Weird issues when trying to set up my Stratocaster...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by skhan007, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

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    Hello All, I am hoping to get a bit of guidance with some set-up challenges on my parts-caster. I have a 22 fret maple board/maple neck (a little overhang over the pickguard) made by Musikraft on a traditional after-market strat body.

    Most notably, I'm fretting out when bending the B & high E strings at the 17th fret. There are other points on the neck where this happens, but the notes are not as badly choked. The G string buzzes on many different spots and I have the saddle height maxed out (can't go any higher) and still getting some slight buzz. There's a bit of relief on the truss (adjusts at the heel with an allen key), so it's not overly tight at all. No backbow on the neck that I can tell, but I haven't taken a straight-edge to check just yet.

    Over all, the saddles on my trem are pretty high and almost maxed, so I'm quite perplexed on what might be the next step? More truss adjusting?
     
  2. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    To check relief, a guitar has a built in straight edge...fret the G string at the first and last fret simultaneously and look at the fret clearance midway between those two points. Most play best at around .010" relief...depending on the player.

    Could be a relief issue, frets issue (might need leveled/crowned), fretboard issue (wood could have some high/low spots), neck issue (could be twisted or warped).

    Good luck.
     
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  3. Fishyfishfish

    Fishyfishfish Member

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    Might need to raise the bridge and set proper radius at saddles. Two point or six screw bridge?
     
  4. cram

    cram Member

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    Not a luthier here; only a hack who loves to think about it all.

    Is this a new guitar? - no mention of any fret wear in spots on the board.
    Setup steps would have a notched fret-level tool to ensure the neck is straight, then finding any low/high spots through the board, leveling and dressing.
    Then matching the bridge saddle heights to the curve of the neck.

    Someone mentioned the saddle height adjustments to compensate for fretting out while bending. When you're over the neck pocket or on the higher strings, the neck relief becomes negligible at best and if not leveling frets you only have the bridge adjustments at that point.
     
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  5. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Member

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    The key here is diagnosing the problem.

    Start with checking your relief by fretting your first and 22nd fret and observing the space between the bottom of the string and fret at midpoint. Do this for your 3rd and 6th string. There should be the space about that of a business card. Set your relief and leave it. If you are still getting buzzing, it's something else.

    Check your action... should be between 3-5/64" on the bass side and 2-4/64" on the treble side at the 12th fret. When doing a setup, you also check the action at the first fret, but that is not likely an issue with buzz at the 17th fret.

    Examine all your frets for wear. What I often find is the first 5 or so frets will show divots under the strings, and higher frets, a flattening of the frets due to bending.

    Check for high/low frets by placing a straight edge spanning three frets at a time, starting at the first fret and working up the entire length, low, middle, and treble sides of the neck. If you can get any rocking, you have either a low or high fret. A credit card can be used as a straight edge.

    Often the sort of symptoms you are describing often indicate uneven frets, in which case leveling/recrowning would be the solution.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  6. melodiusthunk

    melodiusthunk Bronzd & Supported Member Silver Supporting Member

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    As you stated your saddle height is already maxed out, one other possible issue to consider 9after ruling out all of those mentioned by others) is that you may need to adjust the neck angle by inserting a thin shim between neck and body at the end of the neck pocket nearest the headstock. If you try this, a little bit goes a long way, and may allow you to set the guitar up without maxing the saddle heights.
     
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  7. VHS analog

    VHS analog Member

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    You might need longer hex screws to get the saddles higher. A cheap and easy solution that I would try first.
     
  8. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

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    Thank you, Sir, for this thorough and thoughtful response! Yes, the truss adjustment is at the heel and it's not a micro-tilt, like on a 3-bolt Fender. The neck is a compound radius 9.5-12", I believe. What I am noticing is the fact that that the 22nd fret overhang hits the pick guard of the strat, and that part of the neck may not be securely bolting to the body. The part of the heel closest to the neck pickup may have 1-2mm between it and the neck pocket. I inserted a shim in the area of the other two neck screws (the heel around the 17th fret or so) and that has seemed to help. I'll have to agree with you that the frets may need to be professionally dressed/crowned. I don't think I'm going to do any more 22 fret neck purchases in the future!

    Cheers!
     
  9. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

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    Thank you! Inserting a shim, as you described, was indeed helpful. I think the 22nd fret over hang is the problem; or perhaps the neck pocket is 1-2mm too deep, and the overhang prevents a good neck/body contact.
     
  10. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I've had many a 22 fret strat neck with no contact with the pickguard. Is this an oddball off brand body?
     
  11. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Cut the pg so it isn't pushing up the neck.
     
  12. AdmiralB

    AdmiralB Silver Supporting Member

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    Sometimes it's very close. I have a CS Strat with an overhang that won't allow a sheet of normal copier/printer paper between it and the guard. It's a round-lam board and the overhang is cut pretty thin anyway (compared to other 22-fret Fenders I own). You can't remove the pickguard without pulling the neck.

    I disagree, somewhat. A full-pocket shim of uniform thickness almost certainly will solve the problems. And regarding its relative 'correctness', well, Fender sure sold a lot of guitars with factory shims.

    Most people equate shimming with changing the neck angle - but you just need a shallower neck pocket. Or, as suggested, you could relieve the underside of the overhang...or jerk around with the pickguard (I don't recommend that). But shimming will work, has no down sides, and requires no irreversible actions.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  13. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    If this was the case, what would you do about it? It'd be hard to sand the pocket flat, would you sand the neck where it sits in the pocket. I ran into this once and just shimmed the neck pocket at the headstock side, and it seemed to work ok, but the issue was always that the neck pocket was too shallow. I couldn't figure out a reliable way to shave off some wood evenly. I was going to try a card file, but in the end, just went with a different body.
     
  14. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    If you didn't have a router, would you sand it? Or would that create an uneven surface?
     
  15. AdmiralB

    AdmiralB Silver Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that was my way of thinking. It never fails to amaze me how much even a tiny bit of forward pitch to the neck will affect bridge height. I figure, if the pocket is otherwise proper, a thin full shim might be the least-invasive solution.
     
  16. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Just shim it. Trying to rout a neck pocket, or sand /chisel it is hell... and you are going to chip your finish if you aren't experienced.
     
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  17. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

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    Thank you all for your respective input. I think a full pocket shim would be great. Perhaps 1-2mm just to get the overhang a hair above the pick guard.

    Regarding the body itself- It was made by a TGP member. Never again. That's all I will say, as it was a poor experience. I don't know if the pocket is too deep or not, but the overhang hits the pick guard and likely caused the neck to angle up when bolted on.

    I think this would make the problem worse, right?
     
  18. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Stewart MacDonald has full pocket shims.
     
  19. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    This is what I was thinking, only in reverse. I once put a replacement neck on a Squier Tele body and had all sorts of wierd problems before I figured out that the lip at the end of the neck was preventing the butt end of the neck from seating properly. This created an exaggerated backward neck angle that couldn't be accomodated even with maxed out saddles. In my case a friend built a spacer for the bottom of the neck pocket that raised the entire neck and solved the problem.

    Edit: Shoulda read the whole thing. Sounds like this was the problem. I wish I could find the pictures I had of the of the spacer installed.

    Edit 2; Here 'tis:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  20. paulvcarter

    paulvcarter Member

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    Check for warped neck
     

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