Gibson vs. Fender - Setting the action

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,064
I've found that best action for me where I get the best mix of playability for my style and reduced string frett buzz on fretted strings is 4/64" on the high E side and 5/64" on the low E side. Most of my guitars are short scale with Gibson-style radius in the 12" range. I have PRS Mira that sits slightly lower than that but plays perfectly. The issue is my Fender Tele. It's a 2011 model with a 9.5" radius. It has probably a little more relief than the business card amount. Certainly more relief to it than my Gibsons. When I set it for the same action though, I get more string buzz particularly in the fretted points of open chords. I moved it up to 5/64" high side and 6/64" low side and it's a little better as far as fret buzz. Certainly playable. I'd love to get it down to my Gibson specs though. Is that realistic without a fret leveling? I can set height, inotation, pickup stuff, etc. all day but I fall apart when it comes to figuring out how to do the neck adjustments and what's right there. I don't think this neck needs adjusting unless getting it straighter means less buzz on lower action. The truss rod didn't move on the Tele when I tried. The truss rod on one of my Les Pauls moved just fine.
 

groovington

Member
Messages
2,852
What string gauge are you using on the Tele? The heavier gauge, the lower you can usually get the strings without buzz. If you are getting fret buzz from strumming open chords, I'm guessing that maybe you need some nut slots filed and/or filled. Also coming into play is your attack with your picking hand. Lighten up a little bit with the strumming and see if the fret buzz goes away. I'm sure all of these things are adding up to fretbuzz, and sometimes you will just need a good fret leveling to go along with it. As I've gotten older and more experienced with playing and have found a great tech to do all my setups, I've noticed that technique still accounts for about half of those fret buzz problems with all guitars.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,064
What string gauge are you using on the Tele? The heavier gauge, the lower you can usually get the strings without buzz. If you are getting fret buzz from strumming open chords, I'm guessing that maybe you need some nut slots filed and/or filled. Also coming into play is your attack with your picking hand. Lighten up a little bit with the strumming and see if the fret buzz goes away. I'm sure all of these things are adding up to fretbuzz, and sometimes you will just need a good fret leveling to go along with it. As I've gotten older and more experienced with playing and have found a great tech to do all my setups, I've noticed that technique still accounts for about half of those fret buzz problems with all guitars.
I'm using 10.5s tuned down a half step on the Tele. Not getting any open string fret buzz, just when fretting and playing in certain points closer to the nut. I do hit things harder. Just part of my style. It's gotten better though over the years. I used to break a lot of strings. Now I hardly ever do.
 

wstoll

Member
Messages
88
The video is just ok but 3/32 doesn't equal 5/64 and you should make your measurements in playing position, not flat and on a neck rest!!
 

Dale

Member
Messages
10,312
A couple of things to consider. Neck angle over the neck relative to the strings/bridge. Do you need to shim the neck? Second string height at the nut.
 
M

Member 37136

I can set height, inotation, pickup stuff, etc. all day but I fall apart when it comes to figuring out how to do the neck adjustments and what's right there.
If it was me, I'd take it to a tech and have the frets, neck, and truss rod evaluated. It won't cost you much to ask someone to give it the once over, and it beats troubleshooting in areas you don't feel confident about.
 

Dale

Member
Messages
10,312
Here is what I do with the fender style necks. I set the string height at the nut. I then set the truss rod so the neck is as straight as I can get it. I then set string height at the 17th ti about 4 to 5/64." I then try to set the neck angle so that the strings parallel the frets (on the straight neck) from nut to en of neck. It is never perfect but with a small increase as it gets toward the bridge rather than narrower towards the bridge. Once that is done I set some relief back into the neck. I then reset string height at bridge to where I want it. Intonate. Recehck relief and sting height. It usually takes a few days for things to stabilize so I receck it over the next couple weeks periodically.

This will not fix a high fret or twisted board. The latter you can check to some extent by seeing if the neck/string relief is equal on both sides of the fretboard.
 




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