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Target neck relief

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
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10,577
The first one I'd shoot for on a modern Gibson would be zero.

Many of mine came up perfect there.

I think they may Plek them with that.
 

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
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Remember, a perfect setup requires many things.

(I am assuming the frets are in good shape and new and the nut is cut properly)

1) set neck relief

2) set bridge height

3) set pickups to start height

4) if necessary set stop height

5) check for buzzes

6) set intonation on bridge

7) check for buzzes again

8) dial in the pickups for overall height and pole height (many good threads on setting for "bloom")


Added hint: On mine after the above actions I play it for no less than a week. Sometimes I change my mind (hmmm, TOO close). Sometimes after a time you find buzzes you missed or after things settle in they appear. Just take your time.

I kind of "rock it down" when doing action lowering. A little tightening, a small move on the bridge. Rinse, lather, repeat.
 
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xxedgexx

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Mar 9, 2022
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6
So just for example, this is my 355.


This is not the stewmac gauge. This one extends from the first fret to the 17th fret and the measurement happens at the 7th fret.

Thanks!
 

bursty

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Dec 25, 2012
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190
if the action is too low/strings too low then it's difficult to dig in for string bends so, I like my action a tad high.
Sure, you have to fight it a bit more but then your fingers get a nice workout.
Three half step bends is a must IMO which makes a full note bend a piece of cake :D
This typically requires a bit more relief than some folks like.
Also, I don't use 8s like some folks; 10 - 46 for me .........
 

charliechitlins

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Nov 16, 2021
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if the action is too low/strings too low then it's difficult to dig in for string bends so, I like my action a tad high.
Sure, you have to fight it a bit more but then your fingers get a nice workout.
Three half step bends is a must IMO which makes a full note bend a piece of cake :D
This typically requires a bit more relief than some folks like.
Also, I don't use 8s like some folks; 10 - 46 for me .........
I think high action and relief are more independent.
If, for some reason, you like a lot of relief, you'd need high action to avoid dead notes and buzzing.
But if you have high action, there is no need for additional relief.
The neck could be dead straight.
 

thin sissy

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Jan 2, 2006
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2,626
Lately, if I have the patience, I set the neck dead straight, then back off a tweak at a time.
Often I find an unexpected sweet spot in terms of tone and playability, and I feel like it's not measurable, but unique to the instrument.
Sometimes it's not even there.
Holy crap, I thought I was going insane. I also "think" there is a sweet spot for relief where the sound is at its best. For my guitars it's with a very straight neck, just a smidge of relief.

Glad to see someone else mention this :)
 

Arnold M.

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Mar 29, 2018
Messages
277
I use feeler gauges, relief usually changes with time anyways due to seasonal weather variations, I used to measure it with the gauges but the novelty wore off many moons ago ... as long as there is something there it's ok to my eye and preferably under 10 thou. if it's set too low or too high your ears and/or fingers will let you knowvv.. trial and error, you'll get it, I haven't paid for set up for years and years, UTube and tools worked for me. the basics are pretty straight forward.
 

8ohms

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Aug 31, 2003
Messages
170
Put the feeler gauges away. Set your bridge to where you like the action above the 12th fret. Then adjust the truss rod for the same height/feel below the 12th. This won’t take into account a nut that is not cut correctly, but you should be close. Your neck is going to move throughout the seasons. Day to day, week to week, so be prepared for additional adjustments. It will always take small tweaks to keep the feel the same. Blows my mind how guys can go years/decades without touching the truss rod. It should be as common as tuning.
 
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charliechitlins

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Nov 16, 2021
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And it blows MY mind when I hear about anybody doing anything with a truss rod other than BEGINNING a set-up by addressing it by setting the relief within the effective length of the rod.
It's not an action adjustment, nor is it a buzz reducer...it sets the neck relief at the very beginning of a proper set-up.
 

renderit

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And it blows MY mind when I hear about anybody doing anything with a truss rod other than BEGINNING a set-up by addressing it by setting the relief within the effective length of the rod.
It's not an action adjustment, nor is it a buzz reducer...it sets the neck relief at the very beginning of a proper set-up.
And effects everything that follows, therefore I agree/disagree (but I understand and agree with your point).

As a string rotates in a circular fashion it is generally important to start with none (perfectly flat) to determine IF the frets were given relief in the pleking process.

It greatly affects the action if set wrong as you are making up the difference to avoid buzzes.

Many peeps don't understand that flattening out the relief will change the action (lowering it overall in this case).

If there is a bit of (or a large amount of) relief and it was pleked at zero (which is how I was told it was done at Gibson) and you tighten the rod so the fingerboard is zero the action will be lower than when you started.

At this point you raise the bridge until you don't get buzzing and determine if it is the action you want.

There will (generally) be only one point where it is correct at it's lowest (action) and can be set at anything higher.

If you are a "soft" plucker only, you can go really low.

This is all assuming it was pleked right.

And DOES follow Charlies postulate that:

1) Adjust the rod.

2) Do the rest while leaving the rod alone.

3) Repeat 1 & 2.

4) Wash your damn hair.


This is all assuming a new guitar from the factory with no previous fret leveling or other work done.

It is also assuming you are starting with SOME relief and not negative relief (rod too tight).
 
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charliechitlins

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Actually... I may have to back off on my stance a bit. Lately I've been setting the relief very flat...maybe 3-4 thou...then, after a full set-up, adding relief a very little at a time, looking for a sweet spot.
It's most obvious with hollow archtops; sometimes the acoustic sound really wakes up.
I have no explanation for this.
 

DutchRay

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Mar 15, 2015
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Actually... I may have to back off on my stance a bit. Lately I've been setting the relief very flat...maybe 3-4 thou...then, after a full set-up, adding relief a very little at a time, looking for a sweet spot.
It's most obvious with hollow archtops; sometimes the acoustic sound really wakes up.
I have no explanation for this.
It's all physics. The string needs room to vibrate and there is a sweet spot where the string is most 'happy'.
 

charliechitlins

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Nov 16, 2021
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It's all physics. The string needs room to vibrate and there is a sweet spot where the string is most 'happy'.
This has nothing to do with neck relief, unless the relief is set in such a way that the fret above the fretted note interferes with the vibrating of the string.
If the string misses the higher fret, it doesn't matter if it's .001" or .001 mile.
There is a well-known guy around here (on guitar bulletin boards, I mean) who seems to be a very competent luthier/tech with a successful business, who insists that the string "kissing" the fret after the fretted note is necessary, as it increases harmonic complexity, or something.
Most of us would call that "fret buzz."
I'd be interested in playing a guitar he set up.
 

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
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This has nothing to do with neck relief, unless the relief is set in such a way that the fret above the fretted note interferes with the vibrating of the string.
If the string misses the higher fret, it doesn't matter if it's .001" or .001 mile.
There is a well-known guy around here (on guitar bulletin boards, I mean) who seems to be a very competent luthier/tech with a successful business, who insists that the string "kissing" the fret after the fretted note is necessary, as it increases harmonic complexity, or something.
Most of us would call that "fret buzz."

I'd be interested in playing a guitar he set up.
Sitars are interesting...

They sound like chit but they are interesting.
 

Wilko

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This has nothing to do with neck relief, unless the relief is set in such a way that the fret above the fretted note interferes with the vibrating of the string.
It does illustrate the motion of the string and why relief is needed for most situations. The reason light pickers can get away with lower action is a function of the strings' amplitude--harder playing needs more room for the string to vibrate (relief) at the fundamental and most other lower order harmonics.
 

Wilko

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Here's a simple graphic that shows how relief looks with moving string, and the lower show what happens with too much relief for desired action.

neck_relief.jpg
 
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