Has anyone every noticed Strat/Tele neck alignment problems?

October 19th, 2010, 03:08 PM
I have owned a few tele's and strat's and I just wanted to point out to everyone that most strats/teles "I think" are mis-aligned. When I look at the dot markers on the neck, I feel they should be exactly dead center between the D and G string. I have seen sooooo many strats/teles that are just a little off, which usually means either the high E or low E are a little closer to the fretboard than usual. I'm sure this isn't a big deal unless its very drastic, however, if I'm spending money on a custom shop axe. I want it to be perfect. Here is an example of what I mean..


click to zoom in on the body pic, and you can see that 15th, 17th, 19th dots are perfectly centered in between the D and G string...

Here is an example of what I look out for..


if you click on the main body pics and zoom in a bit you can see the strings are just a big "off"

I have only bought/played strats with the vintage bridge so the spacing is always the same. I refuse to buy any strats that are not perfectly aligned from the get-go. I made the mistake of buying a guitar from wildwood guitars (before i knew of this alignment issue) and once it arrived I noticed things were a bit off. I called wildwood and they said you just need to re-align the neck by loosening the screws and giving it a nudge. I did that, but the neck could not be nudged any further into the pocket, and there was no way everything was going to line up without modifying the nut or something else further. So I sent the guitar back. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up about this issue so they can form an opinion themselves. This is just another reason why I have pledged to never ever again buy a guitar without holding it in my hands first.

October 19th, 2010, 03:18 PM
If you look carefully at all the photos, you'll see that all the guitars in your links are slightly turned to one side so the photographer is not reflected in the finish. This makes the alignment appear to be off. You'll also notice that D string is thicker than the G string making it appear closer to the dot. You'll further notice that all the strings on a guitar appear to be skewed a little off center because the bass strings are thicker than the treble treble strings. Looking into this deeper, you'll notice that these necks are all bolted on and setting the angle is just part of the set-up. What you didn't notice, is all the time you could have been playing your guitar while compiling this information.:lol:

October 19th, 2010, 03:31 PM
I knew someone would mention the whole angle thing, which I agree to however I have seen this on many many teles and strats in person holding them up to my face, and on plenty of 3k+ custom shops. I also am aware of the thickness of the strings but they are still misaligned most of the time. Sometimes they can't even be re-aligned with a simple nudge of the neck pocket and need further work, some of them just go out the door like that. I am also aware I'm being a bit over the top with this observation, however, I can't seem to ignore it once I found it. Excuse me while I go practice more and stop questioning how my guitar are put together, shame on me for bringing up such a topic.

October 19th, 2010, 03:34 PM
I'm with you Blues, it bugs the hell out of me, and I can't ignore if it's there. If i'm dropping big money on a gtr, the neck better be right on.

Scott M
October 19th, 2010, 03:53 PM
I always look out for this as well. I check the distance from both 'E' strings to the edge of the fretboard, rather than the dots. If the angle is suspect, I check to see that the saddles are not all pushed toward one side of the bridge. Even though that is very unlikely, I have seen it.

I picked up a 5th Avenue Godin in a local store and I noticed the strings all pushed to one side of the fretboard. I always assume that the bridge has been bumped out of place on an archtop, but not this time. After pushing the bridge in place only to have it spring right back, I checked to see that the tailpiece was installed correctly centered. It was perfect, so I sighted down the seam on the back to discover that the neck was set crooked. ...and I don't mean just a little. The other 5th avenue in the store had the very same problem. I do not think Godin makes bad stuff, but it was really obvious that these slipped past quality control. I told the store owner they needed to go back and sent the company a very polite email, but I never heard from them.

Triton Thrasher
October 19th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Like Scott M, I'm not sure that the dots are a good reference for alignment.

October 19th, 2010, 04:39 PM
I can agree maybe the dots are not the best indicators, however, even just looking at the strings many of the strats/teles I pick up in guitar center are mis-aligned. Then you have to bump the neck in either direction and then I assume your going to wind up with a tiny gap on either side? I'll pick out the guitar with the perfectly tight neck pocket AND perfect alignment thank you, I can make them sound the way I want with my fingers and mods. I have very rarely come across a "dud" strat/tele.

October 19th, 2010, 08:00 PM
Having built more guitars than I can remember, I can assure you that the string alignment is an adjustable condition. I suppose looks are more important than outright sound and playability to some, and I don't dispute that but, it would be a shame to pass on a really sweet guitar because of such a minor aesthetic condition especially when it's totally serviceable. Gotta get back to wood shedding now!:lol:

October 19th, 2010, 08:38 PM
After hearing everyones opinion I don't think I'm going to shy away from mis-aligned guitars anymore as I'm sure they can be convinced. It would just have to be a very special guitar for me to buy knowing that id now have to invest more money (I need to learn how to do this type of work myself). I think this just comes back to my new general rule, which is don't buy guitars you can't hold in your hands first. Whenever I buy a guitar online it always seems to not be what I'm looking for, even if I played the exact same model in a shop somewhere.

Janitor Julius
October 19th, 2010, 09:55 PM
It's been suggested to me that having a little extra space on the treble side isn't really a bad thing, considering E,A,D are usually pulled when bent. Also, it can help to have a little space to get some meat under the high e. Makes sense, but it still annoyed me enough to fix on my AmDlx.

October 20th, 2010, 07:16 AM
I think this just comes back to my new general rule, which is don't buy guitars you can't hold in your hands first. Whenever I buy a guitar online it always seems to not be what I'm looking for, even if I played the exact same model in a shop somewhere.

Right on man. The only time I'll ever buy a guitar on-line is if the deal is so awesome that I can flip the guitar for a profit in the event I don't like it.

I just bought a Suhr Classic T, (which retails for $3800), for $1800. If I hated it, I knew I could flip it for an easy $2400.

In all honesty, I do my set-ups a little crooked on purpose. I like a little more space at the edge of the fret board and, in particular, a little extra room on the high E string. This allows me to round over the frets a little more, making for a smooth feel, without having to worry about the strings slipping off the edge of the frets. Just a personal preference. No one sitting beyond the second row can see the mis-alignment! :lol:

October 20th, 2010, 11:31 AM
Never noticed, never cared- if it looks good and plays good.....I'm happy.

October 20th, 2010, 12:19 PM
Ignore the dots. Cosmetic issue at best. The important thing is how the strings align with the edge of the fingerboard. Yes, bolt neck guitars need to have that attended to. But that is all there is to it. It's just another adjustment that you make once while setting up the guitar and then forget about.

October 20th, 2010, 12:50 PM
Agreed. Misaligned dots sure wouldn't keep me from playing.

October 20th, 2010, 09:51 PM
I don't even consider this a quality control issue. New guitars take a bit of time to "set", and under tension from the strings, bolt-on necks can shift slightly during initial shipping. Plus, it is easy - remarkably easy - to fix. If you can change your own strings, I bet you can pull this off.

October 21st, 2010, 08:17 AM
I find two things personally that affect the alignment of the strings other than poor quality workmanship. These would be saddles pushed over and needing to do that neck chiropractor thing. loosen the neck screws just a little under full neck tension, and push the headstock in the direction you want to adjust the string alignment down at the heel.

Works like magic....usually.

October 21st, 2010, 11:11 AM
String alignment with the dot markers is absolutely no criteria to judge quality or craftsmanship by.

If you really want it perfect, there are two ways to do it.

1) Line up the strings to suit your need for perfect alignment and then settle for whatever set-up you're left with. If perfect string alignment is of paramount importance, there ya go.

2) Buy a guitar without fret markers. Set it up exactly the way you like it. Then mark the finger board perfectly between the D and G strings so you can drill and install your dot markers. This will guarantee they're centered with the strings but, anyone who has ever done a thorough set-up knows, the dots will not be in the true center of the finger board.

October 21st, 2010, 02:40 PM
Every bolt-on I've ever owned, I've intentionally mal-adjusted the neck to give me more space on the high E where I personally need it, and less on the low E where I don't. To each his own, I don't care where the dots lie as long as I can see 'em. If spacing between the strings is not spot-on, that's when I get all OCD over it.

October 24th, 2010, 11:31 AM
I just did the same thing.

My Strat was together and in perfect mechanical alignment.

No matter how I tuned the intonation it was not harmonious.

Last night I cranked the neck over to give me more fretboard on my high E. Made the low E shorter and the high E longer by doing that.

Guitar got musical immediatly. Redid the intonation and it turned into a true performer. Temperment up and down became 'right'. Harmonious and chimey now, with great big balls.

Wow - it's over the top now for the first time. Thanks for the reminding thread, and good notion. :grin:


October 29th, 2010, 01:56 PM
Some of the Master Builders at the Fender Custom Shop use a proportional string spacing ruler to set the nut slots so that the wound strings aren't crowded and the plain strings aren't too far apart. If you're concentrating on the dots at the 12th fret you might miss that nuance.

If, on the other hand, you're disappointed that some guitars don't have the strings aligned with the edge of the fretboard, you may have a point. Then again, every new guitar can benefit from a once-over by a pro tech and bolt ons are easy to fix. My '97 Roadhouse (then they called this part of the Hot-Rodded American Standard Series) was so cockeyed (don't use a hypen in that word, it gets sensored!) that it required the neck bolt holes in the body to be enlarged before the chiropractor move could be done; but with that fixed it's my number one.

October 31st, 2010, 06:22 PM
I bought an 09 american standard last year, did the whole set up, and replaced the stock pups with voodoo st-60 black calibrated set. The neck doesn't have an alignment issue, b ut it has developed an odd hump on the low string side from the 7th fret to the 3rd fret. Rosewood fingerboard, so now I'm having the neck reworked by a luthier to fix the issue, I had just really started to become "friends" with the guitar too. Finally got it tweaked and got the setup dialed in for me, I am very very picky about my guitars, and I like them to play a certain way. So now it's back to the drawing board. But now that I've actually put in some playing and practice time with the guitar, I'm sure I'll get it back to my liking very soon. Probably about a week, see it sat hardly touched till about a couple of months ago, then I started playing it regularly. What can I say? I like my paul, but there are occasions where only a strat and that trademark sound will do