Is everyone happy with .010 neck relief

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by spyglass, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. thedrill

    thedrill Strat-Talk Member

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    i work with .000 all day, i can look and take a guess at the measurement and be dam close , and i can see the difference in say .010 and .012 .014, by looking, but thats cause im working that small all the time.
    that said, got 3 strats, 2 2007 avri hotrods ,1 at .008 , 1 at .012 , and a 1981 american standard at .014 . 2 les pauls , 1 standard at .010 , 1 custom at .014 . 2 martin acustics
    1 at .010 1 at .012 .
    im definatly a fiddler, i mess round with setups till im happy, somtimes it drives me frickin bonkers getting things the way i like it.
    i think every guitar is different, like my 2 avri hotrods, both made march 2007, same factory, hell probly same guy put em together, 1 at .008 , 1 at .012 , at this point 1 is still stock and 1 has a few mods on it, but evan when both were stock i had both setup compleatly different. just my 4 cents.....
     
  2. Rockape

    Rockape Most Honored Senior Member

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    Never measured neck relief in my life.

    I do it by eye and feel (have done for years, no problem).
     
  3. 98BlackStrat

    98BlackStrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Well it's actually 2 7/32 over 2 1/16 so the extra 1/32 that you didn't account for makes all the difference;)

    I set relief by eye and feel too. I'm sure each of my Strats vary a tiny bit
     
  4. remek

    remek Strat-Talker

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    this is me. i measured my ec-1000 once out of curiosity because the guy at GC "did me a solid" by setting it up according to factory specs when i wanted the wiring fixed to the toggle. i couldnt believe the "factory specs" could be so poor. i think though, perhaps the climate change on this part of the world from where it was made might have caused the problem.

    suffice it to say i agree with the others about GC luthiers. my post meandered, as usual!
     
  5. moosie

    moosie Senior Stratmaster

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    Reading this thread and others like it, and while not knowing what some people actually do to get their setups...

    I suspect some folks adjust relief (truss rod), when they should be adjusting action (saddles), and vice versa.

    First, I know some people prefer higher action for various reasons. Not just to avoid buzzing. But in general, I think it's useful to know how to set the action as low as possible. Then, if you want to raise it, you can. But if like me, you prefer it low, you're there. It's like guitar tone. You can always add dirt, but you can't add clean.

    Second, tweaking the last thousandth may be counterproductive because it leaves no room for the neck to settle, or change even the slightest in response to changing household or gig conditions. Still, I find it useful to be able to set it quite low, and then simply raise the saddles a hair to make it less hassle to maintain.

    EDIT: Third, I measure things. It's the only way I can do it repeatably. With more experience I'll probably be able to rely less on that. Either way you feel comfortable with, the goal here could be the same, to get the lowest action, and adjust from there as pointed out above.

    Assuming the frets are properly dressed, the only two factors affecting proper action are relief and saddle height. Intonation and fine tuning pickup height come later. The truss rod is adjusted first, and then the saddle heights are set.

    I used to use the Fender guideline of .010 to .012, and I got a pretty good setup, but not quite where I wanted. I was frustrated that every time I had my tech do it, he would get the action a hair (or a lot) lower, still buzz-free.

    My tech works by feel, so it was never apparent to me what he was doing differently. Although now that I think about it, I did measure the relief one time, after I brought the guitar home. I recall being frustrated with the tech because he'd obviously misadjusted. The relief was .002. In my frustration I neglected to connect the dots. "How come it plays so well if it's not adjusted properly? How come I can't get the action this low?" I didn't know, but I "knew" the relief was "wrong".

    A year later, I finally asked him to walk through with me. I did the setup, using my tools, my slightly different method of measuring things. I wanted it to be repeatable once I got home. Did I mention I have a very patient luthier, who isn't at all intimidated by educating himself out of work? He's super to work with.

    Anyway, it became apparent almost immediately. I was using way too much relief. Ever since then I've had an easy time getting super low action. All guitars, radii, scale, etc.

    If you like low action, and haven't tried moving to, say, .006 for starters, why not see if it helps? Think about it this way: with relief, you have a low point. Around the 7th fret. If that's a lot lower than the 8th, or the 8th compared to the 9th, etc., you must raise the saddles to avoid buzz. Flatten the neck and you reduce the "uphill fret" situation, and the saddles can be lower.
     
  6. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

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    I've always adjusted my Strats to .010. No complaints, and very happy with that neck relief.
     
  7. Dunzie

    Dunzie Strat-O-Master

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    Don't really worry too much about how other people achieve their ideal setups, but I use tools and feeler gauges for sure. And I typically find following the Fender recommended spec is great for neck relief, and I tend to go slightly (barely) higher than recommended spec for string height / action. Pickups I set by trial and error because really all pickups are different and I trust my ears more than a guideline put out by Fender in that regard.

    Having said all that, 0.010 is the sweet spot for my Fenders to my tastes.
     
  8. Michael919

    Michael919 Most Honored Senior Member

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    I used to measure but for the past few years I eyeball it. The main feedback I use for fine tuning the relief is fret buzz in the 2nd to 6th fret area. When that occurs I add a little relief.

    This fine tuning is usually a back and forth series of adjustments between string height and relief to get things where I want them.
     
  9. pilk

    pilk Banned

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    I know, I always had a weird feeling when I took my guitar in the shop and the guy could just glance at it and get a reading. One time I asked him how can you see that? Oh, I've been doing this a long time. I acted like I accepted that answer because I'm a coward. I like people to like me and I especially want the guy who is going to be working on my guitar to like me. No more never again. Any work on my guitars is being done by me.
     
  10. pilk

    pilk Banned

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    Your feeler gauges will give you a slightly false reading unless your fretwork is perfect and there is no perfect fretwork but you can get a good idea
     
  11. moosie

    moosie Senior Stratmaster

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    Well, compared to what?

    You want the relief on the playing surface, which is the fret tops. How you measure the fret tops can affect the accuracy, certainly. Even feeler gauges require some 'feel'. I think however you measure, as long as you're consistent, you'll do okay. But if you're leveling or relieving something other than the fret tops, that's a problem.
     
  12. stratocarlster

    stratocarlster Most Honored Senior Member

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    Yeah I think this is my issue with setting up by 'feel'. There are two variables at play.

    I have no doubt the 'feel' guys get where they're going in the end, but I suspect they would get there quicker by measuring, even if only as a starting point.

    And by measuring I don't necessarily mean with a gauge. As others have pointed out, with experience it's pretty easy to measure relief by eye, within 2 or 3 thou at least.
     
  13. MMike

    MMike Strat-Talker

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    Ok....I have to ask. Yes I am ignernt. What is the 0.010" measuring? I operate in 0.001" tolerances too....

    Figure....0.010" is the diameter of a top E string.....
     
  14. moosie

    moosie Senior Stratmaster

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    Diameter of the E string, yep. So, sight along your neck. Notice a dip, bottoming out around midway between the nut and where the neck meets the body? If it's measured at .010 relief, then that dip is the thickness of a high E.

    And half that amount in the wrong direction can make a neck difficult to play. If you live in an area with seasonal temperature, and particularly humidity changes, probably twice a year you notice the guitar no longer playing well. If you have real high action, you might not notice, though. Anyway, it's because of the fine tolerance that such miniscule differences can matter.

    A common way to measure is by tuning to pitch, and capoing the first fret, and pressing down a high fret (21st, or any fret on the body, really). Now the fretted string acts as a straightedge. Carefully insert feeler gauges between string and fret tops where you suspect the low spot (6-9th fret area). Once you have that, try it again after turning the truss rod a 1/4 turn or so. You should see the relief change. If you measure anything from a supposedly straight string, it's a good idea to hold the guitar on it's side (playing position), otherwise gravity pulling the string closer to the board will skew the result.
     
  15. MMike

    MMike Strat-Talker

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    Ok...that's pretty cool...... I had never known that before...Thanks

    My action does seem higher recently since I put on heavier strings. i assume that's sort of normal since they require a little more tension to get them to 440. so it would make sense that it would yank on the head stock a little more.

    But back to the subject at hand....could you not also lay a straight edge along the neck/frets an measure it that way?
     
  16. MMike

    MMike Strat-Talker

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    and I live in montreal....so...brutal winters and stupidly hot/humid summers.

    I just did your check. Capo on first fret, held down the bottom E string onto the last fret. I've got a good 0.070" gap between the string and the 9th fret.

    May there's my problem! It's been the guitar all along!
     
  17. dogwatermike

    dogwatermike Strat-Talker

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    Just a brief comment.... the difference between 0.010" and 0.012" is 0.002".... which is two thousands of an inch....

    To put that in perspective, the width of a human hair is about 0.004"..... so we're talking about seeing the difference of half a human hair!

    Let's go at this another way by asking how good is human eyesight.... can you really see a 0.002" difference?? Stick with me on this one... we'll use some optics... the eye's iris diameter redults in a diffraction limited resolution angle of wavelength over angle... multiply by range any you get the resolution distance at that range....a 4 mm iris ( depends on Light level but typical) and a 0.55 micron wavelength at a distance of 25 cm (approx 1 ft) results in a diffraction limit of 0.0016"...

    So, what this means is the 2 thou we're talking about is about at the limit of the eye resolution..... so it is really hard to see this!!

    So, if you have two strings side by side, one at 0.010" and one at 0.012", you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference, although you might barely. This is about the resolution limit of the eye at 1 ft.

    So, could someone estimate a distance or thickness to a tolerence of 0.002" WITHOUT comparing it to something else in a side by side comparison??? I don't think so....

    Not meaning to create arguments here... but my BS detector is going "Ah-oo-ga"!!
     
  18. MMike

    MMike Strat-Talker

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    I tend to agree. I've worked in/near/around machine shops my entire career. I am well versed in measuring machined parts with tolerances measured in 0.00X".....and yeah...and thou is pretty freakin' small. I am a clod, so I'm not going to dispute what some people can feel...but yeah... I'm pretty sure I cant tell the difference.
     
  19. pilk

    pilk Banned

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    I did it sort of like this for most of my guitaring life. The only thing I knew was raising the bridge and I knew that truss Rod thing was supposed to be turned to adjust the neck. I would turn it until the guitar started working better and quit. I did not know what was going on or how it worked and I did not care all I wanted to do was play my guitar so it's all good.
    Now in my retirement and with the Internet at my disposal it's kind of fun to know what I was missing all those years and and to more importantly, at least to me, actually put it into action. No pun intended
     
  20. mshivy

    mshivy Most Honored Senior Member

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    I'm just happy when they're not back-bowed. That really sucks.