Are these cheap set up tools worth buying??

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by StuartJames, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. StuartJames

    StuartJames TDPRI Member

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    CF5066AE-A83A-4BC0-9DCC-32CAC1B5F3EE.png
    Hi,
    Is it worth buying these cheap tools? Or should I spring for more expensive versions? I want to get into setting up my own guitars as I’ve got to many to keep paying a pro. These are the specific tools I want. I have some other basic stuff

    Just don’t want to buy twice

    Thanks
     
  2. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

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    In my opinion stuff like that is fine. I've got most of it and other set up gear. Possibly paying several times the price will give an accuracy of a few microns, but you're not setting up the space shuttle. Now files and cutters are a different matter, you want good steel for those.
     
  3. StuartJames

    StuartJames TDPRI Member

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    This is what I was thinking
     
  4. StuartJames

    StuartJames TDPRI Member

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    If I got those items individually from a luthier supplier I would be paying 3 to 4 times as much
     
  5. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    if the tools are accurate , then why not , one example is the fret rocker from stewmac about 8.00 USD plus shipping

    -1.png

    my solution less than 2.00 and a DIY


    -1.jpg
     
  6. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    IMO, no. They perhaps have use if you are hand crafting your own necks to a desired radius. Otherwise, I’ve never used any of that, or even had a call for it, in almost 30 years of setting up my guitars.

    What are useful in a basic kit of metal tools are: fret crowning files, various miniature flat files (for rounding fret ends), a set of feeler gauges (for measuring and marking nut slot depth), a quality metal ruler (for spacing nut slots), and a high quality aluminum beam with a machined face (for fret leveling).
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  7. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Agree.
    Never found the need for radius gauges.
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd apply that money towards a precision ground straightedge and a machinist's rule.
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I build and set up a lot of guitars. The only tool in that group that I would consider is the string action gauge in the middle and you can buy it by itself. The radius gauges tell me nothing (I have radiused sanding blocks for the ones that I build) and I don't have a clue what the notched things are for.

    If you want to get into setup, I did a little write up some time ago that shows the tools and methods that I use every day

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/basic-setup.952636/
     
  10. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

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    Define worth. Lots of folks set up guitars without such tools. OTOH, if you think it would speed up your work, and like tools, then maybe. After the precision straightedge and machinist’s rule. I had those, as well as good micrometers and dial indicators (OK, digital calipers that will also measure depth quite accurately) before I bought a similar set. Didn’t need the set, more curiosity about several things.
     
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  11. StuartJames

    StuartJames TDPRI Member

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    Great, thanks , I’ll have a look
    thanks
     
  12. StuartJames

    StuartJames TDPRI Member

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    I was thinking the radius gauges would be a good starting point for getting the saddle heights set up, I’m not very good at doing by eye. I have 9.5, 12 and 14 inch radius guitars.

    Then thinking I would be great to be able to measure accurately my string action/ height for each guitar. So I can learn where my personal sweet spot is and adjust quickly.

    I have feeler guages , and have been learning how to tweak the truss rod

    Perhaps I just need and accurate string action gauge?
    I don’t know what the square things do in that pic, I was mainly after the string action gauge and the radius gauge...

    Doesn’t sound like the radius gauges get much love... just though they might be good for a novice as a starting point for saddle adjustments
     
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  13. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Afflicted

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    The squarish tools are radius gauges that can read over the strings, the T-shaped ones can read under the strings. Not exactly sure why you'd need both.
     
  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Stuart, what I find works best is to set the individual strings actions to whatever makes them the most playable - lets say something like 60, 62 65, 70, 72 and 75 thousands of an inch measured at the 12th fret. I do that with the string action gauge in the center of your ad (which is one of the handiest tools in my box) Here the low E string is right at 0.070 or so

    IMG_5313.JPG

    In theory that should give you a curve that is very close to whatever the radius of your fretboard is, but tilted up towards the bass side. Sometimes I'll put one of my little fret pressing cauls which has that radius on the saddles just to make sure (its the little brass thing, in this case 12 inch radius which matches my guitars neck)

    IMG_5329.JPG

    This only works on bridges with individually adjustable saddles and I only use it as a check, I am much more interested in the actual height of each string at each fret. That is about the only time I would want to measure radius other than when I was building the neck
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  15. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    If you’re set on buying these exact tools and know you will use them then I’ll share something my father always tells me “buy the best tools you can afford”.

    This doesn’t mean they have to be top tier expensive but you should shy away from the cheapest

    With things like these it doesn’t make as much of a difference since it’s just metal although a better set may have tighter tolerances on the measurements

    Like you said the point is “if” you are going to use it it’s better to buy quality once and you will generally take better care of tools if you know that they cost a little more which means you’re not so apt to abuse and have to buy twice
     
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  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    To add to what Fretting Out just said, only buy the tool(s) you need. I'm guessing the string action gauge comes in both metric and SAE - buy the one that you will use (I work completely in decimal inches). My StewMac version is probably 12 years old - I use it every day (its not a bad fret rocker in a pinch). Good measuring tools are the life blood of a good setup
     
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  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    I agree with Freeman; the action gauge is a good tool. Radius gauges are useless unless someone brings you a guitar and asks, "what's the radius of my fretboard?" Beyond that--I have no use for them.

    A really great way to measure small dimensions like 1/16", 3/32", etc., is the smooth end of a drill.

    A common pair of dimensions for general guitar setups are .012" for neck relief, and .020" for nut action over the 1st fret. Get yourself a $5 thickness gauge set from your local auto parts shop. Disassemble the leaves from the handle and pull out the 12 and the 20. Reassemble these two leaves with a screw, washers, and a Nylock nut. Doing this precludes having to flip through 50 leaves to find the 12 and the 20.

    [​IMG]

    If you don't want to buy a thickness gauge, you can make your own .012" gauge with a 1" length of small dowel and a 2" length of clipped-off .012" guitar string. Poke a hole in the end of the dowel with a sewing needle. Apply a small dab of CA to the hole and jam the guitar string in. When that sets up, you can use it to measure neck relief. Do the same with other string gauges like .018", .020", etc.
     
  18. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    You don't need radius gauges. String action gauge seems useful and it could double as a fret rocker.
    IMO buying the whole set, even at a discount, would be wasteful.
     
  19. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    I bought a set like you're considering Stuart, same sort of price. They're OK, but cheap. Punched out with sharp edges. My dad would not have approved. (He was a multitalented craftsman and I have his small chest of measuring tools, all good quality, Starratt etc. Always dipping into it.)

    The radius gauges will probably come in handy - one day... But I use the string action gauge a lot for all sorts of small measuring jobs and wish I'd bought one before. I wish I'd just bought a better quality one that I could keep in my dad's tool chest.

    He used to say "Buy cheap, buy twice".
     
  20. Paulie_Boy

    Paulie_Boy Tele-Holic

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    I have 75+ guitars so it is too expensive to pay someone to maintain them. The tools shown above are must-haves. I would also recommend a long straight edge. I get my hardware from StewMac.
     
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