This bass has been well used and was ready for some TLC. It also acts perfectly as a reminder why having a good setup is not only worth while but can save money in the long run.
I had noticed that the first, second and third fret had some pretty deep pitting, especially on the A string. At first I didn’t give this a second thought, guitars often get pitted frets but usually where people play a lot, the fifth and seventh frets for example. I levelled the frets as usual and re-crowned them which sorted all but the worst grooves, so I fully expected everything to be straight forward with the rest of the setup. What I discovered was, even though I had noticed the nut was cut very low, after I’d restrung the bass it was still fretting out, especially on the A string. This was unusual because obviously the frets were lower after being levelled.
Basically what had been happening was that the strings were sitting so low in the nut they were literally filing away at the frets every time the bass was played. It can’t have sounded great either but adjustments to the action and neck relief could have helped in the short term, but weren’t preventing the ongoing damage that nearly resulted in a full re-fret.
This bass now looks and plays a ton better, even if I do say so myself and I really enjoyed learning something about the symptoms that can point to something as simple as a nut that’s cut too low.