String radius help

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Fendrix, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    6,450
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    Yeah, in your drawer... a radius gauge cannot feel the strings... it is however great for a preliminary setup.. ya get them close then use those two most valuable and critical tools, your fingers and ears to finalize the setup..

    r
     
    Fendrix, trapdoor2, Ebidis and 2 others like this.
  2. Kestrel

    Kestrel Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    285
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Northants England
    I use a radius block to tell me which radius block to use :)
     
    3bolt79 and Ebidis like this.
  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    6,450
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    However.. If "you" insist.. you do NOT use the radius gauge on the tops of the strings.. they're varying diameters, you must use it beneath the strings.. but beyond ... ya just do not need a gauge to do the setup.. the neck provides all the "gauge" ya need... your fingers and hearing are the "precision" tools used to dial it in..

    r
     
    Fendrix, Hairy Bear, 3bolt79 and 3 others like this.
  4. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Messages:
    2,784
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Location:
    Florida
    THIS ^....
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  5. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,966
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    Location:
    largo,fl
    i use a radius gauge for set ups, but i only use it as a starting point for my action set up. i then tweak the strings to what works. for instance, i raise my high e and b strings so i can grab and bend them easy. they end up not being anywhere near in line with the board radius.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  6. rbspql

    rbspql Strat-Talker

    Age:
    56
    Messages:
    211
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2016
    Location:
    Viterbo, north of Rome, Italy
    :D:D:D this is great!

    I have no gauge and not even a long experience in setting up guitars. I have just my Classic Series 50s with a 7.25" neck radius. I have learned (had to) how to set it up by myself (hopefully) and I adjust saddle height by feel and ear (read = if I can do it....).
    Fact is the action (and the saddles) look rather high. I'm not sure it is ok, I haven't measured it, but I still can play it comfortably...
    I'm tempted to spend some money just to see how it would come out of the hands of a pro...
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  7. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    64
    Messages:
    1,660
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2017
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I have the gauges (Stewmac) and use them to get close...the rest is done by feel/ear. I like to have a consistent starting point...but that's all it is.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  8. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    6,450
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    many of the "tools touted as being necessary for the setup are there to "fill the need".. the need for specific metrics many guitarists feel is necessary, or worse, because there the metrics some other guitarist uses... that's like buying 10 ½ D shoes because your guitar god wears that size, when you really need 12 EEE .. something's not gonna feel exactly right..

    You use your fingers and ears... use the tools to get ya in the "Ball Park" only, from there, you gotta saddle up... and do the rest all by yourself...
     
  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    1,967
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    The string radius at the bridge should be the same as your fingerboard radius. If your fingerboard radius is 7.5” then your saddles should match, same for a 12” or 14” radius. If you sight down the neck it is pretty easy to visualize this with no need for any kind of radius gauge If your eyesight is decent.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    6,450
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    In theory, yes.. in reality, no... the strings must be adjust to accommodate your style of picking .. some use a pick, some fingers, some both... but the location of your fingers over the strings, as you "reach" for them, changes the geometry of the motion that brings the "pick" to string.. thus the E 1st may need to be higher than the E 6th simply because the picking may be more perpendicular to the strings axis than that of the E 6th's...

    However, the higher you adjust your action, the less important such attention becomes... but, still... you use your senses to adjust things, not the tools... except for the appropriate screwdrivers... Allen wrenches, etc..
     
    Ebidis and Thrup'ny Bit like this.
  11. Chrisreplay1339

    Chrisreplay1339 Strat-Talk Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    England
    Hi,
    This is what I do,
    Lower both your high and low E strings until there’s no buzzing, then use your string guage, hold it “over the top”of the strings just in front (1inch’) away from the bridge, have the guitar Headstock top, on the floor, held by your feet, so you can look right down from the rear strap button end and sight along the neck.
    Then adjust the remaining 4 strings to match your guage heights, then check that it’s playing ok, any chocking or buzzing, adjust each string accordingly till it’s perfect!
    The tip’ here, is to check with a fret rocker, ( you can get away with a new credit card) and make sure there are no proud frets or any high parts of a fret, if found any, smooth them down or tap them down with a fret hammer, if you don’t have one a tack’ hammer is ok but be careful
    Then, do the string guage! Your guitar will be great afterwards!!
    Good luck!
     
    Fendrix likes this.
  12. Wayfinder

    Wayfinder Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    292
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Location:
    Kansas City MO USA
    While some folks may use radius gauges (much to the delight of the radius gauge industry), I always do things the old-fashioned way: by feel and ear. I bring each individual string down until it buzzes when picked, then raise it until the buzzing stops. Works every time. I agree with 3Bolt79... using a gauge just seems like unnecessary work and is fairly clumsy... especially since different strings have different diameters, different densities, and different degrees of vibration. Ronkirn makes some very good points above.

    I just see no sense in using a gauge for a highly-variable setting... especially when human touch and hearing are far more accurate.
    : )
     
  13. DeanIversenGreen

    DeanIversenGreen Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, Wa.
    are you putting the string gauge on the top of the strings or the bottom? different thickness will obviously give you a different height if placed at the bottom, use the gauge that fits your neck at 12th fret, place it on TOP of the strings..

    if they are all touching the gauge perfectly no way can they be off

    compound radius will be off, no way can you have them exact, the nut is a different radius than the bridge so go in between, 12th fret or whatever you like

    most compounds are pre set as in locking floyds so the adjustment is already set, they go with the 1st radius at the but second at the bridge, works well
     
  14. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    1,967
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    In reality yes, I’ve been setting up and building guitars professionally since 1974. When I worked at Gruhn Guitars from 1978-1982 was considered the ‘Fender‘ guy and I restored the very first lefty strat made in 54’ as just one project. Currently, Jimmy Herring is just one of my big clients and my setups play perfect for him and he’s the most anal regarding setup of any player I’ve ever worked for.

    I’ve also built over 400 custom guitars. The relief can be adjusted for different techniques as well as the over all height of the saddles to raise or lower the overall action, but for proper action where bends don’t choke out the saddle radius must match the finger board radius. I can easily do it by eye, but you can also easily do it with a radius gauge. One thing that is important is to make sure the two bridge height screws For each individual saddle are equal, so the individual saddle is not tilted at an angle to create the radius. This causes another problem because if the saddle is tilted all the down pressure is on the longer screw eventually causing the shorter height screw to vibrate loose and even fall out.
     
    rbspql likes this.
  15. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

    Age:
    54
    Messages:
    20,593
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Location:
    Alabama
    You can just start with the strings laying on the frets if you have to have a consistent starting point.
     
    Thrup'ny Bit likes this.
  16. rhythmace

    rhythmace New Member!

    Age:
    40
    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2020
    Location:
    San Francisco
    It's not easy to use a radius gauge for this. Try rocking a short straight edge over groups of three strings right next to the saddles. I use an old single sided razor blade, sounds crazy, but it's perfect for this, fat side on the strings, sharp (but blunt) side under your finger. If you get roughly even rocking on each string, then the radius is even. The low strings are fatter, but it doesn't matter, they grow evenly enough in diameter that the rocking will still be even. It needs to be the right radius too, so check the heights at 12th fret and iterate. Of course any errors at the nut, or bridge, or frets themselves will impact this, so it's more important to just make it feel right.
     
  17. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    64
    Messages:
    1,660
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2017
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Yes...but I'd rather not have to crank them down and then back up again. Much easier for me to simply slip the tool under the strings and get a quick checkpoint.
     
  18. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

    Messages:
    41,089
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I use the optical gauges built into the front of my head.
     
    trapdoor2 and Ebidis like this.
  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    6,450
    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    well.. different strokes for different. . guitarists... As is said, Luthiers ply an art form, and as in fine art, there are the Matisses, and there are the Dalis ... what works for one may be a diabolical "conflagration" of visual discord for another..

    and I suppose numbers are important.. so. . I've built well over 3000 guitars since 1963 .. and tangled with a few very anal heavy weight guitarists along the way too ... But.. I'm sure your "guys" are happy, as are mine..

    a professional develops an ergonomic interface with their "tools" that far exceeds that which all but the most dedicated amateurs ever will... They instinctively detect anomalies that go unnoticed by most... this is true of Guitarists, Golfers, Competition marksmen, race car drivers, to name a few ... each and every one will require differences in the "setup" of their respective tools of the trade, and each tend to have their "go to" guys to keep things dialed in .. all doing it differently.

    I will just simply say, many very fine techs and luthiers, over the years, have suggested that placing the radius gauge on top of the strings is the incorrect method, since the strings are different diameters. Doing so results in the E first being significantly further away from the frets than the E 6th . . . and I was taught by Charles Turner, tech to Andreas Segovia... if ya wanna "drop names".. That education began in the early 60's, and ended in 1980 with his retirement..

    And, AND, all my work is done without the foul stench of what Uga leaves in the grass, hanging in the air... :p

    Go Gators, Go SEC ... :thumb:

    r
     
    Murphcaster likes this.
  20. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    64
    Messages:
    1,660
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2017
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I learned long ago that mine are pitiful substitutes for physical gauges. Too many years in the machine shop, I suppose.

    I can (and have) setup by ear, eye and feel...but I am always questioning myself until I confirm with a physical measurement or gauge.

    Meh. Whatever works.