Another interesting setup issue

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I probably should take photos of some of the things I do when I set up my guitars to people who might be interested in various scenarios. I'm not sure where my camera is at the moment.

The patient: early Fender Baja Telecaster. All stock, except for the pickguard which was upgraded to Bakelite.

The last time I set up this guitar was quite a few years ago. I spent lots of time on it and was able to get perfect intonation using the stock 3 barrel bridge. People complain that it can't be intonated but it can if you spend enough time tweaking it. Because of the time consuming ordeal, I left it as it was since then.

The neck developed too much relief (I usually prefer straight necks). I straightened the neck yesterday under the tension of the old strings and put new strings on it. Overnight, it developed a bit of relief that I hadn't noticed while I started setting it up today. Anyway, things were going smoothly when I noticed that the low E string was buzzing. I hadn't noticed it yesterday (or perhaps it wasn't buzzing yesterday). As the saddles were in the correct pattern from before, I was able to intonate it perfectly - but I noticed the buzz. Now the only way I can think of to eliminate the buzz is to slightly raise the action or do a fret leveling as some or all the buzz occurs at the end of the neck - where it meets the body.

I re-straightened the neck and raised the part of the brass barrel below the E string. Now it's affecting the A string. It will have to be also raised in hopes of getting the intonation spot on.

I'm going to try go get the intonation perfect again, but I don't want to spend as much time as last time doing it. We'll see if all goes well.
 

Kenni

Member
Messages
196
Hi there :)

Sounds interesting!

Well, a good fret level is always a step in the right direction, and if the condition of the frets is decent for a fret level, then take a look at it.
At least you could try and check for any significantly high spots.

Keep us updated! :D

Cheers!
 

Mr. Duque

Member
Messages
218
Well, I think fret leveling should be done 2 or 3 times in the frets life, only. If you get fret buzz in some extension of the neck, then the problem is somewhere else. If you get a "buzz spot" then it's only that fret at that particular place that should be sanded. Frequent fret leveling reduced the lifespan of my jackson PS-4 a lot.

Another thing to try: there is a certain level of fret buzz that cannot be "heard" by the pickups, but you can hear straight from the guitar when playing at low volumes. Try recording it and check what happens.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
Well, I think fret leveling should be done 2 or 3 times in the frets life, only. If you get fret buzz in some extension of the neck, then the problem is somewhere else. If you get a "buzz spot" then it's only that fret at that particular place that should be sanded. Frequent fret leveling reduced the lifespan of my jackson PS-4 a lot.

Another thing to try: there is a certain level of fret buzz that cannot be "heard" by the pickups, but you can hear straight from the guitar when playing at low volumes. Try recording it and check what happens.
You can't hear the fret buzz through the amp, but I'm wondering if the buzz affects the string's sustain.

When I got my Jaydee Tony Iommi guitar, I asked John Diggins to set it up the way he does for Tony. When I got it, the action was so low that I had trouble playing it because I usually like medium action. There was alot of string buzz but that's the way Tony likes it.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I actually would prefer to do a bit of fret leveling on this Tele, but I don't have any fret leveling tools, as I mainly just setup my own guitars and they hadn't been needed previously.
 

Mr. Duque

Member
Messages
218
I actually would prefer to do a bit of fret leveling on this Tele, but I don't have any fret leveling tools, as I mainly just setup my own guitars and they hadn't been needed previously.
Well, I live in Brazil so stewmac tools are painfully expensive. What I did was get a aluminum beam and put masking tape on one of it's faces, and then superglued a strip of sandpaper. I used that to level the frets (use 300 grit or beyond). Works really well. Check if the neck is straight before that.

Then you'll have to crown and polish your frets, but that's another story.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
Well, I live in Brazil so stewmac tools are painfully expensive. What I did was get a aluminum beam and put masking tape on one of it's faces, and then superglued a strip of sandpaper. I used that to level the frets (use 300 grit or beyond). Works really well. Check if the neck is straight before that.

Then you'll have to crown and polish your frets, but that's another story.
That's a good idea with the beam.
I just bought a bunch ow fret tools (and a few more things I needed) from StewMac. I should really have those tools.
 

Mr. Duque

Member
Messages
218
Stewmac is so cool. I have some stuff from there. It's just then when I buy it I have to pay shipping and import duties in Brazil, and things end up here very pricey. So I improvise everything I can.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
Stewmac is so cool. I have some stuff from there. It's just then when I buy it I have to pay shipping and import duties in Brazil, and things end up here very pricey. So I improvise everything I can.
I do understand about shipping and duties. I just bought a bunch of the British guitar magazines that I generally prefer to the US ones (Guitarist and Guitar and Bass mainly plus some issues of Vintage Guitar that he sold me for cheap). He's in Britain and I'm in Canada. He checked the regular post and the shipping is $150 (I hope it wasn't 150 pounds - yikes). Anyway, he's going to check UPS next. I have to remember to ask him to put a low value on the parcel. Have you tried asking StewMac to put a low value on their parcels going to you? I've never asked them, but some companies will do it.
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,245
I don't know about England or Canada, but in the US shipping overseas via UPS or FedEx is so expensive it's almost like they'd just rather not do it. USPS is the least expensive way to go (usually by half), but then they treat their packages like crash test dummies. Can't win. I've got a guitar going to Australia this coming week and it's gonna run well over $200, then he's still gotta deal with the various government leeches on that end.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I don't know about England or Canada, but in the US shipping overseas via UPS or FedEx is so expensive it's almost like they'd just rather not do it. USPS is the least expensive way to go (usually by half), but then they treat their packages like crash test dummies. Can't win. I've got a guitar going to Australia this coming week and it's gonna run well over $200, then he's still gotta deal with the various government leeches on that end.
I once sold a Red Special replica to a guy in Japan. I guess-quoted the shipping at $200. Because the case was slightly oversized, the cheapest rate that I could find was close to $700. I had to pay the $500. difference.
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,245
Well, beside being against the law, whoever signs the customs declaration would be committing mail fraud (at least), which is a felony. And that's just on this end. Then, if the package is damaged or lost, reimbursement would be less than replacement cost. Then, there's whatever laws get broken on the receiving end. In the long run, it's just not worth it.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
OK, I'm back looking at this guitar. Yesterday I straightened out the neck under string tension. I know some people prefer to loosen the strings or remove the neck. I got it perfectly straight. I checked the frets with one of those Fret Rockers and they all seem level. Without me touching it, the intonation was spot on from the previous time I did it, except for the Low E which I had played around with as it was buzzing a bit. I decided to set the action to Fender specs and go from there. The neck stayed straight for at least a half an hour that I was working on it. Today, I just looked at it as I figured it would need tweaking. There is now relief in the neck but it's not in the middle of the neck, it's closer to the end of the neck. The neck on this guitar is big which is likely why it takes so long to settle. I ran into this before and was able to get rid of it by playing with the truss rod. In this case, I fixed it twice but as it settled under string tension it happened again. Any thoughts?
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,245
If you take a stick, stand it on end and press down on it from the top, you will notice that it may not bend evenly from top to bottom. Necks do the same thing. Some of them bend at different points when compressed by the truss rod. It depends on the grain structure of that particular piece of wood. Poor response curves are one of the things you may have to live with on less expensive instruments where the manufacturers aren't as critical of the wood they use to make them.

There isn't anything you can do to change that behavior as it's intrinsic to the piece. However, sometimes you can compensate. First, be sure when the neck is adjusted flat that frets are very level. You need a straightedge for this - the rocker isn't enough. If they're not, make it so. Once that's good, it should be very nearly playable that way, but you'll still have some buzz that may or may not be audible through the amp. Acoustically, it may sound sorta dead at lower actions. At that point, you can put in just a little relief, and see how that works. You may be good to go. If not, leave the truss rod alone and raise the bridge saddle (or the entire bridge) just a smidge for the string(s) that still buzz. If that doesn't do it, you could very slightly shim the neck forward. That'll raise the action, so you may want to lower the bridge a little. At some point, there will be a balance between neck tilt and bridge height where the thing should be playable. It won't be perfect, but then it's never gonna be until you get a neck that will behave.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I have one of the StewMac expensive long level ruler. When the neck was sitting straight, the frets were level. The buzz is very minor so I can live with it. I just like to get guitars as close to perfect as possible.
 

Steve_U1S

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
737
vortexxxx - it sounds like your neck has developed a bit of tendency toward a rise at the tongue which presents under settled tension.
Do you recall whether there's a shim in the pocket, particularly a small one way at the back closest to the neck pickup?
Over time that seems to contribute... but I believe it's also a lot to do with wood still trying to be a tree - especially in our fascinating and ever-changing Toronto, Ontario climate =]
If you do choose to address it, you could determine where the rattle first begins, and starting with the next fret higher, tape it up and level in a slight fall-away of a thou or so from that point onward, and you could bias that specifically to the bass side of the neck (being as I gather that the other side of the neck is working fine as is).
Basically doing a human 'Plek' type super-tailored spot level and crown.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I don't recall if I ever took the neck off the guitar. I'll check if there is one. I did get some fret leveling supplies as I figured I may have to use them on this guitar. The buzzing isn't bad. It's not very loud acoustically, so I think the string is just barely touching the fret. I could probably live with that.
 

Steve_U1S

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
737
Good to know you're ok as-is.
Perhaps keep the shim check in mind for the future, should the issue become more problematic.
Cheers.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,502
I took the neck off to check for a shim and there wasn't any. when I removed the neck, I noticed the paint was starting to slightly rise from the wood behind the neck pocket. I wicked some super glue under the paint to hold it in place.
 




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