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Bowen Neck


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On a neckthrough guitar, after it has been fretted and the neck has been carved the neck will undoubtedly bow.  Do you adjust the truss rod to make it straight again before you level the frets?  I dont see how you can level the frets on a bowed neck.

Thanks

Rock and Roll

Uh, no, it really really won't. Not any more than any other type of neck.

If a neck is floppy as hell, the fret slots too tight for the frets (ie, you've made execessive use of compression fretting, which can be a powerful tool to *correct* certain kind of neck bow, but is more relevant when discussing refretting than fretting, really). The goal is to have everything nice 'n straight, fret so as NOT to induce backbow, then go ahead and level.

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Im not talking about back bow from the frets, Im talking about up bow. After I installed the frets and carved the neck the neck and fretboard moved a little. I mean, with wood and everything you can't expect it to stay completely straight. Wood is organic and changes all the time. The amount of bow is very very slight, but its enough that holding a straight edge on the frets will not be accurate.

Thanks again

Rock and Roll

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Im not talking about back bow from the frets, Im talking about up bow.  After I installed the frets and carved the neck the neck and fretboard moved a little.  I mean, with wood and everything you can't expect it to stay completely straight.  Wood is organic and changes all the time.  The amount of bow is very very slight, but its enough that holding a straight edge on the frets will not be accurate.

It really shouldn't do that. Personally, I carve the neck, then re-level the fingerboard, then fret. Honestly, carving the neck (assuming seasoned woods) shouldn't really affect the fingerboard flatness greatly. Another question comes to mind: assumng you're measuring without strings on, did you level the frets? Because otherwise, I'd blame the irregularity on that, right there.

A bit of upbow *when strung up* is normal, or can be built in (cut into the fingerboard) if the neck's so stiff it won't move, and/or you don't want to use the truss rod to create relief. The whole setup really should be dead-on straight before fretting, and very close right after fretting (and before levelling). It's usually the last thing I do on a neck before finishing.

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Im talking about up bow.

You actually NEED a little relief. If not, the strings will rattle against the frets like mad. How much relief you should have is a matter of personal taste and playing technique. Everything from 0.25 mm to almost 1 mm have worked fine for different customers. I have had customers demanding dead flat fret board (even after I have advised different) only to start complaining about rattling strings the moment they get the guitar back. So it’s back in to the shop and loosen the truss rod.

Conclusion: You need relief, but nobody but yourself can say how much.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I know the neck needs relief, and the up bow on mine is slight, but how do I level the frets with the 'relief' or slight up bow that my neck has?  Placing a straigh edge accross the board wont work.  Do I just blue the frets with a marker and file until the blue is just gone on all the frets?

Thanks

Rock and Roll

What you want to do is use a straightedge and adjust the truss rod so the neck is as flat as you can get it, that way your only taking a minimal amount of fret material off when leveling. Better yet, build a neck jig and level it with simulated string tension.. if you want real low action without buzzes.

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You actually NEED a little relief. If not, the strings will rattle against the frets like mad.

This could set off quite a fight but please understand that I just want to know the reasoning behind this. I'm not saying you are wrong.

If you set up your guitar so that you have a nice, straight neck and flat fretboard with levelled frets (levelled with the neck straight), and then adjust the bridge height so that you have a slight increase in action from the nut to the last fret, why would you need to have a bow (relief) in the neck?

Is it that you don't get enough clearance with the bridge height adjusted the way I mentioned above? I have one guitar that seems to be working well this way but maybe it's just dumb luck - I don't know. Any ideas?

* Crap - I forgot to mention the addition of a little bit of fall away in the upper frets as well.

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