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Thread: Guitar Set-Up Questions:

  1. #1
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    Guitar Set-Up Questions:

    Hello, I posted this over at MLP forums too so excuse the douple post if you hang out over there too. With that said:

    I'm trying to get into how to set up my own guitar and had a question about getting rid of fret buzz and setting up guitars in general:

    I first did a truss rod adjustment and it looks perfect from what I understand, an ever-so-slight U-shaped bend in the neck. Nothing severe at all. But I'm still getting more buzz than I'd like. Adjusting the truss rod more doesn't seem to fix it and results in too high of an action in the centre of the neck than I am comfortable with.

    So my question: is this when one switches to adjusting the bridge height? To be specific, when one has achieved what seems to be ideal relief and buzz still exists?

    Second off: could someone more experienced tell me what type of bridge I have? PRS SE Custom 24:
    http://www.theprsshop.com/media/cata...24_2012_ts.jpg

    I'm wondering so I can look up additional information on how to adjust the screws and what not. At the moment having 6 parameters to play around with scares the daylights out of me. Any suggestions on how to take care of things like bridge height and intonation with this type of guitar?

    Lastly, other than truss-rod adjustment, bridge height, and intonation is there anything else generally included in the set-up procedure?

    Lastly++, I might get flamed for asking a question asked plenty of times on the internet: How much fret buzz is normal? I'm playing on the low E string over on the low frets and getting some jangle. Is that bad? Nothing is going through to the amp, and moreover no open string buzzes.

    Thanks for the read,
    Rav.

  2. #2
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    Everybody falls into the same trap whem it comes to fret buzz and automatically assumes that it's a truss rod adjustment.

    if you can't hear fret buzz when amplified then you don't have a problem with fret buzz. a little fret buzz on a electric instrument that is only audible when unplugged is fine.

    Small adjustments have huge effects, never turn anything by more than 1/4 of a turn at a time, this also serves that you know how much to turn it back to get the original settings should you make a mistake..

    you are right that a shallow U in the neck is the ideal profile. but your 1st port of call should be string height (action).raising it 1/4 turn could be all it needs.

    checking the truss rod - capo the 15 or 17th fret (where neck meets the body), and fret the 1st fret normally, you should be able to slide a credit card in and ut of the strings at the 8th fret, or you should be able to "bounce" the the string by lightly tapping at the 8th. repeat for the rest of the strings

    fret buzz at either end of the neck indicates too much bow fret buzz in the middle of the fingerboard is too much back bow, fret buzz on one or 2 adjacent strings may be a raised fret and needs checking with a straight edge (looking for the straight edge rocking across the frets)

    From what you describe in the final paragraph I'd say that as long as it is comfortable to play then you are good to go.

    Remember that any neck adjustment is going to take up to 24 hours to settle down (another reason for only doing 1/4 turns)
    Last edited by DarrenJ1973; 03-29-2013 at 06:34 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thank you! I appreciate all of the little tests you suggested, especially since they don't require a $20 ruler ;-)

  4. #4
    Junior Member Victek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravana View Post
    Thank you! I appreciate all of the little tests you suggested, especially since they don't require a $20 ruler ;-)
    I picked up a stainless steel ruler for around $6 at Office Depot. It comes in handy when you're wanting to be more precise than just sighting down the neck or looking at the string gap. A ruler can help you assess if there are individual frets sticking up (more common above the 12th fret). The concave "U" in the neck should be pretty subtle. Also check the nut to make sure none of the slots are too deep which could cause strings to buzz against the first fret. Leave intonation for last - it can be done fairly easily with an electronic tuner. Hope this helps.
    So many guitars So little money

  5. #5
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Regarding buzz...

    As has been stated, some buzz is relatively normal and if you can't hear it amplified then it's fine. A number of things will cause buzzing and can be a technique issue as well as setup. If you have a heavy touch you're more likely to get buzzing so you need to adjust the setup to take into account your style.

    Relief... There should be a tiny gap around the 8th fret and bottom of string. Check the relief at the 8th fret on both th high and low E strings. Tension isn't perfectly balanced across the neck so one side tends to have a touch more relief than the other so take an average. Feeler guages are good for this or a business card. When adjusting the truss rod on an SE make only an 1/8th of a turn at a time and leave it for a few minutes.

    With the bridge... Adjust string height using the 2 allen screws in each saddle. Again only make slight changes at a time. I thoroughly recommend you get a machinists rule for this rather than try and guesstimate it. They're cheap and precise.

    As a starting point make sure the strings are 2/32" at the 12th on the treble side and 5/64" on the bass side. You can then lower or raise to your preference.

    Leave the 6 phillips head screws on the bridge alone as damage can easily be caused adjusting these. However, have a good look at them, they should all be level with one another and raised slightly off the surface.

    You want the bridge to be parallel with the body at about 16th of an inch. It may be slightly higher but not too much. Plug into a tuner and pull the bridge back with the bar. It should bend up to an F#. Mine is a few cents sharper but not enough that I need to adjust.

    If the bridge isn't parallel then you need to take the plate off the back and adjust the two claw screws the anchor the trem system springs to the body of the guitar. Either tighten or loosen them to get the bridge parallel.

    Feeler guages aren't a necessity but definately get yourself a small machinists rule!!!
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, Fender Strat
    Laney Lionheart L5T-112, Fender Mustang 1
    Wishing for a Blue Bernie!
    Click here for SE Bernie Marsden demo!
    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

  6. #6
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Regarding buzz...

    As has been stated, some buzz is relatively normal and if you can't hear it amplified then it's fine. A number of things will cause buzzing and can be a technique issue as well as setup. If you have a heavy touch you're more likely to get buzzing so you need to adjust the setup to take into account your style.

    Relief... There should be a tiny gap around the 8th fret and bottom of string. Check the relief at the 8th fret on both the high and low E strings by pressing down (or use a capo) on the first and last frets. Tension isn't perfectly balanced across the neck so one side tends to have a touch more relief than the other so take an average. Feeler guages are good for this or a business card. When adjusting the truss rod on an SE make only an 1/8th of a turn at a time and leave it for a few minutes.

    With the bridge... Adjust string height using the 2 allen screws in each saddle. Again only make slight changes at a time. I thoroughly recommend you get a machinists rule for this rather than try and guesstimate it. They're cheap and precise.

    As a starting point make sure the strings are 2/32" at the 12th on the treble side and 5/64" on the bass side. You can then lower or raise to your preference.

    Leave the 6 phillips head screws on the bridge alone as damage can easily be caused adjusting these. However, have a good look at them, they should all be level with one another and raised slightly off the surface.

    You want the bridge to be parallel with the body at about 16th of an inch. It may be slightly higher but not too much. Plug into a tuner and pull the bridge back with the bar. It should bend up to an F#. Mine is a few cents sharper but not enough that I need to adjust.

    If the bridge isn't parallel then you need to take the plate off the back and adjust the two claw screws the anchor the trem system springs to the body of the guitar. Either tighten or loosen them to get the bridge parallel.

    Set intonation last and check everything again. With a trem system one change can affect another part so you may need to re-adjust until it's all balanced.

    Check the whole thing again after 24 hours as the neck does take a bit to fully stabalize, but you'll get a good enough idea after just a few minutes of adjusting the truss.

    Feeler guages aren't a necessity but definately get yourself a small machinists rule!!!
    Last edited by Mikegarveyblues; 03-30-2013 at 10:13 AM.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, Fender Strat
    Laney Lionheart L5T-112, Fender Mustang 1
    Wishing for a Blue Bernie!
    Click here for SE Bernie Marsden demo!
    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

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