Action higher at higher frets and clank

So I had my bass set up by a local luthier. The action is higher toward the bridge then towards the nut. My first question, is this absolutely necessary? I’m tempted to lower the bridge saddles but then I assume I will get buzz at the lower frets.

my next question is about the constant refrain I read that it requires a “light touch “in order to play with low action. I really feel the opposite. When I play a C triad starting at third fret of the A string I can push as hard as I want and don’t get any clanking or buzz. When I play the same notes starting at the eighth fret of the Estring I feel like the only way to avoid the clank is to actually play lighter because the action is higher. Am I the only one experiencing this phenomenon?


I get the dreaded clank when I start digging in too hard playing a song I’m really enjoying


But when you say “digging in “do you mean plucking or fretting? My problem is I just can’t seem to fret past say the ninth fret on the Estring without the clank. If it’s just a matter of technique and I need to play differently there then I will work on it I’m just trying to figure out if it’s a set up issue.


From what I’ve seen, the action will always have a slow increase from nut to bridge, and that’s pretty essential. Be aware that if you lower the bridge, you may also need to adjust the height of the pickups, and you’ll almost certainly need to adjust the intonation. It also may be an issue with the truss rod and how much bow is in the neck. I’m a beginner though, so I’ll leave other comments to experts!

After watching a bunch of videos I did my own setup on my Schecter Studio-4. I adjusted it to something that seemed good for me. Then I took it to a local shop run by an ex-pro musician. He looked it over, said he really liked it, then he plugged it into an amp and sat and played it in different styles for about 15 minutes. I was happy that he ended up endorsing my setup, but we also talked about options for changing it if I wanted to focus on different styles.

So… avoiding the question of what “digging in” means to different people, have someone who really knows how to play bass (not just adjust them!) play on your bass with you. Then talk to them about the action and what they like/dislike about it, and how that relates to what you want.

Another thing is that I had adjusted my neck very flat - so flat that when I changed from a dry mountain environment to a wet seaside environment, I started having buzz problems - turned out the bow on the neck had flattened out totally. A quarter turn of the truss rod cleaned it up. This wasn’t an instant effect - it took place over a few days while I started becoming increasingly frustrated trying to figure out what issue with my technique was causing the problem. Until I figured out that it wasn’t my technique, but that the setup had changed due to warmth and humidity.

Finally, I was incredibly apprehensive about doing my own setup. But I know that as I get more experience, what I want will evolve and I don’t want to be dependent on someone else. If I want to try something new - different strings, different action, I don’t want to have to schedule a trip to a shop. It really is pretty fast and easy, and will just get faster the next time. I was super careful adjusting the truss rod in small increments. The worst that can happen if you’re careful is that you end up taking it to a professional anyway. And the best is that you’ll have the confidence that you can tweak things if you decide that you want to raise or lower the action or adjust different strings, and you can fix it if the environment changes from 6500 foot mountain-dry to sea-level temperate and humid!


Everyone is apprehensive before they do their first setup, and then surprised by how straightforward and easy it is :slight_smile:


Hi @doylecb.

From your perspective, were there any problems with your bass before the setup was done?

Did you like the way it played before the setup?


Plucking. I think it’s my technique at fault making too much contact with the strings and possibly pulling them slightly upwards

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@doylecb: is this here a bit similar to what you are experiencing? (check the short video in the thread entry linked below):

While it is perhaps a bit exaggerated in the video, I guess some clanking is unavoidable. But it is also a sound that you likely only hear when you play low, and when you hear noises directly from the bass that, however, never really come through the signal chain.

Of course, as you also mention, how the bass is set up clearly contributes to how pronounced this issue is.


That is exactly what I was talking about! Thanks for linking that for me. I’m pretty confident my base is set up correctly it’s just that I need to come to grips with the fact that I will need to fret differently on my Estring on the higher pitched Frets I believe?


Yes, I would say that is correct… and also not to worry too much about these sounds as they likely don’t get amplified much.

We also had examples of isolated bass tracks from “famous” people, and you could hear all kinds of extraneous sounds - I just don’t know where we have hidden these examples in here, sorry :man_shrugging: