Fret leveling question

Uncle Vinnie

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Do any of you master luthiers dial in any bow to the neck before leveling, or do you keep the neck perfectly straight?

Seems to me if leveling with the neck straight and then afterward adjusting the truss rod and setting up the guitar that the frets @ the 5th, 6th, 7th frets would be situated lower than the frets at the upper end.

Before leveling would it be adviseable to dial in a nominal amount of bow, say .005" before leveling to compensate for the difference in height after setting the neck?
 

larryguitar

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There are some necks on which I perfectly flatten the board, and then dial in a *tiny* amount of backbow when leveling the frets; I only do it when it seems the neck will be too stiff for the string tension to pull it into relief.

But I'm no pro, so you probably shouldn't listen to me. :)

Larry
 

Roxy13

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The only system I know of for leveling with the stirngs on and the neck relief you want is the Katana system, made by a Japanese luthier. He has his own website selling it, but it's quite pricey. I understand his philosphy behind it though.

I level with the board perfectly flat, but I do add a fallaway then from the 12th fret up as I use very low action. I've never had an issue afterwards with using my preferred action doing it this way (I use 0.004" neck relief measured at the 7th fret and then treble e at 2/64" at the 12th fret and bass e at 3/64" at the 12th fret).
 

LtDave32

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I do mine flat..

That being said, there's a tiny bit of "fall away" in the upper frets of the Les Paul. not much one can do to adjust that, for it's where the neck meets the body.

But as I said, every leveling I do , I adjust the neck to not show daylight when a straight board is placed up against it.
 

bgrizz

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I think this is the very question that brought about the idea of fret leveling under string tension with a bit of relief or those cool contraptions that put a bit of curve in neck with strings being off. It makes sense to level with relief set but it’s too nerve racking for me to not do what lots of the pros do, that is, level with a flat neck. Great question and I’m excited to see the responses here.
 

Freddy G

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Before leveling, I check the amount of relief under string tension. Once I have the relief dialed in, then I take the strings off and check the relief (or lack of) again. Ideally, the neck with no string tension should be dead flat with the truss rod dialed in to where I liked it under string tension. IF the neck still shows a little bit of relief when it has no string tension then I will tighten the rod to get the neck dead straight before leveling. And the leveling goal is for dead straight frets from 1-15, with fall-off starting at the 16th.
Once all the fret work is done and the guitar strung back up, then the truss rod gets adjusted for real.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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Well, I did it. Got all the tools together and went at it.

Leveled out a couple of high fret that were causing buzzing and fret out. Used the painfully overpriced Stewmac fret kisser, but it removed all the guesswork, bought out the blue Sharpie and a 3-corner file, crowning went well, then sanded and polished. Strung her up, did a set up and voila, dead spots gone.

Then pulled out the nut files brought the string height down to spec. Plays as nice as my other two Pauls.

Now that I've done it the fear factor is gone, but the take is slow and easy is and will always be in place.

Thanks to all who made suggestions and gave advice, I kept hearing it in my head and it probably prevented a catastrophy.
 

ARandall

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The other option (for the future and for a potentially troublesome guitar) is to have a slight backbow in the neck before levelling.
Its mainly a slight 'fix' if you have a 1 way rod that is too close to being at the end of its effective range to loosen for extra relief. That way you have a slightly greater allowance for say setting up with a lighter string gauge or lower tunings.
 


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