Re: Strat Setup
- From: Squier <squier@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2010 09:13:03 -0500
LenBum <LenBum@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I've got a few questions about the way other people, especially luthiers set
up stratocasters. I have 2 strats, one a 1997 American standard with maple
neck and the 2 pivot bridge. The other is also an American standard from
1986 with a rosewood fretboard and 2 pivot bridge. Over the years I've been
fairly satisfied with how I set these up. I said fairly. Doing a setup using
the fender setup guide or using Dan Erlewine's "How to make your electric
guitar sound great!", I can't get the measurements these guides seem to
achieve. Getting the string action to 4-5/64th's at the 12th fret for me and
have it somewhat rattle free and playable is impossible. Right now the 1986
has 7/64th clearance at the 12th fret and the 1997 has 6/64th. I know I
know, that's very close. But each has at least some rattle issue when set up
like this. The neck relief on both is about the same. Right about .006-007.
The string saddles are raised to about 75% of their max height on both. The
maple neck plays a little faster for me simply because the neck is slightly
wider and the action a fraction lower. And this itself is interesting
because this neck is in need of a fret leveling or even fret replacement as
the frets have some small channels formed by the strings. The other neck is
in really good shape. I did use the micro-tilt "slightly" on both. One other
thing that I am cosidering. The rosewood neck has a nut that a luthier out
on about 6 years ago. By eye it looks slightly taller than the one on the
maple neck. One that I installed this year. I am cosidering taking that one
out and shaving it a bit. Well, that's about it. Is getting a fast rattle
free strat neck impossible? Also considering the person playing it, I don't
have the softest touch either. Could a compound neck be in my future? No, I
love the feel of the maple neck on my strat. At worst I'll settle for some
rattles as I don't play out at all. Any suggestions or ideas would be
Before you can adjust the string height using your saddle adjustments
the neck relief has to be adjusted and then measured or looked at under
full string tension. So first adjust neck relief (loosen the strings -
do not adjust it with the strings at full tuned tension). Now use a hex wrench
(or allen wrench whatever you want to call it) to reach down into the
small hole at the top of the neck where the truss rod end is located.
You may not be able to turn the truss rod by hand so take a combo wrench
and place the box end around the end of the hex wrench that is sticking out
and use the combo wrench (a 3/8" long handle combo wrench works fine) as
the leverage. So now you'll have a long handle to turn the wrench.
Ok - turning clockwise will bow out the neck (turning this way will have
the middle of the neck start to bow outward/up or it will tend towards this way -
forming a convex curve).
Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise will have the middle of the neck
bow inward and down... like a trough in the middle - it's creating a concave curve).
If the frets on the guitar have been professionally leveled then
you can have nearly zero relief in the neck. (Under full string tension
as you look down the neck, the neck is flat straight or very nearly so)
However, Fender recommends a slight bow to the neck. Where the middle
of the neck is slightly bowed in. Under string tension looking down at the
neck you can see whether you have this slight bow or concave shape.
The problems arise when you adjust the truss rod and turn it too much
with a clockwise turn raising up the middle of the neck into an obvious
convex curve. under full tension the strings at the middle of the neck
are too close and yet everywhere else they are too far away. This means
that playing open chords and anything below that middle outward bow tends
to get fret buzz and rattle and raising the saddles to increase saddle
height doesn't do much of anything to lessen it.
In any case - whenever you make a truss rod adjustment and then re-tighten
the strings to normal tuning -- leave the guitar rest a bit - or you can
play it -- but leave the guitar neck 'set in' for at least a day or two or three
before assessing what your truss rod adjustment really did.
Looking at it right after the adjustment usually is not what the neck
eventually 'sets into'. So after a few days - your truss rod adjustment
can be better evaluated because the neck has set into the adjustment.
Neck is wood and it takes a little while for wood to settle in after
So - first thing -- adjust the neck truss rod so your neck has proper relief.
I personally like the neck under full string tension straight or very nearly
so with perhaps just a hair of concave (very slight bow) relief in it.
The next thing is to realize that the 'micro-tilt' needs to be done with
the neck mounting screws loosened. Turning the micro-tilt hex adjustment
screw with the neck mounting screws all tightened down - does absolutely
nothing - and turning with a lot of force will only break something or
crack the wood. So you will need to loosen all the strings and then
loosen the 4 bolts/screws holding the neck in place. You do not need to
take the screws all the way out but you need to loosen them up a bit.
Now you can reach into that little hole and adjust the micro-tilt.
You really should not need to use the micro-tilt at all. (I back off
the micro-tilt screw counter-clockwise and then slowly hand tighten
it back until its snug and then stop). It sits against the little metal
plate on the neck but isn't trying to move it up or down. It's just snug
so it doesn't rattle in there.
Remember - by using that little micro-tilt screw - all the pressure is
on a little screw resting against an oval metal plate at the heel of the neck.
It's really not a good thing to adjust neck angle with the micro-tilt (imho).
A wood shim would be much better -- but unless there is something drastically
wrong with the Fender Strat neck pocket on the body or something is really
bad with the neck (be it worn out frets or some issue such as a warped neck)
then you really do not need any sort of micro-tilt or shim adjustment for
the neck angle.
If you have worn or grooved out frets - then it will not be possible to
have an optimum setup on your guitar. Get the frets taken care of -
have the frets on the guitar leveled and polished. And now after that
you can properly adjust neck relief via the truss rod, and then adjust
string height with the saddles and then adjust intonation via the saddles too.
ok. sorry to type so much - I hope at least some of this might be helpful.
- Strat Setup
- From: LenBum
- Strat Setup
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