Playability is stiff

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by bluesking55, Nov 20, 2017.


  1. bluesking55

    bluesking55 Supporting Member

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    I mostly have partscasters, teles and strats. all are set up pretty much identical. but some i have are too 'stiff'. Bending of the strings is ruff but doable.. Some i have play liek butter. Guy i know just last year got his dream Les Paul/ rig etc.. Finally got to play it and to me it was hard as hell to play, almost impossible.. he likes it but i swear he doesnt see it..He isfighting it..

    Recently here a guy was selling a fender mexican cab. neck. 1st time i saw anyone saying a neck is real stiff to play.
    all the guitars have 10's, set up nicely, frets polished, some are leveled etc..

    thinkng about this for too long. what am i missing,please/?
     
  2. RodTruss

    RodTruss Member

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    I have two identical guitars. One plays stiffer than the other regardless of everything I've tried setup wise to make them play the same. This one stiff guitar in my herd gets a special set of strings. I put Hybrid Ernie Ball 46-9. It plays just like 10's on all my other guitars.
     
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  3. bluesking55

    bluesking55 Supporting Member

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    the worst 1 I have a thicker neck and i did try 9's on it and didnt make a difference
     
  4. Germi

    Germi Member

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    String tree placement? Greater break angle could affect tension.

    Action the same?
     
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  5. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Minor variations in neck angle and relief.
     
  6. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    Could be grain orientation. Quartersawn looks great but feels stiffer to me.
     
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  7. bluesking55

    bluesking55 Supporting Member

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    i see where u r going tho.. thanks
    i WAS ASLEEP WHEN I SAW THIS.. WENT IN THE ROOM, SAW THE THE BREAK ANGLE ON THAT PACTICULAR NECK TO BE TREMENDOUS, TOOK THE STRING OFF THE STRING TREES, TUNED IT UP.. WAS LIKE NITE AND DAY.. DIDNT SPEND TOO MUCK TIME.. HALF ASLEEP. WILL BE RESTRINGING SET UP THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH.. THE OBVIOUS ON THE NECK ANGLE AT HEADSTOCK DID CHANGE IT FOPR ME.. ONLY YELLING CAUSE OF PROGRAM AT WORK AND VERY PLEASED WITH THE INFO
     
  8. Germi

    Germi Member

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    Lol So I see the all caps at first, and cant remember exactly what I said and think to myself: "oh here we go, i musta said something"

    Anyways, glad it worked out. :aok
     
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  9. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    If you have butterfly tree(s) you can get different length shim tubes to raise and lower. Also polish the underside of the tree and grease it and grease the slots in the nut - trust me.
     
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  10. blondestrat

    blondestrat Member

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    Ya staggered tuners and a higher string tree.
     
  11. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    I've come to the conclusion that what were perceive as bent string stiffness is built into a guitar's neck. Over the years, I've tried a few things to try and change the perceived bent string stiffness and, beyond replacing the neck, nothing else I tried affected it much. IMO, said stiffness is related to two factors: 1)the neck wood and whatever stiffness mother nature pre-built into it and; 2) how tight the trussrod is to get proper neck relief. The strings oppose the flex of the neck and the more flexible the neck and the looser the trussrod, the easier it is to overcome when you bend a string. One man's observational theory after a lot of years fooling with Strats!
     
  12. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    This ^^^

    Grain orientation and overall stiffness of wood. With that, a thicker neck will also add to the stiff feeling. Flat sawn thick necks are my favorite. They vibrate great, sound great and feel great in my hands...and not too stiff.
     
  13. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Or you could say the neck stiffness opposes the tension of the strings.

    Assuming the diff in compliance is actually the neck failing to oppose string tension, then any guitar with measurably less cabinet drop would be “stiffer” than any guitar with more, which I can assure you is not the case.
    You can see how much pitch deflection the neck is giving you just by looking at any decent tuner, and the amount is more dependent on string gauge than anything else.
    Lighter strings, less deflection, a smaller percentage of tension change relative to what the neck can oppose.

    Plain strings drop less than compound strings, but the point remains cabinet drop is measurable by pitch and the unit of measurement, the cent, is a musical interval expressible as string length and the actual dimensions, the physical sizes of the moves you’re talking about with the neck deforming under the tension of one bent string range from a fraction of a string diameter to literally microscopic.

    I’m not saying that isn’t the whole secret to life with the guitar, it might be, but if it is we’re subscribing to those same invisible and inaudible tolerances in assembly and set-up with respect to “stiffness”.
    Stiff vs not coming down to cabinet drop levels of pitch in response to a bent string.

    Observationally, over here in my woodpile the guitar with the least amount of drop (which should be stiff for you) is my Wysocki Strat with the Jimi Hendrix strings on it. 10-38. Maple/RW.
    It’s ridiculously compliant.
    You can barely read a diff on a Turbo Tuner for the open high E string, and there’s maybe 10+ cents drop on the low E.
    That neck isn’t going anywhere, it’s relatively stiff compared to the string gauge, but stiff is the last way you’d describe that guitar.

    The stiff guitar is my mid 60’s L5, set of 12’s, and the usual 3-piece maple laminate with an ebony board.
    Almost 15 cents drop on the high E with the B up a whole step, and twice that on the low E.
    That neck’s in motion and it plays stiff as fk.

    Recently played a couple of Travis Bean’s, and those aluminum necks don’t exactly deform when you throw a half pound at them, so they should be stiff but weren’t.

    Anyway, I applaud your observations and report and send brotherly PA love to you and yours, but I’m struggling to square your observations with any reality I share.

    The problem might be “stiff” has no objective meaning, or maybe I just don’t know what stiff is supposed to mean to me.
     
  14. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    If a guitar feels stiff to bending, I take a closer look at the truss rod, removing relief if the frets will support that tactic. Some necks are just susceptible more than others.

    Fender scale instruments with 10-46 round core strings bark beautifully but always feel stiffer than I like, but I make that trade, for the bang ability, and the benefits to vibrato behavior.

    I love 9-42, 10-38 and I want to try GHS and Mangan 9.5 round core in Monel.

    Getting rid of string trees however you want to go about it, is good.
     
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  15. Gevalt

    Gevalt Member

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    Try a capo to see if you can blame nut height
     
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  16. corn husk bag

    corn husk bag Supporting Member

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    I love scientific analysis. :idea
     
  17. Cal Webway

    Cal Webway Silver Supporting Member

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    If break angle is hi and the feel of the strings is stiffer, particularly strings 1-4, I will shim the headstock end of the neck pocket.

    I bend alot of multi string stuff. Crazy bends. Thru the yrs hv had the neck pocket routed down a bit too.



    .
     
  18. gtrnstuff

    gtrnstuff Member

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    No clue if this affects what you're talking about, but here goes.
    Often when I feel a guitar is fighting me, when bending, sliding or even fretting, I'll tighten the truss rod slightly.
    Or lower the bridge very slightly.

    i don't have the professional measurement tools to read thousandths of an inch in action or neck relief, but doing this and checking by playing often gets me happy with the guitar.
     
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  19. Larry Eh?

    Larry Eh? Member

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    I think that stiffness is sometimes confused with how far you have to bend a string to bend a note. The difficulty of bending the string further is sometimes mistakenly perceived as stiffness. I noticed this when I got an Eric Johnson Strat. The string holes in the trem block are shallow which adds string length behind/below the bridge saddles. Add to that the absence of string trees with the staggered tuners, and the G, B, and mostly the Hi-E which extends farthest beyond the nut, and you have to bend a longer string much further to get the same pitch bend. In contrast, string bending feels easier on my Floyd Rose equipped guitars with the locking nut.
     
  20. Gevalt

    Gevalt Member

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    Lower nut action is one effect of a tighter trussrod
     

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