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SG Neck Relief Specs?


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I know this is one of those questions where there's not any one single correct answer, but I'm curious what neck relief specs others are using for their SG? I've read enough articles on the web to acknowledge that there's clearly no consensus, as there probably shouldn't be, considering different playing style, string gauge selection, etc. Yet I still would be interest what others find useful as a starting point. Recognizing that neck relief is just one step (the first) during set-up. According to one useful article that I read (http://mysite.verizon.net/jazz.guitar/guitarsetup.htm), when the question was put to Gibson, their response was:


"We don't actually have any published specs for this. It actually is whatever setting works best for the guitar to create minimal buzz and good action." From my own experience, I've found that .010 is a good starting point on my Gibsons. I use .011 - .052 strings on all of my guitars."


I was interested in the gauge this Gibson person suggested; probably not in reference to an SG. Regardless, some responses I got here in an earlier "buzz" thread I started also suggested going with heavier strings than I typically use, which seems counterproductive, but if it works, right?


Thanks for any insight re neck relief "specs".

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I start at zero and work the bridge, stopbar, neck and pickups from there until I all feels and sounds right, takes some time but not too much. I only do this with new guitars and when I total strip one down maybe once a year. Living in the North East and having 4 season you have to adjust all the time, unless you live in a climate controled home and never go out. If you can do all these adjustments yourself and become one with your guitars I think your way ahead of the game.

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I found this on another forum, perhaps you'll find it useful.


Hi I'm David the final inspector at Gibson Memphis. I can give you the factory spec info. on our setups. You will need a mechanics rule to do this properly.


To check neck relief: fret the low E at the first and 15th fret (not 12th) reach to the 7th fret and tap string. There should be a small space between string and fret - no thicker than a piece of paper. Do the same with the high E.

ACTION: fret low E at first fret and measure the distance from the bottom of the to the top of the 15th fret. It should be 5/64". Do the same with the high E, measurement should be 3/64". Now measure the string height at the nut; underside of the string to the top of the fret. Low E and A should measure 2/64", D and G =1.5/64" and B and high E = 1/64". If string height at nut is correct, recheck string height at 12th fret with strings open. Measurement for low and high E's should be the same as measurement taken at the 15th.


Pickups: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".


Play test: Play every string at every fret checking for buzzes. Bend High E string 1 and 1/2 steps, beginning at the sixth fret and ending at 22nd, checking for "choking" and to make sure string stays in nut notch.

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Here's a handy bit I found quite a while ago. The info represents good starting points, then you can adjust to your liking.



Gibson basic guitar setup - http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Support/TechSupport/Repair%20Columns/Basic-Guitar-Setup/


Regarding the Stop/Tailpiece - The height of the stopbar tailpiece is personal preference - the lower the tailpiece, the more sustain — the higher, the less sustain. For the most sustain> get the sharpest break angle, adjust the Stop to the lowest point at which none of the strings touch the back edge of the bridge.


The string height at the 12th fret will determine whether the saddle should be raised or lowered.


Gibson electric specifications are:

1st fret- treble side - 1/64"

1st fret- bass side - 2/64"

12th fret- treble side - 3/64"

12th fret - bass side - 5/64"


Gibson acoustic specifications are:

1st fret- treble side- 1/64"

1st fret- bass side- 2/64"

12th fret - treble side- 5/64"

12th fret- bass side- 7/64"






Style of playing Type of action desired Relief in inches

Rock & Roll Medium - Low 0.010

Jazz Medium - Low 0.013

Acoustic-Electric Medium - Low 0.013

Classical-Electric Medium - Low 0.023

Electric Bass Medium - Low 0.020

Acoustic - - - - - - about a playing card to start

In general, this measurement is taken by measuring the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 6th fret while holding the string down at the 12th fret and the first fret. This is where the capo comes in handy - put it on the first fret so your hand is free to take the measurement. Using a feeler gauge of the desired height, in this example, 0.010, hold the low E string down at the 12th fret (with the capo on the first fret), and measure the distance between the top of the 6th fret and the bottom of the low E string. If the distance is greater than the desired relief, then you need to turn the truss rod clockwise (towards your right) as you're looking down the headstock towards the body of the guitar. If the distance is less than the desired amount, then you need to turn the truss rod counter-clockwise (towards your left) as you're looking down the headstock towards the body of the guitar. The basic rule is:

Clockwise to tighten for less relief

Counter-clockwise to loosen for more relief

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  • 4 years later...

On my SGs the neck relief seems always to be great the way I do it, no measurement. It will work regardless of string gauge. This is of course just how I do it, I have done the setup spec at the .012 but seems a little mushy for me when playing chords at the 5th fret. It ends up a little less that .012 at 7th fret.


I string up the guitar and tune it to standard pitch. Put the guitar in playing position and capo the first fret. I hold the 6th string down at the last fret as that is where the neck joins the body. Then I turn truss rod right (clockwise) until there is no relief hardly if any bounce at the 7th and 9th frets using the 6th string as straight edge, don't go too far just maybe a slight tiny bounce because you don't want to backbow the neck. Then I simply turn the truss rod left counterclockwise 1/4 of a turn for relief and that's it. Take capo off and set action at 12th fret with 6th string 5/64 and 1st string 3/64.


Sounds and plays great everytime.

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