A technique for setting the neck angle

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by jpmist, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Not saying this is the only way to do it, but I don't often see it mentioned too often and I ran across some pics I took that I thought I'd offer.

    When setting up your Strat, your bridge saddles should be approximately in the upper middle range of the saddle screws. If your screws are at the very top or bottom of the saddle than you need to check your neck angle. See first pic. This works for me in that the screw tops aren't so high as to chew up my hand.

    The 2nd pic shows a straight 1x2 stick flat on the body extending to the nut of the neck.

    Carefully mark the end of the stick where it meets the corner of the nut and fretboard in the 3rd pic.

    The 4th shows the distance from the BOTTOM edge of the stick. (An Eric Clapton Signature Strat I had was set up perfectly so I'm using that as a standard. Note also that the strings are tuned to standard, not slack.) This neck measures to 18/64th, or 9/32nd of an inch. I'd guess if you were within 1/32 of an inch you'd be able to set your saddles an appropriate height.

    If your measurement is much less than 9/32nd then your neck is too flat and you need to increase the neck angle by adding a shim to the outer half if the neck pocket. More than 9/32nd and the shim is applied to the inner half of the pocket.

    Hope this helps someone. It's a simple cheap check on keeping your neck angle as well as the action you've set when ever you remove or replace the neck on your Strat.

    I should add that this should work on Mexican and USA neck and bodies. I know some Asian bodies are thinner so that would throw off the 9/32nd measurement.

    bridge.jpg neck stick.jpg 9:32.jpg measure.jpg
     
  2. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Censored

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    Good stuff!
     
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  3. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    I don't understand the 4th pic. What is it supposed to be showing?
     
  4. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Censored

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    The upward angle measurement of the neck at headstock measured on 3rd picture when the strings are on and tuned.
     
  5. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Check out the 3rd pic. It's an unobscured view of the end of the same stick shown in pic 3. It's showing a measurement of where the mark for the corner of the nut and fretboard is from the bottom edge of the stick.

    Thanks for asking so I can try to make it clearer. Basically the measurement tells you the height of the fretboard at the nut relative to the top of the body.
     
  6. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    OK after re-reading it about 20 times I get what you're doing here, but if the stick isn't 100% true it's all for naught. And the point of this exercise is to keep the saddle height in the middle?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  7. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for sticking with it!

    Yeah, one assumes the stick is straight. Just place it against a kitchen countertop or some such and check to see if it's warped.

    The point is that there's a specific angle that Fender designed for the neck and if you're outside of a margin of error there's no way you're going to be able to adjust the string height with the bridge saddles to get the action where you want it without buzzing. It's also for when you take your neck off and want to be sure you're not making things worse when you put it back on.

    So, maybe a pic will help visualize. If the neck angle is too high (green arrow) that raises the strings and you end up adjusting the saddles so they're as far down as they can get with the saddle screws gouging your hand. If too flat (blue arrow) your strings are too low and you have to raise the saddles perhaps higher than the saddle screw length.

    If you've never had this problem, great, but from time to time I read where guys complain that the screws seem too long and want to get short ones. . . neck angle.jpg
     
  8. Highwaystrat

    Highwaystrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Is this how you do it? You put the stick on the floor and measure the distance from the floor to the to of the fingerboard where the nut is? The you put the other end of the stick on top of the body?
     
  9. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Yikes, sorry that the pics are confusing. The guitar is lying horizontal on a kitchen counter, the stick is flat on the body adjacent to the pickguard, but not on top of it.

    The 3th pic shows a close up where the end extends to the nut. There I have marked on the side of the stick the exact point where the nut meets the fretboard.

    The 4th pic is a close up of the same end of the stick without the neck covering it. The ruler shows how high the nut/fretboard mark should be from the plane of the body.

    If anyone is still confused I'll keep trying. . . :whistling:
     
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  10. Highwaystrat

    Highwaystrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks I get it now. I'll try it with my leveling beam, it's dead straight but it's only a little longer than the neck so I'll have to hold it in place flat to the body so it doesn't tip, plus it's heavy. This should do it right?
     
  11. JamDog

    JamDog Strat-Talk Member

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    I don't get it.
     
  12. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Sure if you think you can keep the beam from wobbling on the body. Is there a way you can extend the beam by taping a ruler or something to lengthen it to the headstock?
     
  13. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    OK! o_O

    Gotta give me more than that. Start with the graphic of the neck 6 or so messages up . . .

    All I'm doing here is giving everyone a known measurement of a neck angle from a well set up neck that has the saddles in the sweet spot. If your saddles are good and so is your action you're good to go. But if your saddles are too high or too low or you can't lower your action enough without buzzing than check your truss rod and check back. . .
     
  14. JamDog

    JamDog Strat-Talk Member

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    I understand the end result, and how to achieve it, just not sure how to compute the measurements.

    But, thanks a lot. I just added shim to my guitar and got rid of awful buzz.
     
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  15. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    So what is the actual neck angle? Bits of stick and measurement from somebody else's guitar and set up are a start I suppose, but if it works for you, have at it.
     
  16. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    And to think that all these decades I have just looked at the bridge, tried to set the action and then just added a shim if I needed one.

    D
     
  17. Highwaystrat

    Highwaystrat Senior Stratmaster

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    So there could actually be a angle represented in a number degree?
    This could help us come up with a quick tool for the job.
    But a straight edge instead of wood would do, and a caliper or ruler too.
     
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  18. pumpkin

    pumpkin Strat-Talker

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    ... Saddle screws are USA and Metric type.... USA (SAE) have a more coarse thread and Metric are more common on nearly all guitars from overseas (China, Indonesia, etc.). I use 6mm or 8mm length import type on most offshore Strats to get the screw tops just at (or barely below) the top of the saddle for right hand comfort.
    A solid saddle gives more travel than an old 1950s bent steel one. The real problem is how to alter the neck angle and I use 1-3 business cards at the rear of the pocket. If 2 (typical), I let the bottom one use about 1/3 of the pocket length and the top one about 1/2 that length.... to get a slight tilt. But a real solution is to know how much material to remove from the neck pocket forward area (how deep and for how far toward the bridge). It's 'triangle geometry' to solve and there is probably a simple method found long ago... but I have not located it yet.
     
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  19. Raimonds

    Raimonds Senior Stratmaster

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    Sorry, but there is not any specific angle which was Fender designed. Neck pocket is flat and parallel to the top of the body, if I understand geometry right.
     
  20. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Sorry, but there is not any specific angle which was Fender designed.

    All due respect, but beg to differ. If you look carefully at the "blueprint" below, you'll see in the middle diagram how the fretboard surface slopes up gradually from the neck pocket to the nut. (Click on it to enlarge it) The slight rise of the nut allows room for the strings to vibrate.

    If you're speaking only of how the neck fits squarely in the neck pocket I guess you're correct. Both surfaces are perfectly horizontal, but kind of irrelevant to where the nut is.

    My Rube Goldberg style stick measuring technique I detailed to open this post is simply a way to measure where the nut should be and is really important to account for when swapping necks.

    [​IMG]