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Thread: set-up question with regard to action/string rattling

  1. #1

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    set-up question with regard to action/string rattling

    Hi,

    I have a fairly low action on my JP7, and in order to get there I adjusted the truss rod a while back to make the neck 'straighter' and lowered the string saddles on all strings (being careful to lower each of the about the same).
    I am happy with the end result, however the high e-string still has a lot more string rattle than all the other strings, and this mostly occurs on all frets except for the higher frets (say fret 15 and higher).
    My question: what would be the better way to resolve this, either adjust the truss rod a little more to straighten the neck a tad more? OR to raise only the saddle of the high e-string a bit? or maybe a bit of both?

    Thanks for any input.
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

  2. #2

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    Howdy. This is probably a classic 'set up' conundrum of saddles vs. relief. The norm is for there to be some minimum neck relief set first then adjust final string height using the saddles. However, if you're ignoring the relief side of the equation and working towards a flatter neck then saddle heights are all you have an you're lowest action is determined by the precision of everything else, construction neck set and angle, fret work, etc. There is a limit to everything relative to playing style and string excursion. But lets keep it simple. Fist thing is that you need a small, inexpensive machinist ruler with whatever graduations you're comfortable and you need to take actual unfretted measurements at the 12th fret. That will insure that you have even relative string heights set with the saddles. You can also get your current string heights. You need this baseline data. After that you will know with certainty if the high E is simply lower than the rest even if only by 1/64". Hard to eyeball but at the limits enough to be your problem. After that what are the actual string heights vs. what you prefer vs. what EBMM specs are? My Axis SS sits at 3.5/64" to 4/64" for the low E to 3/64" on the high E gradually lowering as we measure across the 12th fret. I also have minimal neck relief, but I do have some. I think the EBMM guitars are exceptional in their fretwork from the start so a high fret, while not impossible, is unlikely. But that's an easy check with a fret rocker. Another cheap but vital tool for the set up arsenal. The flatter the neck setting the more saddle height you need to compensate.

    From the EBMM set up instructions:

    "First, check relief in the neck by holding the lowest (bass) string down on the second fret with your fretting hand, then hold it down on the 12th fret with your right thumb and tap on the string in the middle to show how straight the string is. It should be no more than the thickness of a thick business card. If there is no relief in the neck, applying a little pressure in the middle of the neck (downward) after adjusting the truss rod wheel should take care of it. If not, please contact us as it may be necessary to send the instrument to the factory.

    Factory string setting for standard tuning starts at the bass side 2/32" (1.59 mm) to 5/64" (1.98 mm) and the treble side is 3/64" (1.19 mm) to 2/32" (1.59 mm) measured from the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. The top of the strings should have the radius of the fretboard when you are looking at the strings in the playing position and by rotating the instrument while at the same time bringing strings into view one at a time. Remember, string height is ultimately determined by your preference and playing style.

    Now, you are ready to play your guitar. If a string buzzes on an open string to the 5th fret and no higher, more relief is needed. If there is more buzz from the 5th to the 12th fret, the neck needs to be straighter. You should check the string height after every adjustment. If the buzzing happens throughout the neck, the string height needs to be increased.

    Experiment a little to get the exact action you want."
    2016 Axis Super Sport Trans Gold w/ Maple Neck
    1997 Axis Sport HSS Kandy Lime w/ Maple Neck

  3. #3

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    thank you very much for your help.
    I'm going to experiment with both slight truss rod adjustments as well as saddle height. I am hoping with some amount of trial and error I will get there. If not, then I will take the guitar to a professional tech, but I would definitely like to learn to do my set ups myself
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

  4. #4

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    It ain't the black arts that some might have you believe. But there is a method and mechanics to it all. It really starts with knowing where you want to be then seeing if you can get there. Some by feel and some with hard physical measurements because you always need a consistent point of reference and eyeballin' does not necessarily get you repeatability. You have to know a here other guitars that you have, that you like. And make note of where

    A) the relief is set using the "two point string hold down and press in the middle" technique. This one for me IS an eyeballer. I can tell with pretty good accuracy by sound and feel how the relief is. You can pretty easily estimate the thickness of a business card, more or less, and that's where you generally want to be.

    B) The second quick check for me is always nut slot string height. Again, an eyeball measure, and actually more sound and feel. Lightly fret a string at the third fret then reach over while still fretting and give a quick tap to that string at the first fret. Once you've seen a few of these you'll have a point of reference. For me a solid click means there is a gap between the string and fret, which is what you desire. The magic is in how much. even the tiniest amount can be OK, you just never want that string already contacting the first fret in this test. That usually indicates the string slot has been cut too deep. But more often than not nut slots are not deep enough. This is a gap that you DO NOT want a business card thickness because that can throw off open chords. The gap on my Axis is the smallest untouched gap I have ever seen and it's fins so, again, I am guessing you will not need to do anything with the nut. Just a great check point to know and do.

    C) Now comes saddle adjustments and overall string height final adjustments, where we will take our measurements at the 12th fret across all strings. that insures uniformity and correct radiusing. With the other two areas correctly addressed this is where the rubber meets the road to how 'good' you can be. This is where you need to know WHERE you want to be with respect to what action you like to play with. If you're a light gauge string, aggressive attack and super low action player then you'll have challenges. Working from the factory recommendation down is usually the sweet spot until you hit the lower limit and buzz is introduced. Every neck and guitar is a bit different. As I mentioned earlier I am a happy 3/64" to 4/64" 'action' or string height and my Axis is a noise free and spot on at those heights. Some folks like higher. Higher is easy and gets nice clean ringing notes. But this set up is about what YOU like and if you can get there.

    Without knowing the buzzing string measurement we have no point of reference to guide from other than raise it until it stops. but you'll want to know why and will also have to adjust the other strings accordingly. See what you come up with and report back. Have no fear and stay with the basics here. You're not cutting nut slots or filing frets and any truss rod adjustments will be 1/8 to 1/4 turn in total so no risk of hurting that. You have nothing to fear in trying some adjustment changes.
    2016 Axis Super Sport Trans Gold w/ Maple Neck
    1997 Axis Sport HSS Kandy Lime w/ Maple Neck

  5. #5

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    Once again thank you very much for your help and the detailed information. I appreciate it!

    Today I decided to change the strings before working on the set-up, and then I thought I have had this guitar for 2-3 years and have never cleaned/oiled the fretboard so I might do that as well. So, I took all the strings off and cleaned and oiled the fretboard, and put on a fresh set of strings - same brand and same gauge (EB slinky 7-string set), but what happened: the buzz was gone, the action was a little higher and the neck had more relief after the string change even though I did not touch the truss rod and - as I mentioned before - the strings were the exact same gauge and brand. Funny, right?
    For checking the neck relief I use the method of fretting the 7h string at the 1st fret and at the 15th fret and look at the gap and tap at the 7th fret.
    I was surprised the relief was different, but I decided to wait one more day until I change the set-up or the truss rod, as I was thinking maybe the neck needs to 'settle' or something after having had all the strings and all the tension off and then back on.

    And yes, I totally agree with you are saying about not fearing making some (small) adjustments. I used to think and say to myself "don't touch the truss-rod, you could damage the neck, only pro guitar techs know how to do this..."LOL......
    But ever since I made truss rod adjustments I realized nothing is gonna break as long as I use some common sense
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

  6. #6

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    Well done. New strings could easily have just enough additional tension in their newness to add a bit of extra 'pull' and give you the added relief you experienced. That fact that the buzz is gone is fabulous as well. It also tells you that you're possibly right on the line of buzz/vs no buzz. That said, depending on the style of music you play a bit of fret buzz is a negligible thing in real life live playing. It'll make you wacky sitting at the desk, unplugged but you'll never hear it live. It always comes back to how the overall interaction of these settings actually feels to you. Enjoy!
    2016 Axis Super Sport Trans Gold w/ Maple Neck
    1997 Axis Sport HSS Kandy Lime w/ Maple Neck

  7. #7

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    Thanks!
    Yes, I am not too worried about a little fret buzz especially on low action, but in this case what threw me off was that the fret buzz was so much more present on the high e string compared to all the other strings.
    Even though the string buzz is gone now which is indeed a good thing, now I feel like the action is a bit too high, I will take another look tomorrow and try to lower it either buy lowering the saddles or tightening the truss rod a bit. I'll keep you posted
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

  8. #8

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    new strings are less compressed at the saddle break and the nut. the result is a little higher action.

  9. #9

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    So, here's what I did: after finding the neck having more relief and the action being a bit higher as a result of that post string change I adjusted the truss rod twice by about maybe 1 quarter turn each time, and in addition to that I also lowered the saddles (all of them) a bit (taking care to lower each of the for the same about so the radius of the strings doesn't change). Right now I am very happy with the result so far, the action is low, actually very low I'd say (lower than what I'm used to, but I like it), with a bit of string buzz (but on all strings equally more or less) but that's to be expected with a very low action.
    Once again thanks for all the help, I'm glad I experimented with this, and I believe every time I adjust a guitar myself I will learn more about it ... trial and error, right?!

    Quote Originally Posted by ieso View Post
    new strings are less compressed at the saddle break and the nut. the result is a little higher action.
    Thank you. I'd think the amount the strings may or may not 'compress' at either the nut and/or the saddle would be negligible.
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Santuzzo View Post
    I'd think the amount the strings may or may not 'compress' at either the nut and/or the saddle would be negligible.
    You'd be surprised. Combined with some wear on the bottom of the strings where they come into contact with frets and you can have a pretty significant change in action over time. I'm usually surprised after changing strings if the old ones were on for more than two weeks.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ieso View Post
    You'd be surprised. Combined with some wear on the bottom of the strings where they come into contact with frets and you can have a pretty significant change in action over time. I'm usually surprised after changing strings if the old ones were on for more than two weeks.
    Yeah, I could be wrong. In my case, however I really noticed the neck having more relief. Maybe the strings being compressed at the saddles and/or nut just added to the lower action pre-string change.
    my website - free licks - some of my music

    I offer online guitar lessons on Skype in different styles. Send me a PM if interested.

    my 1st EP 'Sonic Sketches' is out now (instrumental prog metal)

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