What do you consider to be comfortable action on your bass?
I usually don't play extremely hard on my basses, so pretty much they're set so that if I pluck a string really hard -- harder than I would normally play -- and I get a little fret rattle or buzz, then it's fine. Usually the buzzes and whatnot don't get translated through the pickups for some reason so it's not a concern for me.
I have one, an Esses 5-string, where the neck is dead straight and it buzzes within the first five frets, but even then, it's not a problem. I'll probably tweak the neck a little next time I change strings, but I just sort of work around it and play lightly on it.
It really also depends on whether a bassist plays with fingers or with a pick -- fingerstyle producing more amplitude (I think that's the correct term), and so more potential buzzing, whereas the plectrum player, having a much smaller point of contact, gets the string moving in smaller waves, so, less noise. I play both, but it's more of a feel thing; I play fingerstyle way more though, maybe 90% of the time. It's just easier to get the string in motion and also to get it to stop when I want to, I guess because of the mass of the string and the relative mass of a fingertip as opposed to a thin piece of plastic.
So...I guess if you're a pick-player, then it's easier to get a really low action because you won't fret out or buzz as much.
I mean, there is a point where it's too low obviously, but I don't mean just the buzzing. There's that point where, when playing fingerstyle, you pluck the note then stop it and just the pressure of your fingers on the string pushes the string into the upper frets and you get an almost 'slap' type sound. To me, that's a little too low.
But for slapping, that's another story. I don't play that style (on purpose, lol), but it's got as much to do with low, low action as it does the type of bass. Like with my Rick 4001, I'd slap and it would sound like nothing. The note would just vaporize. Then when that got stolen and I got a Squier P-Bass Special, even with the action relatively high, it was (and is) so easy to slap it's incredible.
The Rickenbacker -- that's a whole other story. Those double truss rods and trying to get a good curve to the neck and then...I don't know. Hard to set that thing up. I had the action pretty high because I could never get the relief right because you had to loosen the truss rods, then 'manually' bend the neck over your knee, and then before it goes back straight, hurry up and tighten the trussrod nut. Really weird and not like a regular truss rod where you tighten it and the thing curves the neck.
Anyhow, great bass. (just don't try setting one up) :|
Interesting topic. Made me think of a few things I hadn't thought of in years!
Wow, lot of information there. I was kinda thinking more along the lines of measurements. My Curbow is 3/64" at the first fret and about 7/32" at the 12th, and it seems really high. It doesnt feel hard to play, it just seems like the string has to travel a long way to the fret. I'm just trying to find out if I'm imagining it, or whether I need to fiddle with some adjustments.
If it seems a little high, just go lower. You probably want to have it as low as possible without buzzing, and you won't know if you can go lower without trying.