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markdavid

Help needed setting the action at the nut

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Hi 

I have a Squier bass that has a nut that has seen better days, I previously used very heavy strings on it for drop tuning and now want to go back to standard tuning, I have done the superglue and baking soda trick so that I can refile the nut slots but after some tips on how i can get the action at the nut to the right height and if there is a standard height that someone can give me that the strings should be at say the 1st fret.  I am probably the least technical person you would ever meet so the more simple the better , many thanks

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I go for between 0.5mm and 0.6mm with a feeler gauge between 1st fret and string. (once neck relief and action is dialled in exactly)

That's standard tuning and 4 strings and a moderately heavy-handed player. I expect you will get lots of other opinions!

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I sometimes use super glue and baking soda, you should be able to roughly see the original string depth in good light, as the original nut will be a slightly different colour to the glue and baking soda.

To file down the glue and baking soda I use an old set of strings at the same gauge your new ones are, or even use the new ones, I then do each string in turn, take about 4 inches of the string and pull it taught, then use it like a saw and saw back and forth, try keeping the string as flat as possible, apply some downward pressure and it will easily carve out new string grooves.

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Rule of thumb for setting nut height/slot depth is string clearance above the first fret of .003" (top of the first fret to the bottom of the string) while fretting the string at the third fret. That's about the thickness of a piece of paper. It basically just needs to clear the first fret by the tiniest smidge when fretted at the third fret.

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Ended up taking the bass to a pro to look at as I upgraded the bridge at the weekend only to find that the screw holes were stripped so I thought I would get both things looked at 

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3 hours ago, markdavid said:

 

Ended up taking the bass to a pro to look at as I upgraded the bridge at the weekend only to find that the screw holes were stripped so I thought I would get both things looked at 

 

Sounds like a good call.

Do keep us posted.

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Ok so got a call from the repair person at the place I took it to and I am a little worried now.  He told me that he doesn't think the nut needs to be replaced and that I would be wasting my money getting it replaced and said that he doesn't stock them so would have to order one anyway, being as the string gauges on the bass have been changed a few times and I have done the superglue and baking soda trick I am skeptical about this, I have told him that regardless I would appreciate if he would check the action at the nut.  With regards to the bridge screws he said that if the bridge is holding then its probably best to just leave it alone and said that otherwise it will require the holes to be refilled and redrilled which is a nightmare. He did tell me that I had some fret buzz on the G that would need a slight truss rod tweak, I will wait and see how this pans out

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7 minutes ago, markdavid said:

Ok so got a call from the repair person at the place I took it to and I am a little worried now.  He told me that he doesn't think the nut needs to be replaced and that I would be wasting my money getting it replaced and said that he doesn't stock them so would have to order one anyway, being as the string gauges on the bass have been changed a few times and I have done the superglue and baking soda trick I am skeptical about this, I have told him that regardless I would appreciate if he would check the action at the nut.  With regards to the bridge screws he said that if the bridge is holding then its probably best to just leave it alone and said that otherwise it will require the holes to be refilled and redrilled which is a nightmare. He did tell me that I had some fret buzz on the G that would need a slight truss rod tweak, I will wait and see how this pans out

Doesn't sound like a 'pro to me, re-drilling for a new bridge is easy, as is filling the old holes, as is fitting a new nut, probably an hours work. Frankly, I wouldn't be letting this guy adjust the truss rod

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9 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Doesn't sound like a 'pro to me, re-drilling for a new bridge is easy, as is filling the old holes, as is fitting a new nut, probably an hours work. Frankly, I wouldn't be letting this guy adjust the truss rod

I didn't think it sounded like that much work either, im not going to post specifics about who the person is but he has a fairly impressive body of work so my suspicion is that he just doesn't want to do the work involved which is also what the stuff about having to order a new nut and re-drilling the bridge being a nightmare suggests to me, I think I will drop by and say that I have a gig and need the bass.

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7 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

Yup, this guy sounds dodgy, you don't adjust the truss rod for one string with fret buzz, you adjust the saddle height. 🙈

The annoying thing is about 10 mins away on the bus is one of the best luthiers/repair persons in the uk :dash1:

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2 minutes ago, markdavid said:

The annoying thing is about 10 mins away on the bus is one of the best luthiers/repair persons in the uk :dash1:

There's a pretty big difference between a luthier and a tech. This is a tech job really, needs to be done well, but doesn't require a whole lot of skill. Most luthiers I know wouldn't want to do the work you need done, it's just a distraction from the work that keeps them in business. I imagine there'll be someone near you in the 'Basschatters willing to fix a bass thread' who would do it for you for the price of a cup of tea?

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Anyway , for anyone still interested I got my bass back. 

The guy said that he had given the bass a setup, clearly his idea of a setup is very different to mine,

The good:

the action at the nut is better but I would have preferred him replacing it as it is a cheapo plastic nut and it looks as such, neck relief is fine, I might tighten the truss rod a tiny bit 

The bad:

The action on the other hand, I know its a £200 bass but that doesn't mean it needs sky high action , he had raised the saddles so the action was over 4mm high!!! I lowered to Fender spec which is my preference with this type of bass and the bass plays fine with this action so no idea why he set it so high

The intonation was miles out, clearly he didn't check it

 

So over all I am glad I got the action at the nut sorted and I may hold off on getting the nut replaced for now however I still need to sort out the bridge screws.   What is involved in getting these sorted? can I just fill the holes with wood filler and then drill the holes?

 

 

 

 

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Take the bridge screws out. Get some decent wood glue in the holes pop in some cocktail sticks, carefully cut them off flush. Put the bridge back in place and pop the screws back in before the glue sets.

 

 

Find yourself another repair man for any future jobs.

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, gary mac said:

Take the bridge screws out. Get some decent wood glue in the holes pop in some cocktail sticks, carefully cut them off flush. Put the bridge back in place and pop the screws back in before the glue sets.

 

 

Find yourself another repair man for any future jobs.

Thanks I will give that a try

One unrelated thing I thought I would ask , on Saturday I had a rehearsal where I was using the rehearsal places back-line which consisted of a 4x10 cab and what I think was a 2 x 12 cab and I was playing at the kind of volume you would expect for a rock band rehearsing (loud-ish) and when I was close-ish to the back line I was getting feedback which would probably not be surprising but it was only when I had the bridge J pickup turned up, the P pickup was not getting feedback.  The J pickup is a Seymour Quarter pounder vs the P pickup being a Seymour Duncan Vintage SPB-1, I thought maybe the Quarter pounder being a high output pickup vs the Vintage P pickup being a moderate/low end of moderate output pickup might be the cause, what do you think?  I did also have the treble cranked on the amp which may have had some effect 

 

Edited by markdavid

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2 hours ago, markdavid said:

The guy said that he had given the bass a setup, clearly his idea of a setup is very different to mine

And by the sounds of it, everyone else's. Over and above making the bass less playable, he's clearly failed to recognise the relationship between nut height, action and intonation. I hope he's better at his day job. If this is his day job, you should probably let us know who he is so that others can avoid him.

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On 17/03/2020 at 16:04, markdavid said:

Thanks I will give that a try

One unrelated thing I thought I would ask , on Saturday I had a rehearsal where I was using the rehearsal places back-line which consisted of a 4x10 cab and what I think was a 2 x 12 cab and I was playing at the kind of volume you would expect for a rock band rehearsing (loud-ish) and when I was close-ish to the back line I was getting feedback which would probably not be surprising but it was only when I had the bridge J pickup turned up, the P pickup was not getting feedback.  The J pickup is a Seymour Quarter pounder vs the P pickup being a Seymour Duncan Vintage SPB-1, I thought maybe the Quarter pounder being a high output pickup vs the Vintage P pickup being a moderate/low end of moderate output pickup might be the cause, what do you think?  I did also have the treble cranked on the amp which may have had some effect 

 

Might be the relative output levels I guess but also the wax or resin potting on the J  might be suspect ?

Hopefully some pickup experts might chime in...

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