Truss rod adjustment Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Troubleshooting » Truss rod adjustment « Previous Next »

Author Message
hammer
Advanced Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 369
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 3:06 pm:   Edit Post

After purchasing the late Tim Bucher's SC Signature, I went through the procedures recommended in Joey's set-up suggestion post. This was necessary due to excessive buzzing on ALL strings beyond the 6th fret and was to be expected given the differences in climate between the Bay area and Minnesota. I started with new strings and gradually started tweaking the truss rods, letting the bass adjust 1.5-2 weeks after each quarter turn adjustment. I've got to a point now where I have no buzzing and the action is quite nice. I am a bit concerned, however, that the adjustments needed on the G side of the neck were quite a bit more than those necessary on the E side. I've never had basses with dual truss rods and don't want to end up with a twisted neck.

I've tried backing off on the adjustments necessary to stop the buzzing on the G side strings to equalize tension but I then get a ton of buzzing on that side.

What would people suggest as a next step. Should I loosen up the truss rod on the E side significantly to equalize tension even though it's not necessary, or would playing with the nut height be a more appropriate procedure.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2004
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 11:28 pm:   Edit Post

I would shoot for a proper action and let the truss rods do what they do to get it there.

I was flummoxed at first by TWO truss rods. Your head says they should be equally under the same tension. Ain't necessarily so . . . .

These are laminated necks. I would be VERY surprised is the wood on the high side were exactly the same as the low side, even with ALEMBIC's serious commitment to using properly-aged / dried woods. Plus it acted one way when brand new, differently now. And will act differently in the future, possibly. This would make me think maybe it's not exactly the same torque values on the truss nuts. They are VERY stiff necks, with the 1/4" ebony and who knows what laminates, but they do move, some more than others. I now think that the truss rod tension should maybe be in the same neighborhood, but I no longer think equal is a rational target.

And we always notice this with a new (or new to us) guitar, until we get it like we want it. This bass is now in a different environment, probably with different strings with its new owner, and it was way out when you got it . . . so what you've described is not unexpected.

Barring hearing awful creaks and moans from a way too tight truss rod, I would let them do their job.

If you are using the feeler guages (or you could use other things to measure this if not), I will check the relief on both sides, under the G and then under the E or B. If they are the same or very close, then you're there with most necks. A few may show a noticeable difference, but if it plays right, you're there. Every neck is different and they don't all adjust the same, it's just down to the vagaries of wood. Don't be surprised if you keep chasing your 'right' set-up for a few more months as the bass adapts to your work. The good new is older basses typically move to a new set-up and generally stay at those values once it takes a 'set' finally.

As always, my method is for reasonable necks in good condition. Obvious big problems, as always, need to be evaluated by a professional repair person.

Here's two links that are very helpful:

http://www.garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/setupmanual.html

and . . .

http://www.jerzydrozdbasses.com/akcndfr54jdhrei567/Ultimate_Guide_ver100.pdf

There is a very subtle yet noticeable interplay between string tension, neck relief, bridge/nut/ string heights that govern setup. There are no empirical measurements that work for everyone. You sound like you've done it by the book in a methodical fashion, and the bass has responded properly. Well done.

J o e y
5a_quilt_top
Intermediate Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 139
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 8:55 am:   Edit Post

I always start with equal adjustments to both truss rods (as is recommended) and then slightly tweak each independently as required to fine tune.

As a result, all three of my Alembics have slightly different tension on each of the truss rods.

The main thing is to make your adjustments using small increments and be patient - you mention you are doing this and waiting 1/1/2 - 2 weeks - this is good.

I have found that it is better to coax instruments into cooperating over time than it is to bludgeon them into immediate submission...
hammer
Advanced Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 370
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 10:48 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the feedback.

Starting with equal adjustments was the initial approach that I took. I waited about 2-weeks and then began making 1/4 turn tweaks to the G side truss rod, again waiting 1.5-2 weeks to let things settle in before progressing further. I was just surprised by how many tweaks it took to get my D and G strings playing like my E and A - probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-1.5 extra turns (over several months) on the D/G side.

It's playing well now and appears stable so in combination with the feedback it appears I'm on the right track.
stout71
Intermediate Member
Username: stout71

Post Number: 150
Registered: 7-2011
Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post

I have had some truss rod issues too Brian, as you know. I had a ton of buzzing fresh out of the case. Adjusting the rods even in significant increments didn't make a dent. I didn't wait it out for any long length of time, but there should have been an fairly immediate (hours/day or two) noticeable difference. No dice.

Mica had me send the beast back and they ended up doing a couple of heat treatments on the neck. When it came back, it was WAY better. It still had some buzz on the low-B though. I plan to let it adjust for a few months before I even screw with it at all, to see how it shakes out on its own.

Now get this. Lately here in the Atlanta area, the humidity has been, oh how shall I say this - ridiculous, as in 100% daily at times. Walk outside and you're soaked in 5 minutes when it's only 80 degrees. I have insulated windows in the house and they still fog up in the morning, so as you can imagine the humidity isn't as controlled in the house as it normally is, and it's definitely affecting the axe. Now the buzz is back with a freakin vengeance on the low-B, E and A strings, even when played open. This has everything to do with the climate though, so I'm still not going to adjust anything for several months.

My situation is obviously different than yours, but I wanted to add some insight. Keep this in mind - you shouldn't have to sacrifice low action to get rid of the buzz, at least not much. When you have to crank the bridge up so the strings are 3/4" off the fingerboard to get rid of the buzz, the truss rods are likely in need of some tweaking.
5a_quilt_top
Intermediate Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 140
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 11:33 am:   Edit Post

Hammer - you are correct, it can take awhile to settle in.

Last year, I received 2 basses from Florida, where they had been stored for 2+ years in an environment with significantly higher humidity than I have here in Arizona.

Those necks took several months to settle in and I still have to tweak them occasionally.
hammer
Advanced Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 371
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 9:36 pm:   Edit Post

At this point, I'm very satisfied with how the SC plays. I now don't notice any real difference in the action on this purchase from Tim's estate and the one I had built at this point. When I received Tim's bass, it was apparent that it had not been played for while. Tim passed away in June 2011 and I received the bass this spring. He had a VERY light set of strings on it and they were practically laying on the fretboard with little tension at all when it arrived. After tuning up and waiting for several weeks the strings were still just about sitting on the frets. Now that there's some tension, I'm assuming things are going to be stable.

Jerry, I can feel for you. My wife works for Delta and has been spending a lot of time at their Headquarters over the last several months. She usually likes it down there, but has commented that the humidity has been a bear. She stays at a hotel that's only a 3-5 minute walk from HQ but has indicated that she feels like she needs a shower after making the walk at 8:00 AM.
that_sustain
Advanced Member
Username: that_sustain

Post Number: 201
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 1:36 am:   Edit Post

I think I read somewhere on this board that davehouck recommends even tension on the rods, and that the neck should be flat(not raised higher on one side).
tubeperson
Senior Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 442
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 6:50 am:   Edit Post

Yo, Sustain:

Whether wanting a "flat" fretboard or some relief, that is a personal choice. I have seen Alembic's and other instruments with more relief than I would want, but they function perfectly well for the playing style and technique of their owner. Each of us is as unique as the Alembic(s) we get to play and own. This should never get lost on someone setting up their instrument for themselves. The guidelines posted here are just that, a route to get you to your own desired destination point. Good luck all!
5a_quilt_top
Intermediate Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 143
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 11:38 am:   Edit Post

Aside from playability, IMO, correct truss rod adjustment is also critical to maximizing the resonant tonal qualities of an instrument.

Just a slight tweak one way or the other can make a huge difference in the way notes bloom and sustain.

This is something that is individual to each instrument and player. Following a set of specs can get you most of the way there, but after that, you need to feel the response of the neck and the vibrations when you play to determine how much relief is correct for your instrument and style of playing.
stout71
Intermediate Member
Username: stout71

Post Number: 153
Registered: 7-2011
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 11:44 am:   Edit Post

That's a very interesting observation. So in your case, how exactly would you go about this? Correlating neck relief with tonal quality for a better sound seems like a hard thing to accomplish.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 2970
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 12:24 pm:   Edit Post

I have noticed that the resonant qualities improve if there is a little tension between neck and strings . I have lost resonant qualities before as a result of over compensating with a truss rod adjustment. There is a very fine line for me here that I try not to cross in an attempt not to lose the maximum resonant and tone producing characteristics of a bass.
that_sustain
Advanced Member
Username: that_sustain

Post Number: 202
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 2:55 pm:   Edit Post

Scratches head..Oh, I was talking about neck twist..not bow. I think most basses sound best with a little bow in the neck. If you're letting your neck twist up..you should probably take it to a luthier.
5a_quilt_top
Intermediate Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 144
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - 3:21 pm:   Edit Post

Stout - not too hard if you practice doing it (just like practicing your playing technique).

Fortunately for me, I work part time at a small guitar store and have watched as the owner, who has 35+ years of experience setting up guitars and basses (including truss rod adjustments), works his magic. He can remove a bolt-on neck, adjust the truss rod by feel (he can actually feel it move in his hand), replace the neck and have it be dead on.

I'm not quite that good, but watching this has given me the courage to make my own small adjustments.

For my Alembics, I follow Joey's suggestions and the recommendations in the owner's manual to get me close and then tweak by feel as necessary to get the neck where I want it to be.

Alembics are very user-friendly to adjust - IMO the ideal instrument to work with. Just take your time, be patient and make small adjustments. You'll be able to feel when you've gone too far (or not far enough) because the notes will be a bit "dead". When you hit it just right, especially with the neck-through models, the entire instrument will resonate and the notes will seem to jump off the fingerboard and sustain with little effort.

As Sonicus mentioned, it is a fine line, but after spending some time doing it and feeling the results of your efforts, it should become second nature to you.

Add Your Message Here
Post:
Username: Posting Information:
This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.
Password:
Options: Enable HTML code in message
Automatically activate URLs in message
Action:

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration