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Old CGS Forum > Upgrades & Parts

Guitar Setup Question

posted Jan 20, 2014 14:35:34 by lorenzo
Hello everyone!
I started working on setting up my new guitar, a really wonderful one piece guitar bought from aaron jason, maple fretboard and mahogany body.
I set up the truss-rod and the bridge with individual saddles (getting about 2.00 mm, 5/64" of action at the 12th fret 6th string) then I put the strings and noticed fret buzz almost everywhere on the fretboard..
I did the fret job and now there not high frets on the fretboard anymore, but the action still seems to be too low to play well, there is still much of fret buzz everywhere on the fretboard.
Are just the frets still too high? and if so, how much should I lower them more?

Thanks in advance for any tips and help! :)
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11 replies
Adid said Jan 20, 2014 15:13:57
I don't know what bridge you have, I never measure anything while doing the setup.

I keep my bridge at a slightly higher position than the average, and keep a small back bow on the neck, and then adjust the bridge to my comfort.
I only have experience with TOM bridges, and the action is quite low (Just a 14th fret problem on one guitar)
vambo73 said Jan 20, 2014 16:28:12
In order to help you need to supply more information.Stop! don't lower the frets .How much neck relief do you have and at what fret have you measured this.
MichaelWamback said Jan 20, 2014 17:03:18
Numbers do help.

If the guitar has a good fret level, getting a 5/64 action at the 12th fret shouldn't be too difficult.

The first thing I would do is to double check the relief, as vambo73 suggests. I would set it at about .010, most guitars should play pretty well with that much relief - so it's usually a good place to start.

Play each note on each string an notice if there are particular places on the neck where it buzzes. Check those areas with your fret rocker to make sure that a fret isn't still a bit high.

If you leveled the frets in the traditional manner (straightening the neck first and leveling with the strings off) there is no tension on the neck. When you reapply the string tension, a neck doesn't necessarily bend uniformly. This can cause a fret to actually get high again. So check with the fret rocker on any areas that buzz with the neck under tension.

If you find it's only one spot where a fret is a hair high, don't level all the frets again. Just make a couple of swipes with your crowning file on the high fret to shave it down, checking with your rocker.

I would also check your nut height. If you press down on the 3rd fret, you should have only a very small gap between the first fret and the strings, just enough so that you can hear a faint "plink" when you tap the string over the first fret.

I'm not sure what bridge you have, but it's obviously not a Gibson style if you adjusted the strings individually. Sometimes there can be issues with the bridge radius as compared to the neck, but if you can do individual adjustment that shouldn't be a problem.

Lowering all the frets more won't solve the issue. The overall height of the frets doesn't matter - just that they are on the same plane, which is why you level them. They all have to be the same height, relative to each-other.

Eliminate the obvious causes first - a high fret still, a badly cut nut, incorrect relief - and once you have eliminated that stuff, you then have to take a hard look at your bridge.

With Epiphones, I've had the bridges be unstable and will cause some buzz with a low action. Replacing it with a quality bridge solved the issue.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
vambostrausser said Jan 20, 2014 17:38:13
MW is correct in what he says.
What style of guitar are you talking about?? FENDER/GIBSON.What gauge of strings are you now using,what tunings are you using and how hard you you play.All of this information will help us to help you,which is what we want to do.
malcolmc151 said Jan 20, 2014 18:31:14
I have also purchased a guitar from aaron jason from your text and my observations with my guitar may I suggest the following:-it looks like you have a back bow (convex)on the neck 1/Take off the tension from the truss rod (Counter-clockwise)note how many turns.Then gripping lightly between the thumb and index finger the small end of the allen key rotate clockwise until you feel a resistance when you do turn approximately 1/16 of a turn clockwise.There will be very little pressure on the truss rod the result should be a concave bow in the neck.If I am correct the action will be raised.There is an excellent video by gretsch on youtube on setting of the truss rod.I did find that the nut was not cut deep enough but it still played well and when I changed to a bone nut I did adjust the overall height with care and there was an improvement.The 1/16 of a turn clockwise is how my guitar is set.
vambostrausser said Jan 20, 2014 19:02:45
Do you know what model/make of guitar we are talking about here.Has Lorenzo got a Gretsch or Glitch as I like to call them.How can anyone help without the correct information.
[Last edited Jan 20, 2014 19:04:04]
malcolmc151 said Jan 20, 2014 20:46:19
I do not which guitar Lorenzo has got but a maple fingerboard is usually a Fender individual saddles are another clue.As a point of interest mine is a 1960 LP with Ebony fingerboard.Although I believe the two guitars are of different makes I guessed that they would have made in the same factory to a similar spec when mine arrived it was playable out of the box. The make is not relevant the principles are the same the manner with which you adjust each make varies but the end result should be a straight neck with a slight concave bow if you refer to the Gretsch video it will give the details which should be a good starting point.It is months since I watched this video and I am relying on memory.My concern is that the truss rod is over tightened and it is not a good idea to work on the frets until this corrected.
vambostrausser said Jan 20, 2014 22:24:27
Thanks but different guitar need different set ups.Could be a PRLESS or a Musicman style of guitar that's why I need to know so I can help in anyway.
MichaelWamback said Jan 21, 2014 01:02:00
He did say that the frets were leveled, which is good. I've seen guitars that look like they have decent relief when you measure at the 7th fret actually have backbow when you go to level the frets. If the frets are not level, it can really through off the relief measurement.

I would still suggest double checking the frets with a fret rocker first, just to make sure. If they are level, then I would check the neck relief next. I wouldn't just arbitrarily start changing the truss rod without a measurement to know where it is first. But that's just me. :)

I always like to do things by the numbers with my touch of OCD.

If you have a set of feeler gauges, use a capo clamp the strings at the 1st fret, press the string to the last fret and then measure the gap from bottom of the 1st "E" string (thickest string) to the top of the 7th fret. A gap of .010 should be fine. Less than that will usually have some buzz, even with level frets (assuming a low action.)

And yes, if it is too flat, then back the truss rod off about 1/4 turn. Give the guitar a day or two to settle and then check it again. Just keep slacking the rod until you have a .010 relief.

If that cures the issue, great. If not, then we can figure things out from there. But we really need to know exactly what your relief is so we aren't chasing our tails.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
stanton.kramer said Jan 22, 2014 20:31:39

Perhaps I missed it, but you didn't say which model guitar you have. Maple fretboard and individual saddles has to lead me to believe you have a Fender style guitar. In which case...

There are four types of adjustments you can make: 1)Saddle height. 2) Neck relief (adjusting the truss rod). 3)Nut height 4) Neck set angle. Since your frets are all level, that leaves nothing else.

Neck relief and saddle height have all been covered here by others. So that leaves nut height and neck set angle. I had a bit of difficulty with my two Strats and found that shimming the neck SLIGHTLY did the trick.

With Strats and Teles it is easy to take off the neck. For my shim, I used a .003 thickness (40 gauge) piece of copper. It was a piece that I used for shielding (not the copper tape), but sheets that I found at an art supply store. I cut it for the width of the neck cavity by 1/2" and installed it at the top of the heel joint. Bolted it all back together and voila, I was able to set my action even lower than I needed. On both Strats on the high E 12th fret it measures 3/64th.

Good luck. Which guitar do you have? Not familiar with Aaron Jason.
malcolmc151 said Jan 23, 2014 09:42:28
I can answer who Aaron Jason is :Zjason Musical Instruments it is now listed as Jason Jea.
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