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Thread: Guitar setup questions

  1. #1
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    Guitar setup questions

    I just changed my strings, and it messed up how my guitar was set up. I have it done pretty well now, but some questions:

    I put a level (an instrument to see what kind of angle a surface is sloping) on the strings, and the bubble is towards the bass strings. As far as i can tell, the action of the low e is about 1.35 mm and the action of the high e string is 1.55mm.

    I think the fretboard might be warping a bit and tilting to one side (if your looking at the fretboard lengthwise from the pickups towards the tuning pegs, holding the guitar at eye-level). I have a tune-o-matic bridge.


    Anyway, I don't want to cause long term damage, how should the guitar be set up, should I eye-ball it and try to make the neck level, or try to make it so that the strings are level?

    There is also a buzzing fret, the A string at the 19th & 20th fret buzzes against the 21st fret... thats the only fret, and it didn't do this before.

    Edit: the neck actually looks pretty good... Is there a way I can file down the 21st fret to get rid of the buzzing? Is it common to have the bass strings be of higher elevation than the treble strings?
    They call them fingers, but I never see them fing.

  2. #2
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    It's more likely that your studs aren't leveled. Fiddle with your bridge rather than messing with your frets. Fretwork should be left to professional luthiers *(unless you don't care about the guitar). In any case it's still a better option to take the guitar to a tech to have him set it up for you.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  3. #3
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mateo150
    I just changed my strings, and it messed up how my guitar was set up. I have it done pretty well now, but some questions:

    I put a level (an instrument to see what kind of angle a surface is sloping) on the strings, and the bubble is towards the bass strings. As far as i can tell, the action of the low e is about 1.35 mm and the action of the high e string is 1.55mm.

    I think the fretboard might be warping a bit and tilting to one side (if your looking at the fretboard lengthwise from the pickups towards the tuning pegs, holding the guitar at eye-level). I have a tune-o-matic bridge.


    Anyway, I don't want to cause long term damage, how should the guitar be set up, should I eye-ball it and try to make the neck level, or try to make it so that the strings are level?

    There is also a buzzing fret, the A string at the 19th & 20th fret buzzes against the 21st fret... thats the only fret, and it didn't do this before.

    Edit: the neck actually looks pretty good... Is there a way I can file down the 21st fret to get rid of the buzzing? Is it common to have the bass strings be of higher elevation than the treble strings?
    To check for a warped neck:-
    Eye it up from the headstock towards the body, you should be able to see if the frets start to 'drift' off to either side, or if they look like they are getting closer together on one edge and not the other.
    If you do it from the body end you kind of get an optical illusion due to the fact that you are looking over the frets that are closest together first!

    The buzzing sounds like a fret that needs 'dressing', if it's only fretting out at that one particular point it can be dressed down without having to dress the whole neck. DON'T touch it with a file though!!! You need to find a Carborundum stone (Like you use for knife sharpening). Although, do try to adjust the bridge if you can, dressing is a skilled operation!!

    Yep, the Bass strings will always sit slightly higher than the treble ones. If I've understood your post correctly then your high E is too high. You need to measure the gap between the string and fret at the 1st fret and the 12th fret to get a better guage on how the string is lying along the neck.

    I don't understand how by just changing the strings this problem has suddenly appeared, did you change guages?
    IF NOT, make sure that your bridge part of the Tune-o-Matic went back on the original way around!! This won't make a huge difference, but it will affect it. This will also have affected the intonation, which, so long as you didn't start adjusting the saddles can be easily rectified by simply turning the saddle bar back round!! Or as Jorge suggested you have inadvertantly adjusted one of the support posts!

    All in all it sounds like you need to take it to your local Tech to set it up.

    If you want any more info, tips etc give us a shout and I'll see what I can do!!!

  4. #4
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    thanks MB, I checked it from the headstock, looks good actually. The strings are set right, you had the directions crossed up. I've never dressed frets, how bad could I mess this up If I tried to grind down that one tiny area?
    They call them fingers, but I never see them fing.

  5. #5
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Well, let's look at it this way, if you 'over dress' that one point so that it was too low then the whole neck would need doing to match it to the low point that you had just created!

    Secondly, as I mentioned before, having the right tools for the job is very important. The only files I'd ever use on frets are very, very fine Toolmakers or Modelmakers files, but I would far rather use Carborundum stones.
    As for whether to attempt it your self? Well, all I can say is, How confident are you in your own engineering? If you really take your time and don't rush it then it's not too difficult a job to do! You know exactly where your Highpoint is because that's the point that is causing the string to fret out, so, if we mark that part of the offending fret with a felt-tip pen we can then loosen all the strings right off, so you can pull them over the edge of the neck out of the way, and very carefully file down the offending part of fret. Remember to follow the curve of the neck (If there is one) otherwise a 'Flatspot' is even worse to try and rectify!! Re-tighten all the strings to tune and check again, repeat this same process until you've got the desired part filed down to the orrect point! Easy see??
    The main thing to remember is not to go mad with the filing!!! Look at it this way, you can always take a tiny little bit more off, BUT, if you go mad you can never add anything back on!!! On the same point, if you go too hard with the file you'll end up with deep scores in the fret face too!! If you're nice and gentle you should keep a nice smooth finish. (You can always smooth it right out with some very fine abrasive paper). Like I say, if you have a friendly enough Tech locally who wouldn't mind showing you first, then it may be worth paying to gain the knowledge!!
    Last edited by mattblack850; 12-13-2005 at 10:55 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    I had the same problem last time I changed strings on my Epi DOT. Did you change the strings one at a time, or take them all off first? If you took them all off at once, it may have caused the neck to change adjustment slightly.
    Setting up a neck if it isn't bowed or warped is pretty easy.
    I have the new strings on and tuned to how you play. Then I take a straight edge that will cover the length of the fretboard and adjust the truss rodd so all the frets are level. (use the center of the frets...I use the "dots" as a guide) Then, use a small ruler graduated in 64ths of an inch (or millimeters), and tighten the truss rod until about the 7th or 8th fret is about 3/64ths below the ruler. This is called bow, and every neck should have a slight bow to it. Too much, and the truss rod is too tight, which could permanently warp the neck, too little and you'll have fret buzz.
    To adjust the bridge, drop the tuning down a bit to allow slack. Measure the height of the low E and high E at the body fret. Adjust the low E so it is anywhere from 3 to 4/64ths above the fret directly below, the high E should be set about 2/64ths below the low E (about 1 to 2/64ths). If there is buzz, keep adding 1/64th, but it shouldn't be more than about 5/64ths for either string. Then tune back up and play all over the neck, looking for buzz.
    Mine had a single string, single fret buzz, but this procedure got rid of it. If it still buzzes, then a trip to the tech is in order.

  7. #7
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Sounds like you induced a problem during the string change, and it is not a problem with the guitar itself. So it doesn't make sense to start filing away on your guitar if the problem is something you caused... BTW, the strings should be higher from the fretboard on the low E side. Big fat strings need more room to vibrate.

    Check this out.
    http://fender.com/support/setup/othersetup.php
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

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