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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Fret level made my Tele feel tight and it lost its ease and slinkiness to play

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by tjmicsak, May 15, 2018.

  1. tjmicsak

    tjmicsak TDPRI Member

    Jul 3, 2010
    Webster, NY
    Maybe I'm getting old and stiff hands, but after having a fret level done on my Baja it just seems like the normal strings are stiff to bend.
    I had been spending time with a 335 with a raised stop tail and I do notice a huge difference, even in where the Tele saddles are for intonation. After a recent intonation adjustment that moved the saddles back- making a sharper break angle, I just seem to feel like it is no longer as easy to play.

    Do I need a slinkier Tele and lighter strings? (have always run 10-52)
    Or is there some things I can do to improve the playability of my Baja?

    I have even considered backing the entire bridge out a bit so that the saddles have a shallower break angle - or even plugging and re-drilling the through-body string holes.

    Maybe I need a top-loader conversion done?
  2. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 8, 2007
    Norfolk UK
    maybe the frets are too flat after the level .Maybe more of a rounded profile ?
  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Break angle will not affect the force required for bending, but you might feel it in your picking hand if the strings are loose on the saddles due to very little break angle.

    Bending after a level and crown can be harder if the frets still have some grinding scratches though, sort of like going from sliding on smooth ice to sliding on pavement, even if they look shiny.
    Piggy Stu likes this.
  4. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    was there any nut work done?
  5. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I'm not sure I agree with this. I can't say I notice much difference, but that doesn't mean someone else won't.

    Theoretically, the entire length of the string is stretched when bending, unless you've got a locking nut, or a Floyd. Sharper break angles mean more friction at the break point, thus reducing the effective length over which you're trying to get the same amount of stretch.
  6. 63telemaster

    63telemaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 29, 2013
    My bet is that your frets haven't been polished enough after the fretwork. If you don't have the kit or maybe the confidence to polish them yourself, take it back and get them to do've paid for the work and it should have been done properly!
    Crobbins likes this.
  7. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

    Aug 23, 2014
    All the above, and...
    • You can't expect any standard scale Tele or Strat to be as slinky and easy-bending as any Gibson if you are using the same gauge strings. The Gibson has a shorter scale, so any given string does not have to be tightened as much to achieve the same pitch as as it does on the Fender. Less tension = slinkier feel and easier bending.
    • If your frets are significantly lower, you may be encountering some friction between your fingers and the fretboard itself. This can literally be a "drag".
    blille and t guitar floyd like this.
  8. Crobbins

    Crobbins Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Meiners Oaks CA.
    +1 Make sure they are polished.
  9. elpico

    elpico Tele-Holic

    Sep 14, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    I think you probably just got used to the gibson while the tele was away. Give it time.
    Jonzilla and blille like this.
  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    If a Jazzmaster or trapeze tail archtop I'd give a different answer, but with a vintage string through Tele bridge, I would be very surprised if the strings were sliding back and forth across the saddles during bends.
    Maybe theoretically with a toploader and low saddles, but there we're talking about adding one extra inch of strechable sting to the 30" overall, for an increase of string length around 3%, minus the friction over the saddle.
    Here I'd say that if the strings are sliding back and forth across toploader saddles, we would have more threads about toploaders not staying in tune!

    The specific question was what I was referring to, but certainly a Jazzmaster with a roller or tilting bridge will give you more string to stretch at the same string tension.
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    You bet!
  12. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    May 19, 2014
    North FL
    Is the action dramatically different on them?

    Is the amount of relief in the neck dramatically different? Having the neck too flat can make bending the strings feel labored.

    I find these two things have way more to do with how hard or easy a guitar feels than break angle (if it's within normal) or any of the other super fiddly stuff.

    My guess is that it was set up with less relief and lower action. Shredder guys like this feel. But if your big into bends it can be miserable.

    anyhow, if you liked it before, take it to someone else for a setup before you go changing parts.

    it should be an easily playable instrument...
  13. trashedlostfdu

    trashedlostfdu Tele-Meister

    Apr 24, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    I would polish the frets a bit. I have done that before on a LP and had results after a polish.
  14. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Meister

    Jun 15, 2017
    Unless the neck was leveled while still attached to the body and the nut wasn't removed, and the nut action hardly changed, the guitar setup has more noticeably changed.
    Even taking off the neck and putting it back on can make the guitar feel different.
    The frets may be lower, flatter, not as polished, the nut height may be higher, and neck may very very slightly sit in the pocket differently, the action can slightly be different, and you adjust the truss rod plenty before after and sometimes during a fret level, to double check, so the chances hte relief is exactly the same is slim, so the the setup is most likely different.

    You are basically noticing multiple changes to your guitar so the guitar should get a full complete setup, again.
    Then we can talk about different guitars and break angles. Once we know the guitar has been re-set up with the same gauge and brand of strings you usually use.

    These are small adjustments in the .001"s of an inch that are quite a few in number.
    PingGuo likes this.
  15. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    May 19, 2014
    North FL

    Hit the big change, low hanging fruit first.

    It never ceases to amazing me how hyper focused we (guitar players) can get on the things that contribute the last 5% (assuming, as mentioned, they are already within normal parameters).
  16. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    the force required to overcome the friction encountered when sliding a string laterally across a fret while bending will be exactly the same on a guitar who's frets have been leveled, crowned and polished, as on the same guitar, all things being equal, with virgin fresh frets. AFTER the first bend..

    the reason.. the act of sliding the string across the fret "burnishes" the surface .. the same in either case... so that's not it... that burnishing negates any polishing, it also negates any machine "tracks" left during manufacturing of the frets... Polishing actually is NOT required.. it's more of an appearance thing.

    The tension required to achieve the correct pitch when tuned will ALWAYS be exactly the same for a given set of strings assuming the scale length is uniform, 25.5 in this case.. it would matter how the string ends are terminated or over what they must traverse. The only variable is the distance of the string occurring behind the saddle or nut.. the longer, the more "cushion" allowing for flexing exists.. of course the more of that nonsense there is, the easier it is for the guitar to go out of tune...

    remember a guitar is a study in compromises... if you have found a solution for one problem .. dork :p .. you are overlooking probably a half dozen other issues that will create even more havoc.. Murphy reigns supreme within the core of a guitar..

    there is only one reason you would have difficulty.. the setup is not yet dialed in for you... assuming the fret leveling was done correctly... it's not at all hard to get it right, but many seem to want to spend far too much time doing what only requires a few swipes with whatever you;re swiping with... Spending more time than necessary does NOT give ya a more leveled set of frets than the same guitar done quickly... Leveled frets are not like money... where ya can't have too much...:D

    RoyBGood likes this.
  17. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2007
    Exeter, England
  18. teleblueman

    teleblueman Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Dec 7, 2009
    Curious as to what you use to polish the frets? 0000 steel wool?
  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    "I would argue that a fret polish is absolutely necessary in my case; . . .prefer to play well-finished and slippery frets from the outset, rather than spend time getting them to how I prefer them to feel."

    Well I didn't say DON"T polish 'em . . I just explained the reason.. I polish every guitar that crosses my bench.. It's just many have a mistaken view of what that does... the only time a polished fret is an advantage is the first time a guitar is played... after that the string burnishes the fret crown to whatever level the two alloys string and fret are capable of.. that included if it has been polished or not.. It's the leveling that is a permanent advantage.

    and ... so you prefer to find guitars setup to your particular playing technique before you purchase them? So you don't have to dial them in? I would say Problem found... that's like saying I don't need an Armani.. I'll just find one that fits perfectly off the rack.. then complaining because the waist is too tight....

    "rather than spend time getting them to how I prefer them to feel." Ya know... I don't really know what to say to that... but I'm sure there are many world class musicians that feel the same way... :lol:

    the whole idea behind the way a guitar is constructed is so YOU CAN spend time getting it adjusted to your specific symbiotic tactile interface... If one doesn't do that. then their encounter with that guitar is crippled from the get-go..

    t guitar floyd and tjmicsak like this.
  20. 63telemaster

    63telemaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 29, 2013
    Not fine enough for the final polish imho. You'll need a polishing compound such as jewelers rouge to get a really nice finish. Some use a wheel on a dremel to apply but leave that to the pros. It makes a massive difference to the playability and the sound when frets are properly finished.
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