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Action: adjust with saddles or truss rod?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by dablues, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    Howdy everyone!

    I have a question that's been on my mind for a long time. I have a nice new American Deluxe Tele QMT that I LOVE, but like every other guitar I've ever had, I love to fiddle with it. My favorite guitar tech sez that I should adjust string radius with the bridge saddles and adjust action with the truss rod, leaving the saddles at a kind of "middle" height so as not to make the strings come out of the body at a strange angle. However, a lot of the old hands I play with say that you get a better tone with the saddles high up (still at the correct radius) and the neck pretty flat.

    So my questions are the following: Which is better (truss rod adjust or saddle adjust)? Do you get better tone out of high saddles or a bowed neck? Any other tips you guys can give me? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008

  2. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    C'mon. Anybody?
     

  3. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    "Do you get better tone out of high saddles?"

    I think that you have to play much more deliberately with higher action, thus your output will be different than with low action.

    I put together a Tele that was laying about in parts last week, and the initial setup was pretty low action. I left it that way and played it witht a thought in my mind that maybe I need one different than all the rest I have set up. Guess what I did in short order....

    Raised the action to my normal range. Which is higher then on the fender setup chart FWIW.

    Ciao
     

  4. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    Thanks, robt57. I agree, I can never seem to quite get "the sound" out of a low action Tele. It feels great, but I bend a LOT and it ALWAYS frets out, no matter how good the fret job.
     

  5. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

    My opinion is to have the neck relief set correctly...just about a paper sheet thickness space under the strings half way along when fretted at both the first and 15th (or so) fret at the same time...and then adjust the action by the saddles. Or with a neck shim if you don't want the saddles too high.
     

  6. johnny guitar

    johnny guitar Tele-Meister

    247
    Apr 25, 2005
    Chicago NW burb
    I use a combination of truss rod and saddle height, adjusted over a period of days. My goal is usually to have none of the saddle screws protruding, low action, and no buzzing. I find it is attainable on most USA teles. With about 1/2 the Fenders I have owned, they are perfectly set up--for me--right when I get them.
     

  7. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    I should say I use heavier string that most guitarists I know

    11;E 14;B, 18;G, etc., So I think this in itself [not drop tuned] makes for more deliberate finger technique being required in itself. And thus necessitates a higher action setup perhaps.
     

  8. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    Thank you, TG. I do have one question, though: why wouldn't you want the saddles too high? What's bad about that?
     

  9. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    robt57, I use the same strings. Do you find them to cause more fretting out problems than smaller ones?
     

  10. BrianF

    BrianF Friend of Leo's

    Apr 11, 2003
    Carlsbad, Ca
    The truss rod should be set so there is just the right amount of relief in the curvature of the neck. It shouldn't be perfectly flat. This is independent of the action of the strings....which should be adjusted with the saddle height...AND in conjunction with shimming the neck in the neck pocket if necessary.
     

  11. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    I actually just got some 10s, and some 10.5 GHS strings, I have not used less than an .011 in so long I could not answer your question honestly.

    I gave up on high output PUPs years ago, and found heavier strings on the lower power pups with a hot channel was the tone I like coming through. And even clean with a hot[er] front end sounds better to me for the type of sound that suites my fingers and desired tone.
     

  12. I have 11's on my Tele..and the action set pretty high ... I just like it that way. To me , I get a better tone with higher action...and thicker strings always seem to respond better...I overbend on most guitars I pick up with 9's or 10's on em...same thing on my Les Paul..same thing on my Strat ..even bigger strings on my hollowbody...
     

  13. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

    +10 ! to the above....and don't neglect setting comfortable action @ the 1st fret, by addressing your nut slot heights.
     

  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    fret the 3rd string "G" at the 1st fret and the 20 at the same time... check relief around the 8th fret.... there should be a slight bow leaving clearance between the string and the fret, equivalent to about the thickness of a business card.

    Once that is set.. adjust the "Action" or overall relief with the saddles OR the overall bridge if it is adjustable.

    Ron Kirn
     

  15. e-merlin

    e-merlin Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 13, 2004
    Garden City, KS
    Posted at 6/7/08 at 4:27PM

    Posted 6/7/08 at 4:39 PM:

    Just a wee bit impatient, aren't we? Not like we're defusing a bomb here...:rolleyes:


    I'm just saying.
     

  16. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Holic

    Age:
    60
    947
    Apr 17, 2007
    New England
    What RonKirn said. Straight ahead and quantifiable. Season to taste.
     

  17. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I find the best results are achieved when adjusting the neck to no more than .010" relief, which is pretty flat. Then adjust the saddles.
    But, that's just what works best for me.
     

  18. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    Wow, e-merlin. I would have expected a little more maturity from someone who's been putting up good posts for such a long time. I just wanted some answers from people because I have a big gig tonight. I've seen people reply quickly in the past. I was simply enthusiastic.

    "I'm just saying." There. Does that phrase make my aggressive behavior SO much better now?
     

  19. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

    239
    Mar 21, 2007
    Lynden, WA
    I really thank the REST of you for your comments. I've actually gone out and done a bunch of what you've suggested. I already notice an improvement in feel now that I've used the principles stated here.
     

  20. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity


    Actually, I should have said, 'if you don't want the saddles too low' :oops:

    Sometimes I've found that getting the action I like meant having the saddle height screws sticking up uncomfortably, so a neck shim can be a better way to lower the action (and sometimes the saddles hit the bridge plate before getting a good action, so you have to shim anyway).

    The only issue with saddles being too high I can think of is the height of the strings above the body and how that feels to you ergonomically. I like the strings on Fenders to be fairly close to the body where I pick and not away from it like on a Gibson.
     

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