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Strat Neck Relief and its effect on String Bending

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Platefire, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Holic


    I use the same method myself and only use a 6" machinist ruler for measuring the height at the last fret. Normally I set the action at the last fret at 2/32".

    I was curious one day and decided to use a feeler gauge and check the relief at the (7th fret?) and I was below the spec that Fender & Gibson suggest using.
     

  2. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    52
    Jan 23, 2007
    Denmark
    When dinking around with our own toys , its no big problem to spend hours , feeling it out
    Measurements just makes it faster to get in the ballpark
    People often forget that many vintage instruments have had much work done over the years
    I believe SRVs No1 is no where near a vintage radius today after all the refrets and so
     
    Iago likes this.

  3. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

    Jun 27, 2005
    Montclair, NJ
    I tended to put a bit too much relief in when doing my own adjustments. Then I'd go over to my talented luthier buddy and watch him. He apparently goes with the "get it dead straight, then add just a touch of relief." Never measured the gap, eyeballed only. The improvement in playability would be subtle, but easy to feel. So now I go the same way. Not much relief. A little. Every guitar seems different this way. Some seem to play best with a dead flat neck. Lacking my friend's skills, I don't pretend to know why.
     

  4. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    When I was learning to do my setups, among other things, I followed the Fender suggestion for .010" relief. I was able to get a perfectly serviceable setup, but if I had my local tech tweak it, it'd always be a bit more playable. Turned out the difference was in the relief. He was setting the neck nearly flat, around .004". Once I started doing that, the last puzzle piece dropped into place.

    Granted, this is what works for my playing style. Adding a bit of relief would be good for a very heavy handed player. Strike a string harder, and the 3d elliptical space through which it vibrates is going to be larger. The longer the string (lower fret, or open), the greater the issue.
     
    awasson and mad dog like this.

  5. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    I like what you brought out about the Elliptical space that the string vibrates depending on how hard you strike the strings. That more or less dictates pickup height. I have this one song I hit power cords in open E and the cord would go way out of tune because of the pu
    magnetic pull. So I had to lower PU's or either quit doing that song cause that was the only song it went out of tune on.
    Kinda off the subject but oh well! Platefire
     

  6. kingvox

    kingvox Tele-Meister

    172
    Mar 23, 2017
    USA
    Guitars just don't feel right to me without a small amount of relief. I do think that a very small amount of relief in the neck contributes to more comfortable bending and vibrato. How? I'm not sure. But I've gotten necks dead flat plenty of times, with no fretting out, and even though the action was slightly lower and it "should have" felt better...it didn't.

    For me, just a touch of relief always impacts the playability in a positive way. And I do a LOT of bending and vibrato.
     

  7. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    Before I even got into strat setup as much as I am in it now, I always read that lighter touch fast players need a straight flat neck and heavier handed string benders need some relief. How much? depending on the player.

    I think what has been said during this thread has pretty much beared that out.
    I think it really helps a player to involve himself in proper strat set up so he can learn to tweak it to his preference. Everybody is different and only you know when everything is set to satisfaction on your strat. I have already said this and will say it again, every time I take out one of my strats around the house to practice or jam on, I usually end up re-tweaking a setting one way or another.The reason for that is I want it to feel perfectly natural in my hands and that will allow me play my best when I play out. Platefire
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
    kingvox likes this.

  8. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    Although, I’m edging towards the almost flat neck, I know what you mean. It’s weird how just the smallest adjustment to the truss rod can change the way the neck feels. Just an 1/8th of a turn of the truss rod can feel different. My fret hand gets used to a little bit of relief and it feels good and natural but in order to have the action low enough for the playing I want to pursue, I need a flatter board.
     
    kingvox likes this.

  9. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    Yelp, when I'm setting a neck I just leave the guitar out on a stand and make (as you say) 1/8 turn adjustment and then pick it up the next day after it has cooled off, then warmed up again. No use adjusting it any more at a time because that might be all that's needed. Then check it and play it then it may be OK or may require another 1/8 turn and just repeat the process until your there.

    I had one Affinity Strat that kept getting relief back after multiple times and ended up putting a couple of washers under the truss rod. It held a little while and then let go again. I installed 4 more washers for a total of 6 washers on there now.
    I did two more small adjustments and on the last adjustment I heard the neck make a (Creak) sound. After that it was right and has held ever since. I was at the point of buying another neck for it but my patients paid off because it's now one my best players. Platefire
     
    Sollipsist and awasson like this.

  10. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Holic

    Same here, except I don't believe the speed-low action relationship. The best fastest bluegrass pickers I know, use real medium guage, and not-low action. I personally think there's a counter-productive myth that we all need to play uber low action for ease and speed. And, I think a lot more problems are created, by trying to achieve and play low action. I think its easier to avoid all those problems, and learn to play a little higher action.

    A straighter neck will be less prone to fretting out than one with greater relief, for the same action. But, you can have lower action up the neck with greater relief, at the risk of fret-out. Its a classic debate, never quite settled which one is "better". In my experience, I prefer a lot of relief, twice of what is usually recommended, and I like higher action as well. So I never have fret-out issues, and I can dig in.
     

  11. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    Hay Muse

    I truly have a high regard for those fast blue grass or country pickers. I never been good at falling in that pocket/tempo. I use to play with a friend now passed that was great at that fast up tempo Bluegrass/Country pocket and those leads would go to him and I would play rhythm. Truly he got the tempo so fast sometimes that I had a hard time playing rhythm to it--much less lead.

    Har! So I'm not truly qualified to talk about action required for fast players:>) Think of Eric Clapton(slow hand) and that's more or less the pocket I fall in.I do play some Bluegrass and Country but at a lot slower pace. I just know when the action get's to low, I start having problems doing my style! I can't get hold of the strings and bend them like I need to and seems to affect the sustain of the notes to some degree.
    Platefire
     

  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    It's always a trade off, and one can certainly work at it, and play faster on a high action setup, but that isn't always ideal. *No* setup is ideal for all scenarios.

    The closer to the nut you play, the less of an effect the saddle height has. The relationship will become more apparent when playing fast at the 15th fret.
     

  13. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    There is one other thing that effects play-ability IMHO and that's the snap back of the string. I have set my strats where the action was kind of loose and sloppy but to me that hampers the speed to negotiate a run or lick. being a floater trem guy, I have tightened up my spring tension slightly to help this.

    I was previously loosening the claw where the back of the trem bridge plate was slightly cocked up in the back to achieve that loose sloppy feel but I finally figured out it was effecting my speed in a negative way.

    Of course this has noting to do with neck relief but I have to run a rabbit every now and then:>)
     
    Mistercharlie likes this.

  14. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Meister

    196
    Feb 20, 2009
    nowhere anymore/UK
    QUOTE="moosie, post: 8235834, member: 50711"]It's always a trade off, and one can certainly work at it, and play faster on a high action setup, but that isn't always ideal. *No* setup is ideal for all scenarios.

    The closer to the nut you play, the less of an effect the saddle height has. The relationship will become more apparent when playing fast at the 15th fret.[/QUOTE]

    A set up may suit one player but not another.In general a set up is 'Made with deliberation,tailoring the guitar to specifically suit the musical tastes & preferences of the player'',thus making it physically easier for the guitar player to form chords at any fret & facilitates solo note playing without physical hinderance or in discomfort.
    If the set up procedures that now follow,done with precision & with understanding,the Action+Relief then adjusted accordingly,with full consideration given for the fret fingers,their weaknesses & strengths now catered for,then this aides the fret fingers to move quicker.Fret finger speed can be increased naturally.

    Those with weaker fret finger strength prefer a lower Action & less Relief now may suit.
    Those with stronger fret finger strength,a preference for a higher Action then more Relief may suit.

    This applies to both acoustic & Electric guitars.But a neck still requires some 'Relief' ,deliberate curvature introduced into the neck because of the string dispersion produced when the strings are struck etc.thus since every player is unique ,their musical preferences regarding a set up will differ accordingly etc so will the resulting final set up be also.A set up becomes a fine balancing act transforming a problematic guitar.

    A Thou'' made with deliberation,causes an instantaneous dramatic difference in feel,playability & suitability.

    But one must be aware,the lower the action,any fret errors,uneven fret height previously hidden will now become more apparent too.,causing fret buzz.if a fret error is found to be the cause then any set up will be further compromised regardless of Action preference until the frets are thus made level again,made ''Equal in there height.''
    When fret issues rectified,a guitar that can be played at its lowest Action without fret buzz will be problem free.To now raise it..it should still be problem free.
     

  15. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    Reckon this is too much neck relief? stock-photo-cartoon-man-with-bent-neck-139869910.jpg
     
    Nickadermis likes this.

  16. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Dead flat necks and high saddles here.
     

  17. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Nov 3, 2003
    North Louisiana around Many
    Great! Jam on
     
    awasson likes this.

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