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Thread: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

  1. #1
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    So, fellows:

    I never had my strat set up by a tech or myself. It's still as it left the factory. I've changed strings twice but kept them 0.9s and only did a fretboard conditioning with lemon oil.

    The action ain't much low, I'd say average for a new instrument, and I must say Fender does a good job, the factory adjustments suited me fine.

    It happens, though, that due to the temperature changes, the neck began to get less relief, as sometimes when I leave it alone and don't play it for a couple of days, the strings get a bit sharp tuned, and I got some lower fret buzz, particularly in the E and A strings...

    The solution would probably be to adjust the truss rod for a little more neck relief and lowering the saddles a tad to compensate it, but since I am just a player and have no set up skills at all, I didn't try to do that on my own...

    On the other hand, I like 0.10s, and it occurred me that if I simply changed the strings to that gauge, the problem could be solved, as thicker strings will settle the current neck relief...

    What do you more experienced users think? Is it worth a try or should I just take the guitar to a tech?
    Last edited by Sérgio; 05-10-2015 at 08:54 AM.

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    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    I'd read the owner's manual and learn to set up the guitar yourself. Truss rods need adjustments on occasion, especially if you have humid and dry seasons where you live.
    If your bridge is set to float, the string tension will change and throw it out of balance and you will almost definitely need to set up the guitar.

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    I'd read the owner's manual and learn to set up the guitar yourself. Truss rods need adjustments on occasion, especially if you have humid and dry seasons where you live.
    If your bridge is set to float, the string tension will change and throw it out of balance and you will almost definitely need to set up the guitar.

    It's really easy. Just do it. If you go to .010-.046" you'll usually need to remove the back cover and tighten the claw screws about a turn. No biggie. You won't hurt anything. Strats are pretty indestructible.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member JDUB's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by de Melo View Post
    So, fellows:

    I never had my strat set up by a tech or myself. It's still as it left the factory. ... since I am just a player and have no set up skills at all, I didn't try to to that on my own...

    On the other hand, I like 0.10s, and it occurred me that if I simply changed the strings to that gauge, the problem could be solved, as thicker strings will settle the current neck relief...
    (Why not put telephone cable on it? You're working hard enough with .009s.)
    What do you more experienced users think? Is it worth a try or should I just take the guitar to a tech?
    Here goes. It's simple and straight forward. I guarantee it works.
    Assuming no twisted neck or proud frets and a properly cut nut, with the guitar tuned to playing pitch, begin by setting the saddle height for frets 17-21(2) so that the strings play buzz free at the lowest possible height. (Lower the saddle until it buzzes, raise until clear.) When all strings are clean go to the lower frets and neck relief. Play the strings from fret 1 to fret 16, increasing relief (loosening trussrod) to relieve buzz or decreasing relief(tightening trussrod) to lower the string height, so tighten, by fractional turns, until it buzzes and back off until it doesn't. Once you have acceptable relief, i.e. no buzz and easy action, set your intonation and you're done.
    I know that this is the opposite order of Fender's setup directions. It is based on performance and not measurements, hence, I don't take any. It works because the neck is immobile between frets 17 and 22. The trussrod only affects lower frets. By setting the upper end first, you know any buzzes are coming from too little relief. This method works for most guitars, with trussrods.

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    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Thank you all for the answers, I'll pay attention to all the advice, as I am a bit of a newcomer for floating bridges. All my guitars so far had fixed bridges, SGs and Lesters.


    Quote Originally Posted by JDUB View Post
    Here goes. It's simple and straight forward. I guarantee it works.
    Assuming no twisted neck or proud frets and a properly cut nut, with the guitar tuned to playing pitch, begin by setting the saddle height for frets 17-21(2) so that the strings play buzz free at the lowest possible height. (Lower the saddle until it buzzes, raise until clear.) When all strings are clean go to the lower frets and neck relief. Play the strings from fret 1 to fret 16, increasing relief (loosening trussrod) to relieve buzz or decreasing relief(tightening trussrod) to lower the string height, so tighten, by fractional turns, until it buzzes and back off until it doesn't. Once you have acceptable relief, i.e. no buzz and easy action, set your intonation and you're done.
    I know that this is the opposite order of Fender's setup directions. It is based on performance and not measurements, hence, I don't take any. It works because the neck is immobile between frets 17 and 22. The trussrod only affects lower frets. By setting the upper end first, you know any buzzes are coming from too little relief. This method works for most guitars, with trussrods.

    Great post, but most of all, GOOD to see you over here at TFF, good friend! Seriously, you are one guy that will certainly make a difference! Welcome and please post a lot, let's help the forum get back on its feet and do share your knowledge!

    Each day we have more ETSG friends aboard, I guess you've seen Wade, Smitty and Alex here already.
    Last edited by Sérgio; 05-10-2015 at 09:55 AM.

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    Forum Member JDUB's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by de Melo View Post
    Thank you all for the answers, I'll pay attention to all the advice, as I am a bit of a newcomer for floating bridges. ...
    http://diystrat.blogspot.com/2011/08...atocaster.html

    Here's a link that may help with that floating trem. I have mine set pretty close to the 3.2mm/1/8" spec.

  7. #7
    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Get Dan Erlwine's setup book. It will pay for itself quickly!
    Mark

    Guitars: 79 Gibson Les Paul Std, Warmoth S Type, Godin Flat Five X, Duesenberg Starplayer TV, Gretsch White Falcon, Rickenbacker 360/12, Goodall Concert Jumbo, Guild 12 string, Guild Jumbo Junior, Lakland 55-02 Deluxe Ltd

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    Forum Member Old Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Uncle Wade's Super Secret Fender tremolo set up.... It's so easy it's STUPID!

    Go and find you an old leather belt. You know, a standard thickness and one that you don't mind taking a 3" hunk out of to make it just long enough to fit under the bridge. Dump your wammy bar down and slip that piece of leather just under the back of the bridge so it holds the bridge off the body. The leather won't scratch or damage the instrument either, OK.... Tune to pitch with each string. Then adjust your springs within the body cavity with the instrument vertical (like in a playing position) and do the adjustment real easy. As you near the right bit of tension the small piece of leather will gently fall from the instrument. When it does this, you're all set with a floating bridge. The 3" hunk of leather weighs very little and it will have just enough heft to it to fall away on it's own when the setting is right. Is that easy or what???

    Another reason to keep that strip of leather around is when you go to change strings, before you do, slip the leather under the back of the bridge again and then you can remove all the strings. Clean the board. And string up with very little effort to get back into tune and not be winding tons of excess string on the pegs in the process. Makes for super fast string changes with a "floater"....

    When in luthier school they taught us to use a block wedge in the body cavity to hold the spring block in place, but that was always inconsistent and a pain in the ass to use. I thought of this leather trick one day when I cut up an old belt for a razor strop and the cut off end was sitting there and the ideal popped into me head. Guess I just hated wasting stuff too!

    This trick works wonders when you change string gauges too. Cuts the set up time down to almost nothing!

    And to think that I used to charge $45 to do this (strings included in a basic setup) at the shop using my belt tip trick.
    Last edited by Old Ranger; 05-11-2015 at 10:15 PM. Reason: typo
    I forgot what I was going to say...

  9. #9
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Another excellent post!

    that's smart, Older Brother! Will do!

  10. #10
    Forum Member FrankJohnson's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    OldRanger - I think Photorama (Mark) posted something like that using busness cards pretty much the same way like ten thousand years ago.

    THIS is why I love this forum. Every now and again - you get some REALLY good useful information from it!

    GREAT post - thanks!

  11. #11
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ranger View Post
    Uncle Wade's Super Secret Fender tremolo set up.... It's so easy it's STUPID!

    Go and find you an old leather belt. You know, a standard thickness and one that you don't mind taking a 3" hunk out of to make it just long enough to fit under the bridge. Dump your wammy bar down and slip that piece of leather just under the back of the bridge so it holds the bridge off the body. The leather won't scratch or damage the instrument either, OK.... Tune to pitch with each string. Then adjust your springs within the body cavity with the instrument vertical (like in a playing position) and do the adjustment real easy. As you near the right bit of tension the small piece of leather will gently fall from the instrument. When it does this, you're all set with a floating bridge. The 3" hunk of leather weighs very little and it will have just enough heft to it to fall away on it's own when the setting is right. Is that easy or what???

    Another reason to keep that strip of leather around is when you go to change strings, before you do, slip the leather under the back of the bridge again and then you can remove all the strings. Clean the board. And string up with very little effort to get back into tune and not be winding tons of excess string on the pegs in the process. Makes for super fast string changes with a "floater"....

    When in luthier school they taught us to use a block wedge in the body cavity to hold the spring block in place, but that was always inconsistent and a pain in the ass to use. I thought of this leather trick one day when I cut up an old belt for a razor strop and the cut off end was sitting there and the ideal popped into me head. Guess I just hated wasting stuff too!

    This trick works wonders when you change string gauges too. Cuts the set up time down to almost nothing!

    And to think that I used to charge $45 to do this (strings included in a basic setup) at the shop using my belt tip trick.
    I do the same thing except that I use a heavy gauge guitar pick when I do my guitar. I want the bridge to float just a tiny bit. It allows a floaty shimmer, the bridge seems to move around less when I bend notes (and is easier to hold in place when it does) and I don't pull up on the bridge anyway.

  12. #12
    Forum Member Old Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    I knew that there are other methods as no one ever reinvents the wheel. The concept of the Bridge Jack is by no means new. The use of the leather belt business was just one of many ways to elevate the bridge during stringing and doing standard floating bridge setups. Not a reinvented wheel but more along the lines of a "hubcap" I guess. I simply wanted something that did the job. Was cost effective to make (free is good!) and made no marks, scratches, or dents in the instrument's top. The leather was stiff enough to effectively hold the bridge off the top and yet soft enough to not leave any marks or damage.....

    On a slow day at the shop I might do one or two setups, maybe. Plus I did basic setups and adjustments on all the guitars that were sold by the shop as well... On a busy day I'd do nearly a dozen at times. I needed to move fast and still be accurate. My goal was to be able to setup an instrument in under 30 minutes, if possible. Thus I came up with many more fast methods and little tricks to get the job done and keep my customers happy, and most importantly coming back! If you failed to have repeat business, you'd soon be outta business! (That's an original quote but ya'll can use it as it's true!)
    I forgot what I was going to say...

  13. #13
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    I followed the procedures, did it myself, and the strat now has a lower action, indeed.

    I didn't like the feel, though... First timers will be first timers.

    Tomorrow I'll spend the afternoon at my former bassist's place, he's quite an accomplished tech and he'll put Jessica back together for me and discuss what I might have done wrong.

    Besides, it's always a nice excuse for a jam session and a couple of budweisers.

  14. #14
    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ranger View Post
    Uncle Wade's Super Secret Fender tremolo set up.... It's so easy it's STUPID!

    Go and find you an old leather belt. You know, a standard thickness and one that you don't mind taking a 3" hunk out of to make it just long enough to fit under the bridge. Dump your wammy bar down and slip that piece of leather just under the back of the bridge so it holds the bridge off the body. The leather won't scratch or damage the instrument either, OK.... Tune to pitch with each string. Then adjust your springs within the body cavity with the instrument vertical (like in a playing position) and do the adjustment real easy. As you near the right bit of tension the small piece of leather will gently fall from the instrument. When it does this, you're all set with a floating bridge. The 3" hunk of leather weighs very little and it will have just enough heft to it to fall away on it's own when the setting is right. Is that easy or what???

    Another reason to keep that strip of leather around is when you go to change strings, before you do, slip the leather under the back of the bridge again and then you can remove all the strings. Clean the board. And string up with very little effort to get back into tune and not be winding tons of excess string on the pegs in the process. Makes for super fast string changes with a "floater"....

    When in luthier school they taught us to use a block wedge in the body cavity to hold the spring block in place, but that was always inconsistent and a pain in the ass to use. I thought of this leather trick one day when I cut up an old belt for a razor strop and the cut off end was sitting there and the ideal popped into me head. Guess I just hated wasting stuff too!

    This trick works wonders when you change string gauges too. Cuts the set up time down to almost nothing!

    And to think that I used to charge $45 to do this (strings included in a basic setup) at the shop using my belt tip trick.

    Just did that with one of my strats after a string gauge change, using a cardboard beer mat. Simple and effective.

    Man, I miss my old friends Wade and Roger here.

  15. #15
    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: String Gauge and Setup: should I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ranger View Post
    Uncle Wade's Super Secret Fender tremolo set up.... It's so easy it's STUPID!

    Go and find you an old leather belt. You know, a standard thickness and one that you don't mind taking a 3" hunk out of to make it just long enough to fit under the bridge. Dump your wammy bar down and slip that piece of leather just under the back of the bridge so it holds the bridge off the body. The leather won't scratch or damage the instrument either, OK.... Tune to pitch with each string. Then adjust your springs within the body cavity with the instrument vertical (like in a playing position) and do the adjustment real easy. As you near the right bit of tension the small piece of leather will gently fall from the instrument. When it does this, you're all set with a floating bridge. The 3" hunk of leather weighs very little and it will have just enough heft to it to fall away on it's own when the setting is right. Is that easy or what???

    Another reason to keep that strip of leather around is when you go to change strings, before you do, slip the leather under the back of the bridge again and then you can remove all the strings. Clean the board. And string up with very little effort to get back into tune and not be winding tons of excess string on the pegs in the process. Makes for super fast string changes with a "floater"....

    When in luthier school they taught us to use a block wedge in the body cavity to hold the spring block in place, but that was always inconsistent and a pain in the ass to use. I thought of this leather trick one day when I cut up an old belt for a razor strop and the cut off end was sitting there and the ideal popped into me head. Guess I just hated wasting stuff too!

    This trick works wonders when you change string gauges too. Cuts the set up time down to almost nothing!

    And to think that I used to charge $45 to do this (strings included in a basic setup) at the shop using my belt tip trick.
    I like this, I have been using credit cards instead of leather.
    Mark

    Guitars: 79 Gibson Les Paul Std, Warmoth S Type, Godin Flat Five X, Duesenberg Starplayer TV, Gretsch White Falcon, Rickenbacker 360/12, Goodall Concert Jumbo, Guild 12 string, Guild Jumbo Junior, Lakland 55-02 Deluxe Ltd

    Rig: Axe-FX II, MFC-101, QSC HPR 112i, Yamaha AG Stomp, JH Audio Pro16s

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