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Setup Reset

Adam L

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Aug 17, 2015
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I have a 2001 LP Classic infront of me and the setup is non-existant. The nut height is right where it should be, on both sides, and I tightened the trussrod so that the fretboard perfectly lines up and touches the slotted side of the ruler

And that's where I'm stuck. The strings are too low and buzzing, and I wouldn't be surprised if all the saddles are positioned completely randomly.

How would you guys handle something like this?
Is there a certain height you'd want the tune-o-matic off the body? How about a reset position for the saddles?

Thanks,
-Adam
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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328
First I would add some relief to the neck. I go for 0.006" (0.15mm) for Les Pauls but about there generally works for me.

The bridge height off the body is a bad measure because it depends on the neck angle. I've got 3 Les Pauls and an ES-335 and they vary quite a bit. You need a more consistent measure like the string at the 12th fret and go based on that. On my Les Paul Custom (happens to be next to me) I have 1mm at the 12th fret across the board, but I know this has very good level frets (it's been refretted) which is often the limiting factor.
 

Wilko

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Mar 11, 2002
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That slotted ruler is worthless. You want to measure the frets, not the fretboard.

Height of bridge is related to the strings/fretboard relationship, not the body.

Saddles positions are dependent on the length of string required to match the pitch of the 12th fret note to the open string.
 

Adam L

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Aug 17, 2015
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9
That slotted ruler is worthless. You want to measure the frets, not the fretboard.

Height of bridge is related to the strings/fretboard relationship, not the body.

Saddles positions are dependent on the length of string required to match the pitch of the 12th fret note to the open string.

Hopefully I didn't make things harder on myself using that slotted ruler.

I'm just trying to figure out where to start; the bridge, all the saddles, and possibly the neck (from slotted ruler) are out of position.
 

Adam L

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Aug 17, 2015
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You have to watch a couple YouTube videos on set-ups.
I think you're starting off with some erroneous ideas.

In all of the setups I've seen on YouTube, the guitar is already in decent shape, not all over the place like mine.

If you got a new bridge, with the saddles set all the way back, and u didn't have the measurements from your previous setup, what height would you set the bridge to start?
 

Wilko

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After your neck is the desired straightness, set the bridge height so that the string height (action) is where you want it to be. Then set the intonation--saddles so that 12th fret matches open string (one octave apart). That's all there is to it.
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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328
Yes as Wilko says, even if you have absolutely no reference point for your bridge the process is the same. The reason I can't give you a measurement is because I have one Les Paul with the bridge on its absolute lowest setting, and another one significantly higher - both have the same action.

What you need is the acronym I heard Ron Thorn of Fender talk about; TRAIN.

Tune
Relief - (ie. adjust the truss rod to the desired relief - I start with 0.006" at the 9th fret while fretting 1st & last frets)
Action - This is where you bring your bridge to the right height, based on the action at the 12th fret
Intonation - Now you adjust the saddles
Nut - Checking the action at the nut and adjusting if necessary. This won't have changed so should be OK which is why it's last. Personally I do this first when setting up a new build from scratch.

Here's a handy guide:
 

Adam L

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Aug 17, 2015
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9
After your neck is the desired straightness

I guess this is what's confusing me... In an earlier post, it was said that every measurement is dependent on something else, which I understand. Yet, if this is the case, how do I know my desired neck straiteness, when everything else if off?

Also, does saddle position have no influence on string height?

I really appreciate you guys holding my hand thru this. I want to know how to do this myself, so I can create "my" setup.
 

Triplet

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Mar 13, 2006
Messages
1,649
If it is an all new start (after a new nut, frets, etc.) I like to get the neck dead level when in tune and work from there. Work the truss rod and bridge alternately (always retune to keep correct tension) until you get to your happy place.
 

Wilko

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Metropolis' post is spot on. Just follow that order.
Set the neck straightness first. Period. What is confusing about that? Tune to pitch, don't worry about whether it's intonated, it probably won't be. String tension will pull your neck to where it currently is. Measure the neck straitness. (personally I just look at in relation to the strings and don't "measure" or use a strait edge. The string is straight.

Set the height of the bridge. Moving the saddles to intonate won't change that, but changing the height Will change the intonation. Higher brisge will pull the strings sharper meaning you need to mave the saddles back toward the tailpiece.

Yes, everything is interdependent, so you need to do it that order. Period. No excuses. just do it.

(you only need to adjust the nut height if your strings are sharp at the first few frets.Not usually enough for the average player to care. Wait til you know what's what.
 

charliechitlins

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Nov 16, 2021
Messages
613
I guess this is what's confusing me... In an earlier post, it was said that every measurement is dependent on something else, which I understand. Yet, if this is the case, how do I know my desired neck straiteness, when everything else if off?

Also, does saddle position have no influence on string height?

I really appreciate you guys holding my hand thru this. I want to know how to do this myself, so I can create "my" setup.
The neck do what the neck do...it's unaffected by the other stuff...except tuning...so you need to tune the guitar to pitch with your preferred gauge of strings. This will put the proper tension on the neck so you can properly adjust the truss rod.
Fret a string at the first fret and the fret where the neck joins the body. Then look at the fret midway between.
There should be a tiny bit of daylight between the string and the fret.
Saddles should be on the same plane as the fretboard, so their fore-and-aft changes don't affect height...only length...intonation.
 
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