A straight neck may sound like a good thing in all circumstances, and the idea of bow (or anything other than straight) a very bad thing. Increase: To increase relief in the neck (increase concave bow), turn the adjustment point counterclockwise. From this picture, you can see why some guitars need a neck angle. Even worse, too much neck angle and the bridge may not be able to raise the strings high enough off of the fretboard to make the guitar playable. If that has produced little or no result, de-tension the strings again and go with another quarter turn, or even a half turn this time if there was absolutely no evidence of movement. Basically, the neck angle works in conjunction with the bridge height adjustment to hold the strings the proper distance from the fretboard. Only two tools are needed to check neck relief — a capo and a feeler gauge. For example, you would enter 1/4" as .25. For the "increase in top height from neck to bridge" field, you must enter any difference in the height of the guitar top from the point at which the neck joins, to the point underneath the bridge. If you just don’t feel confident doing this yourself, though, don’t hesitate to take it to a pro; a basic neck adjustment shouldn’t cost and arm and a leg, unless there’s something drastically wrong. He has authored or coauthored dozens of books on guitar topics, columns in Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar magazines, and is considered a top authority on amps and effects. If the bridge is height adjustable, the measurement should be made with the adjustment at the lowest position (or close to the lowest if you want a little wiggle room.). the 16th fret) so you can just enter the fret number. The procedure for checking neck relief is simple, and all you need is a capo and a feeler gauge (and even that isn’t absolutely necessary): Put a capo on your guitar’s neck at the first fret. Having checked your neck relief, now you can adjust most standard truss rods if necessary. So, the TundraMan is here at your rescue, with a little help from our friend trigonometry. Often times, this angle is determined by drawing a full-scale profile of the instrument on a large piece of paper, then taking a protractor and measuring what the string angle should be. Holding the guitar in playing position on your lap, with the body perfectly perpendicular to the floor, use a finger on your right hand (for right-handers) to fret the low-E string up the neck at the fret where the neck joins the body. Here's some more information to help you while entering information in the fields: The calculator will work with both english and metric measurements. So, we’ve sort of brought Leo Fender full-circle and back to the archtop guitars — complete with tailpieces and neck angles — that his first designs had completely eschewed. Holding the guitar in playing position on your lap, with the body perfectly perpendicular to the floor, use a finger on your right hand (for right-handers) to fret the low-E string up the neck at the fret where the neck joins the body. Adjusting your guitar’s neck relief (the amount of bow and resistance in the neck) may sound like a scary proposition to the first-timer, but this task is something you can definitely do yourself if you take it slow and work in very small increments. Tune up, check again, and proceed accordingly. Causes of Poor Neck Angle. Check out the string angle over the bridge. To determine the height of the fingerboard at the neck join, measure the distance from the top of the guitar to the top of the highest part of the fingerboard, then add the height of the fretwire you plan to use. This long rod is set into a channel routed under your guitar’s fingerboard. It’s pretty straightforward. Also, be sure you’re using the correct tool for the job, ideally one supplied by the guitar’s manufacturer, or as per its instructions (there are too many variations to cover them all in detail here). Strats and Teles) use a bridge that sits at a low enough profile so as not to require a neck angle. Here's a side-view of a guitar with different neck angle/bridge combinations. Too little of a neck angle, and the bridge may not be able to be adjusted low enough to bring the strings down to a comfortable action. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 with the high-E string. Guitar Amps & Effects For Dummies Cheat Sheet, The Building Blocks of the Guitar Signal Chain, Classic Guitar Tones from 4 Classic Body Woods. If a gentle quarter or half turn of the truss-rod nut doesn’t seem to produce any results whatsoever, or if the adjustment point is stiff and won’t turn easily, or at all, consult your guitar’s manufacturer before proceeding, or take it to a professional repairperson. Every new guitar design should be measured and have the proper neck angle calculated; it's not enough to just assume that because your guitar looks like a Strat, that you don't need a neck angle. Before making any truss-rod adjustments, loosen your guitar’s strings until you have removed all significant tension from them, but not so much that they’re entirely slack and floppy. To make adjustments to neck relief, proceed carefully, gently, and slowly, and work in increments of just a quarter turn at a time. Getting the proper neck angle on a guitar is imperative to making the guitar play correctly. The fret where the neck joins the body must be designated. In any event, if you're building a guitar you need to know what angle should be used. This distance should be measured from the top of the guitar, to the highest point on the string saddle. Often times this join occurs at the same postion as a fret (i.e. Again, if the nut gets either very tight or so loose that it feels about to come off and the adjustment hasn’t yet produced the desired result, or if you find yourself turning more than one and a half or two full turns or so with no apparent result, then STOP! Just select which you want to use, and enter the fields using the appropriate values. If you have considerably less or more gap than desired, adjust your truss rod. If you’re new to truss-rod adjustment and don’t have a handle on how much of a turn achieves what result in your guitar, start with just a quarter turn, then bring the strings back into tune and check the relief again. Note that if you're entering values in inches, you must use decimals. In these cases you must specify the amount of rise in the top for the calculation to be accurate. Indeed, many players do prefer a very straight neck, but in certain cases, though, players like to have just a little concave bow in the neck — with the fingerboard curving up if the guitar is lying on its back — to keep the strings from buzzing against the frets when you strum and to provide a natural curvature that matches their vibrational arc when you play. (If you don’t have any feeler gauges, the average business card usually works for a rough estimate.). However, if the neck join occurs between frets on your guitar, the fret can be entered as a partial (i.e. Other bridges, such as the Tune-O-Matic found on many Gibson guitars have a much higher profile which requires a neck angle. While drawing the instrument on paper has some advantages from an artistic point of view, it is a … have a flat top, in which case you would enter "0" because there is no height difference. Shimming the neck artificially creates our neck angle and means we can raise the bridge up without screwing with our action. For a beginner guitarist, neck pitch (tilt) is nowhere on the radar when it comes to choosing an instrument. For some guitars with body-end adjustment nuts, you have to remove the pickguard, or even loosen and lift the neck, as on many bolt-neck Stratocaster-style guitars. It can also have a … I created this simple calculator that will take the measurements from the guitar and determine the proper neck angle. Decrease: To decrease relief in the neck (reduce a concave bow), turn the adjustment point clockwise to tighten the truss rod (as viewed facing the adjustment point). To check your necks relief, see my article on truss rods. Some possible reasons are: Before doing so, however, always consult your guitar manufacturer’s adjustment instructions, and be aware that some modern truss-rod designs function differently than the norm. Not all guitars have a neck angle, so in some cases the correct neck angle is "none". With your free hand, use the feeler gauge to measure the gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the … Slip a 0.010-inch feeler gauge into the gap between the bottom of the low-E string and the top of the 8th fret (or whichever fret is half way between the capo and where you’re fretting the string). The scale length is simply the distance from the nut to the bridge. The procedure for checking neck relief is simple, and all you need is a capo and a feeler gauge (and even that isn’t absolutely necessary): Put a capo on your guitar’s neck at the first fret. To use the calculator, simply enter the information in the fields, then click on the "calculate" button to view the results. Often times, this angle is determined by drawing a full-scale profile of the instrument on a large piece of paper, then taking a protractor and measuring what the string angle should be. They’ll eventually discover that different neck pitches change the feel of the guitar significantly, though. Most techniques recommend an average gap of around 0.010 inch, although some playing styles might like a little less, some just a little more.