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  • Jazzaferri 3:50PM
  • sfluke 3:50PM

Neck Relief

I recently made the change to 11 gauge strings. This added a bit of relief to the neck, so I was hoping to find out how much relief you all use on your guitars. How many of you set up your guitars with minimal to no relief?
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Comments

  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    I like straight with just a touch of relief. What I don't want is a neck that has the opposite of relief......doesn't happen often but once in a while of seen it happen to a neck that was dead straight after a dry winter.
  • ArcticguitarArcticguitar Anchorage, Alaska
    edited March 5
    I like my guitars with little to no relief. My Shopis does not have a truss rod, but it is right where I like it. I measure the relief by putting a capo on the first fret and fretting it between the 14th and 15th fret. So I am using the low e string as a straight edge between the first fret and where the neck meets the body. I measure it with a feeler gauge at the 7th fret mine is about .003 - .004. I use 10s on the lower strings and 11s for the top two strings.
    Adam
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso

  • Incredible video. I've rarely seen someone take the time to explain such matters in detail. Thanks for posting.
  • bluetrainbluetrain Finland✭✭✭ Barault, Cach, Epiphone Triumph 1956
    I've noticed experimentally with my own guitars that a very responsive guitar might need more relief compared to a less responsive guitar. On my guitars straight neck doesn't work for me. I like to be able to make the notes "buzz" like using an overdrive pedal when I pick hard on a wide area of the fretboard and I cannot achieve this with straight neck. On straight neck though you can get really nice crispy rhythm sound but the single notesend up sounding thin to my ears.

    In that Bob Holo video Bob explains the optimal relief setting for his guitars to be 11-14th thousand of an inch with action 2.8mm/2.3mm. For example 11/1000" is pretty easy to measure using the e-string from 11 argentine set..
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    I agree with you Tomi.

    So, admittedly, 2.8/2.3 is a little on the high side of a 670mm or greater guitar for an advanced player, though it may be ideal for a 640 or for a rhythm player. I’ve probably said this elsewhere or meant to do so, but the goal was to help players new to the genre. The advanced players know what they like and it varies greatly depending on the instrument and style etc. But this is a decent plain-vanilla setup that no good player will turn away and that will help a new player develop technique.

    I remember back in the early 2000’s when this revival was very new in the states and no new GJ guitars were available except the occasional Patennotte or Fontaine or Dupont would find its way over or a lightly used Dell Arte would turn up somewhere - usually having been setup like a Martin by its previous owner. For some reason, the “in” thing to do was go to Europe, buy a Favino, come home, and have it set up like a fingerstyle guitar. There always seemed to be a guy at every festival or jam with a Favino set up way too low who would wander around putting it into the hands of the best player in the jam and say: “Does this guitar sound right? I don’t think I got a good one! Do you know what’s wrong with my guitar?” Lol. Ah, the bad old days ;-) But over time people learned to set up GJ guitars a bit better and now those old Favinos sound a lot better now that they’re not constantly fretting out.

    At least two things are going on with respect to setup:

    One of them is the: “Ya gotta be able to pluck the strings without fretting out in order to develop a right hand technique.” Player development seems to proceed (roughly) along a path. I have no scientific evidence, but have seen it happen so often that I know it is at least a very common path if not the only one. People start out with no right hand power. They set their action up high to get more right hand power and they do get more power… but not entirely for the reason they thought. It’s not so much the high setup (though it can be, to some degree) but the fact that they can now actually “dig in” without fretting out. Then comes the stage of gaining some control and learning how to use the left hand in coordination with the right hand and then eventually if they develop good technique, they lower their action to gain speed and improve intonation while maintaining most if not all of the power they got with high action.

    The other is that there are at least two normal valid setups for GJ guitars - and this is something I often hear people refer to as “stiff” or “supple” guitars. Sure, guitars that are built more lightly tend to have a more supple feel, but many times when a person hands me a guitar and says: “This one is a stiff guitar”, it turns out that the zero fret is high. Think about how much more force it requires to depress the string 1mm with your finger at the 1st fret than at the 12th fret. Way more pressure is required at the 1st fret. Physics and the Modulus of Elasticity doing their job to keep the universe behaving consistently ;-) No matter how low the action of the guitar is, it will still feel stiff in the first three or four positions if the zero fret is high. So you tend to have two types of GJ setup. 1.) Flat necks with high zero frets and generally flat fretboards. 2.) Relieved necks with low zero frets and generally arched fretboards. Style 1 is influenced by the classical guitar and style 2 is influenced by the jazz guitar. Generally, either works well, but mixing them… not so much. If you have a guitar with a high zero fret and relief, you have a guitar that is tough to play and has intonation problems. If you have a guitar with a low zero fret and no relief, you have a guitar that frets out a lot.

    Anyway… blah blah blah… I talk too much, but glue is drying ;-) Time to go take off some clamps.
    Bucot-birdJazzaferri
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Bob, are your 2.8/2.3 figures (for a 760 mm scale) applicable to Argie mediums (011s), or to Argie lights (010s)?
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Both or either. Usually I run 10's with an 11 on the high E, or Galli GSL 11's which are good strings and more slinky.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • edited March 8
    Bob Holo wrote: »
    One of them is the: “Ya gotta be able to pluck the strings without fretting out in order to develop a right hand technique.” Player development seems to proceed (roughly) along a path. I have no scientific evidence, but have seen it happen so often that I know it is at least a very common path if not the only one. People start out with no right hand power. They set their action up high to get more right hand power and they do get more power… but not entirely for the reason they thought. It’s not so much the high setup (though it can be, to some degree) but the fact that they can now actually “dig in” without fretting out. Then comes the stage of gaining some control and learning how to use the left hand in coordination with the right hand and then eventually if they develop good technique, they lower their action to gain speed and improve intonation while maintaining most if not all of the power they got with high action.

    That's said right on. Even a heavy handed players like Tchavolo can crank it to 11 without strangling the tone.
    Although I've personally come to prefer the subtle approach of Adrien and the likes.

    But, one thing I've noticed with all of them during the Django in june is that they will never adjust their right hand according to the jam size.
    And a lot of amateur players, including me unfortunately, will immediately start to dig in thus fretting out and totally killing the tone, power and protection.


    Bob Holo wrote: »
    The other is that there are at least two normal valid setups for GJ guitars - and this is something I often hear people refer to as “stiff” or “supple” guitars. Sure, guitars that are built more lightly tend to have a more supple feel, but many times when a person hands me a guitar and says: “This one is a stiff guitar”, it turns out that the zero fret is high. Think about how much more force it requires to depress the string 1mm with your finger at the 1st fret than at the 12th fret. Way more pressure is required at the 1st fret. Physics and the Modulus of Elasticity doing their job to keep the universe behaving consistently ;-) No matter how low the action of the guitar is, it will still feel stiff in the first three or four positions if the zero fret is high. So you tend to have two types of GJ setup. 1.) Flat necks with high zero frets and generally flat fretboards. 2.) Relieved necks with low zero frets and generally arched fretboards. Style 1 is influenced by the classical guitar and style 2 is influenced by the jazz guitar. Generally, either works well, but mixing them… not so much. If you have a guitar with a high zero fret and relief, you have a guitar that is tough to play and has intonation problems. If you have a guitar with a low zero fret and no relief, you have a guitar that frets out a lot.

    OK now I'm curious about something. I like my guitar very much. One thing though that I wish sounds a little different is stiff vs supple. I wish it was a touch more stiff when I play chords low on the neck, especially F69. I always figured this feeling of it being a touch too supple in this area is because how it's built, it has a very thin top.
    Would it be possible to "fix" some of it with a different setup, namely raising the zero fret?

    t-bird
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • I'm surprised that you find 2.3/2.8mm action on the 12th fret to be on the high side. I've got mine currently set up with 11 gauge strings at just about that action, if not a bit higher, and I don't feel as though I play with high action at all. In fact, if I were to drop the gauge to 10s, I might consider raising the action a touch.
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