Are guitar necks made so there’s more relief on the low side?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 8barlouie, Mar 22, 2019.

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  1. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    It’s a question that I’ve had for a while but never until now remember to ask. The vast majority of guitars that I’ve owned have had slightly more relief on the sixth string side than the first string side. Is this something the builder does, or is it a function of string thickness, or some other cause? It does make sense to me since the bottom string bounces more especially when hit hard.
     
  2. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle TDPRI Member

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    I did it by mistake. When I did the radius on the fretboard I was a little off center. Fretboard crowns under the g. Plays great.
     
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  3. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    The one neck that I made with a compound radius (I planed and scraped the fingerboard radius out) is made like that.

    It's not technically the correct thing to do with a radius, though - the idea is that the compound radius allows the string height to be the same at the first and 14th fret in relative terms across the fingerboard.

    Planing a compound radius the way I mentioned is actually planing a neck with twist in it, which isn't really that bad as the effective twist built into the neck is actually a little nicer in ergonomic terms. But you'd have to point it out for someone to see it or notice it. You wouldn't want the twist going the other direction.
     
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  4. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Holic

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    A radius being off-centre isn't the same as having different relief along the length of the string.

    Some basses and extended-range guitars have two truss rods that allow for dialling in slightly different relief on high vs. low strings.
     
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  5. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Many necks are slightly twisted like this. Sometimes it works in your favour.
     
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  6. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I thought it was to take the extra pressure of the longer scale. In any case, I usually set up guitars and basses with higher action on the bass strings by having the bridge higher there.
     
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  7. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    It does seem that the overwhelming majority are set with more relief on the bottom side however.
     
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  8. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Right. Higher action is one thing. I’m asking about having more relief on the bass side.
     
  9. Danocoustic

    Danocoustic Tele-Meister

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    Perhaps because the thicker strings exert more pull on the bass side---?
     
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  10. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I like that. Sounds plausible.
     
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  11. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You mean the wound low e side?
    I just received 2 new never fitted necks this week. Two different makers and both have slightly more relief on the wound low e string side. I think nearly every neck I have bought has been the same.
     
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  12. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    The more tension from the bass strings has more back bow, that's always been my conclusion. And if the treble side has more back bow, then I don't buy it.
     
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  13. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    That’s it!
     
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  14. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, string tension has nothing to do with the necks when they are new and have never been fitted to a guitar. Maybe it's intentional? I don't know. I do know that I can get a low action with no buzz within certain tolerances including the slight difference in relief from low to high e side. Looking down the necks of all my guitars they all vary from low e to high e side though even after being played in for years.
     
  15. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I’m pretty fussy about neck relief so I rarely leave the relief on a neck as is. Come to think of it, the only guitar I can remember not having to adjust relief on was the Tele I bought from @Ronkirn, which was dead nuts on.
     
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  16. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I will adjust one of the necks before fitting but the other looks close with a slight back bow so will leave that until I string it up. I adjust all my guitars actions by feel and eye.
    These are both all maple but one is roasted so will probably react differently under tension.

    I'm a little fussy but I play acoustic lead runs a lot too so i'm also comfortable with a higher action and stiffer strings.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  17. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

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    Having a little more relief on the bass side is a very fine point. The amount of difference is very little compared to how hard it is to just reliably make necks that will have acceptable action for a non-discriminating customer after the wood of the neck and the fingerboard do their inevitable warping in the first couple of years. There is a fight between the fine points of how the truss rod applies its forces to the neck and the forces trying to warp the neck. After a couple of years, when refretting, a luthier who has a customer who cares enough to pay for it can shape the fretboard for a little more relief on the bass side. The more likely explanation in practice is just that the bass strings have mor tension.

    Classical guitar maker Hauser was famous for paying attention to the fine points of action like this. Segovia played one of his guitars for decades.
     
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  18. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I’ve noticed this on all my guitars. What appears to be happening is that the greater tension of the thick strings very slightly twists the neck resulting in slightly higher action on the E and A string side. You maintain low action for the soloing strings while the higher action if the 5th and 6th strings minimizes the dreaded fret buzz. The action seems to be highest around the 12th fret where the amplitude of the vibration is greater. I see this less on my SG with its very thick neck.
     
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  19. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle TDPRI Member

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    Tension's not necessarily highest on the bass side of the neck. sample of guitar and bass tensions.
    upload_2019-3-22_11-17-13.png

    upload_2019-3-22_11-17-46.png
     
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  20. Danocoustic

    Danocoustic Tele-Meister

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    There goes my theory!

    Thanks, that's useful info.
     
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