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Need help learning to do setup (pics)

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Lawson, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Holic

    533
    Dec 19, 2011
    Norway
    Hi, I understand there are endless threads on this, but I hope these pics will maybe help me setup this guitar.

    I have tinkered with the trussrod carefully, but can't really see the effect. To my eyes it's pretty straight, with a minor upbow? Is it possible to see on pics?

    The real estate on the sides of low and high E string seem a bit uneven, maybe less space on high E side, but I'm not sure how to tackle that.

    I had to heighten the middle saddle considerably to get rid of string buzz.

    Right now, all the strings are sharp on 12th fretted, the G string being wayyy sharp. When I try to pull the saddles back it seem to have minimal effect, and I am scared to pull them too far back, and the string angle will be bad. How far back can I really pull the saddles?

    Overall the playability right now feels rather stiff and I have to work it too hard, intonation issues aside.

    Here is a link to the gallery of the 52 reissue pics. https://imgur.com/a/mEgkCO8
     
  2. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    As you said there are a million thread on this. I take the simple approach.

    1) get the next seriously flat (use a straight edge to make sure). Make sure all frets are level and even. If the neck and the frets are not flat it will never be right.
    2) with the neck flat string it up. The string tension will cause the neck to bow toward the guitar. I leave it like this for 24 hours and then I retune the guitar strings and check the action. Typically it will be a little high at the middle because of the string tension causing the neck to bow.
    3) If the strings are too high at the 12th fret I try to lower the saddles first, but if there is still too much bow and the strings start rattling on the higher frets I tighten the truss rod a 1/4 turn and let it set for 24 hours.
    4) I retune and then check action again. This goes on till I get it dialed in. Adjusting the truss rod and the saddles till I get it where I want it a little bit at a time.
     
    schmee likes this.
  3. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Holic

    533
    Dec 19, 2011
    Norway
    Thanks Preacher that is helpful, but which straight edge do I get? I googled it and see some with teeth and some without. The length got to cover the whole neck?
     
  4. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Sep 14, 2016
    not houston
    heres what i do...
    put on new strings and tune em up.
    on the high E, fret the first fret.
    with your thumb of your picking hand, fret the last fret.
    stretch the middle finger of your picking hand as far as you can and fret that fret, for me its the 9th or 10th fret.
    there should be a very small gap with that fret unfretted, like the size of a business card or so.
    if that gap is wider, tighten the truss rod abour 1/4 turn, if the string is touching the frets, loosen the truss 1/4 turn.
    let sit for awhile until the wood adjusts. do that until the relief is how you want it.
    next, set the action with the saddle height adjustment screws....i usually start with the high E.
    finally, do the intonation.
     
  5. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

    Age:
    59
    154
    Nov 23, 2016
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    The 'toothy' straight edge will allow you to check the fretboard for flatness by placing the teeth on the wood between the frets. Then just move the teeth on to the frets to check for high frets and bow. You should measure bow on the fret tops, not the wood.

    You can use a standard straight edge to check the frets, and the neck bow as well, assuming you don't have a seriously high fret that will skew your measurements.

    P.S., your camera is next to useless. Looks like looking through vaseline.

    While you will get great advice here, I suggest grabbing a copy of Dan Erlewines repair book. Worth every penny.
    .

    51fv86nbWFL._AC_UL320_SR246,320_.jpg
     
    kevindsingleton likes this.
  6. beninma

    beninma Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    41
    Mar 17, 2017
    Massachusetts
    Definitely read one of Dan Erlewine's books. By the time you're done (it won't take long) you'll know what tools you want to buy and how to use them.

    I was always in this "why can't I get a good setup/why doesn't the tech do what I want?" modes till I read his book. Went and got a string action gauge & nut files, I already had feeler gauges and jewler's tools. I think I figured out I needed to do 2 setups myself to come out ahead in terms of finances. I have two guitars, so it paid off right away.

    Now both my guitars play great. A Tele in particular is pretty easy cause you only have to file the nut... the bridges are screw/bolt adjustments so you can try things and reverse the adjustments, unlike an acoustic where you're really limited since you have to either make a totally different saddle or sand & hope you don't overdo it or you'll need to make a shim.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  7. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Holic

    533
    Dec 19, 2011
    Norway
    I will probably get that book.

    Right now my hottest question is how far back I can pull the saddles before I'm a criminal and ruining something.
     
  8. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    I have some of my saddles pulled quite a way back on some builds, on others they are pretty straight across. I usually like a pretty good break angle over the saddle but there are some issues that come with too much break and not enough break angle. Google some images and see if you can spot issues.
     
  9. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

    Age:
    59
    154
    Nov 23, 2016
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    As long as the wrap from the ball ends stops before the break, you should be OK.


    Nov16_PG_COL_Vintage-Vault_1958-Fender-Tele-C_WEB.jpg
     
    kevindsingleton likes this.
  10. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Holic

    533
    Dec 19, 2011
    Norway
    Well the strings go through the body so I don't really see any ball end wraps coming through the bridge. Any thoughts?
     
  11. Slowisfast

    Slowisfast Tele-Meister

    314
    Jul 9, 2014
    Mt. Rainier
    This dude did an awesome little series on tele set ups. Good info in here.
     
  12. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    1. the How to make your electric guitar play great book is an easier read (i.e. it's thinner and less expensive) than the guitar player repair guide which gets into lots of detail about reconstructing damaged acoustics. Both excellent resources from Dan Erlewine.

    2. Although your most burning question is about intonation, you need to wait because that's the last step in the setup. If the action is too high the strings have to be stretched as you pull them down to the frets, and that raises the pitch of the note so you need to compensate by moving the saddle back. If the action is lower, you need less compensation. Since everything else in the chain has an effect on intonation, it is only addressed after all the other steps (check the frets for any high or loose frets, relief, nut slots, action height, all done before the intonation adjustment).
     
    Mr Green Genes and Lawson like this.
  13. DrBGood

    DrBGood Tele-Meister

    328
    Jan 30, 2015
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    If you don't know what you're doing, bringing it to a good luthier that will explain what he'll do to it is the best idea.

    If you want to do most of it yourself, here's a foolproof way to adjust the neack for relief.

    Start with the neck as staight as can be.

    This is how I do it on a Gibson style bridge, no measurements. You can do the same with the saddles on your Tele. If you can't lower strings enough to get buzz on the urpper frets (16 to 22), you'll have to shim the neck at the heel.

    Begin by tuning to your normal pitch, i.e. if you normally play in drop D, tune to drop D. Retune between each adjustment. Start by setting the bridge height for frets 16 to 22, so that the strings play buzz free at the lowest possible height.

    Start with low E. Plucking normally play fret 16. Lower the bass side of the bridge until it buzzes, raise until clear. Now play it from fret 16 to fret 22. Raise slightly if needed. Check A and D and raise slightly if needed to get clean notes. Remember to retune between steps. Then do the treble side. If you bend notes up here, try a few typical bends, to make sure they don't buzz out.

    When all strings play clean go to the lower frets and neck relief. Play the high E string from fret 1 to fret 15, increasing relief (loosening trussrod counter clockwise) to relieve buzz or decreasing relief (tightening trussrod clockwise) to lower the string height. So tighten, by fractional turns (1/4 of a turn), until it buzzes and back off until it doesn't. If you bend strings , do your typical bends to insure they don't buzz out. Once satisfied, check the other strings and make small adjustments as needed, loosening by the slightest amount (1/8th of a turn) to relieve buzzing.

    Once you have acceptable relief, (i.e. no buzz) and easy action, set your intonation and you're done.

    This is the opposite order of most setup directions. It is based on performance and not measurements; hence, I don't take any. It works because the neck is immobile between frets 16 and 22. The trussrod only affects lower frets. By setting the upper end first, you know any buzzes are coming from too little relief. This method works for most guitars, with truss rods.
     
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  14. Lawson

    Lawson Tele-Holic

    533
    Dec 19, 2011
    Norway
    Sweet, I'm learning new stuff here, like the trussrod only affecting 1st to 15th fret. This is good info, I just have one question on getting the neck as straight as possible. That would be best to do with a 45cm~ straight edge, and check for rocking, or what?
     
  15. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 23, 2016
    MI
    .


    That's not your issue. Get the action set correctly before you worry about intonation. Once you have that taken care of, you're most likely going to find that you don't need to move the saddles any farther back, and may have to move them forward.

    First things first. Get the action under control.


    .
     
    eallen and Lawson like this.
  16. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Holic

    There are numerous videos on YouTube showing how to do set-ups.
     
  17. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Tele-Afflicted

    Hi @Lawson

    I would really urge you to it to take the guitar a good tech and have him do a good basic set-up for you. Little money, little time, and a good investment. If he allows you, stay there, watch him do the job, and you’ll learn a lot already. Plus you’ll have a much clearer idea of what a well set-up guitar is and feels like and sounds. This is the key education – if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’re bound to mess up.

    NNB: “standard” set-up specs don’t help much. Every guitar and guitarist is different, and I find even that changing strings I cannot just mechanically reproduce the measurings of my old set-up…

    Once your guitar is properly set-up you can start to learn. First, little tweaks, always taking measures first, so you have a precise fallback position. Start playing with pickup height (you might discover things); adjust string action to see what your optimal is; from time to time check intonation so you get familiar with that aspect too.

    When you’ll change string gauge, it might be time to do the full thing, in this order: truss-rod, string action, intonation. The tools I’d recommend having are:

    - A straightedge (not notched): Stewmac is your friend here.
    - A string action gauge (Stewmac again) although any metal ruler that starts square from “0” on one side is good enough … you specifically don’t need radius gauges
    - If you’re feeling particularly anal-retentive about neck relief, automotive feeler gauges.
    - A good tuner (otherwise intonation is impossible)
    - The screwdrivers and/or hex key required.

    Most of the above is available for super cheap at your hardware store round your corner.

    That’s it. But for the first time around, do take her to a tech.

    PS: there’s no way you can see if your neck is straight or has relief just by sight, as you seem to imply from the pics.
     
  18. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

    Age:
    59
    154
    Nov 23, 2016
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    I think I should pay more attention to your pictures before replying!

    I will let others with string thru experience answer, but I think as long as you aren't over compressing the spring or breaking strings at the saddle it's not a criminal offense. Misdemeanor at worst.
     
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