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Thread: Cutlass HSS basic setup info and tools

  1. #1

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    Cutlass HSS basic setup info and tools

    Hi I am new to the forum and MM, just dove in deep with 2 Cutlass HSSs, one in charcoal sparkle and rosewood, the other in faded buttercream roasted maple. I've got buzzing pretty much up and down the neck, the action is too low at least for my taste. No tools were included with the guitar.

    (1) Can anyone tell me what size truss rod wrench is used to make neck adjustments, and (2) what size wrench is used to adjust the bridge, and (3) what size wrench is used to adjust the individual string height saddles?

    Would the recommended order of adjustment be truss rod first, then bridge, then individual string height? Last, check intonation?

    Excited about these guitars, but a little concerned about being able to tweek the setup to where I want it. Thanks much.

  2. #2

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    Welcome to the forum family, Bob! And congrats on two awesome guitars!

    Neck adjustments are via the spoke wheel behind the neck pickup. Use whatever size screw driver fits in the holes. Saddle string height is with a 1.5 mm allen wrench, intonation is a 2 mm allen wrench, trem pivot posts are 4 mm.

    You are correct re: order - truss rod first, saddle height, then intonation. You probably won't need to adjust the mounting posts (but if you ever do, just make the bridge plate parallel to the guitar top with just a *hair* of clearance off the body at the front.

    The best palce to start in learning setups is, IMHO, the Fender Strat Setup guide. A guitar is a guitar and those setup specs will work well for most people on any guitar as a starting point, and then you can adjust to your own personal taste from there.

    When I got my Cutlass (which I assume came direct from the factory) it was setup as follows...

    Relief: 0.20 mm (0.008”) (capo @ 1, fret @ 18, measure @ 7 or 8)
    Action: 1.75 mm treble, 1.75+ mm Bass (hair more than treble side)

    Pickup Heights: N-M-B : 5 mm, 4 mm, 3.5 mm (open string to top of low E pole piece)

    That's pretty much where my personal preference is, other than setting the bridge to float. A little string buzz is acceptable to me provided it's not intrusive when I'm actually playing real music.
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  3. #3

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    Thanks very much, this will help a lot. I forgot to ask how to remove the bridge cover. How is it held on, with screws? Do I have to take the back cover off to access those screws? Thanks again.

  4. #4

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    The following is the method that I have found success with for adjusting string action. This is copy and pasted from another post

    Invest in a few tools and learn to do the setup yourself. No basic guitar store setup will be able to give better results than you can with a bit of research and experimentation. There is no magic or rocket science in it.
    Get one of these

    and some feeler gauges including a .25mm one for the truss rod. Lay the ruler thingy on the neck. try to stick the .25mm feller gauge between the ruler and the neck at the 8th fret. Is it too tight to fit? Turn the truss rod to the left. Too big a gap? Then tighten the truss rod by turning it to the right. Do this until the feller gauge is able to barley scrap through, but without too much friction.

    Next, buy one of these. String Action Gauge |

    lay the gauge on its edge on top of the frets where the body meets the neck (usually at the 17th fret)behind each string, one at a time. Lower/Raise the saddle until the BOTTOM of each string is touching your desired action. I usually stick with 2.25mm at the 17th fret. Some like lower, some like higher depending on how hard they pick the strings when they play.

    Still buzzing? It could be you're just being a bit anal. To take your personal bias out of the equation, plug a good set of over-ear headphones into your amp. Pick the string at the fret that's giving you trouble with similar force as you would when playing. Can you hear the buzz through the headphones? If you can, then you have legitimate string buzz. If you can't, then the string buzz is not being transmitted through the pickups anyways, rendering the "problem" totally irrelevant.

  5. #5

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    Personally, I don't think you need a straight-edge and gauges to do this correctly.

    Use the string as a straight-edge- fret it as the first fret, and also use your thumb to fret it at the 15th or 17th fret. Then, use your index finger to gently tap on the string around the 7-9th fret. Look for the amount of height between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret- should be just enough to get a business card through.

    If you need more relief, loosen the truss rod a 1/4 turn, and pull the neck forward to encourage it to settle. (If you need less relief, do the opposite.)

    You'll quickly find the sweet spot between low action and buzzing.

    As for saddle heights- 99% you won't need to make adjustments. If the guitar was set up correctly to start with, the only thing that will change is the neck/relief.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobxrock View Post
    Thanks very much, this will help a lot. I forgot to ask how to remove the bridge cover. How is it held on, with screws? Do I have to take the back cover off to access those screws? Thanks again.
    You do not need to remover the bridge plate cover to access the intonation screws. There are small holes in the back were you can insert a 2mm hex wrench.

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