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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:54 am 
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Walnut
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I have an Ibanez RG421MOL (basically a 24-fret hardtail superstrat) and I feel the neck has a significant upbow, starting gently from the point where the neck leaves the body but very noticeable nearer the nut. I have attached photos that I hope will be sufficient for you to understand.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-0eo ... S1XVnBkVEE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-0eo ... TlJNUtNRDg

Please tell me if it is problematic or beyond repair. If it can be repaired by me, please give me instructions to do so. I have a key and all, but there are no strings on my electric currently.

I want to add that the action is quite low (you can see it in the pics), I can hear fret buzz if I strum hard unplugged but it is not noticeable at all when plugged in. Even the intonation is correct at the twelfth fret across the fretboard. It is quite playable but there is nothing for me to compare it to as I have never played another electric.

I feel that this bow might have been caused because I switched to 11 gauge strings. There was always a slight upbow, but I had read online that it is often kept so on purpose, but I feel now that it has increased significantly. Please help and if any further info is required I will gladly provide it.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:08 am 
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Hard to tell from your pix, but I'd say it looks normal. Yes - it will buzz acoustically with low action, but if you can't hear it through the amp - no problem. If you are concerned, use the allen wrench to adjust the truss rod a little at a time (lefty loosy / righty tighty). You should be good to go.

By the way - good choice of axes. IBZ RG's are good stuff.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:58 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:15 am 
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If you tighten the truss rod, that should essentially pull the headstock backward & flatten the neck but it looks like you may need to replace the nut too because the strings are already very close to the first fret as it is.

You adjust the truss rod with the strings on because you are countering the string force that's pulling the headstock forward.

Some better setup & repair guys should come along to offer better strategies on how to methodically approach this as opposed to my general suggestions.

Kevin Looker

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These users thanked the author klooker for the post: xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:58 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:50 am 
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Walnut
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I get what you're saying about the first fret. If I installed the strings and VERY GRADUALLY turned the allen key to the right, about 1/8th turn at a time, let it set for a while (I have no clue how long that should take, kindly enlighten me), plugged in and checked for buzz and continued till I actually got buzz, then rotated it back 1/8th turn do you think it could solve the problem? I'm not even sure if you can rotate the truss rod backwards and undo stuff.

If not, will changing the nut really solve the problem? I am using stock, I didn't file the slots or anything. All the options for buying a nut online are locking nuts, can I install that on a hardtail bridge?

I have a plan that is probably more BS than even I think it is, but since the bow is due to excess string tension, leaving the guitar stringless for a while and then installing a lighter gauge strings might help... right?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:00 pm 
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Walnut
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Chris Pile wrote:
Hard to tell from your pix, but I'd say it looks normal. Yes - it will buzz acoustically with low action, but if you can't hear it through the amp - no problem. If you are concerned, use the allen wrench to adjust the truss rod a little at a time (lefty loosy / righty tighty). You should be good to go.

By the way - good choice of axes. IBZ RG's are good stuff.


You can't see the bend, or do you think the bend is normal? By right, do you mean with me facing from the headstock towards the bridge? Will I need my strings on or can I do it now? How long should I wait between turns? idunno


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:14 pm 
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Koa
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Very difficult to tell anything from the pictures, but here is my basic approach to any setup on any guitar.

First I make sure there are no structural issues and the guitar is properly humidified. More important on an acoustic than electric.

At this point I typically write down all the existing setup data - relief, clearance at first and 12th frets, condition of frets, gauge of strings currently on it. From this I can get a direction to proceed (and discuss with the owner what we are going to do)

Next I note the condition of frets and fix any high ones. I use a piece of steel that will just span 3 frets and see if it rocks on the one in the middle. I usually use this thing, it has some other use later on

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... Gauge.html

If there any high frets I fix them now - no point in doing anything else.

Next I check and adjust the relief - the bowing of the neck. That is what the truss rod is for - turning it will change the height above the strings but its primary purpose is to control the bow. Depending on the guitar and player I shoot for something in the 0.002 to 0.006 range, 0.010 is the high limit (that is the thickness of a typical business card). One eight of a turn at a time, CW removes relief, with strings on the guitar. To measure put a capo on the first fret and hold a string down at the body joint (usually 16), measure the clearance at 7 or 8 with feeler gauges. While capoed and holding I also tap each string over each fret - I want to hear a tiny ping that goes up in tone as I work towards the nut or bridge.

Once the relief is set, leave it alone. Now I move the capo to 3 and check to make sure there is a hair of clearance between the string and first fret. One or two thousands will work but you need some. You can also take the capo off and check the clearance with feeler gauges - targets might be somewhere around 0.014 for the high E going to 0.018 for the low, but be sure there is "back fret clearance" when you fret at 3. Approach this slowly, it is easy to take the slots lower, hard to take them back up.

If the clearance at the first fret is too low you probably have to make a new nut - its really hard to buy one that will drop in and work. There is a trick where you can partially fill a nut slot with powdered bone and CA glue, I prefer to make a new one. Be advised that is not necessarily a diy project.

Next I measure the clearance at the 12th fret (that StewMac tool is handy here) and adjust the bridge saddles to get the action that I want. Targets might be 0.060 - 0.070 for the high E and 0.080 - 0.090 for the low E, sometimes I'll go a hair higher on acoustics.

Last I'll check the intonation and the pickup heights and adjust if necessary, put on new strings, open a nice cold adult beverage...



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:22 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:20 pm 
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Koa
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xtrgamer wrote:
You can't see the bend, or do you think the bend is normal? By right, do you mean with me facing from the headstock towards the bridge? Will I need my strings on or can I do it now? How long should I wait between turns? idunno


This is a hokey picture of what neck relief looks like

Image

The truss rod only affects the part of the neck from the heel (body joint) to the nut. Tightening the nut on the truss rod (clock wise while looking at the nut) will remove relief, make the neck flatter. You should do it with string tension on the neck, a small amount (1/8-1/4 max) at a time, let it set for a few minutes before measuring.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:23 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:20 pm 
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If it's buzzing now, tightening the truss rod (flattening the neck) will make it worse unless you raise the bridge and maybe reduce the depth of the nut slots which means either filling them with some material and re-slotting or replacing the nut & starting over.

When you tighten the truss rod, the results are pretty much instantaneous. Personally I like to lay an 18" engineers scale (ruler but thicker) on the fretboard then use feeler gauges between the frets & scale to see how much the neck is moving. The edge of the scale on the frets, not the face.

Play around with it & observe what's happening. It the truss rod is tight & doesn't turn with moderate torque, STOP & take it to a pro.

Kevin Looker

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I'm not a luthier.
I'm just a guy who builds guitars in his basement.
It's better than playing golf.



These users thanked the author klooker for the post: xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:24 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:30 pm 
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Walnut
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Freeman wrote:
Very difficult to tell anything from the pictures, but here is my basic approach to any setup on any guitar.

First I make sure there are no structural issues and the guitar is properly humidified. More important on an acoustic than electric.

At this point I typically write down all the existing setup data - relief, clearance at first and 12th frets, condition of frets, gauge of strings currently on it. From this I can get a direction to proceed (and discuss with the owner what we are going to do)

Next I note the condition of frets and fix any high ones. I use a piece of steel that will just span 3 frets and see if it rocks on the one in the middle. I usually use this thing, it has some other use later on

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... Gauge.html

If there any high frets I fix them now - no point in doing anything else.

Next I check and adjust the relief - the bowing of the neck. That is what the truss rod is for - turning it will change the height above the strings but its primary purpose is to control the bow. Depending on the guitar and player I shoot for something in the 0.002 to 0.006 range, 0.010 is the high limit (that is the thickness of a typical business card). One eight of a turn at a time, CW removes relief, with strings on the guitar. To measure put a capo on the first fret and hold a string down at the body joint (usually 16), measure the clearance at 7 or 8 with feeler gauges. While capoed and holding I also tap each string over each fret - I want to hear a tiny ping that goes up in tone as I work towards the nut or bridge.

Once the relief is set, leave it alone. Now I move the capo to 3 and check to make sure there is a hair of clearance between the string and first fret. One or two thousands will work but you need some. You can also take the capo off and check the clearance with feeler gauges - targets might be somewhere around 0.014 for the high E going to 0.018 for the low, but be sure there is "back fret clearance" when you fret at 3. Approach this slowly, it is easy to take the slots lower, hard to take them back up.

If the clearance at the first fret is too low you probably have to make a new nut - its really hard to buy one that will drop in and work. There is a trick where you can partially fill a nut slot with powdered bone and CA glue, I prefer to make a new one. Be advised that is not necessarily a diy project.

Next I measure the clearance at the 12th fret (that StewMac tool is handy here) and adjust the bridge saddles to get the action that I want. Targets might be 0.060 - 0.070 for the high E and 0.080 - 0.090 for the low E, sometimes I'll go a hair higher on acoustics.

Last I'll check the intonation and the pickup heights and adjust if necessary, put on new strings, open a nice cold adult beverage...


While it is really awesome of you to share a luthier's method of setting up a guitar, will I really need to do all that? You're just giving a general layout of what you do right? My guitar is about one and a half years old and I'm quite sure that the frets are all right for me. I'm far from a professional. Instead of using feeler gauges (I've read quite a bit about how one measures with them and it seems a tedious process, though it is probably second nature to someone like you), will it not suffice if I gradually tighten the truss rod until when I fret the first and body joint fret I feel the thickness at the 7th and 8th frets are around that of a business card?

P.S. As you've probably discerned, I have no feeler gauges, no capo, nor any skill at taking accurate measurements.

EDIT: The information you shared is very useful, I'm going to print it out so that once I'm used to my guitar and am prepared to set it up myself, I'll follow your steps to the T. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:40 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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It needs a truss rod adjustment by someone who knows how.

Very common, seasons changing, RH changes and even string changes as you mentioned all can require a truss rod adjustment.

In the hands of a skilled Luthier it's often a 15 second fix....

The adjustment is not something that can be diagnosed and completed on an Internet forum, take it to a skilled Luthier.

PS: Ibanez guitars are known for having excellent necks, it's simply out of adjustment.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post (total 2): Don Williams (Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:29 am) • xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:56 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:19 pm 
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Koa
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First name: Freeman
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xtrgamer wrote:
While it is really awesome of you to share a luthier's method of setting up a guitar, will I really need to do all that? You're just giving a general layout of what you do right? My guitar is about one and a half years old and I'm quite sure that the frets are all right for me. I'm far from a professional. Instead of using feeler gauges (I've read quite a bit about how one measures with them and it seems a tedious process, though it is probably second nature to someone like you), will it not suffice if I gradually tighten the truss rod until when I fret the first and body joint fret I feel the thickness at the 7th and 8th frets are around that of a business card?

P.S. As you've probably discerned, I have no feeler gauges, no capo, nor any skill at taking accurate measurements.

EDIT: The information you shared is very useful, I'm going to print it out so that once I'm used to my guitar and am prepared to set it up myself, I'll follow your steps to the T. Thanks again.


Your approach is reasonable and can easily be reversed. Before you start however, get a helper to hold down the first and 16th frets and try sliding a business card between the string and the 7th fret. Ideally you should have less than that thickness but still some. Tightening the truss rod (CW) will reduce it, loosening the rod (CCW) will give you more relief.

The problem is that if you adjust the rod it will alter the other aspects of you playability - the headstock will be pulled back lowering action all the way along the neck. That might be acceptable or you (or your tech) might have to do something to correct it.

Hesh's suggestion is spot on - take it to someone who know what they are doing and ask to watch - you'll be able to do it yourself next time.

ps - the reason that I mentioned fret condition is that if there are problems then THAT can be what is causing your buzzing and any adjustments that you might do won't fix the real problem. New guitars can have wonky frets too - your setup tech can help you understand this.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post (total 2): xtrgamer (Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:57 pm) • Hesh (Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:56 pm)
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:05 am 
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Walnut
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Thanks to all of you guys for helping me out so much. This is what I'm going to do.

I am going to get someone to fret the first and the body joint fret, then check the business card thing. I will tighten the truss rod accordingly in small increments (with strings tuned to pitch every time) and make sure that there isn't any buzz at the first fret each time. If I'm able to reach a setting where the relief isn't excessive and there isn't any buzz at the first fret, then great. Otherwise, I'll take it to a luthier. Not too confident about the luthiers in my area but I'll find a good one. This should do right?

Just one last question, since I strum and pick quite hard I'll need a bit of relief right? Is relief supposed to be a curve with the centre in the middle like Freeman's pic or is it all right it if it only arcs upwards like mine?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:06 am 
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If it arcs upward it's not relief, is it?
You need room for the string to vibrate.... and, lighten up with the picking hand.
That's why you have a volume knob.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:44 am 
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Koa
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xtrgamer wrote:
Just one last question, since I strum and pick quite hard I'll need a bit of relief right? Is relief supposed to be a curve with the centre in the middle like Freeman's pic or is it all right it if it only arcs upwards like mine?


As Chris says, you need room for the string to vibrate - that's the whole idea of relief. Some rules of thumb - people who strum or pick hard need a little more relief - for a finger picker I might set it closer to 0.002 - 004, for a bluegrasser I might go more to .008 or 0.010 (your business card). Also, in general if it buzzes at only one fret I look to the fret as the problem, if it buzzes in the lower part of the fretboard I tend to add a little relief, if it buzzes in the upper portion (closer to the body joint) then I might flatten the neck a little. The body joint is always problematic, however the fact that the action is increasing as you approach the bridge tends to make it less of a problem.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:46 pm 
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Walnut
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So i switched my 11 gauges for 9s. I then tightened two quarters (in intervals) and a half but stopped because I felt it got pretty tight. I could still turn it with one hand though.

First thing first, there was no visual change in the neck. It is still warped the exact same way, but the action was reduced significantly as it began to buzz. So I adjusted the action at the bridge. Now it doesn't buzz while plugged in and the action is lower than before. Fretting it at the body joint and the first fret, I can't slide a business card through the gap between the frets in the middle without lifting the strings a bit.

It still plays the same way and intonation is fine but a bit off (it always was a bit off). I think I'll take it to a professional.


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