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precarius
New
Username: precarius

Post Number: 2
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 10:58 am:   Edit Post

Hi- I have a 83 spoiler that I have been working on for the last month(out of work for neck surgery-needed a project) and i need some help with fret buzz on frets 1-7 on the g string. i have read all the posts here about action, nut adj.,and truss rod adj. and my pea brain can't comprehend it all so, let me explain specifics. Both truss rods nuts are completely loose except for just slight tension. Sighting down the neck, the E string side is completely flat and the G string side has a little back bow at about the 5th fret. the way i understand it, turning the truss rod nut clockwise, with the bass in playing position, would shorten the rod and add some relief (frontbow). Is this right? Somebody help me! By the way, i feel like i am an official club member now that i have gotten my first e-bay scam e-mail. Thanks.
Mike
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2670
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 12:08 pm:   Edit Post

Loosening the nuts provides relief. When you loosen the nuts, the strings pull the headstock toward the bridge. When you tighten the nuts, you work against that tendency.

What is the bass's environment? Does it stay in the same place at all times? What is the relative humidity of the place where it is spending most of its time?

What kind of strings are on the bass? Are you tuned to standard E?

For the time being, loosen both nuts completely with no tension. You may want to give this experiment a few days.

And try raising the nut on the G string side a little. I doubt that's it; but it won't hurt to try.

As an experiment, you may want to try tuning up to maybe F# tuning for a few days and see what difference that makes. Adding string tension (different string makes have different tensions; and tension is not the same as gauge) should give you some more bow and reduce the fret buzz.
precarius
New
Username: precarius

Post Number: 3
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 7:14 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks. I'll try leaving the adj. nuts loose for a couple of days.The humidity hasn't changed much and hasn't affected my warwick which has a wenge neck. as far as strings, I use the Carvin 45-105 nickel plated- It's hard to beat $9.95 a set.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 489
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post

Precarius:

TUNE your bass to standard tuning (EADG). I would respectfully disagree with Dave about tuning to F#. Tuning equals tension equals amount of relief ('bow') in the neck, so unless you plan to play in F# most of the time, I would not recommend that.

The short version for set up:

1. Tune to pitch (WITH a tuner).

2. Check your sting heights at both ends of the neck:

At the pickup/bridge end of the neck you should begin with each string being between 1/16" and 1/8" over the last fret. Check this with the bass on its side as if you were playing, NOT laying on its back with its head up on a block. Check your big E string first, adjust the height screw on that side of the bridge if necessary to get it there. Do the same thing on
the G side. Once you get that right, Re-tune.

Then check your clearance up at the head end of the neck. The easy way to do this is to hold a note down at the third fret on the E string, then reach around with your other hand and press the string down at the first fret while still holding it at the third fret: You should feel just a little movement and hear a little 'clink' sound that tells you the string could move just enough to touch the first fret and make that little noise. If it's already touching, raise the adjustable brass nut a tiny bit at a time 'till that happens. If it's feels like there's too much travel, lower it. Then repeat this on the G string. (I'm certain this is why your G is buzzing on the first seven frets) ReTune.

3. As regards the neck relief, after you've done the previous two actions, this what we're after:
You want to get the neck dead-straight (a good straight edge for this is the long side of a roofing square), and then tighten the truss rod to put just enough relief ('bow') back in the neck to tame the fretbuzz. Loosen the truss rod nuts to loose, then snug them up just to where the nuts just begin to tighten. At this point I put it on the stand and come back tomorrow to let the wood take a 'set' against the strings. You want this straight edge to touch all of the frets, so you can SEE when it's truly straight. When you come back tomorrow, you'll probably tighten it in tiny, tiny amounts until the buzzes go away. I don't know how low you prefer your action, but if you want it REAL low, you'll know you're there when you hear a few buzzes unplugged, but plugged in, none of the buzzes come through the amp. That's when you'll know you just about got all you're gonna get.

Bear in mind, all these adjustments are in TINY fractions of a turn: Think watchmaking, not auto mechanics. No two basses adjust exactly alike due to the differences in wood from one piece to another, but all we're after is to make it feel 'right' to you. Doing this will also form a database in your mind so you'll know how to keep it feeling good to you. It make take several tries to fine tune this for your taste and for it to sink in just how inter-related these adjustments are. It took me forever for the 'light to come on' in my mind, but if I can do it, ANYBODY can!

Hope this helps, and Good Luck.

J o e y
palembic
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2137
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 10:57 pm:   Edit Post

And ...rrrrrruffffle ...brother Joey did it again ladies and gentle people.
I want to testify: what he said is true and working!

Paul TBO
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 543
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 12:10 am:   Edit Post

Okay guys, let's review what Precarious Mike started with:

"Both truss rods nuts are completely loose except for just slight tension. Sighting down the neck, the E string side is completely flat and the G string side has a little back bow at about the 5th fret."

Now there is that uncertainty about what he means by "just slight tension". I could read that as, he had them loose, and then just tightened them sufficiently so that they don't rattle, say 1/8 to 1/4 turn from loose.

If that's the case, and the E side is dead straight with a back bow on the G, then he has a neck problem, probably requiring either a heat treatment, or heavier tension strings. If there really is a backbow in the neck on the G side, then nut adjustment is not going to (satisfactorily) solve the problem.

So I guess I'll sort of agree with Joey. Loosen both truss rods completely, then tighten just enough (1/8 turn or so) so they don't rattle, and let it sit overnight. Then tune to pitch, and if you don't have a little bit of relief across the neck, you may need to take more drastic action.

Good luck, and let us know.
-Bob
dfung60
Intermediate Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 116
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 12:15 am:   Edit Post

bigredbass (and palembic too), with all due respect, I think there may be an error in your setup procedure. In your step #3, you mention setting the fret tops dead straight then tightening the truss rod to eliminate buzz. That isn't going to happen - if you tighten the trussrod(s) you will cause the strings and neck to become closer, *increasing* buzz.

It hasn't been my experience than adjusting the nut height will have any effect on fret buzz in the low frets. When you fret at the second fret, for instance, the nut height only affects the part of the string over the first fret (the part that's not "speaking"). Changing the height at the nut will affect buzz on the open strings, but not on the fretted ones. Although there's little buzz effect, the nut height adjustment has a lot of effect on how the playing action of the low frets will feel to your left hand. Too much height at the nut will make increase the effort to fret the low frets, too little height and the feel down there may feel indistinct. I'm not a big believer in the Buzz Feiten Tuning system, but Buzz would also tell you that too much nut height will negatively affect your intonation.

Perhaps this is a terminology issue. In the start of this thread, I believe that palembic is describing his neck relief as dead straight on the bass side and that he has "backbow" on the treble side. The normal meaning of this is that the neck is bowing upward toward the strings and this will indeed cause fret buzz on the low positions. But turning the truss rod nut clockwise will increase the tension on the truss rod which will increase the backbow and make the buzz worse. So, if he meant the conventional meaning of "backbow" and "frontbow" then he needs to reduce tension on the treble truss rod which decreases the force applied by the truss rod which allows the string tension to pull the neck into more relief and less buzz. If the truss rod nuts are at minimum tension, then you're out of the truss rod adjustment range and the easiest fix will be to switch to a different set of strings that has higher tension (which will create more relief). The hard solution is a fret levelling or steam treatment of the neck (gulp and double gulp).

The more conventional test for proper relief is to fret simultaneously at the 1st and 24th fret and see that there is sufficient clearance between the string and the 12th fret to prevent buzz. You also want to check to see that the gap between the string and fret tops is gradually increaseing from frets 1-12 and decreasing from 12-24. You then adjust the truss rods to create the appropriate amount of relief, where "appropriate" is what's right for your playing style. Generally hard players will need more relief and light players will have less. You loosen the truss rods for more relief and tighten them for less.

This test doesn't really care too much about how the nut or bridge heights are set and that's somewhat important. Although all the adjustments are interrelated, you need to have relief (bow or frontbow) in the neck for your bass not to buzz. In this test, the string is acting like a straightedge. When you fret it at 1 and 24, you're bringing the straightedge down close to the frets and taking the bridge and nut heights out of the equation.

To do a complete checkout, you want to look at the progression of gaps while testing the relief. It really needs to increase and decrease gradually and evenly, otherwise you have a problem with uneven fret tops. If the 5th fret wire is too high, the fretted 3rd fret not will buzz unless you set the action very high. You may be able to check the fret tops with a straightedge when the strings are off, but that's not guaranteed (most makers try to build the necks so they can be assembled with the fretboard planed dead flat and the fret tops with no strings dead flat and then to pull into proper relief when strung up).

To adjust the nut, you want to raise it to the point where it feels comfortable to fret the strings in the first 4-5 frets. This will vary with the diameter and tension of the strings you pick.

To finish it off, you adjust the bridge height which sets the height of the playing action. If you have a proper amount of relief set, you should be able to set the neck super low if you like that and avoid buzz. If you don't have the relief set properly then it's going to buzz even at uncomfortably high string heights.

I actually will crank the truss rods pretty quickly when I'm doing a set up. It will still tkae time to stabilize, but if you go too slowly then it takes too long to get to the endpoint. If your neck is reasonable to start with, it would be unlikely that the total change will be more than 1/3-1/2 turn even with a radical change in strings.

When the neck is being built, it's a bit of a crapshoot as to how the final neck will pull into shape and nobody can predict or know the answer until you actually string it up the first time. If you're at the unfortunate end where the tension is completely off and the relief if insufficient, you really will want to look at higher tension strings as there's not much of a workaround. A humidifier in the case may help prevent things from getting completely out of hand in dry areas, but this also may cause some action change when the instrument is out for playing, and the last thing you want is for the neck to buzz increasingly as you're playing.
palembic
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2139
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 12:31 am:   Edit Post

Brother David!
How are you doing!??
Small correction: I was not the man with the back-bow.
I merely agreed with Joey's statement and even more precisely with a set up routine he described some years ago now that can be found in the "must read" dep or FAQ's.
Tough I have to add something on your exposť.
The only problem I had with Bonnie is a clacking buzz on the A string (only A) that occured wherever I played in the lower 2/3's part of the neck. There was no neck levelling or bridge adjusting that could handle it. Until ...I raise the nut and ...gone!
It stills puzzles me and some other people on this jolly-low-sound-addict-club people too!
I can only give this report: the raising of the nut was of high influence in the sound of my A-string on the fingered part of the string.
Beware ...i AM still puzzled by this.

Paul TBO
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 491
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 7:09 am:   Edit Post

I was trying to give him the short version, while I had too many other things on my mind.

Of course, I'd bring the nut(s) to barely tight, let it sit in pitch and see what I had. I alyways use a straight edge, as I can't 'see' dead straight to within a few thousandths of an inch with my naked eye.

Next morning, I'll expect to see some relief. and tighten the nuts to go to dead straight. Then back them off little by little to get the best feel/least noise.

That's what I MEANT to say . . .

You really use several lengths of straight edge to really do this right, but I was just trying to give him the basics.

My bass will sertainly buzz on the nut end if the nut is too low, and I'm talking about the speaking length. I believe it's because the neck is so close to straight, you'd never encounter this on a neck running more relief/higher action. I really shoot for JE's action of the strings being 'under the frets', so I may be closer to the limits than some other people.

I'll try to be better than semi-consious next time I attempt to explain this, if there is a next time.

J o e y
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 545
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 10:13 pm:   Edit Post

Brother Joey, there had better be a next time!

A little searching would turn up the time I gave "counter" instructions to the original paulembic (the one with the U), and I didn't have very much on my mind at the time, other than trying to help.

It seems to me that when you are used to doing something, almost without thinking about it, it is sometimes tricky to put it in words, precisely - and if you do so enough times, sooner or later you'll make a mistake.

No big deal, that's what the rest of us are here for :-)

Actually, I'm working on a minor problem with some very low level buzzing (on my fretless), and your comments on nut height have got me thinking a little more - thanks.
-Bob
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 493
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 10:18 pm:   Edit Post

Bob:

Nuts have been a real puzzle to me.

The BB5000 I bought has a bone nut that on two of the slots, either someone tried to lower it in a ham-fisted file session, or it's just old enough where a steady diet of roundwounds did the trick. Play either of these strings open and I can certainly here the ratlle through the amp. Yet any fretted notes don't buzz at all, and the action is just SO low that I've indefinitely put off the new-nut-job. The string heights over the last fret run out at 1/16" of an inch, but I'm running a little more relief than I would normally, and the neck is REAL stable, takes its 'set' and stays there.

The BigRedBass is running a virtually straight neck (around .012" relief), a little lower over the last fret than the BB, but IF I don't run a fairly high nut height (.030" under the B, lowering a little each across to the G), the first 5 or 6 frets will rattle through the amp: Raise them to the heights I listed, it goes right away. And that isn't lots of clearance at the nut, it's about equal to a generic factory set-up.

Go figure . . . .

J o e y
kmh364
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1367
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 7:06 am:   Edit Post

Joey: Could it be you've got Yamaha's on the brainum? LOL!

Cheers,

Kevin
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 496
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 8:30 am:   Edit Post

Kev

Yeah I suppose I'm like the 80s BB basses the way Val is about old Jazz Basses. Plus I could bungee at least one across the back of the mighty FJR . . .

J o e y
palembic
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 2149
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 8:40 am:   Edit Post

Oooops ....I didn't know Moder Val was into ol' Jazz basses??? I DO know that Brother Rami is!
Tough both are into Alembics ...definitely into Alembics ...

Paul TBO
kmh364
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1369
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 8:41 am:   Edit Post

Joey:

Sure...If I can carry two Dunlop D402 MT90B-16 engraved WWW tires on the back of my Road King, I'm sure you could bungee a Yamaha or two on the back of the (sic) Yamaha, LOL!

Wear the gig bag like a backpack (papoose? LOL!) if all else fails.

BTW, Right after Xmas is a great time to make a deal on a new bike, especially model year left-overs, LOL!

I know, I know...I'm a troublemaker, LOL!
precarius
New
Username: precarius

Post Number: 5
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 2:18 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for everyone's help. There is a lot of wisdom here! I used a little bit of all the tips and the bass is fixed. The biggest help was using a straight edge. After adj. the truss rods and nut a bit I still had a little buzz (no joke intended). Using the straight edge I found out that the 6th fret had come unseated just a bit on the G string side. Looks like it might have gotten caught on a polishing cloth or something. Anyway, one little tap with a hammer & popsicle stick combination and it's as good as new.I'll post some px of my 83 spoiler now that i can finally put the truss rod cover on. Thanks for all the help.

Mike
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 546
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 8:42 pm:   Edit Post

Good work, Mike, and thanks for the follow-up. We all enjoy a happy ending.

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