Setting up a guitar. Strings feel stiff.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Ed Alvarado, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. Ed Alvarado

    Ed Alvarado Member

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    Hello,

    I set up a friends Modern Tele just like mine. Truss rod, string height, nut and string radius all the same.
    For some reason mine plays really nice but his is stiff feeling and harder to play. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Chris Pile

    Chris Pile Member

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    Did he use heavier strings?
     
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  3. mike shaw

    mike shaw Member

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    Here's some things that most people don't think of when complaining of stiff action.
    String gauge is obvious - heavier is stiffer. But string composition also matters. A round core string is 'looser' feeling than a hex core. And pure nickel is looser than cobalt or whatever.
    Polish your frets until they shine. This reduces string drag.
    Reduce the downward string angle between the nut and tuner and the bridge and tailpiece by using fewer winds at the tuner and raising the tailpiece (or top wrapping) on a Gibson style guitar. On a Strat you can lower the bridge saddles and shim the neck.
    These are tricks I've used for years and have always worked.
     
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  4. Ed Alvarado

    Ed Alvarado Member

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate your help!
     
  5. Rob Taft

    Rob Taft Supporting Member

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    Mike Shaw gave some good advice regarding strings. Not all strings equal though they may be of the same gauge. For example, I use Thomastik round or flat wound strings on my archtop guitars for the reason that the strings have less tension and appear to be more flexible than a similar gauged set of D' Addario's Chromes.
     
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  6. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    Indeed. I use Curt Mangan strings and they are a bit stiffer than say a D'Addario of the same composition and gauge. I used to play 11's but find that the Mangans in 10's are just as punchy but less tension.
     
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  7. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    Assuming you've eliminated the other variables, I can say that I've found the neck shimming approach to have a dramatic effect on string tension.

    I'm a bit OCD since I don't have to do this for a living, and I actually sand the heel of the neck (checking frequently with a dial indicator). I like full wood to wood contact for this. I mention this only becuase I just noticed that Stewmac makes full size, wood, angle shims. Considering the amount of time I spend on this (and the possibility of screwing up), the price is worth it to me, and I'll do this (if necessary) on my next build. Of course, some folded paper strips, etc. are great for checking the theory out.

    Here's the link, with some other useful comments I wasn't aware of: http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_an..._Guitar_Necks/StewMac_Bolt-on_Neck_Shims.html

    Cheers,
    Thom
     
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  8. Ed Alvarado

    Ed Alvarado Member

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  9. Ed Alvarado

    Ed Alvarado Member

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    Thanks Thom! Very cool!
     

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