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First of all, this is by far the most comprehensive guitar building site I have found and this section in particular is a godsend.

I am hoping someone can offer some advice here, I am sure this is not an isolated problem. I got an old Hondo (yeah I know) flying V from my sister for my 30th. It was real nasty but the body looks awesome. I junked every bit of hardware and just kept the body. I routed it for a floyd original, even though it is a 10" radius and I wanted it flatter. I got a Jackson style reverse headstock neck which is OK but not great. I levelled the frets, they are dead on. I set the guitar up and didnt like it so went to the turorials here and did as instructed. It was much improved. Now, the problem:

Height at the nut is perfect, neck is straight, frets are level but I still have to have a reasonably high action because it is buzzing on both the treble and bass strings after about the 12th fret. It still plays OK but it just isnt comfortable with the action high and if I go lower it buzzes. It doesnt fret out with bends and the strings still vibrate OK but it just doesnt feel right. What can I do?

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In addition, if your fingerboard radius is a lot larger than the bridge radius, your lo-e and hi-e strings will be closer to the fretboard and buzz more. You can improve the situation by shimming the bridge saddles to raise those individual strings. Then you should be able to lower the bridge a bit more.

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I routed it for a floyd original, even though it is a 10" radius and I wanted it flatter.

did you measure the radius of the neck though? both at the nut and the last fret ?

as saber mentioned you can adjust the radius of the bridge if it's just the outer strings that are buzzing, and that should fix the prob. and allow you to lower the action

just curious, what did you use to level and check your neck ? precision ground levels and rulers? did you jig the neck when leveling? did you use a notched straight edge? and where you able to use some feeler guages to check the levelness of the neck?

finaly, what are we talking here ? one man's "high" action is another's "low" can you give us some measurements from the tops of the frets to the bottom of the strings prefferably at the 12th fret, and probably not a bad idea to take 3 measurements, E D/G, and e strings.

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I got an old Hondo (yeah I know) flying V from my sister for my 30th. It was real nasty but the body looks awesome. I junked every bit of hardware and just kept the body. I routed it for a floyd original, even though it is a 10" radius and I wanted it flatter. I got a Jackson style reverse headstock neck which is OK but not great. I levelled the frets, they are dead on. I set the guitar up and didnt like it so went to the turorials here and did as instructed. It was much improved. Now, the problem:

Height at the nut is perfect, neck is straight, frets are level but I still have to have a reasonably high action because it is buzzing on both the treble and bass strings after about the 12th fret. It still plays OK but it just isnt comfortable with the action high and if I go lower it buzzes. It doesnt fret out with bends and the strings still vibrate OK but it just doesnt feel right. What can I do?

First off, do you mean that you went from a higher radius bridge to a 10" radius, I can't make that total clear from your wording. The basic concern is like others have said, the neck must be leveled according to your bridge for optimal playability. So let's just assume right now that you had a 16" radius bridge originally, chances are your neck has that same radius, and now that you've changed it to a 10" bridge the neck will have to be either leveled at a constant 10" radius or a compound radius that ends up around 10" at the end of the neck(where it joins the body). That itself could be your whole problem, like others have already pointed out. The other concern is how you went about leveling the fretboard, frets? Like Derek pointed out, your neck might be a troublesome one that will only be optimal with a neck jig. This all being considered, this is what I'd do if I was you, especially if you want super low action.

Re-radiusing Steps!!

1. You need to check the bridge radius, for example we will say it's 10", then using radius guages, check your neck to see what it is. If it's a higher, flatter radius, like 16" you're more than likely going to have to pull the frets since you'll be taking way too much fretwire away from the edges if you just level for 10" radius. If it's only slightly different, like 12", then you can probably get away with just releveling the frets to the 10" radius with the appropriate radius sanding block(skip to step 3 if this is the case).

2. Your going to have to pull the frets, by heating each with a soldering iron and prying them up with a fret puller. The reason for this is to get the fingerboard leveled to the new 10" radius. Using the neck jig would be the best way to level the fingerboard, that way your neck is held under simulated string tension for a truly level fingerboard/fret job. If you don't know much about a neck jig check out my site where I show you how you can build and use one. If you don't have a neck jig, using a straightedge turn the truss rod until the neck is as level as you can get it. Then with a radius sanding block (in this case 10") relevel the fingerboard, be careful though you should determine if your fingerboard wood is thick enough for the re-radiusing before starting. I personally use a long radius sanding block that will travel the whole fingerboard for a more accurate job. Use a 8" long sanding block for this step, at least. Now check again to see if the fingerboard is level and use the radius guage to make certain of the 10" radius. Now your ready to fret again!

3. Fret your guitar with whatever method you use. Arbor press system is what I use for better fret jobs. After you've fretted, if you've got a neck jig, it's goes back into it for the rest of the job, if not follow along without one. Check the neck with a straightedge and get it as level as you can. Mark the tops of the frets with a Sharpie so you can see your progress and determine when all the fret tops have been leveled. Now use the same radius block to level your fretjob, using side to side sanding to remove the lengthwise scratches the leveling will leave. Start with 320 grit, then 400, 600, and finally 1000. Buff the frets if you have the equipment to do so. Now you have a perfect 10" radius fingerboard.

Now for setup steps!!

1. Tune the guitar up and using a long straightedge and feeler guages. Check the relief at the 7th fret (distance between top of fret to bottom of straightedge) and add the amount of relief you prefer. Somewhere between 0" to .012" is good. I personally like .006" relief for my guitars, I find it minimizes any buzz with super low action, but not enough to make the guitar play harder. You can later change this to suit your needs, what we need is something that will be a great referenc point for all your other measurements.

2. Capo the first fret to elminate the nut. Use a 6" steel ruler and check the action(distance between bottom of string and top of fret) at the 17th fret. I start with 3/32" clearance and adjust the bridge so that each string has equal clearance. That will set your bridge to the exact radius.

3. Now take the Capo off, and measure the clearance of the first fret area. I personally look for .020" for the low E, A, D string, and .018" at the G, B, high E string for starters. You can slot the nut to match this starting references, then fine tune until your satisfied with the action on the 1st fret area. You should have low enough action that it's a breeze to press down, but also, doesn't buzz. Did I mention that making a nut correctly is one of the hardest parts of guitar setup. lol I usually end up with .018" for the low E, graduating to .016" clearance for the little E. Each guitar needs to be setup the best way for the person whose going to play it. But this will give you a great start.

4. Now you should have a guitar that plays really good, if not great. Now you can fine tweak the bridge height to better suit your needs. Use the capo again and measure the 17th fret clearance. I usually end up with something like this for my preference.

Low E - 3/32", A- 3/32", D 3/32", G - 2/32", B - 2/32", E - 2/32".

Again you'll have to lower until you are comfortable with the action.

I hope this helps you get your guitar playing great!!

Good luck..

Matt Vinson

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Im sorry I didnt make my post clear, Ill try to fix that. The bridge is a Floyd Original so it has a 10" radius and the neck is definitely a 12"radius and I have levelled the frets at 12", they are spot on. I know I should have done them at 10" but I dont have a 10" racius block to use. I am pretty sure I can get away with this setup without refretting and radiusing teh board itself.

Setup is my issue, at least I think so. Last night after reading your posts I decided to adjust the height at the nut. It was set up with about .003 clearance over the first fret when fretted between the 2nd and 3rd frets. I was thinking maybe this was the reason I was having problems up higher. I adjucted it and now the heights are .005 on teh high E string and .008 on teh low but for some reason it feels uncomforatbly high on the low E string.

Neck relief is set at .007 on the 7th fret. I then capoed at the 2st fret and set action to be just below 3/32, same on both sides. Ithen took teh capo off and measured clearance at the nut (with the string stting on nut and bridge, nothing in between). Clearance on the low E was 0.020 and high E was 0.014. The low string seems really high at the 0.020 though, am I just being way to fussy here?

Action at the 17th fret on the low E string is just below 3/32 and teh high E is just below 2/32, only just. It seems like I might being pretty hard my setup. Is that right? Am I being too fussy?

Thanks again for all your replies.

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Do you have buzzes with your setup now? If so, then either your fingerboard needs releveling or re-radiusing. The 3rd fret press test for the nut isn't a very good way to setup a nut. It's better to get the neck the right amount of relief, set the 17th fret clearance with a capo on 1st fret, then take the capo off and slot the nut measuring clearance at the 1st fret. If your setup matches some of my numbers and no buzzes, then adjust your bridge more until you have the clearance you want at the 17th fret. A setup is a juggling act, you go back and forth between adjustments until you get the guitar playing the way you like. If you can't get the action your looking for, then your fretjob isn't level for the action your wanting.

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The buzzing isnt as prevalent now. I have let it settle in withthis setup for a while now and it seems OK. I am now just getting little buzz on the high E string when fretting at the the 2nd and 3rd frets so I will shim the floyd nut maybe another .002 and see how that goes.

I did as you suggested by setting the relief (still at .oo7) then capo the 1st fret, set action to be 3/32 on both side at the 17th, then take the capo off and check nut height and action again. Nut heights were as reported but obviously still a little low on the high E. It still feels high on teh low E with the .020 clearance to teh first fret though. That is about right though isnt it?

Luke

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The buzzing isnt as prevalent now. I have let it settle in withthis setup for a while now and it seems OK. I am now just getting little buzz on the high E string when fretting at the the 2nd and 3rd frets so I will shim the floyd nut maybe another .002 and see how that goes.

I did as you suggested by setting the relief (still at .oo7) then capo the 1st fret, set action to be 3/32 on both side at the 17th, then take the capo off and check nut height and action again. Nut heights were as reported but obviously still a little low on the high E. It still feels high on teh low E with the .020 clearance to teh first fret though. That is about right though isnt it?

Luke

Great, so you check your fingerboard with a straightedge and had .007" relief, which should be fine. Like I said, anywhere between 0.0" relief to .012" is acceptable for a good playing guitar, anything over is getting into slide player setups.. lol The .020" clearance for the low E is quite a bit more than I like also, but I was giving you safe setups, ones that shouldn't cause a buzz in the 1st-5th fret regions. You can tweak these to get the nut just the way you like it for your playing. That's why mine ends up at .018" or under for the low E, and .016" for the high E string ( but usually somewhere around .014"-.009" for super low action). I personally don't know how low you can set the nut for your guitar without buzz, since it all depends on your fret job. I'm just giving you some measurements to help guide you along. Also, everyone has their own preference on how they like a guitar setup, so it's really up to you.

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The 3rd fret press test for the nut isn't a very good way to setup a nut.

Why is it not a good way? Isn't the idea to have the nut act as another fret so that it is practically level with the other frets. Of course a minimal clearance is left just to guarantee that the nut isn't below fret level. Or am I missing something here?

Edited by Saber
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Do you have buzzes with your setup now?  If so, then either your fingerboard needs releveling or re-radiusing.  The 3rd fret press test for the nut isn't a very good way to setup a nut.  It's better to get the neck the right amount of relief, set the 17th fret clearance with a capo on 1st fret, then take the capo off and slot the nut measuring clearance at the 1st fret.  If your setup matches some of my numbers and no buzzes, then adjust your bridge more until you have the clearance you want at the 17th fret.  A setup is a juggling act, you go back and forth between adjustments until you get the guitar playing the way you like.  If you can't get the action your looking for, then your fretjob isn't level for the action your wanting.

To add to GF, it is possible that fretting leveling a fall away on the upper frets could resolve the buzzing as well. Frets leveled ~.001 lower than the rest of the board (around 12th - 15th fret and up) can correct this problem common to bolt ons.

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The 3rd fret press test for the nut isn't a very good way to setup a nut.

Why is it not a good way? Isn't the idea to have the nut act as another fret so that it is practically level with the other frets. Of course a minimal clearance is left just to guarantee that the nut isn't below fret level. Or am I missing something here?

Let's just say, it's from trying to use it as a guideline and finding the results inaccurate. Sometimes it worked good, sometimes not. I find that setting up the guitar properly and testing clearance at the 1st fret area to be best for me. Use whatever method you want though, as long as you get the results you need. To setup a guitar that plays excellent, not just good, on the 1st fret to 5th fret region, I end up using the 1st fret clearance as my guide. I encourage you to try it yourself and make your own judgement.

Good Luck

Matt Vinson

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Do you have buzzes with your setup now?  If so, then either your fingerboard needs releveling or re-radiusing.  The 3rd fret press test for the nut isn't a very good way to setup a nut.  It's better to get the neck the right amount of relief, set the 17th fret clearance with a capo on 1st fret, then take the capo off and slot the nut measuring clearance at the 1st fret.  If your setup matches some of my numbers and no buzzes, then adjust your bridge more until you have the clearance you want at the 17th fret.  A setup is a juggling act, you go back and forth between adjustments until you get the guitar playing the way you like.  If you can't get the action your looking for, then your fretjob isn't level for the action your wanting.

To add to GF, it is possible that fretting leveling a fall away on the upper frets could resolve the buzzing as well. Frets leveled ~.001 lower than the rest of the board (around 12th - 15th fret and up) can correct this problem common to bolt ons.

I thought adding fall away was a given!!! If he doesn't know about adding fall away to the neck, then I highly doubt the fret job was done correctly in the first place. Sorry I omitted it though, since maybe he didn't!! Good job Gorecki on noticing that.

Matt Vinson

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I thought adding fall away was a given!!!  If he doesn't know about adding fall away to the neck, then I highly doubt the fret job was done correctly in the first place.  Sorry I omitted it though, since maybe he didn't!!  Good job Gorecki on noticing that.

Hopefully he does and I've pointed out the obvious (again). :D

Didn't see it mentioned so far and so often the simplest of answers is usually the correct one, at least in my experience.

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I thought adding fall away was a given!!!  If he doesn't know about adding fall away to the neck, then I highly doubt the fret job was done correctly in the first place.  Sorry I omitted it though, since maybe he didn't!!  Good job Gorecki on noticing that.

Hopefully he does and I've pointed out the obvious (again). :D

Didn't see it mentioned so far and so often the simplest of answers is usually the correct one, at least in my experience.

That's probably why I'll never be a VIP.. lol

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I thought adding fall away was a given!!!  If he doesn't know about adding fall away to the neck, then I highly doubt the fret job was done correctly in the first place.  Sorry I omitted it though, since maybe he didn't!!  Good job Gorecki on noticing that.

Hopefully he does and I've pointed out the obvious (again). :D

Didn't see it mentioned so far and so often the simplest of answers is usually the correct one, at least in my experience.

That's probably why I'll never be a VIP.. lol

I did put fall away on the upper frets, sorry I didnt mention it. I havent actually measured how much though, perhaps that is my biggest mistake. I am obviously not the most practiced of builders but I have been doing it for about 7 years. Up until I found this forum I havent really been given much advice or help. I have relied on trial and error and a few books as a guide. THe fact that you guys know so much and are so willing to share makes me get inspired to keep going (both with this setup and planning the next project). Now that I have some reference as to how much fall away to use I will measure again and see what I put on there. THanks again, much appreciated.

Nekul

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last post. I got it right! Finally. I have set it up with .006 relief, height at the nut is .011 on the high E and .017 on the low. The action at the 17th fret is about 1.2mm. The thing rocks and if nothing else at least I am satisfied and love playing this thing.

Peace.

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That's great Nekul.. sounds like you got everything setup like you want it. There is no perfect setup though, everyone has their own idea of what a perfect playing guitar should be like.

It's also a great feeling knowing your the one who setup your own guitar and will give you the confidence to setup more guitars in the future.

Matt Vinson

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