CMcC10more

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Hi all, I've got a nice HW1 strat that I've had for a few years and have loved but recently am having issues with it. We all know that when seasons change so do guitars and I did my setup same as any time. The difference is, it refuses to stay how I set it and seems worse every time I redo it. I shoot for a relief of ~0.01mm and 2mm action at the 17th fret and I can get it there and sounding good, but then a day or two later when I pick it back up the strings are way higher than I set. Sometimes up an extra mm or two. At this point I've done the setup several times and it sounds like garbage now with buzzy notes and choking bends that I can't seem to get a handle of unless I play super gently and wanna know what others think. Ive taken the neck off and reseated it, adjusted the bridge screws to the body so they're all evenly tightened (not too much) but I'm hoping its nothing like a twisted neck or other serious issue.
 

CMcC10more

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I'll add that I had a luthier do some work on the neck earlier this year, fret level, crown, polish, new nut, full setup. He got it playing the best it ever had since I've owned it so I know it's possible, I just wonder what I'm doing wrong/what's changed.
 

CMcC10more

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I wonder if your bridge is moving. How many tremolo springs do you have? I have been much happier with one of my Strats since installing a full compliment of 5 springs -- much more consistent now.
I've got the full five in there, just tight enough so the trem is flush to the body.
 

Peegoo

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How are you tweaking the truss rod?

Done correctly, it's just like tuning the strings: always tune up to the note, never down. If you tune too sharp, loosen the string and try again.

Same goes for the truss rod. Very minor tweaks while tightening...in the range of 1/32nd of a turn clockwise are often all that's usually necessary. If you loosen the rod to achieve the relief you want, the relief will almost always increase over time as the wood relaxes under the rod's tension.

If that's not a possible cause of your issues, you may simply have a "whippy" neck that's flexible and sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

What is the neck's construction? Maple with a maple board and completely sealed? Or is it something like maple that's been sanded with a rosewood board? These points do matter to how a neck responds to ambient conditions.
 

CMcC10more

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How are you tweaking the truss rod?

Done correctly, it's just like tuning the strings: always tune up to the note, never down. If you tune too sharp, loosen the string and try again.

Same goes for the truss rod. Very minor tweaks while tightening...in the range of 1/32nd of a turn clockwise are often all that's usually necessary. If you loosen the rod to achieve the relief you want, the relief will almost always increase over time as the wood relaxes under the rod's tension.

If that's not a possible cause of your issues, you may simply have a "whippy" neck that's flexible and sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

What is the neck's construction? Maple with a maple board and completely sealed? Or is it something like maple that's been sanded with a rosewood board? These points do matter to how a neck responds to ambient conditions.
I always take small steps while adjusting for sure. It's a one piece maple neck and fretboard, truss rod nut is at the headstock. I feel like I'm pretty close to its tightening capability to get the relief I want since it tends to gradually bind up while tightening. Initially it rotates smoothly but I feel it getting harder to turn though I never force it.

I also took some measurements with my 0.01mm feeler gauge and is good on the bass side but the strings bottom out on the treble side. I would expect the bass and treble side to have equal relief, no?
 

Peegoo

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I always take small steps while adjusting for sure. It's a one piece maple neck and fretboard, truss rod nut is at the headstock. I feel like I'm pretty close to its tightening capability to get the relief I want since it tends to gradually bind up while tightening. Initially it rotates smoothly but I feel it getting harder to turn though I never force it.

I also took some measurements with my 0.01mm feeler gauge and is good on the bass side but the strings bottom out on the treble side. I would expect the bass and treble side to have equal relief, no?

Yes, they should have equal relief if the fretwork is good and if the neck isn't doing anything weird such as developing an S bend.

Remove the strings and use the truss rod and a straight edge to put the neck into a perfectly flat condition. This is a good place to start.
 

CMcC10more

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Another thing I forgot to add- my other two guitars, a mustang and cheap acoustic, have been on the same rack and have been rock solid with their setups and playability while the strat keeps going wonky on me. Another thing that is really confusing me.
 

Milspec

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Sounds like your truss rod is not functioning properly. Are you sure it isn't broken and allowing tension changes to occur while resting?
 

CMcC10more

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Yes, they should have equal relief if the fretwork is good and if the neck isn't doing anything weird such as developing an S bend.

Remove the strings and use the truss rod and a straight edge to put the neck into a perfectly flat condition. This is a good place to start.
Actually did exactly that earlier when I changed the strings; removed neck, adjusted the truss rod so it was flat, screwed back in and strung it up. Adjusted truss rod from there but the setup still sounds bad to me despite being what I normally do.
 

CMcC10more

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Sounds like your truss rod is not functioning properly. Are you sure it isn't broken and allowing tension changes to occur while resting?
Not sure how it could've broke but it definitely turns and adjusts the relief on the neck when I do so.
 

Peegoo

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I noticed you are mixing the terms 'relief' and 'action'.

Relief is the neck's profile. You use the truss rod to set this. To measure relief, tune the strings to pitch and lightly apply a capo at the 1st fret. Lightly depress the low E string to the 17th fret, and while holding the string there, use a thickness gauge to measure the gap between the low E string and the 8th fret. A reasonable gap will be between .010" and .012". Check this with the guitar in the playing position (in your lap).

Action is set using the bridge saddles, With the guitar tuned to pitch and no capo on, the action (between the strings and the 12th fret) should be about 5/64" for the low E and 4/64" for the high E. The other strings you graduate from low to high. Check this in the playing position.
 

CMcC10more

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I noticed you are mixing the terms 'relief' and 'action'.

Relief is the neck's profile. You use the truss rod to set this. To measure relief, tune the strings to pitch and lightly apply a capo at the 1st fret. Lightly depress the low E string to the 17th fret, and while holding the string there, use a thickness gauge to measure the gap between the low E string and the 8th fret. A reasonable gap will be between .010" and .012". Check this with the guitar in the playing position (in your lap).

Action is set using the bridge saddles, With the guitar tuned to pitch and no capo on, the action (between the strings and the 12th fret) should be about 5/64" for the low E and 4/64" for the high E. The other strings you graduate from low to high. Check this in the playing position.
That's exactly how I go through my setup process, though the manual that came with the guitar says to check action at the 17th fret rather than the 12th. Sorry if I'm mixing up the terms, though.
 

Peegoo

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Set the relief first.

Then set the string action. Then go back and check relief, adjust if necessary, and check/adjust action. Changing one thing always affects the other parameters.

Allow the guitar to rest for a day and recheck everything.

When the guitar is stable, that's when you check nut action. The gap between the strings and the first fret should be between .018" and .020" for clean ringing and easy playing.

If you adjust the nut slots, you also need to double check the relief and action.

Every tech has their own routine for doing setups. This is how I do it.
 
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CMcC10more

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Set the relief first.

Then set the string action. Then go back and check relief, adjust if necessary, and check/adjust action. Changing one thing always affects the other parameters.

Allow the guitar to rest for a day and recheck everything.

When the guitar is stable, that's when you check nut action. The gap between the strings and the first fret sould be between .018" and .020" for clean ringing and easy playing.

If you need to adjust the nut slots, you also need to double check the relief and action.
I'll give it another shot tomorrow, do you recommend checking action at the 12th fret or 17th like I've been doing? What's the difference? Thanks for all the help too, I appreciate it
 

Milspec

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Not sure how it could've broke but it definitely turns and adjusts the relief on the neck when I do so.

That's a good sign then. I have had rods that were frozen, broke, or just slipping over the years. A very frustrating situation, but i used to buy up nothing except vintage instruments and chose poorly a few times.
 

2HBStrat

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Hi all, I've got a nice HW1 strat that I've had for a few years and have loved but recently am having issues with it. We all know that when seasons change so do guitars and I did my setup same as any time. The difference is, it refuses to stay how I set it and seems worse every time I redo it. I shoot for a relief of ~0.01mm and 2mm action at the 17th fret and I can get it there and sounding good, but then a day or two later when I pick it back up the strings are way higher than I set. Sometimes up an extra mm or two. At this point I've done the setup several times and it sounds like garbage now with buzzy notes and choking bends that I can't seem to get a handle of unless I play super gently and wanna know what others think. Ive taken the neck off and reseated it, adjusted the bridge screws to the body so they're all evenly tightened (not too much) but I'm hoping its nothing like a twisted neck or other serious issue.
I had a Hwy. 1 Strat that wouldn't stay in tune. I finally had to get rid of it and let someone else deal with it. I came to the conclusion that the neck wood was an inferior species of maple. Good luck.
 




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