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Flat - no relief. WOW!

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Wallaby, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have a guitar that just today I completely removed its relief while strung up in order to evaluate it for leveling.

    Because of some schedule things I left the old strings on, fixed its action, pickup height and intonation and decided to just play it and deal with it later.

    I like this guitar a lot, how it looks and sounds and feels, but now it's like this guitar just WOKE UP. Seriously!

    It's a Gibson ES-339 with PAF humbuckers. It seems way more crisp and tight and resonant than it used to be, no mud or boominess in the neck position which I thought was a problem before.

    Have I done a bad thing, and can I keep it this way?
     
  2. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to subscribe to a lot of relief because that's what some places will tell you. And when I did that I got my guitars that had never been touched by a tech playing a lot better. I was scared to go flat because I just felt like there was no way it wouldn't buzz.

    I watched a video on setting up guitars not too long ago and the guy doing the demo basically had the opposite belief. That you should have as little relief as possible. Not dead flat, but close to it. I like that way better now and have been changing my guitars over. It does take a little bit of tweaking to get everything right but I'd say if you don't have buzzing anywhere on the neck keep it how you like it!
     
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  3. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

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    I can’t get no relief (said the joker to the thief).
     
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  4. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Not dead flat, but close.
     
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  5. Brett Valentine

    Brett Valentine Tele-Meister

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    My guitars all had some sort of relief in the necks until I bought my first Carvin (DC135T). The neck was dead flat, and the feel was effortless (I did have to do minor adjustments in the summer and winter). From then on, I've set up all of my electric guitars with as little relief as possible. The Tele neck doesn't move, so that's as close to "shred flat" as I can get.
     
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  6. Tall-Fir

    Tall-Fir Tele-Meister

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    Good info players. Thanks. I have a straightedge coming this week. I’m looking for just a smidgeon of relief, if not absolutely straight...
     
  7. Fender-guy

    Fender-guy Tele-Meister

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    Years ago when I couldn’t do my own setups, I’d drop a guitar off to get setup with new strings, set the action as low possible, etc.

    I’d get it back with new strings but the action would always way to high. So I learned how to do my own setups.

    The key to extremely low action is level frets. Once you have nice level frets you can pretty much have a dead flat neck.

    I’ll level the frets(if needed), adjust the truss rod so the neck has very little relief, check the nut slot, set each one as low as possible and then set the action at saddles.

    Intonation is the last step. If I can’t get a guitar to not rattle with low action it goes in the trade pile.
     
  8. Fender-guy

    Fender-guy Tele-Meister

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    There’s also no real set numbers for relief. Yes there are numbers to go off but it really depending on the frets.

    A straight edge will give you a idea but so will your strings.

    If you fret the fat E string at the first fret then fret the last or say 17th fret. That’s you straight edge. So I say fret but fret the strings at the face of the fret(not between the frets).

    Once fretted, look at the gap between the top of 8 or 9th fret and bottom of the fat E string, should be a little gap, that’s the relief you measure. Again there is no real set number. I’ll have mine with that fat E pretty much laying on the fret. So no relief
     
  9. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Your comments are all interesting, thanks for your responses.

    I'm going to look at this a lot more closely with feeler gauges and a backlight when I have more time.

    What gets me the most isn't the low action ( it's not really better than it was before at this point ) but the feel of it and its resonance and tone. I am guessing now that a little slop in the truss rod or channel can be deadening?
     
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  10. telestratosonic

    telestratosonic Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, Wallaby. Some interesting replies here. I've bookmarked this thread.
     
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  11. Fender-guy

    Fender-guy Tele-Meister

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    Yeah I never really noticed it before but to me with more relief, higher action it just feels sloppy or loose like with almost a rubbery tone. Minimal relief and low action it feels and sounds crisp.

    I don’t know if the truss rod being one way or the other would cause a tone difference. If it was loose and rattling then yeah sure it would.
     
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  12. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    On a guitar with too much bow, I hate how the action gets disproportionately higher from about the seventh fret up.

    I like it better when the neck has minimal relief. Even if I have to raise the action a little, it’s still more consistent and playable for me.
     
  13. Veitchy

    Veitchy Tele-Afflicted

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    You don't happen to recall which video this was, do you?
     
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  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I’ve found almost without fail that relief in a neck is used to hide lazy/crappy fretwork and/or incorrect neck angle. If the frets are leveled properly, and the neck angle is correct, you can run the neck a lot flatter. This results in a much better playing guitar.

    I learned a long time ago that I like as little relief as possible. It just makes a better playing instrument.
     
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  15. Fender-guy

    Fender-guy Tele-Meister

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    100% correct. The guitars I can’t get low or very little relief and play well usually come down to a neck pocket issue. Neck angle is a huge factor in low action all the way up and down the fretboard.
     
  16. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

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    Totally leave it dude. If you like it now, great. You probably fixed it to where it's intonated and the pickup height is where it should be. If it plays nice, sounds great and strings don't buzz, don't change a thing. You didn't hurt it all. Folks mess with the truss rod all the time with the strings on.

    However, if you do want to polish the frets or level them at some point, take the strings off first, then get the neck dead straight and then go about the leveling.
     
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  17. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    If I could own a guitar with a completely flat neck and low action I would guard it with my life.
     
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  18. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Holic

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    Forgive my ignorance, but how do you remove the relief angle on a Gibson set neck guitar? The only way I can see, is to reset the neck, so I'm a little confused as to how it was done. I can see lowering the bridge, or adjusting the truss rod but with a set neck, isn't the relief set as well?:confused:
     
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  19. Fender-guy

    Fender-guy Tele-Meister

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    There neck relief and neck angle. Two different things. Any set neck guitar the angle should be set from the factory before the neck is glued on.

    Yes if there’s a issue with neck angle on a set neck it will have to be reset.
     
  20. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Relief kills the compression and attack and results in a "deader" sounding guitar.
    Way more important than electric guitar "tonewoods" ,nitro finishes that "breath" and other internet BS we are splitting hairs over with in this forum.
    All of my guitars are set up with almost zero or zero relief and meticulously crowned and leveled frets.
     
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