Quality of professional fret levelling & setup

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Frank_plays_HSS, Jun 22, 2021.

  1. Frank_plays_HSS

    Frank_plays_HSS New Member!

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    Hi,

    yesterday, I picked up my 15 y.o. Strat after getting a fret levelling and professional setup by a local guitar store. The setup included slotting the nut. And I got 10-46 strings instead of 10-52 before. Overall for 150 EUR.

    After playing it today, I have some doubts about the quality of the work that has been done. Here is why:
    1) I found two new scratches on the fretboard finish which was flawless before), each >1cm parallel to two different frets, probably the result of fret levelling
    2) The (big) E, A & D strings rattle (even) more than before, especially between 1st and 10th fret, to an extent that I can hear when playing through my amp.

    I want to know if I became a victim of an amateurish service or I am too picky and these effects mentioned are "normal" when you get your frets levelled?
    Is 1) normal, because this happens when frets get levelled?
    Might 2) be the result of the nut slotting and/or the neck adapting after changing string gauge? Or do I finally need to learn picking softer?

    Thanks for your feedback and advice on minimising the negative effects mentioned.
     
  2. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    If it doesn't play well after that work, it's not being picky to complain. New nut and a fret level puts it all in their lap, with regard to how the guitar plays.
     
  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Senior Stratmaster

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    That would be sufficient cause for me to take it back and ask the guitar store to make it right. A setup is a very personal matter and if you can't play it with out "rattles" it needs to be addressed. Good luck.
     
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  4. Olddogmike

    Olddogmike Strat-Talker

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    I thought the purpose of a setup like that was to eliminate those sort of problems. That's why it pays to learn how to do your own.
     
  5. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    Two things to be cautious about:

    1. If the fretboard has been cleaned, it may just reveal scratches that were there already but hidden in dirt.

    2. New strings always buzz more until fully stretched. The fact that you've gone down a gauge may mean you are fretting harder than you need to, which will also bring the strings closer to the frets and cause buzz.

    Obviously it's difficult to diagnose without knowing how the guitar was before, but I suggest playing the strings in more and then check neck relief.
     
  6. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    It may be just a sloppy job, not necessarily an amateur one. For 150 EUR it should be done to your satisfaction, feel free to complain, I know I would. Hopefully the scratches are not deep, this can be taken care of easily. I put tape on my necks when I do a fret job but a lot of pros don't do it to save time ..."because they got the motion down from years of doing it". If the guitar generally plays better after the service it may just be a couple of minor tweaks.
     
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  7. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    Were you present at the final setup? It's not easy to set a guitar up for somebody else to play. Go back and go through the problems you're having with the chap that did the job.
     
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  8. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    This^^^^^
    Maybe the guitar played great for him but he is not you. Your playing technique is not his and is individual to you which is why it's so hard to set up an instrument for someone else to play. If tge player isn't there at the time of setup, it's darn near impossible to get it right. Close is possible but right is a different story all together.
     
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  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    another contributor.. the tech or whomever is doing the setup "picks" the strings his way, relative to the geometry of his personal motion, that causes the strings to begin their vibrations in a specific plane relative to the surface of the guitar.... YOU may strike the string differently causing a different initial motion.. as the string vibrates the swing of that vibration rotates around the central axis of the string.

    So.. what ever way you pick may determine how low your action can be.. If you catch the string with the fingernails, pulling up.. the string's initial amplitude will be at it's highest, where as if you strike it with a pick laterally across the sirfacew of the guitar, it will ba lower relative to the height of the string above the frets..

    and if you pick it hard to see if it will buzz.. well. if it doesn't perhaps something's wrong..


    While that will not be an issue with higher action, those asking for very low action may find issues requiring "YOU" do a bit of final tweaking to get it where ya want it...

    Just like every driver should know how to adjust the seat and mirrors, every guitarist should know how to do a few basic adjustments to get the guitar dialed in to it's final "resting" place.. all a tech can do is get it close, unless he knows you personally and retains a data sheet with your requirements.

    Most quality techs gladly invite you to return if things aren't right..unless you beat his but down to a laughably low price.

    r
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  10. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Most Honored Senior Member

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    Ron said:
    "Most quality techs gladly invite you to return if things aren't right.."

    This is my experience. I just had a level/dress done and the luthier told me just that^^^.
    If it needed a further tweak, it was no problem for him to do it. Also, I played it at his shop for a few minutes, at his request, because he wanted to make sure I was happy.
    I was.

    I don't think it's a big deal to ask your tech to tweak it a little more.
    If he takes pride in his work, he will want to make it as best he can for you.
     
  11. macoshark

    macoshark Senior Stratmaster

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    Good advice here. I get your concerns. The tech should have noticed the scratches, in my opinion. Then informed you. You should allow him to finish the set-up to the way you play and I would have had you play it before you left the shop.
     
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  12. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    Don't be afraid of the tech. You paid for his work. If your pipes leaked after a plumber left, you would call him/her up and have them fix it.
    Yeah not the same but you get my point. You shouldn't "live with it". The better the guitar plays, the better you will play.
     
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  13. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    This is actually a very good tip. I bought my acoustic Fender in The Netherlands where I was on a business trip, and when we sealed the deal they were like - come back later, we will set it up for you. That was when I learnt that guitars actually need to be set up :p. So I come back, it looks great, I take it to my hotel. There I discover a fret buzz on 9th or 10th fret which is a no no on acoustic. I was like ... I'm going to leave the country not knowing when or even if I come back and this is the only chance to get it fixed. So I brought it back and they fixed it right on the spot.

    After that playing a guitar in the shop after it was set up became a second nature. Well, up until I started learning how to do it myself.
     
  14. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

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    It should be rather perfect. I have never heard any of my friends complain after that service.
    Maybe a different luthier can fix it? Then bill the first guy for doing a bad job?
     
  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    It's entirely possible that the scratches predated the work, and were only revealed when the fingerboard was cleaned..

    r
     
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  16. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I find that one advantage of doing all my own guitar work is that I'm much more tolerant of my own mistakes than I would be if I paid someone else to do it. :)
     
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  17. GhostJam47

    GhostJam47 Strat-Talker

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    I recently had mine done, and the guitar's never played better.

    If it's buzzing that much, they probably did a shoddy job, but I'd bring it back and ask them nicely to tweak the set-up to how you like it. They should take the hint and maybe have a more experienced tech handle it this time around.
     
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  18. Strat-Slinger

    Strat-Slinger Senior Stratmaster

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    Not to be Devils advocate or anything... BUT... you really cant expect someone else to dial in a guitar to exactly where YOU want it to be... like mentioned earlier... the player needs to be able to do some basic tweaks themselves... or.. go to the tech who performed the work and play the guitar in front of them to allow them make necessary adjustments to help you dial it in to the perfect "sweet spot" for your playing style...
    Something to keep in mind... you will NEVER get it perfectly perfect... and if you ever happen to get it perfectly perfect... just wait a minute or two because... it WILL change... guitars are like that.. allways in a state of "flux"... there's no way around it..
     
  19. FrieAsABird

    FrieAsABird Strat-O-Master

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    May I ask where you had that work done, seeing that you are from Berlin? I know a bit about most better- known guitar shops and repair shops in Germany. For 150 euros, you are pretty close to the cost of a reffte which usually includes a setup as well...
     
  20. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    Lots of good and consistent advice. I expect that the tech or luthier who did the work is expecting you'll come back for some adjustment. Buzz on the strings between 1 and 10th fret are usually a sign of needing a little more relief on the neck (truss rod adjustment).

    Call up the tech and let them know you need a little fine tuning done. Make a list to make sure you don't forget anything.