Truss Rod or Saddle?
I'm brand new to playing bass guitar and I don't know much about guitars just yet. I purchased a new bass, an Ibanez SR300, that has a bolt-on neck. The low e string has a awful buzz which gradually dissipates until quitting after the 5th fret or so. The first fret is all buzz and practically no note. I've had varying advice, some telling me to adjust the truss rod and others telling me to raise the action on the low e string via the saddle. I tried the saddle adjustment, gradually raising the action until having turned each screw by close to 180 degrees to the right, until the buzz had all but gone. I figured it was safer to do that than to alter the truss rod and mess it up.
Will the adjustment I made on the saddle warp the neck somehow because I altered the saddle and not the truss rod? I don't know too much about it, but it occurred to me that with raising the action and string tunings, it could damage the neck, maybe? I was so afraid to damage it that I put the saddle screws back where they had been before I started touching them just in case. All of the other strings are fine, the action is great, but the low e string makes playing impossible because it buzzes so much and I'm totally stuck.
If anybody could shed any light on it, I'd be so grateful to hear from you.
Since the problem is only near the headstock frets, I'd bet your string notch for that buzzing string is too deep, (low). The notches are larger for the larger strings. It's even possible that the strings have been replaced with a smaller gauge or someone may have lowered the string by carving out the notch and carved TOO much. Most any thin shim will raise it up. About the thickness of a business card might be a field engineered fix, with a strip the under the loosened string, in the notch, if you like. The end of a toothpick comes to mind. This should fix it IF the notch IS too deep. Whatever you use, don't expect it to last like a new nut installed. I'd have it looked at and get an estimate for a new nut to be installed, if that is all you need. They should know after playing it. You are correct that a string too low buzzes.
That's SO hard to diagnose without holding the guitar in hand... I wish I could be more help, but setting up an instrument is more art than science (IMO).
Hope this helps! Are the strings old? Any adjustments should be made after a restring so the strings are at least straight.
If your bass is still under warrantee I would take it back to the store and have their tech look at it. It sounds to me like it's the truss rod.
Sight down the neck and look at the curve of the fret board. It should be slightly concaved (dipping farther away from the strings around the 12th fret or a little before). This is what the truss rod adjusts. This should, with rare exception, be adjusted before setting the action (bridge saddle height). Tightening the rod will make it more curved. Loosening will make it more straight. Adjusting this takes experience, so I strongly suggest taking it to a qualified tech to learn how, since this needs to be done for example when traveling to extreme climates (and in some areas the start and end of the rainy season), or when changing string gauges, or otherwise about once a year or so. But it's a common problem. It could be both this and the nut notch depth causing the problem, but the guitar tech at the store should be able to measure it all to tell if it is at factory specs. Some techs won't charge first timer beginners.
The string gauges from the factory should be .045(D) .065(G) .080(A) .100(E). It's rather a good idea to use the same gauge and type strings with which it came.
Hope this helps.
"Well, I hope the neighbors like THIS song!"
When ever you are faced with a issue like this, the first thing is to step back, and before you adjust ANYTHING, see where you are right now.. This is really why I think all players should learn at lest the basics of guitar/bass setup. Just adjusting things, and tweeking things is not the way to go. First start out by checking the relief on the neck. That's really the start. All other adjustments will run off of that. Don't trust your eyes either. You really need to put a straight edge on there. Could be the neck is a little off, and you do need to adjust the truss rod a little, but it might be in specs, and could be a bridge, nut, or even a fret issue. You need to get some baseline measurements first.