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  1. #1
    Good day JGF!

    Let me preface this by typing that I've never setup a guitar with a floating bridge, so I'm a little apprehensive even before I start.

    I use Thomastik 12s or 13s flats on my WesMo and in looking at the action, which was setup by a local tech, I really think I can go lower.

    What do you guys/gals have for your's and are there any pitfalls I need to be aware of, as it generally relates to a setup with a floating bridge?


    Thanks and

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  3. #2

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    Just slowly lower it until it plays comfortably w out string buzz and you should be ok, though it may require some adjustment once it settles in.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    Good day JGF!

    Let me preface this by typing that I've never setup a guitar with a floating bridge, so I'm a little apprehensive even before I start.

    I use Thomastik 12s or 13s flats on my WesMo and in looking at the action, which was setup by a local tech, I really think I can go lower.

    What do you guys/gals have for your's and are there any pitfalls I need to be aware of, as it generally relates to a setup with a floating bridge?


    Thanks and
    There are no pitfalls specific to lowering floating bridges*. How low you can go depends on the same factors as with other types of adjustable bridge (nut condition, fret condition, neck condition, string gauge, truss rod relief, how hard you pick, how much fret buzz you can tolerate). Those factors are all interactive, so it's hard to give an exact number, but basically, keep lowering it until it feels bad and/or buzzes too much. You won't break anything. Never hurts to measure and take notes of how it feels at different heights.

    *Too high can be a problem because the leverage can cause the bridge to tilt forward and/or not sit right on the posts if there's only a small amount if post in the saddle. Too low can be a problem if the posts stick out above the saddle and poke your hand. But within those extremes, it's generally all good.

    John
    Last edited by John A.; 01-26-2021 at 09:06 AM.

  5. #4

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    If you go too low, just turn the wheels in the other direction and raise the bridge up a bit. When you get down near the limit of what is acceptable action and what buzzes too much, a very small adjustment, just a few degrees, can make a difference. A half or even a quarter turn of the wheel may be enough. The amount of relief in the neck also affects the action, so I prefer adjusting the trussrod first, to give an almost straight neck. Others prefer more relief, and that's a matter of taste, and of how hard your touch is. More relief requires slightly higher action to prevent buzzing on the highest frets. But it's subtle, not a huge difference. The only way to get the perfect action for you is to experiment, and keep making adjustments until you're satisfied. No matter how much you turn the adjustment wheels, you can always reverse it, and keep going until you find the happy medium.

  6. #5
    Thanks very much for the replies gang, I truly appreciate it!

    I guess it's no different than setting-up one of my Les Pauls then?

    Any suggestions on maintaining the location of the floating bridge?


    Thanks again and

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    Thanks very much for the replies gang, I truly appreciate it!

    I guess it's no different than setting-up one of my Les Pauls then?

    Any suggestions on maintaining the location of the floating bridge?


    Thanks again and
    Yup, same as adjusting a les Paul.

    The bridge shouldn't move under string tension unless it takes an impact. Change strings one at a time so the bridge doesn't move. If for some reason you do need to loosen or take off all the strings at once, mark the position beforehand with masking tape. In the event you forget to do that, odds are the bridge left a mark in the finish and you can see the position. Worst case, measure (double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret) to get it in the ballpark, then move it slightly as needed to intonate.

    John

  8. #7
    I agree with all the posts above +1 on all of them!
    I will say that on hollowbodies, I can go lower than is desirable for me. That is, once I get below a certain point, I feel a drop off in what I can feel from the string; how "alive" it feels to me. But this is an issue of action, strings, playing style, lots of things. Just know that if your frets are level, you can go way low, especially with a relatively heavier string. It's a matter of personal response at that point.

  9. #8

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    Always check the neck relief first. Straightening the neck will lower the action. I sometimes find that after adjusting the neck, I don’t have to touch the bridge.

  10. #9

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    Maybe it's because I'm a lefty, but I've never had anyone deliver me an even acceptable set up.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.;[URL="tel:1094097"
    1094097[/URL]]Yup, same as adjusting a les Paul.

    The bridge shouldn't move under string tension unless it takes an impact. Change strings one at a time so the bridge doesn't move. If for some reason you do need to loosen or take off all the strings at once, mark the position beforehand with masking tape. In the event you forget to do that, odds are the bridge left a mark in the finish and you can see the position. Worst case, measure (double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret) to get it in the ballpark, then move it slightly as needed to intonate.

    John
    I just mark the bridge posn with a sharpie
    and / or temporarily tape the bridge to the top with low tack decorators tape

    Its only on there for an hour or so

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    I just mark the bridge posn with a sharpie
    and / or temporarily tape the bridge to the top with low tack decorators tape

    Its only on there for an hour or so
    Yes, I should have also mentioned taping it down. I do sometimes, too. Is sharpie OK on all kinds of finishes?

    John

  13. #12

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    I use low-tack painter's tape to mark the bridge. I don't tape it down, I just put a strip of tape alongside the base, on each side, and the bridge goes back into the same space. I sometimes remove the bridge for adjustments, or to use a different bridge. A strip of tape marks the location well enough for me. It's only there for an hour or so at the longest, usually for minutes, so I don't worry about it. Keep in mind that after changing strings and/or action the bridge may need some adjustment for intonation, so just move it as necessary. There are how-to videos available for setting the intonation, but I always recommend FRETS.COM

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Yup, same as adjusting a les Paul.

    The bridge shouldn't move under string tension unless it takes an impact. Change strings one at a time so the bridge doesn't move. If for some reason you do need to loosen or take off all the strings at once, mark the position beforehand with masking tape. In the event you forget to do that, odds are the bridge left a mark in the finish and you can see the position. Worst case, measure (double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret) to get it in the ballpark, then move it slightly as needed to intonate.

    John
    Good point John, I didn't even think that the bridge might have left an outline.

    I would suspect that I'd have to adjust the relief too. I've never done that with the strings still on. Is that even possible? Also, I'd more than likely be oiling the fretboard as well.


    Thanks and

  15. #14
    Thanks for all the responses gan, I really appreciate it!



  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues

    I would suspect that I'd have to adjust the relief too. I've never done that with the strings still on. Is that even possible? Also, I'd more than likely be oiling the fretboard as well.


    Thanks and
    You mean you'd have to adjust the relief if you lower the action? Maybe, but IME usually not for small adjustments. Yes, it's definitely possible to adjust the truss rod with the strings on. Advice varies as to whether you should do so under full string tension (I find it easier to loosen the strings a bit). Slightly loosening the strings will probably leave enough string tension to keep the bridge in place, but just in case you can tape it down with masking tape (per Sgosnell, low tack painters tape).

    John

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    You mean you'd have to adjust the relief if you lower the action? Maybe, but IME usually not for small adjustments. Yes, it's definitely possible to adjust the truss rod with the strings on. Advice varies as to whether you should do so under full string tension (I find it easier to loosen the strings a bit). Slightly loosening the strings will probably leave enough string tension to keep the bridge in place, but just in case you can tape it down with masking tape (per Sgosnell, low tack painters tape).

    John
    Thanks John!

    Well, not necessarily. It's been a while since it's been adjusted and I just checked and there's definitely some back-bow. To be honest, I haven't played it much (I know, sacrilege right!), so the strings are pretty new and I would hate to just toss them at about $14.00 a pack. I've never adjusted a truss rod without taking the strings off, maybe I'll try it with them on?

    As I typed, there's definitely some back-bow and the action at the 12th fret (bass side) is between 5/64 and 6/64 (actually closer to the latter), which is nowhere near the action of my other guitars, which are around 1.25/64 lower.




    Thanks again and

  18. #17

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    Given the purpose of a truss rod is to counteract the string tension, is there any reason to adjust a truss rod with the strings off the guitar? I see that mentioned here but I’ve never done that myself nor have I seen a tech do that, but is it something worthwhile? Seems that without the strings you’re not setting the rod to counteract anything?

    thanks!

    From Taylorguitars.com
    The truss rod’s primary function in both electric and acoustic steel-string guitars is to stabilize the neck against the tension of the strings, which exert a great deal of force on the guitar—for light gauge acoustic strings, up to 180 pounds, pulling up on the neck and bridge. The truss rod is there to balance out that tension so that the neck doesn’t bend from the pressure.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzkritter
    Given the purpose of a truss rod is to counteract the string tension, is there any reason to adjust a truss rod with the strings off the guitar? I see that mentioned here but I’ve never done that myself nor have I seen a tech do that, but is it something worthwhile? Seems that without the strings you’re not setting the rod to counteract anything?

    thanks!

    From Taylorguitars.com
    The truss rod’s primary function in both electric and acoustic steel-string guitars is to stabilize the neck against the tension of the strings, which exert a great deal of force on the guitar—for light gauge acoustic strings, up to 180 pounds, pulling up on the neck and bridge. The truss rod is there to balance out that tension so that the neck doesn’t bend from the pressure.

    You can make a case for loosening the strings before adjustment if there are issues with the truss rod being difficult to adjust, so you don't have the pull of the strings, but without the strings on then I don't see it ...

    Unless it was perfectly adjusted before the string chance, you're going a size up or down in gauge and know from experience how much to adjust to counteract the change in tension?

  20. #19

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    That’s why I asked, I can’t see how adjustments without any tension on the neck help.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzkritter
    Given the purpose of a truss rod is to counteract the string tension, is there any reason to adjust a truss rod with the strings off the guitar? I see that mentioned here but I’ve never done that myself nor have I seen a tech do that, but is it something worthwhile? Seems that without the strings you’re not setting the rod to counteract anything?

    thanks!

    From Taylorguitars.com
    The truss rod’s primary function in both electric and acoustic steel-string guitars is to stabilize the neck against the tension of the strings, which exert a great deal of force on the guitar—for light gauge acoustic strings, up to 180 pounds, pulling up on the neck and bridge. The truss rod is there to balance out that tension so that the neck doesn’t bend from the pressure.
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzkritter
    That’s why I asked, I can’t see how adjustments without any tension on the neck help.
    That certainly makes sense, although I've never had a problem with taking them off?


    Thanks jazzkritter and

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    Thanks John!

    Well, not necessarily. It's been a while since it's been adjusted and I just checked and there's definitely some back-bow. To be honest, I haven't played it much (I know, sacrilege right!), so the strings are pretty new and I would hate to just toss them at about $14.00 a pack. I've never adjusted a truss rod without taking the strings off, maybe I'll try it with them on?

    As I typed, there's definitely some back-bow and the action at the 12th fret (bass side) is between 5/64 and 6/64 (actually closer to the latter), which is nowhere near the action of my other guitars, which are around 1.25/64 lower.




    Thanks again and
    From what I've read, 6/64 is at the high end of normal, but still within the range of good/playable. It's interesting that such tiny differences make a difference, but they do. I actually have trouble seeing such fine gradations on a ruler, and my guitars are all a little different from each other, so I set-up action more by feel than measurement. I recently had to set up a guitar from scratch (new acquisition shipped with the floating bridge removed), which I did by screwing it all the way down and then raising it until it stopped buzzing. That turned out to be (squint) ~5/64 on the bass side and ~4/64 on the treble (I think). IMO, if it feels good, it is good irrespective of the measurement. If 6/64's feels bad to you, lower it, but not just because it doesn't match another guitar.

    I always do truss rod adjustments with strings on. I try to do it tuned to pitch unless it's too hard to turn the wrench, in which case I detune a bit. The whole point of a truss rod is to compensate for string tension, and with trial and error involved it's an awful lot of trouble to take the strings off during the process. The only exception I can see to this would be a Fender-style adjustment at the butt of the neck that requires you to take the neck off the guitar to access the nut. Regarding the backbow you see, I can't tell from the picture. I generally need to capo at the 1st fret and press down at the fret that joins the body to be sure of what I'm seeing (and one of these days I've got to get some feeler gauges ...)

    John

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    From what I've read, 6/64 is at the high end of normal, but still within the range of good/playable. It's interesting that such tiny differences make a difference, but they do. I actually have trouble seeing such fine gradations on a ruler, and my guitars are all a little different from each other, so I set-up action more by feel than measurement. I recently had to set up a guitar from scratch (new acquisition shipped with the floating bridge removed), which I did by screwing it all the way down and then raising it until it stopped buzzing. That turned out to be (squint) ~5/64 on the bass side and ~4/64 on the treble (I think). IMO, if it feels good, it is good irrespective of the measurement. If 6/64's feels bad to you, lower it, but not just because it doesn't match another guitar.

    I always do truss rod adjustments with strings on. I try to do it tuned to pitch unless it's too hard to turn the wrench, in which case I detune a bit. The whole point of a truss rod is to compensate for string tension, and with trial and error involved it's an awful lot of trouble to take the strings off during the process. The only exception I can see to this would be a Fender-style adjustment at the butt of the neck that requires you to take the neck off the guitar to access the nut. Regarding the backbow you see, I can't tell from the picture. I generally need to capo at the 1st fret and press down at the fret that joins the body to be sure of what I'm seeing (and one of these days I've got to get some feeler gauges ...)

    John
    That's how I normally check relief. I had the capo on, but wasn't adept enough to take a picture with my finger where the neck joins the body. LOL!

    I'm sure you've seen this, as well as everyone else, but these are Gibson's specs for electric guitars (I guess there isn't a distinction between solid/hollow bodies?):

    Action:
    12th fret treble=3/64”
    12th fret bass=5/64”
    1st fret treble= 1/64”
    1st fret bass= 2/64”

    Pickup height: (measured by pressing down last fret)
    Rhythm=3/32”
    Bridge= 1/16”

    Bridge height is based on the 12th fret action.


    Thanks John and

  24. #23

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    IMO that action is too high for at least me. 1st the truss rod adjustment. Every L5 I have owned could handle very minimal to zero relief. IMO the straighter the neck the better.
    Hold down the low E string at the 1st and 14th fret then tap the E string on the 7th fret. Should be very minimal bounce. After the neck is straight adjust the string height to your preference.
    Always do your own setup. Everyone has there own neck spec that feels right to them.
    Do it by feel not with a ruler IMO. A ruler will ballpark you though but just a guideline.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues
    That's how I normally check relief. I had the capo on, but wasn't adept enough to take a picture with my finger where the neck joins the body. LOL!
    Losing the prehensile tail is the biggest mistake we ever made in our evolution from monkeys. So many things would have been much easier if we had kept that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight BLues
    I'm sure you've seen this, as well as everyone else, but these are Gibson's specs for electric guitars (I guess there isn't a distinction between solid/hollow bodies?):

    Action:
    12th fret treble=3/64”
    12th fret bass=5/64”
    1st fret treble= 1/64”
    1st fret bass= 2/64”

    Pickup height: (measured by pressing down last fret)
    Rhythm=3/32”
    Bridge= 1/16”

    Bridge height is based on the 12th fret action.
    Yes, I've seen that. Those are really just starting points, though, and it's valid to set up a guitar a little higher or lower if that's what feels and/or sounds better. Everybody picks a little differently, and everybody's hands are a little differently sized/shaped. That said, I find it interesting that there's such a small range of valid measurements given those variables, but there you go. It turns out the folks who make guitars know something about what sizes they should be.

    Cheers back at ya.
    Last edited by John A.; 01-27-2021 at 07:38 PM.

  26. #25

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    Some people think it's essential to adjust the trussrod with the string tension removed. I don't believe that it is, unless there is serious concern about a rusted rod and nut, which could be broken by too much torque. For a normal situation, adjustment with the strings at normal tuning tension should not be an issue. I always adjust at tension, but I don't often turn the nut very much, and I'm careful about how much torque I use. Some judgement is necessary, as with all things. If there is backbow, you will be loosening the nut, so loosening the strings is even less necessary than when tightening it. Once the adjustment is made, retuning is always necessary, so if you want to loosen the strings somewhat before the adjustment, it's no big deal, but it may require more adjustments to get it just right. At tension, it's much easier to see when the neck is straight by using the strings as a straight-edge, fretted at the first and body-join frets.

    The correct action height is purely taste. I generally try for ~1mm for the treble e string at the 12th fret, measured between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret. The bass E can be a little higher, maybe 2mm, but I don't like much higher. But this is for electrics, and I play with a comparatively light touch, I think. For an acoustic chunking rhythm, the action needs to be a little higher, and the answer to how high is the same as the answer to how long is a piece of string. As high as you want it to be. A little more relief is also probably desirable, to allow for more string vibration, and the fact that you probably won't be playing chords much above the 12th fret, certainly not at the 20th. It's all a compromise, and only you know what compromises you're willing to make. Every guitar, and every guitarist, is different. That's why I don't trust anyone else to do my setups. The other person doing the setup may be completely competent, but he's not me.

  27. #26

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    I set my action very low, like less than .50 MM at the first fret and .90 MM at the 15th fret. I use 10 or 11 on the E if I went lower on the gage then I will have to raise it some to avoid Buzz. I dont use any relief. Why so low and why no relief is because it cause's intonation issues when your strings have to move down more to meet the fret. Lower gage stings have less tension and vibrate more so they are more prone to buzz. Now if you bend your strings then you will want to do a fret fall away to help with fretting out on bends. The reason why you adjust the truss rod when the strings are off is two fold one is to make shure it has not become stuck and it moves correctly and the other is to set it up for fret work if the frets are not flat across the fret board (no relief) you cant get a proper fret level.

  28. #27
    Alright, so I have a confession to make. I'M AN IDIOT!!!!

    I have no idea what I was thinking of, but I don't remove the strings to adjust the TR. Maybe I was thinking that I remove the strings to oil the board, then re-string and adjust as necessary?

    Must be my age/senility!?


    My sincere apologies.

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Losing the prehensile tail is the biggest mistake we ever made in our evolution from monkeys. So many things would have been much easier if we had kept that.


    Yes, I've seen that. Those are really just starting points, though, and it's valid to set up a guitar a little higher or lower if that's what feels and/or sounds better. Everybody picks a little differently, and everybody's hands are a little differently sized/shaped. That said, I find it interesting that there's such a small range of valid measurements given those variables, but there you go. It turns out the folks who make guitars know something about what sizes they should be.

    Cheers back at ya.
    You're right, things would've been much easier. LOL!

    Very true. My LPs and other guitars are definitely lower than that and I'd like to get my WesMo there too. Just seems like it would be easier to play if it were lower, especially since there wouldn't be as much a need for bending.


    Thanks again John and WesMo Setup How Low Can I Go?-cheers-gif

    P.S.

    Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can get a better shot of the action using both the capo and pressing on the fret at the neck joint.

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    IMO that action is too high for at least me. 1st the truss rod adjustment. Every L5 I have owned could handle very minimal to zero relief. IMO the straighter the neck the better.
    Hold down the low E string at the 1st and 14th fret then tap the E string on the 7th fret. Should be very minimal bounce. After the neck is straight adjust the string height to your preference.
    Always do your own setup. Everyone has there own neck spec that feels right to them.
    Do it by feel not with a ruler IMO. A ruler will ballpark you though but just a guideline.
    Thanks for the tips Vinny, I appreciate it!

    I'd like to try a straighter neck and see how that goes.


    Thanks again and

  31. #30

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    After you get your neck in spec to your liking don't forget to re-intonate all the strings with a good guitar tuner (not a clip on). I take it you still have the stock tun-o-matic bridge ? With a tun-o-matic you can usually get the intonation spot on. After that play a blistering version of Cherokee.....

  32. #31

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    I never remove the strings from guitars, not even when changing them (I change one, then tune it, so on). Makes cleaning the fretboard a bit more difficult, but I do that very rarely, and never use oils on fretboards either (for the reasons Martin states on their website).

    When adjusting the truss rod on vintage style guitars, I prefer moving the pickguard a bit rather than taking off the neck.

    About adjusting the action, one extra thing to look for is the sound and feel of the guitar. Some instruments can go really low where the strings get to almost touch the frets, and there still isn't any buzzing at all. But the sound starts to get choked, you can hear the guitar is sounding subpar, and there's an audible improvement if you raise the action a bit.

    I generally find that the sound improves with a bit of a higher action, so I avoid going really low. Used to play with very high action for years, but not anymore. These days it's medium low.

    My lowest guitars are probably my 70s Gibson 335 that has low/wide frets, and my 512 fingerstyle Taylor. These two sound great even with unbelievably low action. On the other hand, I did a badly needed fret leveling on my favorite strat, now I hate how it plays with the frets lowered no matter how the action is set (for reference, I raised the pins on the saddles between two and one and a half full 360 turns when I got it back from setup, that's how low it could play without buzzing..), I'll probably have it refretted at some point.. so besides every player, every instrument is different too!
    Last edited by Alter; 01-28-2021 at 12:39 AM.

  33. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    After you get your neck in spec to your liking don't forget to re-intonate all the strings with a good guitar tuner (not a clip on). I take it you still have the stock tun-o-matic bridge ? With a tun-o-matic you can usually get the intonation spot on. After that play a blistering version of Cherokee.....
    LOL! Yup, I still have the stock bridge on it. I do have a Snark clip-on, but I usually use my Boss TU-2 tuner.


    Thanks and

  34. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    I never remove the strings from guitars, not even when changing them (I change one, then tune it, so on). Makes cleaning the fretboard a bit more difficult, but I do that very rarely, and never use oils on fretboards either (for the reasons Martin states on their website).

    When adjusting the truss rod on vintage style guitars, I prefer moving the pickguard a bit rather than taking off the neck.

    About adjusting the action, one extra thing to look for is the sound and feel of the guitar. Some instruments can go really low where the strings get to almost touch the frets, and there still isn't any buzzing at all. But the sound starts to get choked, you can hear the guitar is sounding subpar, and there's an audible improvement if you raise the action a bit.

    I generally find that the sound improves with a bit of a higher action, so I avoid going really low. Used to play with very high action for years, but not anymore. These days it's medium low.

    My lowest guitars are probably my 70s Gibson 335 that has low/wide frets, and my 512 fingerstyle Taylor. These two sound great even with unbelievably low action. On the other hand, I did a badly needed fret leveling on my favorite strat, now I hate how it plays with the frets lowered no matter how the action is set (for reference, I raised the pins on the saddles between two and one and a half full 360 turns when I got it back from setup, that's how low it could play without buzzing..), I'll probably have it refretted at some point.. so besides every player, every instrument is different too!
    I had my '72/'54 Limited Edition Les Paul regretted last year. It had "Fretless Wonder" frets on it. I looked all over and even contacted Gibson to get the wire, but couldn't find it. Gibson said they don't use it anymore too. It's a shame, because I really liked it. In fact, if the wire was still available, I'd love to put it on my WesMo.


    Thanks for the tips Alter and

  35. #34
    Horrible picture I know (I'm really bad at that), but I guess the relief (7th) fret isn't as bad as I thought? I could however, easily fit a piece of printer paper between the string and the fret:


  36. #35

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    That does not seem to be much relief that is good. Assuming your frets all level you can go really low. Modern archtops don’t have the relief of older ones. If I can I like very little relief. Not always possible in some older guitars. Old truss rods don’t always work either.

  37. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    That does not seem to be much relief that is good. Assuming your frets all level you can go really low. Modern archtops don’t have the relief of older ones. If I can I like very little relief. Not always possible in some older guitars. Old truss rods don’t always work either.
    Thanks Mark!

    I'm actually in the process of lowering the action as I type. I'm just slightly under 4.5/64 (I'm right at .070) for both the low and high E. If I try to go any lower on the high E, the post start to protrude from the bridge.

    Just out of curiosity, where is your's set?


    Thanks and

  38. #37

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    I like 4/64 on high E at 12th. 5/64 on low E 12th. Going lower on an acoustic archtop even with floating tends to diminish sound too much.

  39. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    I like 4/64 on high E at 12th. 5/64 on low E 12th. Going lower on an acoustic archtop even with floating tends to diminish sound too much.
    Treble side feels a bit stiff.