY part of the bass that moves without you taking a tool to it is the bow of the neck. So you once you have have the setup to where you like it, you should be adjusting the truss rod first for future tweaks, then maybe intonate if you are picky (like me).
Username: videroo

Post Number: 13
Registered: 5-2012
Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post

Thx Mica, I'm just a little leary about doing that myself for a first attempt. Nick (previous owner) volunteered to come by and do a "set up" for me when he returns from the road next week. Once we get it all dialed in and I watch him do it, I'm sure I'll be able to make any future adjustments, although I never had to with my Essence 4 and this bass will rarely leave the house so, not too likely to change much. You may have seen, I've been having a bit of confussion regarding the serial number on this bass (Art is helping). I may be miss-reading one or two digits. He sent me a description from a prior look up and the woods did not match. Mine is Flame Maple on Maple but the prior description said Maple on Mahogany. I'll check the s/n inside the control cavity when I get home tonight and hopefully find a clear s/n. Any other thoughts or explanations ? Whatever it is, I love it and it plays and sounds pretty nice now, even pre "set up". Thx Agn, Gary

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