How To

Checking the Neck

I am in hopes that your frets are in fair shape. If they are badly worn, you may want to have them replaced. If you have been experiencing fret buzz and your frets are badly worn, this may be the reason for it and not the action of your guitar.

A quick reference for checking the neck’s alignment with the bridge is to place a carpenter’s square on the frets of the neck and see if it lines up with the bridge (as seen below).

Just be sure that it isn’t on the nut. It should only be on the frets of the neck. You don’t need to do this, it just gives you a quick reference as to how far out of wack your guitar might be. We will be doing much finer adjustment than this will accomplish.

To view the relief in your neck, push your 6th string down on the first and last fret of your guitar. Approximately half way between the two, your string should be off of the fret. The distance from the fret to your string is the amount of relief that is in your neck. If the string is against the fret, then there is no relief and you were probably experiencing fret buzz at some places on your guitar (if not everywhere).

Note: You can free up one hand if you place a capo on the first fret of the guitar. A real help when trying to measure the relief.

To measure the amount of relief, they say to use a feeler gauge. You can try to use a scale if you don’t have any feeler gauges, but the gauges are more reliable. Below is a standard for how much relief you should have. I personally don’t fit the standard. The standard is just a starting point anyways. You should set it to what feels natural for you. Some people like it higher and some like it lower.

I read somewhere that .004″- .006″ is probably best for light picking, jazz musicians, and instruments strung with medium to heavy gauge strings. And .008″- .012″ is probably best for hard strumming and guitars strung with extra light gauge strings. Anyways, here is the list:


Playing Style                Desired Action                     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

Once again, this is just a starting point. Next we will discuss how to obtain this desired relief in “Adjusting the Truss Rod“.

I Started out in 1976 trying out to sing in bands but no bands were interested in me. In 1977 I started playing guitar. The individual that was teaching me (who for now will remain anonymous) told me that I would NEVER learn how to play guitar because I had no sense of rhythm. I joined my first band in 1978 called "Dead Center" in Jacksonville, Florida. I played an Aspen guitar, black; a Les Paul copy and in 1981. I gave that guitar to the teacher who said I'd never learn to play. I wrote my first song in 1979 or '80. Over the years I have been in many bands but my passion has been songwriting. I have written well over 100 songs and though the early ones were kind of rough around the edges, I think that most of them could be dusted off and given a new facelift. Today I am still working on my songs. Currently I can play guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, harmonica, and Native American flute. The flutes that I play are ones that I made myself. My guitars are the Epiphone G-400 faded, an Ibanez RG370 DX, an Epiphone G 1275 double neck guitar. My acoustic guitars are an Alvarez 12 string and an old Kay guitar. My drum set is a Peace drum set. I do my recording on a Zoom HD16.
Adjusting the Truss Rod
How to Set-Up the Action on Your Guitar
Wiring Two Humbuckers with One Volume Knob

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