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  1. #1
    Looking for tips for setting up Strat with .12 flatwounds. I love heavier strings but most of my electrics now have excessively high action after prolonged time with them. Got myself a Vester tradition Strat for cheap, taking to the tech tonight, and want to get this one just really dialed in so I have one high utility guitar.

    Planning to ask for a neck shim and general setup, but wondered if other players may have tips for keeping the action/tension/neck angle consistent over time. Any recommendations for preventative work or parts would be much appreciated- if you’ve had good results with something like changing the nut size/spacing, getting fretwork done, using a particular set of lower tension strings, maybe recommendations for aftermarket bridges that make it easier to dial in etc.
    Last edited by Flying Ashtray; 04-15-2021 at 01:13 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Tip 1: Always make sure your strat is a telecaster.

    Joking aside, it'll probably be fine...how many springs on the trem? Have you considered blocking it completely?

  4. #3

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    The way I set up all my Strats, when I had Strats: Block the trem to stop movement. Put the trem arm away in a safe place. You might change your mind. Use all five springs, and crank them up nice and tight (I like that built in reverb). Re-set the bridge saddles for height and intonation. If the height is still not correct, loosen the strings and adjust the neck. Good luck!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Ashtray
    Looking for tips for setting up Strat with .12 flatwounds. I love heavier strings but most of my electrics now have excessively high action after prolonged time with them. Got myself a Vester tradition Strat for cheap, taking to the tech tonight, and want to get this one just really dialed in so I have one high utility guitar.

    Planning to ask for a neck shim and general setup, but wondered if other players may have tips for keeping the action/tension/neck angle consistent over time. Any recommendations for preventative work or parts would be much appreciated- if you’ve had good results with something like changing the nut size/spacing, getting fretwork done, using a particular set of lower tension strings, maybe recommendations for aftermarket bridges that make it easier to dial in neck angle etc.
    I don't know anything about Vesters, but do have a Fender strat ('89 American Standard). I have tried it with 12's, 11's and 10's, but have stuck with 10's for a long time (because I prefer them, not because of any damage heavier strings did to the guitar). When I've changed string gauges the only adjustments I've needed to make are spring tension on the whammy bar and truss rod. Nut slots have been fine (but because I do use the whammy, I've had to do the baking soda and super-glue trick and re-file them a couple of times). My strat has has a micro-tilt neck (basically, a built-in adjustable shim). I think I've touched it once in 32 years of owning this guitar, unrelated to string gauge changes. The truss rod should be able to compensate for the additional tension of 12's. That's not a crazy heavy string gauge. Changing string gauges should not cause a need for fret work (though the guitar may need to have the frets leveled and re-crowned because they're already worn flat). My strat has a two-point "knife edge" bridge (rather than the six-screw mounting of vintage style strats). I prefer this style bridge. It doesn't affect neck angle, but its design makes it easier to dial in string height in response to a changes in whammy tension/float and neck angle. I don't know if it can be fit to your guitar, but might be worth looking into.

    John

  6. #5

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    Was it set up well before you went w the heavier strings? If so, I would look at adjusting the truss rod and putting 5 springs in the trem cavity.

    the nut might need a bit of work as well

    I would put off the shim until you see how far a regular setup will get you

  7. #6

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    I use 12s on mine. It's a bonafide hardtail though.

  8. #7
    Thank you all very much for the advice! Blocking the trem is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for, very helpful. I just got the guitar yesterday- it has a straight neck and lower action with .09’s it came with, and I agree it should generally be fine with little adjustment (maybe not even a shim). Just hoping to be a better steward of this one while I send my beloved tele in for repairs. I think that guitar will need a new neck bc the truss rod has gone out.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Ashtray
    Thank you all very much for the advice! Blocking the trem is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for, very helpful. I just got the guitar yesterday- it has a straight neck and lower action with .09’s it came with, and I agree it should generally be fine with little adjustment (maybe not even a shim). Just hoping to be a better steward of this one while I send my beloved tele in for repairs. I think that guitar will need a new neck bc the truss rod has gone out.
    If the neck angle is OK now you shouldn't need to shim it at all, and changes in string gauge should not create a need to shim it. You would only need to shim it if you can't get string action set to a comfortable (for you) height. Neck angle is a function of whether the neck and neck pocket are properly cut and/or whether the wood itself has changed over time and affected the angle the neck sits at. There's also interaction between neck angle, bridge saddle height, bridge float on a whammy-equipped strat, and mounting post height on two-point bridges, and shimming can be a means of tweaking that (somewhat complicated subject), but string gauge does not affect neck angle.

    John

  10. #9

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    Heavy strings pulling the trem up will heighten the action; string tension causing excessive neck relief will heighten the action. The former can be fixed by either blocking the tremolo or using five springs and setting them tight. Adjusting the truss rod should take care of the relief. You may need to adjust the saddles a little bit to fine-tune the set up. But every Strat and Telecaster should be able to handle 12s without any problem.

    That said, I have dropped to 11s on all of my guitars- Tele, Strat, archtops, flattop. They sound just as good as my old 12-52s and the lower tension is friendly for aging hands. Ed Bickert used 10s on his Tele and his tone was superb; Jim Hall used 10s on his archtop, at least towards the end of his career. I don't think heavy strings are needed any more for tone unless you've got a right hand that just can't go to a lighter approach (like Pat Martino) or are playing all acoustic and need to bang out some volume.

  11. #10

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    I would tend to agree that 10's are fine for Strat jazz - you just have to keep a light grip on the pick and play gently. The jazz tone of an arch top with high and tight flats is partly from the strings being "tighter than the pick"... you can get that same vibe by using 10s if you hold the pick lightly and play lightly.

    In terms of Strat tone, first find the brightest notes. On my Strat the brightest notes are on the B string in the 10-12th fret area. I reduce treble on the guitar until that brightness just disappears; on mine that is about "7" for both guitar volume and tone.

    You might put on a set of round wounds before going to flats, just to hear if flats are needed for the sound you want. I play with rounds and they don't squeak or squeal with finger motion over them.

    If the neck has been off the guitar you may want to do the neck-pop thing after re-stringing:

    - carefully and slowly loosen each of the neck screws, little at a time
    - wait for the neck to slip suddenly firmly against the neck pocket
    - tighten up the neck screws

    You just have to do this once if needed. When a neck is put back on there is no string tension holding it firmly in the pocket when tightening the neck screws, so no assurance that the conduction between the body and neck is solid. Cycling the neck screws loose and then tight while the string are on gives the neck a chance to press and seat firmly and then be screwed tight holding that solid contact...

  12. #11

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    Blocking the trem is a great idea. I have a very nice partscaster that uses a wine cork to block the tremolo.
    I didn't think of it myself, but it works great !!!