Still need Strat setup / action help after searching through old threads

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by columbuslaing, Jan 29, 2008.


  1. columbuslaing

    columbuslaing Member

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    Hello! Newer user and first-time poster here. I've searched through the forum and read lots already about guitar setup but still need help. Here are the quick details:

    Trying to lower the action on my Strat and am still getting buzzing around the 12th fret on the middle strings.
    Strings are D'Addario .011-.046 (not sure on low end gauge).
    Radius is 9.5",
    Relief is ~.05,
    trem (3 springs) is floating at about 1/8",
    action is .095-.125 high E to low E. No buzzing on frets below 12 fret, and worst offenders are D and G strings. I would really like to lower the action more if possible, although I do like to bend.



    Read David Collins post about straighter neck being better for less upper-neck buzziness.

    Thoughts? Should I shim the neck? I need to get it in to check nut height and fretwork, but would like any at-home solutions first.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Zelmo

    Zelmo Member

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    I'd say you either have a tall fret or two at ~12, or that particular guitar needs a touch more relief before you set the string height.
     
  3. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    I honestly would tell you to take it to a tech. If you need fret work, then this could also be problematic to you trying to do it at home. I do a bunch of my own work but there are times I just make the drive and drop it off. A proper setup is one of those times esp if you suspect other issues! :)
     
  4. SLG

    SLG Member

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    You have a big problem if this is correct. That's waaaaay too much relief. Should be about .005-.012 measured at about the 9th fret with the string held down at the 1st and last frets.

    If you are experiencing buzzes in various location on the fretboard, you probably have a couple of high frets. Take it to a good tech. Let him examine it and make a recommendation. It may need a light fret dressing to get everything level again. At any rate, it's worth the money to have a good setup done. I've seen too many guitars that the owner was disatisfied with, that only needed a good setup to make them play like a dream.
     
  5. columbuslaing

    columbuslaing Member

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    Sorry - relief is .005, not .05. Realized that after I posted!
     
  6. Rich T Fingers

    Rich T Fingers Member

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    I agree with the other guys here - I think it's a fret problem. Then you'll need a little tweak of the truss rod.
    As the guys say - take it to a tech.
     
  7. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Clothwiring's right - take it to a tech. There's a lot more to setting up a guitar than just turning the adjusting screws and measuring tolerances. Techs who do it all the time develop a 'feel' for it, if they're any good at al.

    We adjust action in fractions of 1/32" - that's pretty hard to see with the naked eye. You could easily have a tall fret causing the buzz, or something else. If it's not perfectly obvious to you what's causing the buzz, I think you're gonna have to take it to someone who has the practiced eye for detail that a good tech has.

    Setup may cost $50, more if the frets need to be leveled - might be the best $50 plus you've ever spent on your guitar.

    Good Luck, Dana O.
     
  8. Structo

    Structo Member

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    Also some guys like to create a little fall off of fret height above the 12th fret.
    That way you don't get buzzing with a lower action and it can help with fretting out when you bend a string up higher.
     
  9. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I like that on my guitars. One of the reasons I can do a more (to me) playable fret job than a factory PLEK.

    rooster.
     
  10. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    If you're really at .005", no significant buzzing in the lower frets, and a lot of buzzing up above the 12th, I fear that all points to likely fret issues. Fender necks are still so prone to developing that kink at the body joint where the truss rod ceases to function but the strings can still have some influence, leaving you with a rise in the upper frets that can't be adjusted out. A good fret level is really the only option.

    From what you describe, it sounds like you're approaching it from the right direction, but that tip-up at the upper frets just can't really be solved without raising the action too high at the saddles or dressing the frets.

    Try pressing down a string at the end (21st or 22nd fret) and somewhere around the 12th. If it leaves any real noticeable clearance above the frets in the middle of this span, then the frets need to be dressed out. I prefer the same kind of fall-away that a few folks mentioned above. When dressed this way, the string should be resting directly on the frets (enough that you don't even hear a clink when tapping in the middle) when you check it as I mentioned above.

    Good luck.
     
  11. columbuslaing

    columbuslaing Member

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    Thanks all for the input!

    David, the strings are touching the frets using the test you mention, but I think I'll need to be taking it in for fretwork anyway.

    Anyone have suggestions for Columbus luthiers / setup guys? J Thomas Davis is just down the street from me (authorized on all major makes of guitar and some kind of luthier certification), so that's probably my best bet unless anyone has recommendations.

    Thanks again!
     

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