JJBC

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I have read many blogs and watched many videos and I don't know what to believe anymore. I would appreciate some help.

MM FAQs say: "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 neck is."

If I follow this instruction, I fret the 2nd and 12th fret of the low E and I tap on the 7th fret to check the relief. According to this test, my Majesty has an almost perfect straight neck (the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret is negligible). Now, I have read that you are supposed to do the test at the deepest curvature along the neck. If I instead fret the 1st and 24th fret of the low E and tap on the 12th fret to feel the relief I see that the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret is higher in comparison to the previous test (fretting the 2nd and the 12th fret).

What is the right way to check the relief?
 

fbecir

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Well, the first question you have to ask yourself is why do you check the relief.

Do you feel that the strings are too high or too low ? Are there some parts of your neck where the strings are buzzing ?

In my case, I never measure the string heights. The factory settings are just an indication, what counts is how I feel with the guitar.
Petrucci's settings are good for him but perhaps not for you. If your beard is not long a his, well it is certainly not the case !
 

JJBC

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I check the neck relief when I'm doing a set up (after changing strings or after weather changes).
 

racerx

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My school of thought on it is once you get into the fractions of inches or millimeters, then its really subtle/to taste at that point. A common starting point is 0.010 in / 0.25 mm relief but that isn't a firm rule either. Ultimately it depends on the player, the guitar, and what works best between those two things. These measurements are good ways to correct drastic issues or return to a baseline before fine tuning.

As for my method, I'm in the capo first fret and index finger at last fret (or where body meets the neck) to make the string act as a straight edge camp. Then I will use a feeler gauge (0.010 / 0.25mm) under the string and above the crowns of the frets between the 7th and 9th frets to get a sense of the adjustment I need to make. This works for most guitar and for my playstyle, but I'll make minor adjustments if a specific guitar or player's preference demand it.

Don't get too hung up on the science or precision - they're great places to start but the final bits are up to you. .25mm vs .30mm won't be a deal breaker (for most anyway :p).
 

fbecir

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If you change your strings with the same gauge, there is no need to adjust the neck relief.
Again, if the weather changes, if your guitar still feels good ... well nothing to do
 

tekwerk

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JJCB, I do it by the second way you describe. 1 and 24. The way Music Man says in the FAQ's is also correct. In fact, there is no right or wrong. Whatever works for you. RacerX is also right in that when you get into the really nit picky numbers, you should go on instinct. I use gauges and rulers but I mostly go on instinct and feel. In short, don't over think it.
Maddi
 

Astrofreq

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Personally, I don't go by any numbers. I adjust by feel only and tweak accordingly. IMHO, factory setups are generally higher action to make up for the different climates the guitars are shipped to. If the neck is straight and it feels good, play away. :)
 

jayjayjay

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Personally, I don't go by any numbers. I adjust by feel only and tweak accordingly. IMHO, factory setups are generally higher action to make up for the different climates the guitars are shipped to. If the neck is straight and it feels good, play away. :)

Good point about higher action to make up for different climates. I generally set my actions low (like, 1.5mm or less). At that height, the instruments become really sensitive to humidity changes, with the action noticeably higher to me in the winter unless I keep it humidified.
 

DrKev

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What is the right way to check the relief?

There is no right way, and yes, the measurement to get depends on what frets you choose to make the measurement with. Just choose one and do that all the time. I choose what I have seen over the years to be the most common way, which is this:

Capo 1st fret, hold string where the neck and body meet (usually 17th) and measure half-way between those points, 7th or 8th fret, top of the fret to bottom of the low string. Make sure to hold the guitar in playing position and tuned to your usual tuning. HOWEVER...

With the Majesty, and the Gibson SG for example, the body joins the neck much higher than the 17th fret, which poses a question of if we should measure differently.

I'm not sure it matters because what ever you do you'll be starting somewhere as a guide and adjusting until you can play comfortably without too much fret buzz. When you figure out what that is for you, measure THAT, write it down and that's your personal target for future setups.

For E standard tuning with 9 - 42 or 10 - 46 gauge strings I find that 0.008" - 0.010" (0.20 - 0.25 mm), measured 1st-7th-17th, is optimum for a majority of players, but feel free to adjust higher or lower if you find that you prefer something different (people that prefer something different tend to go lower). If you don't have feeler gauges, a standard business card is about 0.014" (0.35 mm) thick, so if you can slide the card between the strings and the 7th fret, you can probably reduce the relief by tightening the truss rod.
 

Astrofreq

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Yes. I live in a climate with little to no humidity all year, so I can be a little more ‘risky’ with my action without worrying at all about fluctuation. I tough my truss rods maybe every 3-4 years per guitar.
 

GoKart Mozart

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I tend to just fret the first fret with my left hand, fret the higher fret with my right hand pinkie, and use my right hand thumb to tap the string toward the middle of the neck. When I first started checking neck reliefs many years ago, I did the capo thing and measured but after a while you tend to get a pretty good idea what ~0.010 looks like.

We have a lot of humidity in the south and winters are crazy sometimes: case in point, about 2 weeks ago the temperature high was around 75F with severe thunderstorms and the very next day we had a couple of inches of snow. I was running the dehumidifier in my music room on the 75 degree day and the next day it was dried out due to the heat kicking on. Crazy swings like that tend to cause some shift in the necks; another reason why the easy access spoke wheel on MM guitars is such a handy feature.
 
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