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Greg.Bassman

Calling all MUSICMAN STINGRAY'ers and NECK RADIUS EXPERTS... help please!

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Hi all.

Ok so, I'm a light player, so I require as little fight from my strings as possible. I'm constantly fighting to achieve the lowest action I can on my Fender Jazz (9.5" radius); however, when set too low, its prone to buzz and 'choking' when trying to bend notes. Subsequently, the action needs to be set higher (than I would like) to compensate for the buzz- it's playing hell with my technique! I've read on the internet that a lower action is easier achieved with flatter radius's. All that said, it has come to my attention that a change of axe is called for...

I'm not really into the bells and whistles you get on most modern design's; instead, opting for something a little more traditional. Currently, I have my sights set on a Musicman 'SLO' Stingray; traditional look and tones and (more importantly) I'm hoping the 11" radius might be more suited for my low action requirements.

What you reckon...Are there any MM players out there that can vouch for this? I hear Stingrays can be set pretty low, is this true?

Cheers.

Edited by Greg.Bassman

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The difference in action height that a flatter radius would offer will be pretty negligible. It sounds like you either need a setup or fretwork on your jazz :).

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^ This. If you think about it, each string is individually adjustable at the bridge, and the nut SHOULD follow the radius. Some players (especially guitarists) go for flatter radii for faster playing necks, but I think that is more down to the style of playing.

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Sandberg have a 14 inch radius. Flatter than EBMM

You can get a low action on any good bass, but when string bending the flatter the board the better.

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Setup is always a compromise as I understand it - intonation can't be even close to perfect all over the instrument when frets are put in the normal way
look at "true temperment" frets for example:


Neither can action be all things at once. A string needs room to move if it's going to not be muted - and to sound good there had better be enough clearance for your desired "response" to your chosen technique and weight of stroke - e.g. getting a satisfying slap sound without hitting the strings very hard requires medium to low action - this setup would tend to buzz and choke out for somebody who plays fingerstyle with a heavy plucking hand.
For string bends on a normal instrument low action will tend to cause choking out earlier than medium or high action. Put simply it's extra clearance between the string and the crown of the fret above the fret being bent on. In theory the best radius for string bends is no radius at all - a.k.a. flat. This is because on a flat radius the string isn't moving higher or lower relative to the nearby frets the way it does on a noticeably radiused fretboard. Think of an extreme example if you don't "get" it - bending a 12th fret E on the 4th string all the way to the opposite edge of the fretboard (where the 12th fret G is on a normally tuned 4 string bass 1st string). If you have a noticable "Hump" between the strings by having a pronounced radius (say 7.25") you would expect the E string to rise and then fall as it follows the radius from one end of the fret to the other - with fiarly normal neck relief & string action you would expect the string to fret out long before it reaches the opposite end of the fret. In fact I would expect it to contact several frets higher up the neck in this extreme example.

Keep in mind the reason most fretboards and fingerboards are radiused is for playing chords more comfortably, and on bowed instruments - to allow access for one (or two) strings at a time to be bowed.

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I don't understand how a marginal difference in string height can be causing so much problems.
Surely if you have a light touch...its the same whether the string height is low or high??

I'm assuming the techique problems are with your right hand .

Maybe you are sub-consciously digging in more with your right hand when the strings are slightly higher ?
With action set very very low you have no option and need a light touch or the strings will buzz. Take the action up a bit and you can play harder before the strings start to buzz. Maybe you are just playing a little harder and not noticing it ?

Just a thought..
Ian

Edited by scojack

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How low you can get you action depends upon a number of things...

The trueness of your neck - any twists are bad news.

The straightness of your truss rod - having a big bow in your neck is not going to play in your favour. In fact, the necks on my basses (all with low actions) have the truss rod set pretty much straight.

The angle at which the neck joins the body. Shims can be your friend on a bolt on to kick the dusty end of the neck up.

The adjustment at the saddles... some saddles just won't go low enough.

The slots at the nut. Too low and you are on a hiding to nothing. Too high and you'll never get your strings where you want them.

The most important thing is a damn good fret dress. Any proud frets are going to leave you with all sorts of buzzes and notes choking out.

Radius means nothing unless you are bending all over the shop. Some guitarists like flat radiuses as they can bend to the cows come home without the note choking out - it wouldn't be possible to do such extreme bends on a heavily radiuses neck. You may have heard of compound radius? Thats where the neck radius flattens out towards the top of the neck to allow big bends without choking out.

There's no reason why you can't get a super low action on a Stingray or a Jazz... in fact, I've played both that has been fettled to have super low action. Two luthiers I know first hand who can achieve such things are Bernie Goodfellow and Martin at The Gallery. I don't know how close you are to those guys to get your bass to them but they would be my first port of call for a fret dress and general setup to get the neck where you want it.

I also find my basses more comfortable with 40s than 45s... so you may want to experiment in that area also.

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On the first fret what clearance have you between string bottom and fret top...measure using feeler gauges. I also have a very light playing manner and run .5 to .6mm which makes one hell of a difference....obviously the close trussrod action and low saddles also help me.

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