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Bass Neck Setup: Neck Tilt / String Action Continued

bass clef image
  1. Once the relief is set, take off the capo and pick up the ruler.
  2. Hold the ruler on the last fret of the neck (closest to the bridge) and measure the distance between the strings and the fret around the 14th fret. This tells you how high your action is. On a Bass, around 3mm on the bass side, and 2mm on the treble side should be close. If the distance is more than 3mm then you have to lower the saddles on the bridge. If the distance is less than 3mm then you have to raise the saddles on the bridge.
  3. Use the correct allen wrench and adjust the screws on each saddle evenly.
  4. Turn each screw 1/2 turn and recheck the measurements. The most important thing to accomplish here is to make the strings be an equal height off of the neck.
  5. Don't adjust the saddles so that they are bottomed out on the face of the bridge. If they won't go down far enough, then adjust them to a reasonable point and make all the strings as even as you can, matching the lowest one. (For me the lowest one is always the G.)
  6. Once the strings are all even, decide if they are still too high for your style of playing.
  7. If they are too high, then the neck tilt adjustment screw needs to be tightened.
  8. Loosen the neck screws, and tighten the neck tilt screw a little bit. Same as the truss rod nut, 1/4 turn is a good starting point.
  9. Now tighten the neck screws again and recheck the measurement.
  10. Repeat this until the height of the strings is to your liking.

At this point, you should be comfortable with the way the bass plays. If not, then go back and repeat whatever is necessary of this whole procedure to get to a happy medium. Don't forget, the lower the action and the less relief the neck has, the more possibility there is for fret noise. On the other hand, too much relief and too high an action can be hard to play and, in excess, can cause your neck to warp, especially if you use heavy strings. If you have a bass without a neck tilt adjustment screw, like an old P-bass, then you can stick a little piece of common shim stock (or even a matchbook cover) under the end of the neck before you bolt it on to the body.

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