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Really Need Help Setting Up My Jem. It's Been Years And Still Neve


Ham
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Alright so it's been years now and I still can't set my JEM up how I like. I don't have the money to send it out to someone or else I would so I figure maybe some feedback from people who know better than I do would help.

I've been setting up my other guitars just fine for years but this JEM is a pain. I have it set to Drop Bb and here are the tension at the moment.

Scale Length 25.5"



C     .013" PL == 17.27#

G,    .017" PL == 16.57#

D,#   .026" PB == 22.24#

A,,#  .036" PB == 24.55#

F,,   .046" PB == 22.35#

A,,,# .064" PB == 18.72#

total == 121.69#

A lot of tension on the strings. Especially the A#

These were spare string from a 7 string set and a .064 I had laying around.

At the 7th fret i have .017" of space which is a lot in most cases and the action on the low R is 2.33mm or .090"

This is very strange to be getting all this buzz up and down the neck. I have tried everything and the truss rod won't go much tighter without more force and I'm already turning it little by little each hour and it won't straighten out the neck anymore than where it's at. Actually it's always been about .017". I'm afraid there might be something wrong with the rod..but if the rod is broken won't it never tighten all the way? Not sure what's going on but maybe you guys can help.

The buzz happens at around 4-14th frets on the low E, A, D, strings.

Any help would be appreciated.

Edited by Ham
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Alright so it's been years now and I still can't set my JEM up how I like. I don't have the money to send it out to someone or else I would so I figure maybe some feedback from people who know better than I do would help.

I've been setting up my other guitars just fine for years but this JEM is a pain. I have it set to Drop Bb and here are the tension at the moment.

Scale Length 25.5"



C     .013" PL == 17.27#

G,    .017" PL == 16.57#

D,#   .026" PB == 22.24#

A,,#  .036" PB == 24.55#

F,,   .046" PB == 22.35#

A,,,# .064" PB == 18.72#

total == 121.69#

A lot of tension on the strings. Especially the A#

These were spare string from a 7 string set and a .064 I had laying around.

At the 7th fret i have .017" of space which is a lot in most cases and the action on the low R is 2.33mm or .090"

This is very strange to be getting all this buzz up and down the neck. I have tried everything and the truss rod won't go much tighter without more force and I'm already turning it little by little each hour and it won't straighten out the neck anymore than where it's at. Actually it's always been about .017". I'm afraid there might be something wrong with the rod..but if the rod is broken won't it never tighten all the way? Not sure what's going on but maybe you guys can help.

The buzz happens at around 4-14th frets on the low E, A, D, strings.

Any help would be appreciated.

First thing buy new strings. then if still a problem, the truss rod is designed to tension the neck when tightening to cause a bow that will eventually after over tightening, will cause buzzing by bending the neck backwards (it's there to counteract the string tension pulling).

I would suggest first maybe releasing some tension. Once the neck is adjusted to what appears to be flat then check your nut slots for proper height. Then check your bridge saddles heights. Check your frets for level across the the entire length of the board. then check frets for highs and lows between every third fret. Meaning, test between 3 frets with a level and make sure that the center fret does not rock to either the 1st or the 3d fret that are being tested. That would be a good start. Otherwise, punt or send the neck to guitar_neck_sacrifice.com and they will burn it up in sacrifice to the guitar neck Gods, Oh you will then need to buy a new neck and start over. :D

p.s. use the search to find more on leveling fret boards, frets, and setup adjustments.

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What MiKro said. I would first pop a capo on the 12th and check the gap between your first fret and the strings. It is possible that your locking nut needs a shim, and you should sort this out before any aggressive alterations to your frets from levelling, etc. In addition you are using heavier gauges than your locking nut is probably designed for. If your strings are not witnessing in the slots well, that can cause buzz and weird artifacts. I've never modified a locking nut before, so you would need to seek experienced advice on this if it proves necessary.

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So wait, tightening the neck causes bow? I just read that it causes back bow.

Also the nut is shimmed. There is no buzz on any frets before the fretted note. It's just the fret after.

Yes it is back bow, meaning the middle of the fretboard will rise toward the strings and the bridge and nut will fall away.
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Alright, so I took the strings off and put a normal 10-46 gauge on and tuned to Drop D. Much more normal set going on now. The truss rod is finally reacting and it's about .007 at the 7th fret. That's a pretty good spot I think. Still got this buzz going on though. The action at the twelfth fret is about .080" now which is about 2mm. I'd like to get this or a little lower without all this fret buzz. All the buzz is still in the middle of the board.

What should I be doing to be measuring the nut? It's got two shims on it.

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Why don't you follow the tutorials on the main page?

http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/tutorial1.htm

Chances are if you follow them you will find your problem much more quickly than we can guess at it for you,considering you have no pics

Do them in order...don't just skip around.By the way,you don't need feeler gauges,you can use a business card

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Great. I don't see what's stopping you then! I kind of guess that your neck is one of those set up to be "dead straight", right? That might cause your problem. You need to loosen your rod so that the strings are naturally pulling a little bow into the neck. The rod is only there to prevent them from pulling too much bow up. Loosen the rod a 1/4 or 1/2 turn and leave it overnight to settle with the strings to pitch. Check with that straightedge and make sure the neck has a little relief, otherwise repeat this process until the neck is pulled slightly into relief.

Your biggest issues with putting a JEM into a drop tuning with heavy gauge strings are the trem (plenty of information out there) and the locking nut as I mentioned. Dialling in a reasonable relief is easy work as described. Don't expect your neck to move immediately when adjusting the rod. It will move completely over the period of a day or so. Not enough people bother to care about this simple fact.

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Well it already has .010" of backbow at the 7th fret. Does it need more? I'm mainly having buzzing problems in the middle of the board so I though I'd need to straighten it.

But I now fitted the guitar with 10-46 gauge strings which are much better and aren't nearly as buzzy.

Edited by Ham
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I'm afraid it would be a waste of time re-iterating information that can easily be found with a little Google-fu. I don't think that there is an underlying problem with the instrument, only a degree of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge on your part as to what is causing the symptoms. Personally, I find that extremely heavy gauge strings in a low tuning on a "delicate" instrument like a JEM is just a recipe for unnecessary problems. You can't whack it into a weird gear like that. For one, locking nuts are designed for a very narrow range of string gauges....most usually 9-42 or 10-46.

To get a JEM to play reliably how you describe requires a working knowledge of setups and experience in balancing off problems with practical solutions. Most of these solutions are aggressive to say the least, and chances are you will permanently take the instrument out of that delicate bracket in which JEMs were designed to sit.

Whilst I would like to help, I feel that no questions are being asked to which direct answers can be given. I don't know how long a piece of string is for example. The best information you can get has already been posted in this thread. :D

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I don't think that there is an underlying problem with the instrument, only a degree of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge on your part as to what is causing the symptoms.

Unfortunately,I agree.The questions being asked and the responses you are giving show you either may not have a natural understanding of mechanics or you are skipping through the tutorials looking for the highlights without trying to learn the how and why of the way a guitar works.All of the info you need is in the tutorials,and i know this because they are the same tutorials I used to learn to set up my guitars when I first came here looking for answers.

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Like I understand what you guys are telling me and it has back bow to it, I'm guessing it needs more though. Reading through the tutorials all my measurements are the recommended numbers and positions. I literally read every word. I went ahead and gave it a little more bow just because I figured that's what it needed in terms of my guitar but still got this buzz. It's not nearly as bad as it was but still would like to work out some kinks. My other guitar I setup plays much better than this one.

The JEMs neck is straight as in it's not warped in anyway. Should I give pictures or anything?

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Like I understand what you guys are telling me

\

No you don't,because if you did you would realize backbow is exactly what you don't want...backbow is the opposite of relief.I don't even agree that you need relief,because I set up mine without it,but a small amount of relief can't hurt if you are a clumsy picker... backbow is counter-productive.if you had read and understood the tutorials,and had gone through the setup in order,you would understand that...all of the info is in those tutorials..all we would be doing is regurgitating it to you.

I suspect what you have is a small amount of forward relief,which is what you want(it can't hurt),and I also suspect you could help tremendously by adding a piece of a business card under your locking nut as a shim to raise the nut a tad...aside from that,I suspect your "buzz" may not even be buzz,it may be sympathetic vibrations from the springs in the trem or might be caused by you not locking your nut(some people do this and it is not a good idea)..but since you can't explain your issue to us and you can't seem to track down the issue yourself,we are at an impasse

I think you may need a tech.

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Jeeze sorry. Alright, I'll explain a bit better. I have experience with this but I guess I'm not getting it out to you guys right.

I have shimmed the nut already with a 3mm shim. The neck has relief making the neck concave but just a tad. The springs aren't the problem because I know what that sounds like and my locking nuts are locked when I play. I'm getting fret buzz from the first fret to the fourteenth. Mainly on the low E though. When I just play open notes (without fretting) there is no buzz.

I've ran through the tutorial with my other Ibanez and it's completely fine in comparison.

Anyhow I should give the neck backbow (make it more convex) is what you are saying?

I'm not trying to be a pain in the ass, I'm just trying to get my guitar working right. I can't take it to a tech because I don't have a stable enough income to save money at the moment. Not going to get into that but I do appreciate all the help I am getting. Maybe I am the one wrong here and if I am sorry, just trying to understand and it helps to go over it again if that's what I need to do.

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Fret the second fret on any string, the string should just about 'kiss' the first fret. If it's laying on the fret, shim it at the nut, if there's any measurable distance, lower it. Having the nut set right will only affect buzz on open notes. As soon as you fret, the nut could be non existent, it's irrelevant.

For the action on the first to 10th frets, this is what the truss rod does. Fret the 2nd and 10th fret and look at the 5th. Again, the string should just kiss. If its laying over the fret, loosen the truss rod, which adds curvature and relief, if it's any measurable distance over the fret, tighten - straighten and lower the action.

From 10-12th (depends on guitar) upwards, this is adjusted by the height of the bridge. You should aim for about 1.5-2mm relief over the 24th fret of the high E and no more than half a mm difference on the lower strings - which should be higher. Or 0.75-1mm over the 12 fret.

Edited by LightninMike
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I went through the tutorials but I'm still getting buzz even with pretty high action. I guess I'll try and save up and send it to a tech or just have it PLEK'd. Thanks for the help though guys. The frets do look a little worn.

Are you really sure it's fret buzz? JEMs love to buzz at the trem. It can be hard to tell the diff sometimes if your ear isn't looking for it.

Trem buzz....

Check the saddles for burrs

Check the knife edges for wearing, cracks, chips or burrs

wiggle the trem posts with the trem springs off. if they move it will buzz.

Make sure all of the screws are tight.

Make sure the grounding wire isn't touching the springs or laying on the claw

Make sure the trem bar isn't loose.

Make sure the knifes line up with the trem posts properly and the posts are perfectly vertical

After that, run through the setup tutorial on this site. You should NOT have to shim the nut if it was factory installed. Those nuts are pretty solid and can handle many thousands of hours of playing without any wear at all.

if none of that works...

I'll bet $0.01 it needs a fret level

Edited by masterblastor
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Yeah I'm 100% sure it's not trem buzz as I can tell the difference. I think the frets might need to be dressed as there is a bit of wear from playing it almost everyday for 11 years now. There's a lot of space when I fret the second fret inbetween the string and the first fret. Going to take the shim out and see how that goes as far as action.

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Yeah I'm 100% sure it's not trem buzz as I can tell the difference. I think the frets might need to be dressed as there is a bit of wear from playing it almost everyday for 11 years now. There's a lot of space when I fret the second fret inbetween the string and the first fret. Going to take the shim out and see how that goes as far as action.

Totally man. Toss those shims in the freakin trash. You'll go thru at least 1 refret before the nut goes. With a JEM you're dealing with 2 reliable failure points. A floating trem and a noodle neck. If it wont't setup following the steps in this forums tut and you checked all of the Trem checks, either a new neck, fret level, or re-fret is on your horizon. I'd base that decision on weather or not it has the evil Wizzard brand of "W" showing up on it.

Good luck!

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