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Old 01-26-2011, 11:42 AM   #1
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91 American Strat Deluxe Plus Problem

First of all, thanks in advance for any help I can possibly get here.

So I've had my 91 Strat Deluxe Plus for awhile now and I'd never really taken the time to set it up properly. Well, now I've been playing it a lot lately and would really like to get this thing up to optimal playing performance. I just want to note that BEFORE I started setting up this guitar, the action was pretty low down at the 1-5 frets, and wayyy too high once you got up to the 12th and up frets. It seemed like the neck had a huge bow in it. I sometimes tried to adjust the truss rod and straighten it out but then it would cause so much fret buzzing that I would just set it back to how it was. I experienced a decent amount of fret buzz down at the lower frets normally but it was never anything too detrimental. I should also mention that I'm using Ernie Ball beefy slinkies .11-.54 and am tuned to D standard (1 step down). I wanted to completely eliminate fret buzz altogether and provide an even action down the entire neck, although I realize it's going to be slightly lower down towards the nut.

I started using guides and instructional videos to set up my guitar last night.
-I started off by straightening out my truss rod (by eye. I don't have measuring tools but plan on getting some soon) and got it to where it's pretty flat. After I straightened out the neck I noticed my strings were getting fret buzz pretty bad and pretty much everywhere, but had faith that going through the whole setup process would eliminate it.

-I then made sure my bridge was secure. I don't really like using the trem system as I've always had bad luck with trems and prefer the sustain from locking them down. So I took off the plate on the back, and immediately noticed my trem was using 2 springs and a hipshot tremsetter. So I tightened the two screws that attach to the springs about as far as I could to make sure the bridge stays flush with the body. That, along with tightening the two screws that hold the bridge on the front of the guitar seemed to get it as about as flush as I can right now. There's still a little gap, but I plan on buying a few extra springs and removing the hipshot to fully resolve this. One thing this did was lower string height immediately since obviously there was more of a gap before, so now my strings are pretty much touching the frets and just sound awful, but I knew there was more to go still.

-Then I adjusted the micro tilt setting to change the neck angle. I wish I'd had known about this setting before because it rules. I got the action to be pretty much even everywhere on the neck after adjusting this. At first, I think I adjusted it too far because notes were fretting out up at the higher frets completely so I THINK I got it adjusted properly now. There's still a huge issue though because I had to raise the saddles almost as high as they would go but I'm still getting fret buzz all over the place. It's possible that maybe I adjusted the micro tilt too far even still. But there is a little bit more of a gap between the strings and frets at the higher frets. At the lower frets, the strings are almost touching the frets.

-Then I tried raising the saddles as far as I could. I can't really get them much higher than they are now. Even so, they look kind of goofy the way they are adjust right now. They are kind of sitting up at an angle and I don't think this is how the guitar was meant to be set, but I'm kind of at a loss to what to do next.

-I haven't even attempted to mess with intonation and I can't really raise the saddles any higher so I gave up last night and planned on doing some research in the morning to try and figure out what was going on.

It seems to me that if I could raise the height of the nut, that might solve some of the issue. So, I started researching it this morning and found out that Wilkinson rolling nuts are only made to handle pretty much only .9's. Maybe .10-.46 at the biggest. Could this be attributing to my action/fret buzz problem? I'm going to go to guitar center tonight and buy an LSR rolling nut since they can handle the larger gauge strings. I really don't know if this will solve the issue, but I need to get a nut that can handle my strings either way.

Does anyone have some experience, insight, or tips on what I may be doing wrong so far with my strat? I seriously love this guitar and would like to get it set up as best as I possibly can. I would just take it somewhere and get it set up but none of the guitar shops where I live have anybody working in them that know anything about guitar. I don't trust them. Plus, I think it would be a huge plus to be able to set up my own guitars.

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Old 01-26-2011, 07:10 PM   #2
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I can't be bothered to read all of your mega post, but here's my mega response:


Mysecobd post down outline everything you've mentioned. You generally get more replies here if you can sum up your problem in a small paragraph, you can always go into extr detail later, people just switch off when they see huge posts like that.

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Old 01-27-2011, 09:43 AM   #3
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My bad. It only took me like 5 minutes to write. Even shorter to read. I just wanted to give as much detail as possible so someone who knows what they're doing would have a better grasp of the situation.

I read through a few different posts on that but it didn't have anything close to an answer on setting up a strat. Thanks for the attempt though.
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