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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Changing from 9's to 10's problem

Hey guys,

So my USA Tele came from the shop with 9's on, around June last year, but I've decided I need 10's, same as my other Tele and LP.

I've put the low E string on, and it's clear that something is wrong. Fret 2 and 3 are buzzing heavily when fingered, and fret 1 doesn't even give me a note - it just rattles!

Is this a truss rod issue, or can this be fixed by adjusting the saddles? Also, I wondered if my nut might need filed slightly to allow for the slightly thicker strings?

Pretty sure I might have to take it along to my tech buddy to sort for me, but thought I should maybe give it a go myself, or else I'll never learn, eh?

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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you just have the one string on there? If so, you're going to likely have some back-bow to the neck until the other five strings are installed to straighten it back out. That will explain why the string is hitting the frets.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Ok - I put the A string on as I wondered if the issue was maybe with the tension going over that one saddle, but that's all.

I've never come across this on any of my other guitars when I just had one string on, which is why I was unsure.

I'll try the other strings and see how it sounds after that
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Old January 20th, 2013, 10:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't usually have any issues with just one string on, either, but once in a while I have encountered a neck that bowed back until it had the full tension of all six strings on it.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 01:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I wouldn't assess anything until all six strings are on there. You don't necessarily need much adjustment when going from 9's to 10's, it depends on how flexible your particular neck is (some are stiff, some are spaghetti), and even more importantly it depends on how good the original setup was. The factory nut slots are notorious for a number of problems (basically necessitated by shipping the guitars to unknown conditions and leaving room for adjustment after the sale): the slots are usually not deep enough so the action is too high at the nut, sometimes even the plain strings are higher than the wound strings; the slots can be too tight causing binding and tuning problems; and finally they leave too much material on top between the slots. So if the nut was never worked on before, it's probably time to have it looked at. it's the first step in a setup and if it's not done right it screws everything else up. Once that's done, get yourself a copy of Dan Erlewine's "How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great" and start learning the other adjustments in a setup (after the nut slots): trussrod (relief), saddle height (action), and compensation (intonation). Those things are all reversible adjustments but filing the nut is not. Also the setup can be done with fairly inexpensive tools but nut slots are filed with special gauged nut slot files that are not cheap.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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New teles usually come with 9s on and they should come with a booklet of destruction which has a brief setup section ...

The nut is cut for 9s and the slots will be too shallow from new.
They don't know what strings and action you like, you can only file nut slots wider and deeper.
Cut for 9s will usually fit 10s.
A good shop would do the final setup for you, most don't.
That means they fit your gauge of strings and fettle the nut, truss rod and saddle for your desired action and intonation.
There's a couple of places around here that do that. The big box does it free with a new purchase, but the little shops do a better job (luthier/guitar-tech is essentially their bread and butter).

A full setup is best done as a diy job, but that requires a little experience, a strobe tuner and nut files.
A nut is the price of a pack of strings but nut files the price of a cheapish guitar. If you have never cut a nut, but six spare ones because you will mess up learning.

I would expect the strings to buzz the frets until you have the full set on at concert.
Do not be too keen to adjust the truss rod: there is an immediate movement when you turn its nut but then it can take several hours to shift to its final position and settle down - a little at a time there.
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