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Thread: Stingray 5 Action Issues

  1. #1

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    Stingray 5 Action Issues

    Hey all, new poster, but long time player and I've done tons of work on different basses, but this is my first Music Man and I'm finding it to be very difficult to get it set up properly.

    I've got the saddles dropped completely to the deck, and the string height was still around 9/64 at the 12th fret on the low B. I took the neck off and found the factory brown shim installed (why is MM using shims instead of properly fitting necks?), so I removed it and installed a much thicker card shim which seemed to only net me 1/64 improvement. I tried tightening the truss rod, which got me another half a 64th before it started buzzing unacceptably.

    Some other odd things I'm finding are the intonation screws on a couple of the saddles need to be so far out that they are only about halfway into the saddles. They are very close to coming out completely. I also find the neck doesn't sit particularly tight in the pocket. Like, I can wiggle the neck about 1-5 degrees easily when the screws are out. I can probably fit a business card between the neck and pocket on all sides. For a bass with this high of a price tag, and this good of a reputation, I'm fairly disappointed with the fit of these parts.

    And as I mentioned, I am not a total noob at this. I've got about 6 basses that all sit at 4/64 perfectly with no buzz and plenty of adjustment available on both saddle and intonation screws.

    What's really strange is the bass was second hand, but it appears to be in immaculate condition. Like it looks like it was never taken out of the case. The gold hardware doesn't even have any finish wear. Maybe it was never played because of how impossible it was to set up?

    Is there some hidden secret to setting up a MM SR5? Or do I just have an oddity here? Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by digijohnson View Post
    I've got the saddles dropped completely to the deck, and the string height was still around 9/64 at the 12th fret on the low B. I took the neck off and found the factory brown shim installed (why is MM using shims instead of properly fitting necks?), so I removed it and installed a much thicker card shim which seemed to only net me 1/64 improvement. I tried tightening the truss rod, which got me another half a 64th before it started buzzing unacceptably.

    Some other odd things I'm finding are the intonation screws on a couple of the saddles need to be so far out that they are only about halfway into the saddles. They are very close to coming out completely. I also find the neck doesn't sit particularly tight in the pocket. Like, I can wiggle the neck about 1-5 degrees easily when the screws are out. I can probably fit a business card between the neck and pocket on all sides. For a bass with this high of a price tag, and this good of a reputation, I'm fairly disappointed with the fit of these parts.
    Did you check the relief on the neck before moving to the saddles? If it was way out, no amount of saddle adjustment will give you a good action. This is true for ANY guitar or bass, and checking the relief should be step one to resolving any playability issues.

    I have owned several Music Man basses and guitars, and half had the neck such a tight fit that I needed to do a bunch of wiggling to get it out. The others had more clearance. It doesn't matter how precise things are measured, wood is a natural product and you don't know how it is going to react until it is fully finished and gets to assembly. If the pocket is too tight, you can get cracking of the wood and/or finish around the pocket during changes in temperature and moisture.

    I have a Luke III that I go second hand, which has cracks on both sides of the neck pocket in the finish, however the neck is not tight fitting at all at the temperature and humidity I keep it at. That is how much that can vary. There is no way to make a neck that will fit "just right" under any circumstances.

    Regarding shims, they are and have been integral parts of the final set up of bolt on neck guitars and basses since nearly the beginning. Wood is a natural product and compresses somewhat unpredictably when under pressure. For this reason, shims are used. EBMM has three different thicknesses of shims, to help fine tune the neck angle and action. EBMM shims go directly around the mounting bolts, so that there is a minimum amount of possibility of "upbow" at the end of the neck. The shims they use are plastic, and are .010" (Brown) .015" (pink) and .020" (yellow).
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck
    2021 Stingray RS Pacific Blue Sparkle / Maple FB

  3. #3

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    I trick I learned off this form is to use tape (electrical is my favourite) just keep adding a strip till you find the desired height required

    StingRay 4HH. SapphireBlack.2006
    StingRay 4H. Buttercreme. 2005.LE
    StingRay 4H. ”SunBlue”. 2005
    Bongo 4H. Sapphire Black. 2005
    Bongo 5HH. Firemist Purple. 2019
    GENZ-BENZ & ORANGE amps...

    https://www.facebook.com/DanSmithBassist/

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    Did you check the relief on the neck before moving to the saddles? If it was way out, no amount of saddle adjustment will give you a good action. This is true for ANY guitar or bass, and checking the relief should be step one to resolving any playability issues.

    I have owned several Music Man basses and guitars, and half had the neck such a tight fit that I needed to do a bunch of wiggling to get it out. The others had more clearance. It doesn't matter how precise things are measured, wood is a natural product and you don't know how it is going to react until it is fully finished and gets to assembly. If the pocket is too tight, you can get cracking of the wood and/or finish around the pocket during changes in temperature and moisture.

    I have a Luke III that I go second hand, which has cracks on both sides of the neck pocket in the finish, however the neck is not tight fitting at all at the temperature and humidity I keep it at. That is how much that can vary. There is no way to make a neck that will fit "just right" under any circumstances.

    Regarding shims, they are and have been integral parts of the final set up of bolt on neck guitars and basses since nearly the beginning. Wood is a natural product and compresses somewhat unpredictably when under pressure. For this reason, shims are used. EBMM has three different thicknesses of shims, to help fine tune the neck angle and action. EBMM shims go directly around the mounting bolts, so that there is a minimum amount of possibility of "upbow" at the end of the neck. The shims they use are plastic, and are .010" (Brown) .015" (pink) and .020" (yellow).
    Thanks for the reply. I've definitely checked the relief. As I mentioned, I tightened the truss rod just to the point of buzzing the lower frets while playing higher, and then backed off a bit. At this point, it's a lot flatter than what I set other basses at. Having said that, tonight I got fed up and ended up installing a massive .035" shim made of stacks of plastic container material and I've got the bass playing passably well at this point. I may look into a proper wooden shim, but honestly, if it needs that much shimming, it probably needs a neck pocket reroute, and that's out of the budget for this bass.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by danny-79 View Post
    I trick I learned off this form is to use tape (electrical is my favourite) just keep adding a strip till you find the desired height required
    As an AV technician who has dealt with far more aged electrical tape than I ever wanted to, I don't think soft and gooey is the ideal material for a neck shim!

  6. #6

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    blue painters tape is what works for me

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by digijohnson View Post
    As an AV technician who has dealt with far more aged electrical tape than I ever wanted to, I don't think soft and gooey is the ideal material for a neck shim!
    It’s not like it gets taken apart every 5 minutes so what does it matter what kind of tape you use ?

    StingRay 4HH. SapphireBlack.2006
    StingRay 4H. Buttercreme. 2005.LE
    StingRay 4H. ”SunBlue”. 2005
    Bongo 4H. Sapphire Black. 2005
    Bongo 5HH. Firemist Purple. 2019
    GENZ-BENZ & ORANGE amps...

    https://www.facebook.com/DanSmithBassist/

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by five7 View Post
    blue painters tape is what works for me
    It was you I got the idea from, brilliant trick

    StingRay 4HH. SapphireBlack.2006
    StingRay 4H. Buttercreme. 2005.LE
    StingRay 4H. ”SunBlue”. 2005
    Bongo 4H. Sapphire Black. 2005
    Bongo 5HH. Firemist Purple. 2019
    GENZ-BENZ & ORANGE amps...

    https://www.facebook.com/DanSmithBassist/

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by danny-79 View Post
    It’s not like it gets taken apart every 5 minutes so what does it matter what kind of tape you use ?
    I guess my biggest concern would be that e-tape degrades over time, so you'll eventually end up with a "shim" that isn't nearly as thick as it was. Eventually the bass will need to be adjusted, and at that point you're adjusting up against something that isn't firm. And since it's soft and gooey, it will be not great at transferring vibrations from the neck to the body even in the beginning. If it works for ya, have at it. But I would probably go with the masking tape or strips of plastic first.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    Did you check the relief on the neck before moving to the saddles? If it was way out, no amount of saddle adjustment will give you a good action. This is true for ANY guitar or bass, and checking the relief should be step one to resolving any playability issues.

    I have owned several Music Man basses and guitars, and half had the neck such a tight fit that I needed to do a bunch of wiggling to get it out. The others had more clearance. It doesn't matter how precise things are measured, wood is a natural product and you don't know how it is going to react until it is fully finished and gets to assembly. If the pocket is too tight, you can get cracking of the wood and/or finish around the pocket during changes in temperature and moisture.

    I have a Luke III that I go second hand, which has cracks on both sides of the neck pocket in the finish, however the neck is not tight fitting at all at the temperature and humidity I keep it at. That is how much that can vary. There is no way to make a neck that will fit "just right" under any circumstances.

    Regarding shims, they are and have been integral parts of the final set up of bolt on neck guitars and basses since nearly the beginning. Wood is a natural product and compresses somewhat unpredictably when under pressure. For this reason, shims are used. EBMM has three different thicknesses of shims, to help fine tune the neck angle and action. EBMM shims go directly around the mounting bolts, so that there is a minimum amount of possibility of "upbow" at the end of the neck. The shims they use are plastic, and are .010" (Brown) .015" (pink) and .020" (yellow).
    I had a long response to this typed out last night, but after I submitted I got a message saying it needed Mod Approval, so apologies if this ends up being a duplicate reply.

    I did indeed check the relief. As I mentioned in my OP, I tightened the truss rod to the point it started buzzing the lower frets while playing the higher frets, and then backed it off. I've got probably a thin business card of relief at this point.

    I ended up getting frustrated with the bass last night, and I ended up pulling the neck off again and put a massive .035" shim made of stacked pieces of plastic from a container, and I've got everything "playable" now with the saddles at a serviceable height. Just very surprising that this thing needs that much shim to play right. I'd like to replace my homemade shim with a proper wood one, but the stewmac are speced in degrees, not thickness, and I don't have the math skills or patience to figure out which one I would need lol.

  11. #11

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    Why are some of my comments requiring mod approval and some not??

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by digijohnson View Post
    I guess my biggest concern would be that e-tape degrades over time, so you'll eventually end up with a "shim" that isn't nearly as thick as it was. Eventually the bass will need to be adjusted, and at that point you're adjusting up against something that isn't firm. And since it's soft and gooey, it will be not great at transferring vibrations from the neck to the body even in the beginning. If it works for ya, have at it. But I would probably go with the masking tape or strips of plastic first.
    I see your point. My way of thinking was the tape method is great for slowly gauging, I’d never really put too much thought into what kind of tape to use, electrical just seemed best with the size , I’ve since used masking tape and duck tape on the last one but the bass in question was a bit of a plank to be fair. Just what ever was at hand at the time to be honest but what ever tape ends up getting used, any more than 3 thick and I’m looking for something different that won’t compress

    StingRay 4HH. SapphireBlack.2006
    StingRay 4H. Buttercreme. 2005.LE
    StingRay 4H. ”SunBlue”. 2005
    Bongo 4H. Sapphire Black. 2005
    Bongo 5HH. Firemist Purple. 2019
    GENZ-BENZ & ORANGE amps...

    https://www.facebook.com/DanSmithBassist/

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by digijohnson View Post
    Why are some of my comments requiring mod approval and some not??
    Length maybe? We've unfortunately been having a LOT of spammers lately so they may have turned on some extra protections when a poster is relatively new. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Regarding relief, on basses I usually go for about the height of a thin pick over the 5th fret when holding down the 1st and 13th fret. With Guitars it's a bit less. I know some others who pretty much like a dead straight neck.

    Have you tried using a short straight edge to see if possibly there is a high fret somewhere? Unfortunately with 2nd hand instruments you never know what may or may not have been done to the nut, which can be a source of a lot of problems.

    I would contact EBMM support to see if they have any tips. .035" definitely seems like a bit much. On the bass I needed to re-shim, I had to go with a Pink (.015") shim. I have a Luke III guitar that needed a pink shim too, but that's because I have the bridge floating.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck
    2021 Stingray RS Pacific Blue Sparkle / Maple FB

  14. #14

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    Digijohnson, I don't know what country you live in, but if it's the USA, you might want to check out Stewart-Macdonald's neck shims. They also have 2 videos on the page that show the process; the 2nd one's especially helpful imo. The only SR I have is neck-through, so I've never been inside a SR neck pocket. Therefore those Stewart-Macdonald shims may not be suitable. I just don't know for sure. But you've got experience with SR bolt-ons, so the videos should immediately answer that question for you.

    StewMac Neck Shims for Bass | stewmac.com

  15. #15

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    OP where do you live, maybe one of us could take a look and help. Never have I had to put that thick of a shim in.

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