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How flat is flat enough?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Scottz, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. Scottz

    Scottz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    304
    May 18, 2018
    Littleton CO
    I'm gearing up to try fret levelling. Tonight I pulled the neck and was checking with a notched straight edge (I checked, it's true). I can almost get the fretboard flat. There's a slight gap from frets 6-11, less than 0.002" and a gap on the last 3, around 0.005". That's as good as I can get it. Good enough to level the frets?
     
  2. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2010
    virginia
    I'd say its fine but more knowledgable people than me will chime in
     
  3. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    Sounds pretty good and you might not worry too much about getting those final frets level with the higher ones. There's nothing wrong with having the frets closest to the bridge kind of fall off a bit as long as it's a smooth fall-off without any high frets in the "trend." You can check those last three with a fret rocker to make sure they are dropping off in an even manner.

    Others, do you concur?

    Cheers,
    Rex
     
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  4. Scottz

    Scottz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    304
    May 18, 2018
    Littleton CO
    I rarely play that high up, so it's probably fine there, the frets should be out of the way
     
  5. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    If i understand correctly the frets are not installed yet. 2-3 thousandths should be no big deal.
    The big deal is: do you have the trussrod bowed backwards some at this point?
     
  6. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    Sounds like the frets are already in, thus the reference to using a notched straight edge to check the fretboard.
     
  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    As flat as the truss rod gets it is as flat as it's going to get.
    You just want to confirm that it has neither relief nor back bow before leveling the frets.
     
    Steve Holt likes this.
  8. Tonetele

    Tonetele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    Sounds good to me.
     
  9. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 18, 2010
    on my bike
    Don't overthink it. You should be fine.

    Let us know how it goes. Pics never hurt.
     
  10. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    A neck should be able amp to be put into backbow or upbow by adjusting the truss rod. If the neck cannot be put into backbow, then the truss rod adjustment range is screwed up. Backbow puts the middle of the board up...creating a hill in the middle of the board. If the truss rod cannot take the neck into backbow with no strings on it, then it is likely that the neck will have too much relief with strings pulling tension.
     
  11. Scottz

    Scottz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    304
    May 18, 2018
    Littleton CO
    Yes, I understand that, but it's not what I was asking.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    I was trained on the original neck tension jig/bench in the shop where it was perfected. I understand what you wrote. As written, it seems that your neck does not want to move into a backbow or even a flat situation. If there is a misunderstanding there, it is because of how you wrote your post. One does not want to ‘level’ frets with a neck that has relief in it....at least, I don’t want that and I understand why that is not desirable.
    Good luck with it.
     
  13. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    63
    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
    That may well be, but it surrounds and pertains to what you SHOULD be asking!

    Just Sayin'
    Gene
     
    boris bubbanov and Wally like this.
  14. Scottz

    Scottz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    304
    May 18, 2018
    Littleton CO
    And what exactly is that? I've adjusted the truss rod until the fretboard is as flat as is possible. My question was, is this an acceptable amount of flatness.
     
  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    As I tried to say earlier...... a neck needs to have the ability to be put into backbow and upbow with the adjustment of the truss rod. If this is not possible, then there is a problem with the neck. Sometimes a neck can be saved....sometimes it is not worth the trouble...or cannot be corrected.
    If the neck cannot be adjusted to have no relief...be ‘flat’...then it surely cannot be adjusted to have backbow.if your truss rod adjustment nut is being run up against the end of the threads on the rod and cannot take the neck to having backbow, there is one simple trick to try to correct things. One mus work up a ‘shimming’ washer to put on the rod between the adjustment nut and the ‘wall’ against which that nut applies the pressure. This allows the nut to
    Have a few threads with which to work to try to take the neck into no relief and hopefully even backbow.
    If this does not correct the problem, then imho your neck needs to be evaluated by a good tech. If the neck doesn’t have overwhelming problems with its geometry and is worth the expense, then removing the frets to work the board in order to establish a good line with the ability for the truss rod to take the neck through the entire range....upbow to backbow.
     
  16. Scottz

    Scottz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    49
    304
    May 18, 2018
    Littleton CO
    That is not the problem here. I have adjusted the damn truss rod. It can put in a back bow. It can put in relief. At it's flattest, it is not perfectly flat. That is what I'm asking about.
     
  17. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    56
    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    Just do it.
    If that's as straight as it gets, that's as straight as it gets.
    A fretboard can have inconsistencies even when it's straight overall.When you're done, set it up and check for buzzing.
    Go over it with a rocker and fix the high spots.
    I wish my playing were good enough to require the kind of fastidious care Wally puts into his work.
    If you want uncompromising care or answers, he's your man.
    If you're OK with "good enough" and have the skills to tweak your work with a beam and rocker, you're probably good to go.
    That's your call.
    Especially if it's your guitar and not a paying customer's.
    When I do my own guitars, I'm willing to put up with stuff that I wouldn't want to have paid for ;)
     
  18. Journeyman22

    Journeyman22 Tele-Meister

    414
    Dec 11, 2014
    Piute County, Utah
    I straightened a neck or 2. Remember it's wood. Get the truss rod adjustment as straight as possible. I level the frets with a flat, neck, form sander. Re-crown and polish. Really turns a ho-hum guitar into good players.
     
  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    There is what we need to know. I apologize for not understanding what you were trying to say.
    You have a neck with problems with its line in the 6-11th fret area. The line of the neck should fall away above the 12 fret....so that end of the fretboard situation is no a problem....but is an advantage. Perhaps you can level the frets to get a good line for the fret tops.
    If that tool you are using has a straight line on the other side opposite from those gaps for the frets, read the tops of the frets. You are going to want to bring the fret height below the 6th fret down and above the 11th fret so as to mitigate the problem in the line of the neck. Done with care, that neck can be made to play well. If it is ever time for a refret, then the line of the neck can be corrected by removing fretboard wood.
     
    Mouth likes this.
  20. tedtan

    tedtan TDPRI Member

    89
    Nov 18, 2015
    Kansas City
    It sounds like the fingerboard itself is not completely flat, but as long as you have room to move the truss rod both ways, you'll be fine leveling the frets. Just keep in mind that when it comes time for a refret, you'll need to have the fingerboard leveled before refretting.


    EDIT: What Wally said in post 19.
     
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