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Raising Action

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Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 94
Topic starter  

Hey. So I play P-bass strung lefty. I've had it setup a couple of times after I've notice excessive buzzing, and it usually plays great for a while afterwards. Lately when I play the 2nd fret on the D string it sounds dead. I mentioned it to my guitarist, and he seems to think that the action is too low, which might also account for the notes not sounding so crisp. So my questions are as follows:

1- If it is the action, then why would the string only suddenly sound dead, and why would it only be on the one fret? Would low action cause buzzing also?

2- Is raising the action something i could just do myself?

3- Is there anything i need to consider when raising the action?

4- Do I raise all the strings the same amount? or is it a personal preference?

5- Can i leave the strings on? Do I need to replace or loosen the strings?

I pity the fool, but also suggest ways he might better himself.

Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221

Specific to bass, you'll find most of the basic action / setup questions answered here:

and here:

Sorry for not replying in detail, but those are definitely worth the time it takes to read them! 8)

On my gear I tend to use the manufacturer's specs for action, pickup height, etc. So for your P-bass, the Fender specs listed on that first page should be a good starting point.

As to the dead D string only at the 2nd fret, that's strange to me. I'd start with a new set of strings.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1196

Try using a Dremel tool buffer and buff the nut and bridge where the string comes across to make sure there are no plastic or metal burrs catching the strings.

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!

Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 94
Topic starter  

Hey thanks for the feedback guys.

The Sadowsky site was a big help. I'm still not sure I did it properly. If all the saddles should be at around the same height once I set the E, or if they should descend slightly from the E, or if its all a matter of preference, and is there any issue with setting action too high?

But I suppose I'll just keep tinkering.

I pity the fool, but also suggest ways he might better himself.

Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 66

You want your saddle heights to match the radius of the fretboard. One of the easiest ways to set your saddles this way is to sight down the neck and eyeball-match the radius of the saddles/strings to the radius of the fretboard. You can set your action high or low, but always try to match the fretboard radius.

The only time you can set the action too high is when it becomes extremely difficult to fret the strings properly.

Good luck!

Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars