First thing to adjust to lower action?

MatsEriksson

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Here I go again, but many has said this before:

1. A capo on first fret, and press with one finger on last fret of all the strings. On 12th fret it should show a slight gap.
2. Adjust truss rod. Takes a while, wait 15 minutes for it to settle after each turn. Of course, brand new strings, up to tune.
3. Then take off the capo and do the nut test. Press finger at 3rd fret, and see to that there's a hairs gap between all strings and the first fret. So tiny a gap that only @Telenator for sure has the right name for it. :twisted:
4. All the rest, now you can adjust string height with the bridge saddles up and down. At your own peril, and to your own taste. Mind you that you may like to bend the outer strings so they don't choke fret out when they reach middle of the fret board.
5. Now, pickup height. Make sure the pickups distance follow whatever changes you do to string height. Avoid magnetic string pull (MSP) to the strings. Which can be a liability. Or not.
6. Intonate.
7. Play.
. . . . . .
(10). Optional. If your guitar has been in case for long. You may benefit, and feel and hear difference, if the neck is pulled back into the neck pocket towards the body a tiny fraction of an inch. When tuned up, loosen the screws one by one at the back, with a max quarter turn each at the back. Until you hear a slight crackling sound. Fasten them again. I e the strings pull pulls the neck back and further into the neck pocket now being flush with the body end of the neck pocket. Direct coupling. You may have to redo intonation after that of course. Sometimes it doesn't do anything (mostly) and sometimes the difference is like night and day. The times I've encountered, is that more often than not it didn't do anything, not even subtle changes. But when it did matter, it was a huge difference and always towards the positive side. The direct coupling added mass to the overall construction, so to speak. So verdict: either it does absolutely nothing, or do huge amounts of things, especially in the sustaining of most notes across all strings, and even got rid of some slight dead spots here and there. There's no "in between".
 

JIMMY JAZZMAN

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First you set the guitar in a guitar stand and wait 3 days for the guitar to acclimate (temp, humidity, barometric pressure) to its' surroundings. Then proceed. Haste makes for a bad set-up.
 

Blackie1956

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1. Neck relief: Look at it, then do the string hold down thing on frets 1 and 12 (or higher)?

2. String Height Adjust

3. Intonation

4. PUP Height.
 

PCollen

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So I've had a Classic Player Triple Telecaster stored in it's case for several years and felt the need to play her and decide if I want to keep it or sell it and buy something else.

After years in storage she needs the action adjusted. The strings look to be too high off the fretboard and gets more-so as you go higher up the upper neck.

But which do I adjust first, string height at the bridge, truss-rod, or possibly shim the neck?

The NEED for a shim at the neck heel needs to be PROVEN. It is a last resort, if all else fails, not a first consideration. Follow the Fender-suggested set-up procedures "by the numbers".
 

gregulator450

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Thanks guys, I'm going to work on her this weekend and your suggestions are very helpful.

Just would like ask if it's normal for the action to keep getting a little higher as you go farther up the neck ? I mean am I correct in saying that even a Tele with a great setup will sport strings slightly higher off the frets as you go up the neck?

This is true, given your neck relief is within proper spec. If the neck has a lot of relief (up-bow), you could experience the strings actually getting slightly closer to the highest frets.

It is important that your first step is to make sure the neck relief is within proper spec. If you don't do this first, you will never be able to get the rest of the setup to yield the best results. I like to run 0.004"-0.008" relief; every neck is different- some guitars "like" the neck as close to dead-straight as possible and others like a bit more relief. The optimal amount of relief can also depend on your playing style.

Forgive the nerdy ramblings of a setup guy...
 

That Cal Webway

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If the neck is fairly straight or within fact spec

Do saddle height first.
Maybe wait 20 minutes to an hour and adjust trust rod if need be.

Then intonation.

.
 

lavrgs

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First thing I'd change is strings.... Those old strings aren't putting the same tension on the neck as new ones, Then follow the setup instructions if needed.
 
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CowTownPickers

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Let it sit for a few days outside the case at proper humidity levels. Make sure the neck isn't twisted at all. The follow what everyone says!
 

moosie

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Good lord. So many incorrect statements in this thread. And one can only imagine all the guitars....

It's been said: find Freeman Keller's setup thread, read it, follow it. It's 100% correct.


One thing I'll add, that I can't remember if Freeman mentions: do all setup work on the old strings, and then change the strings prior to intonating.

Intonation only works properly on new strings, and theoretically every set should be intonated, even if the setup doesn't change. But why torture your brand new strings with saddle kinks because you forgot to tune down far enough before you tweaked the truss rod, or raised the saddle? And if you have a heel-adjust rod, well, there are a lot of ways a string can be slightly damaged during that process.
 

chris m.

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I like the StewMac gauge-- size of a credit card-- and the setup instructions that come with it. The neck relief it calls for is 0.001" at the 8th fret for an electric guitar with first and last frets depressed. Basically almost flat.

I don't even try to measure it with a gauge. I just capo the first fret, push down the last fret, and then push the string down until it hits the 8th fret. The travel distance is almost zero and then it clicks against the fret.

Stewmac's action recommendations at the 12th fret for high E and low E string on an electric guitar are actually higher than I like....surprisingly high...0.078" for the low E at the 12th fret, and 0.063" for the high E String at the 12th fret. I usually am significantly lower than that when I have the action where I like it with no buzzing and no fretting out. They also suggest action at first fret for electric guitars to be 0.010" for the high E string and 0.024" for the low E string. I like the simple test of pressing down on the third fret and then feeling for that same minimal clearance around 0.001" at the first fret by pushing down and feeling the travel distance before you get a click. With my tired old eyes, doing things by feel is easier whenever possible.

I also strongly agree that if you have a guitar that is well set up, and you leave it for awhile, and then you find the action has become too high, especially further up the neck, without changing string gauge, what has happened is that the neck has gotten just a little bit of bow and you need to tighten the truss rod a little. The nut and bridge saddles didn't change. Only the truss rod changes. Well, sometimes Tune-O-matic bridges can start to warp downwards from the string pressure, so that's the only other thing I can think of that can change while it's just sitting in the case. But that would lower the action, not raise it.
 

DjimiWrey

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I'm no expert but I have developed a few skills born out of the frustration of paying other non experts that work in shops for less than stellar, and sometimes barely adequate work.

I concur with jaxjaxon regarding the joy of having the same gap between string and fret from nut to 24th

it bugs me when young inexperienced folks who like to call themselves "guitar tech" start cranking on the truss rod before performing a thorough evaluation. I had to yank my SJ deluxe away from one at a popular hellay guitar emporium.

in many cases you're better off exploring on an inexpensive copy and developing some simple skills

I always thought that the truss rod was only to address the bow caused by string tension?

there are only a few things in the "drive train" to consider.

one is to make sure the nut slots are balanced and the arc of the saddles follows the arc of the radius while lowering the saddles.

fret leveling is definitely critical.
beyond that,
one of the most effective ways to get to the joy of effective low action from nut to bridge when the other issues have been addressed is a thin shim between the heel and neck pocket..
a little time consuming but definitely worth the effort imao, and an effort that need not ever be repeated unless some kind of crash has impacted the set up..

good luck and happy tweaking
 

MikiLoving

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So I've had a Classic Player Triple Telecaster stored in it's case for several years and felt the need to play her and decide if I want to keep it or sell it and buy something else.

After years in storage she needs the action adjusted. The strings look to be too high off the fretboard and gets more-so as you go higher up the upper neck.

But which do I adjust first, string height at the bridge, truss-rod, or possibly shim the neck?

Neck relief then string height then intonation.
 

MikiLoving

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You guys are great and very helpful. Thanks everyone for your advice.

I just wanted to mention that the guitar was an impulse buy back when they were blowing these out at clearance prices from an online retailer (Adorama I believe).

I don't recall what the setup was when I got it but I thought it was a cool guitar so I kept it. But it probably needed a setup back then.

So I checked the relief of the neck and it's very slight. Like almost perfectly flat with an ever-so minor gap at the seventh fret after placing a capo on 1st and fretting the 17th. So I'm going to leave the truss-rod as it is for now.

The good news is there's plenty of adjustment available at the saddles. The bridge on this guitar is the standard three brass barrel bridge, with small standard adjustment screw near the edges of each barrel. And there's definitely a curvature to the barrels respective to each other to match the curvature of the neck radius.

The saddles are pretty jacked up so I'm going to lower the action and then re-tune. Just wanted to ask if y'all have any tips on how to keep the curvature close to what it is now when lowering the saddles?


.010 relief. String height 5/64 bass 4/64 treble. That is how is et up every (5) Telecasters i own, works for me.
 

zekester

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I have had guitars that there was no higher action any where on the fret board. I do my own set ups and like no relief what ever dead flat neck. I have also had guitars that had some action get a little higher the further up the neck you would go. Many necks have a slight rise around the 18th to the last fret. And some fret boards need more clearance from the 12th on down because of the radius a higher radius can get fretted out with bends because of the radius. There are things you can do to make it not be as high of action, but it takes doing fret work to get it lower action.
I believe you meant to state that "...a lower radius can get fretted out with bends...". I have a '68 SG Standard with a 12" radius, and a '97 California Series Tele with a 9.5" radius. I have no "choking" issues with string bends on the Gibson, but sometimes bends choke out on the Tele.
 

jaxjaxon

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I believe you meant to state that "...a lower radius can get fretted out with bends...". I have a '68 SG Standard with a 12" radius, and a '97 California Series Tele with a 9.5" radius. I have no "choking" issues with string bends on the Gibson, but sometimes bends choke out on the Tele.
Yes lower radius. Which means a higher bend profile of the frets.
 

GearGeek01

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Hold the guitar with the body toward the floor and eyeball along the edge of the fretboard looking from the headstock end. Most likely the wood has just adjusted somewhat and it needs a trussrod adjustment. You'll see a slight bow by looking down the neck this way. Just remember when adjusting the trussrod, go easy and a little goes a long way. It is also "righty-tighty---lefty-loosy" (as you look down the neck). Turning the trussrod to the right gets rid of your forward bow, or concave bow. This would get rid of most of the strings too far off the neck issue. Here's a picture from the web:
https://i.stack.imgur.com/ZbQSr.jpg

I have never had to shim a neck in dozens and dozens of guitars I've owned, so personally I would skip that idea, but that's me.

Your next struggle will be the 3 brass saddles at the bridge. I had a Classic Player Baja Tele and it took me forever to get the intonation set right, and then it's a guessing game between move this string's screw, the other string moves... NOT one of Leo's better designs INMHO, but some guys like them.

Before you do the intonation, check the string height with the up and down screws on the saddles. It should be a radius-shape to match whatever fingerboard radius you have. My Classic Player was all out of whack in this area and may be the reason some guy sold it to a pawn shop. I got it in mint condition for $300 !!

Last, adjust the forward/backward screws with a tuner and set the intonation. Give yourself about 2 hours for this, haha... well, that's how long it took me the first time to set the intonation on these stupid brass saddles.

I really wish Fender had not discontinued the Classic Player version of the Mexican line. There was a Classic Player 50's Strat I'd still like to get... a CO 60s Strat, I had a Classic Player Jazzmaster Special that was to die for... the Classic Player Baja Tele I would like to buy again... The Classic Player line was like another shoulder nicer than their regular Mexican made "Standard" series and each one had something special about it, and I think it might that that whole series was "custom shop designed" or had custom shop pickups, etc, etc...
 

Freeman Keller

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Good lord. So many incorrect statements in this thread. And one can only imagine all the guitars....

It's been said: find Freeman Keller's setup thread, read it, follow it. It's 100% correct.


One thing I'll add, that I can't remember if Freeman mentions: do all setup work on the old strings, and then change the strings prior to intonating.

.

I haven't really been following this thread, but yes, there is a lot of bad information. For what it is worth, my setup thread has been condensed into a Word document and eventually into a PDF which can be down loaded. The DOC can't but I'm happy to e-mail it to anyone who wants a copy. The idea is that you can print it out and take it out into your shop rather than trying to fight your way thru the computer thread.

I always start with the old strings that are on the guitar assuming they are the gauge that I will end up with. I'm pretty hard on strings as I do all the steps - they are on and off and tightened and loosened. I'll frequently break a string while doing the setup. I might do the rough intonation with the old strings but I always put a fresh set on at the end of the process and I always check the intonation with fresh strings.

So, if anyone wants copies of the setup document and/or the setup spreadsheet, shoot me a PM with your e-mail addy.
 




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