Neck adjustment

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Stefan, May 2, 2017.

  1. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    The fretboard end not moving(in other words relief is set and can't be corrected), is exactly why it IMO should be included in any relief measurement. It's the reference point to determine whether a neck has a simple bow, hump or possibly both, which would be a serious problem.

    Also action is set in correlation with the relief of the entire fretboard. The fretboard does not end at the 15th fret. Imagining it does is the wrong kind of pragmatism.
     
  2. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Germany
    I'm used to the last fret method, but Mal's set-up guide on Gretsch Pages made me attentive to the alternative:

    "For Gretsches and Gibsons with a neck joint around the 14th fret, use the method described above. The truss-rod on these guitars only affects the neck between the nut and the body joint, not the fingerboard extension."
     
    Aymara likes this.
  3. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I suspect it doesn't matter in this case unless you have a rise in your frets after the 15th fret or so. I eyeballed my 6119 last night and there did't seem to be any change in measured relief as I moved farther toward the bridge. I'm going to get my scale out tonight and actually measure it.

    Bottom line here is that if you use either method, stick with that method for that guitar until you get the playability you want.
     
    Stefan likes this.
  4. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    I do it the same way, and measure at the 9th. I look for the same .008 to start. I play some and see if I need to adjust any more. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't...I've found that's usually where I end up. Measuring relief is like string types and gauges-everybody does it different! Main thing is to find a method that produces a great playing guitar, and to learn to do it on your own to save you some cash.
     
    Gretschman2 and Stefan like this.
  5. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Germany
    All true. We're all searching for that sweet spot in our guitars- the right strings, the perfect neck relief, close to perfect intonation, a cool string action and the perfect pkup height. And it's part of the fun!
     
  6. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Not only that, I've been handed many a guitar that was freshly "professionally set up" only to find that it played poorly. I can usually adjust to the player's satisfaction fairly fast if he's there with me to test it. The technician at the guitar store goes to the book or guide and sets it up however well or not and doesn't take the player into account. (I'm sure some do)

    Guitars come from the factory more or less set up for it's owner depending on his/her own style.
     
  7. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    This applies to nearly all electrics except neck through designs, that often have a longer trussrod.

    I tested it myself and the mothod using the neck joint is definitely more accurate. If you use the last fret, it often happens, that you measure a sufficient neck relief, though it isn't ... buzz, buzz, buzz ;)

    I have three Prolines and two of them were unpacked in front of me the first time ... their factory setup sucked!

    My Penguin though had a quite nice setup, though not perfect ... needs a little bit more relief, but that can also be an effect of the acclimatization to the new home. Fact is this Gretsch box was pre-opened for expection by the dealer as stated in the documents.
     
  8. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Or maybe the better statement I could make is, "it's a crap shoot". I've never obtained a guitar that was set up well from the factory or otherwise.
     
  9. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    I think, the problem might be, that factory setups should be optimized for transport and humidity changes, so a playability optimized setup could lead to buzz, when played by the first customer. Many shops have no guitar tech or don't do pre-sales setups for other reasons.
     
  10. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I've said it here before, so sorry if it's a repeat for you, but a sales guy at Guitar Center once told me that Gibson pays for a first time setup on all new Gibson guitars sold (I assume that means "sold at Guitar Center"). I gathered from his statement that people don't often take advantage of this. So maybe this is why there are so many nearly new guitars out there that are so abysmally set up.
     
  11. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    And I fear, this services isn't available outside the US. Might that even be a GC exclusive deal?
     
  12. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    factories have their spec they set it to, which is probably a setup that takes into account a cross section of player tastes and also shipping conditions. They're never going to set it low low because they don't want buzz to turn off novice players. From there, most of us would have to adjust. I know I do. It's like trying out a new car. First thing you usually do is move the seat and steering wheel to fit your body!
     
  13. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    A bicycle might be even a better example, but you are right.
     
  14. ronbo

    ronbo Gretschie

    Age:
    61
    341
    Feb 28, 2012
    Broomfield, Colorado
    Most qualified guitar techs (I am certified) and luthiers will check for proper neck relief between the 1st and 12th frets, since that is where the truss rod ends (at least on every guitar I've ever seen), so adjustments will only affect that part of the neck. If you check further up the neck (past the 12th fret), and happen to have any drop off after the 14th fret (common in older hollowbody guitars and improperly humidified acoustics) you may get an incorrect reading. Also many guitars will develop a hump around the 14th fret over time, which can affect the reading as it bumps into that rogue 14th fret. Once you get good at seeing what .006 - .010 looks like on a number of guitars you don't really need to measure as much, so just pressing the individual strings downin front of the 1st and behind the 12th fret you can get a good idea how the relief is. Measuring also helps determine if the neck is twisted, because of different readings on high and low E strings.

    Another good measurement is the string height on the 1st fret (~.002), which is measured by pressing the strings down behind the 2nd fret. Most "out of the factory" setups I've seen are way too high, which makes fretting the lower frets more difficult. My standard setup procedure is:

    Check the 1st fret string height and adjust the nut slots accordingly (nominally .002-.003).
    Check neck relief and look for twists, then set the relief (.006 - .010).
    Check the whole neck for any uneven frets, especially between 12th and 15th frets (the dreaded 14th fret hump), level and dress the frets as needed.
    Adjust the saddle for optimum playing height for the players style (I shoot for 5/64" (~2mm) on low E and 4/64" - 4.5/64" (1.6 - 1.8mm on high E)
    Maybe 1/64 higher overall for flatpicking acoustics, but to each his own...I like to be as low as possible, with very little buzz up the neck.

    There is some art to a good setup, but these are pretty much well accepted practices.
     
    Aymara, Gretschman2 and Stefan like this.
  15. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Germany
    Thanks for clearing up things!
     
  16. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    @ronbo, nice info! May I ask, when you are checking relief, at what fret are you measuring? I'm assuming around the 6th or 7th since it's halfway? I have a Gretsch to change strings on tonight. I think I will experiment by trying my way first then this way. It's good to see my "redneckin' it" methods stack up fairly close to those who do it for a living!
     
  17. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Always in the middle of the fretted string section, so in this case the 6th.

    Relief is always checked with Standard E tuning, your preferred strings and done, when noticable humidity or climate changes happened. In my case usually in summer and winter ... depends a bit on the local climate and usage. A guitar, that is only played at home is less "stressed" as the one, that is often "on the road".

    Surely I also check after a string brand change and especially, when changing gauges. I usually first let new strings settle over night. Example: My Panther came with .11 D'Addario XL and I changed them to Thomastik Jazz Swing in .10 ... less string tension, so I needed a bit more relief.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
  18. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    62
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Fender style necks have the rod about the entire length of the fingerboard. I use 18" trussrods in every build.
     
    Aymara likes this.
  19. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Ok let me be a dick. This is pertinent nonsense.
     
  20. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    But you're not checking for those uneven frets under tension and with relief are you?
     
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