Any Of You Still Tweaking Your Guitar Setup?

TSJMajesty

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I used to like my strings a bit on the high side, because I struggled when bending notes. If the strings were too low, the adjacent string would slip down the tip of my finger, hit the fret, and ring out along with the note I was bending. We've all done it, and except for that bend in the No More Tears solo, before the solo gets going, it pretty much sounds like sh!t. I like(d) to be able to "push" that string out of the way, but it meant having my action a little higher.

But when I got my 1st Majesty, the setup ootb was SOO GOOD that I found myself adapting to it pretty easily. Having a low action made other things MUCH easier, and it didn't take a huge adjustment in my technique to be able to bend strings while keeping the others silent.

But I switched out the low E to a 52 so I could do drop-D tuning, and had to re-do the setup. And I went down as low as possible, probably even a bit lower than it was from the factory. But this added another challenge in keeping strings silent: There's hardly any distance between fretting a note, and muting the string, since the travel is soo slight. But I didn't have a problem with that until recently, when I started trying a different way to keep other strings silent.

So the other night I played my 20th Anniversary Majesty, and was like, OMG! This guitar feels even nicer than my other one, and it turns out the action was juussstt a touch higher than I was used to. But even that slight difference made my playing cleaner: Muting strings by just "un-fretting" them (instead of completely lifting the finger) was easier, and it helped a bit with bends also, since I still occasionally get that 2-note bend "dissonant" thing happening.

It's like I finally found the "Goldilocks" spot for my action.

So I went back and matched the action of my other guitar. Granted these are really fine-tuning adjustments, but I guess they really do have an impact. The tips of our fingers are densely-packed with nerves, so I can certainly see why even minor changes can make a guitar feel a lot different.

You ever think your guitar plays really nice, and then you play another one, and it makes you want to change things up? Or feel like a minor tweak in its action makes a big difference in how it plays for you? I'm still surprised by this.

And maybe it's why I have trouble switching to other guitars. For example, I now find playing a Les Paul extremely uncomfortable.
 
I set up all my guitars myself so they end up playing like I prefer them. There's a few I'd like to tweak next time I change strings but they play well enough for now.

To me a good spot is when the action is fairly low but bends are still comfortable.
 
Hahahah I think every time I go a few weeks without touching my Strats, the next time I pick them up I end up lowering the action. Then I’ll play them for a couple weeks and end up raising the action and the cycle repeats. :rofl

The more time passes, the lower my action gets overall. It might jump back up a mm or two, but it eventually comes back down to a lower spot. Eventually I won’t be able to go any lower.
 
The thing I’m most picky about is the neck relief. I hate the effect it has on the tone of the low strings when there’s too much relief.

I don’t like really low action. For stuff like country, funk, and some jazz I want to be able to really dig in sometimes to get the tones I want and if the action is too low it kills that for me. I also have that thing where I hate when my finger gets over the next string when bending, I want the action high enough that I can get my finger under the next string when I bend.

The Fender recommendations for string height are just about perfect for me.

I used to experiment a lot but I’ve been pretty settled in my setup preferences for quite a while now
 
I set up as low as I can get it without the sound becoming plinky or chocked. No fret out when doing large bends. So no formula because each guitar behaves differently and have different radii. Tonally I prefer it a bit higher so each guitar has a happy sweet spot.
 
In one word ‘yes’.
All guitars have idiosyncrasies that make a completely standard setup not necessarily always the best.
Having handled no where near the number of different models you have, I wouldn't know about that.
But I was more asking from the perspective of still figuring out what you like best, as far as action is concerned.

And I wouldn't be surprised if it's a little like tone quest: You think you have an amazing tone, then you either discover something new, or play through a rig that sounds better. (Or you're just never satisfied.)
 
This. Every one of my guitars have different string action, neck relief, pickup height, etc. I don’t even measure anything anymore. I do it all by feel.
I do all my own setup as well. I get the action as low as possible and the neck as straight as possible. If I can play funk lines at the 2nd fret, open clean chords that ring beautifully, and sweep pick at the 13th fret or so with no buzzing coming through the amp or lack of sustain, I'm happy. 3rd / 4th fret area and 11-14th fret area are always the places I focus on as they tend to get the most issues for fret buzz. I don't measure either, but I know when a guitar is not set up with action I like.
 
I recommend that all the no measurements people measure everything AFTER they are happy to see what is going on and compare it to others in your collection. Knowing what you like is never unhelpful.
I’ll measure a couple this evening and post the results. Stay tuned.

Edit: I initially took that as to post the measurements here. 😂 Late night last night. Oh hell, I’ll do it anyways.
 
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I set up my guitars often. As the weather change a lot these days, the neck and this and that needs to be set regularly. Just today I have set up the Floyd rose of the Hammett with the springs to flat the bridge that wasn’t flat anymore after new strings, and also changed the strings of the jp7 before doing the Vai cover and need to set up a little bit .
I don’t like to have a very low action as I like bending and picking hard . But yeah quite everyday I am with my screwdrivers setting this and that 😅 I like doing this . These instruments are full of suprises everyday. Sometime you pick one and 😳 what happened ?
 
I recommend that all the no measurements people measure everything AFTER they are happy to see what is going on and compare it to others in your collection. Knowing what you like is never unhelpful.
This is excellent advice I will never take but yet strangely believe in whole-heartedly.
 
Having handled no where near the number of different models you have, I wouldn't know about that.
But I was more asking from the perspective of still figuring out what you like best, as far as action is concerned.

And I wouldn't be surprised if it's a little like tone quest: You think you have an amazing tone, then you either discover something new, or play through a rig that sounds better. (Or you're just never satisfied.)
I am always looking for the extra 1% . The frustrating part is not everything is capable regardless of what you do. I know what works at least . A lot of people diagnose their problems as something other than what it is and that sends them down the wrong rabbit holes. The most miss diagnosed issue is fret buzz or should I say the cause of it. Often people come to me with one thing in their head I will do something completely different and they go away happy.

In my own guitars;
I have got down to about 30 and I bought every one ( apart from the ones I built) not looking for a new guitar. I come in to contact with a lot of guitars and in my head there are models I would like to own but I will only buy an exceptional example. Unfortunately you never get the colour you want but that’s not important. I would say out of the best 50 guitars that I have ever come across I own about 20 of them. It makes NGD a bit of a rarity because I almost always have something better at home.
 
nah, it’s been a minute.

I’m a metal/doom/sludge guy and I know what works for me and how I want it to feel/play.

It’s been maybe 15 years since I’ve changed it, and playing other peoples’ guitars doesn’t make it want to be different for me.
 
I went ahead and measured the two that were in the room. These are rough measurements:

2020 Charvel San Dimas Style 1

Relief at 8th Fret:
0.008”

Action at 12th Fret:
Low E - 1.5mm
High E - 1.5mm

Pickup Height (string pressed last fret):
Low E - 5/64”
High E - 5/64”

2019 Fender 60’s

Relief at 8th Fret:
0.010”

Action at 17th Fret:
Low E - 4/64”
High E - 4/64”

Pickup Height (string pressed last fret):
Low E - 6/64”
High E - 5/64”
 
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