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Help me understand setup please? LP setup

#1 User is offline   craigkim 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:06 AM

Hi guys,

I have researched this and think I understand it, but want to clarify. I have two Les Pauls, both of which were setup by the Luthier whom my guitar instructor recommended. One is a 2017 Standard HP and the other is an R0. What I noticed is that on the R0 he dropped the tail piece as low as it would go and on the 2017 it seems about factory height. My instructor didn't seem to know, but his only Gibson is an old, (I think) ES-5.

Neither guitar is "top wrapped". DO I understand that the goal is to lower the tail piece as much as possible without the strings contacting the bridge housing? So, you set the action height at the bridge and then just lower the tail piece in relation to that, so that there is still clearance? In both cases it looks like the 1st string is touching the bridge, but they both admit a business card with no resistance, so they are free. The difference comes from the difference in the bridges between pseudo-vintage and "modern" right?
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#2 User is offline   Farnsbarns 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:32 AM

Ideally your luthier would aim for the same break angle at the bridge as is seen at the nut.
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#3 User is offline   Farnsbarns 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:14 PM

On an ABR1 bridge it might be advisable to not have strings contacting the back of the bridge. The thin studs may bend forward. On a Memphis bridge, with massively thicker studs, I don't think this would be a concern.
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#4 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:30 PM

Well, you definitely don't want the string to make contact with the bridge behind the saddle... I have no problem just raising the tailpiece until the contact is no more.

FYI, there is a Gibson spec on string height - given a straight neck and level 100% frets - for the fat and skinny E's. With this knowledge, you know how high/low the bridge is to be (make sure you adjust with strings without significant tension as not to strip the threads of bridge). After you know this, you can then do some intonation and such, but either way, this is how you set up your bridge height, then you can see how high//low to set the tailpiece. I guess you just go as low as you can without the strings making contact as I described with the bridge housing. I personally cannot tell the difference of the sound whether the tail is touching the body or raised... Either I am not good enough to tell the difference, or there is such an insignificant audible difference that it doesn't matter how high/low it sets so long as its primary function of holding the strings anchored to be strung through towards the nut on the neck.

I am not professional luthier, but I have played guitar for a while and set my stuff up fairly well over the years. I learned a fair amount of information just watching a lot of videos online over this time as well. Either way, once you like what sound you're getting out of the guitar, just go with it. No setup will be 100% flawless. Guitars are inherently flawed instruments - more precise than accurate.

Oh, and if your screwdriver (flathead) is not a whopper sized one like the size of the slots on the typical tailpiece screws, a trick I learned is to just wrap some masking tape around the head as to minimize the deformation on the screw slot.
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#5 User is offline   Farnsbarns 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 02:16 PM

View PostNighthawkChris, on 13 December 2017 - 12:30 PM, said:

Well, you definitely don't want the string to make contact with the bridge behind the saddle... I have no problem just raising the tailpiece until the contact is no more.


I've pretty much done the same, although I do aim for the same break angle both ends. But... Why does it matter if they touch on a Nashville bridge?
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#6 User is offline   craigkim 

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 02:37 PM

Okay, that gives me some ideas of what to look at. I trust my instructor to not send me to someone completely clueless, but he is a VERY old school guy who seems to think that the cost of a setup is the most important factor in determining value of the work. This guy charged me $55 per guitar. I feel like I want it done correctly with less regard for cost. I dropped off my R0 and the Luthier didn't really say anything about it,other than hand me a ticket, but when I picked it up he says, "You know this is a custom shop guitar with that funny serial number?" Hard to determine how to respond to that, but yes I was aware. He had previously set up my 17 HP and when comparing them I noticed the difference. I didn't explain it well,but neither setup resulted in the strings touching the bridge, just both VERY close. Probably .25-.5mm away.

I also dropped off my Hummingbird Vintage and he made a comment like, "Now I set it up just like a Taylor comes from the factory." Have no idea what that meant, but maybe gleaned that he is not a Gibson guy. LOL? To his credit the bird improved dramatically after his work.

The whole interaction left me a little less than confident that he was familiar with Les Pauls, so I wanted to see if I could double check his work and try to understand it. I will check out the Gibson site for their specs.

Thanks guys.
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#7 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 09:38 AM

regarding Taylors and set up... If you listen to guys like me, who've owned a few Taylors, as well as a new Gibson J200, I can tell ya that the Gibson needed a setup to be 100% set right for me. The action was High out of the box (7/64s, 5/64s) My hands like it better around 5/64s 4/64s.

my taylors on the other hand,, never needed much other than changing the strings.
/Ray
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#8 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 09:44 AM

View PostFarnsbarns, on 13 December 2017 - 02:16 PM, said:

I've pretty much done the same, although I do aim for the same break angle both ends. But... Why does it matter if they touch on a Nashville bridge?


The way I see it is that the string still moves a bit in the saddle/nut slots, so if this occurs and the string has more places where it "fulcrums" so to speak, it is a place where added shear (shearing) force is being applied. No scientific evidence for this, haha, but it just seems like common sense to me. Unless I can be proven wrong, I would love to hear the truth behind what I am claiming. I am not opposed to learning something new... Good question though.
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#9 User is offline   Black Dog 

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 05:02 PM

I don't know for sure, but as far as the strings touching the back edge of the bridge, maybe it matters more for the wound strings vs. unwound. The notches cut in the bridge saddles are supposed to be smoothed/polished after they're cut, as far as I know, to allow for the strings to move (albeit slightly) across the saddle. If the wound strings are making significant contact with the sharp edge of the bridge, they may tend to hang up a bit, no?
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#10 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 10:15 AM

View PostBlack Dog, on 14 December 2017 - 05:02 PM, said:

I don't know for sure, but as far as the strings touching the back edge of the bridge, maybe it matters more for the wound strings vs. unwound. The notches cut in the bridge saddles are supposed to be smoothed/polished after they're cut, as far as I know, to allow for the strings to move (albeit slightly) across the saddle. If the wound strings are making significant contact with the sharp edge of the bridge, they may tend to hang up a bit, no?


AFAIK, I am inclined to believe that if the string is being pitched once on the saddle, and then further pitched a short distance from that saddle "bend", when the string laterally slides (through the nut and saddle slots) when played, it causes more tension on the string making it more likely to break aside from the fact that it is rubbing on an additional surface while being under tension from standard tuning. The other thing is the mark it may make on the bridge if this is of concern to anyone. I simply suggest that the string only makes contact with the saddle near the bridge and not at all with the TOM housing as we call it in this thread. I do not believe that the TOM was designed to take this string contact into account. I usually notice the only strings that fall victim of this are those where the saddle is moved up more near the neck so to speak - i.e. the skinny E and wound D - as we typically have that 2 staircase setup for the saddle orientation/intonation. I pay more attention to these strings than the others since they are angled in such a manner they are susceptible to making contact with the TOM.

This post has been edited by NighthawkChris: 15 December 2017 - 10:17 AM

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#11 User is offline   Black Dog 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 11:16 AM

View PostNighthawkChris, on 15 December 2017 - 10:15 AM, said:

AFAIK, I am inclined to believe that if the string is being pitched once on the saddle, and then further pitched a short distance from that saddle "bend", when the string laterally slides (through the nut and saddle slots) when played, it causes more tension on the string making it more likely to break aside from the fact that it is rubbing on an additional surface while being under tension from standard tuning. The other thing is the mark it may make on the bridge if this is of concern to anyone. I simply suggest that the string only makes contact with the saddle near the bridge and not at all with the TOM housing as we call it in this thread. I do not believe that the TOM was designed to take this string contact into account. I usually notice the only strings that fall victim of this are those where the saddle is moved up more near the neck so to speak - i.e. the skinny E and wound D - as we typically have that 2 staircase setup for the saddle orientation/intonation. I pay more attention to these strings than the others since they are angled in such a manner they are susceptible to making contact with the TOM.


I don't think the additional point of contact with the back of the bridge would add more tension to the string but would most definitely add more resistance via friction to any movement of the string in the saddle, as in tuning and maybe bending. I would think that not allowing proper movement across the saddle could hypothetically cause increased tension during bends or something but I'm not sure if that would be enough to make the high strings more susceptible to breakage. If you think about it in a most extreme case where the string would be fixed to the point of contact at the back edge of the bridge (hypothetically) then that would only be shortening the overall length of the string by a fairly small amount (the distance from the back of the bridge to the tailpiece). Don't know if that would make a difference or not...
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#12 User is offline   Black Dog 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 12:26 PM

Here's some good stuff from the gear page:

https://www.thegearp...-bridge.537573/

sharper break angle at the bridge (and at the nut due to headstock angle) will increase downward force of the string on the nut and saddles increasing perceived tension during bends and such due to less movement of the strings at the contact points.
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#13 User is offline   clayville 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 02:07 PM

Dan Erlewine's book "How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great" is a really good resource for understanding all the components of a setup and many minor minor problem-solving situations that can crop up with a guitar you'd like to improve. Even if you're not confident in doing the work yourself, your desire to understand the process is a good one.

There's no "right" answer, though - every experienced player has his own style and taste in how they like a guitar setup for them, what kind of music they typically play, and everything from string gauge to action to pickup heights and more plays a role in ideal playability for YOU and your style. And every guitar has a slightly different geometry so all these adjustments are a bit of a compromise to make the guitar work for you as a system of elements - from neck angles to nuts to bridges to tailpieces.

This post has been edited by clayville: 15 December 2017 - 02:08 PM

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#14 User is offline   Black Dog 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 02:48 PM

View Postclayville, on 15 December 2017 - 02:07 PM, said:

Dan Erlewine's book "How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great" is a really good resource...


Just ordered it from Jeff Bezos. Thanks.
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#15 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 08:26 PM

View PostBlack Dog, on 15 December 2017 - 12:26 PM, said:

Here's some good stuff from the gear page:

https://www.thegearp...-bridge.537573/

sharper break angle at the bridge (and at the nut due to headstock angle) will increase downward force of the string on the nut and saddles increasing perceived tension during bends and such due to less movement of the strings at the contact points.


Yeah, I was hearing about something like this a bit back... Good to finally get an understanding of it all. Thank you for the education!

And yes,clayville, there is no "right" answer for something like this. I sincerely agree. I also believe that someone experienced enough should understand what effects the tailpiece has though on the strings to adjust for their particular style as you have mentioned.
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#16 User is offline   Black Dog 

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Posted 16 December 2017 - 07:58 AM

View PostBlack Dog, on 15 December 2017 - 12:26 PM, said:

Here's some good stuff from the gear page:

https://www.thegearp...-bridge.537573/

sharper break angle at the bridge (and at the nut due to headstock angle) will increase downward force of the string on the nut and saddles increasing perceived tension during bends and such due to less movement of the strings at the contact points.



View PostNighthawkChris, on 15 December 2017 - 08:26 PM, said:

Yeah, I was hearing about something like this a bit back... Good to finally get an understanding of it all. Thank you for the education!



So I was thinking more about this. In the post I referenced from the gear page, the guy states that the increased break angle increases the PERCEIVED tension of the strings (when bending, etc). I think maybe what he was tying to say was that the actual tension of the string at rest is the same. However, for the reasons previously stated, if you try to bend the string there will be more resistance to the bend. If you could get two guitars with the same scale length, same strings and same tuning but a different break angle, you could measure it and see.

So Chris, bottom line is that I think you are correct about feeling more tension/resistance to bends with a higher break angle due to more resistance to movement at the nut and saddles, which is pretty much what you said.

This post has been edited by Black Dog: 16 December 2017 - 07:59 AM

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