Weird String Misalignment on Ibanez Prestige RGD7UC(S)

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by pick_d, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. pick_d

    pick_d SS.org Regular

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    Good day.

    Just wanted to share my thoughts and ask what is wrong (either with me or with Ibanez).

    Recently I discovered that many of those sweet Ibanez RGD7UC and RGD7UCS have some noticeable imperfection to say the least. Sometimes string alignment is just fine, but some pics clearly show that it could be devastatingly off. It's easy to notice - just look at upper frets closer to 24th and you'll see that sometimes there's huge room (like 7-8mm to the fret edge) for 7th string and little-to-no place for 1st string.

    Let's take a look at good alignment. Well, nothing out of the ordinary, right?
    ok-1.png ok-2.png

    Now, please look over here and witness that level of imperfection:

    not-ok-1.png not-ok-2.png not-ok-3.png not-ok-4.png

    You don't have to have eagle eye to notice that something is extremely wrong here. It's not matter of perspective, and it's not a single faulty guitar.

    And while I haven't played those RGD7UC(S) I saw on pictures attached here, based on my experience, I'd assume that would be more than just a cosmetic issue: you'll have 1st string slipping all the time off the fretboard. Even if somehow it won't be a problem, that ugliness won't go away, causing exasperation all the time. And it's not eye-candy it supposed to be, quite the opposite. Anyway, that's not what you would expect from a $2000+ guitar.

    Clearly it is not something caused by lack of maintenance. And since nut is more or less in alignment according to the full pics (which aren't attached), I would assume (but might be wrong) that it's bridge or neck pocket issue. I'm not a luthier, but my guess is improper neck setup at the factory. Please, correct me if I'm wrong.

    So the whole point of starting this topic is to hear (or, rather, read) your opinions. Is it okay and I'm just overreacting a little? Or is it unacceptable for a guitar in this price range?

    I mean, that's not some cheap instrument, we're talking about professional-grade tool which is supposed to be all about precision, ultimate ergonomics, comfort and playability. In my book "presicion" is not something that we can see on last four pics.

    Thanks for your attention.
     
  2. kylendm

    kylendm Electrical Mercenary

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    I'm pretty sure its just the angle that the picture was taken.
     
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  3. pick_d

    pick_d SS.org Regular

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    But at least 2 pics were taken right in front of the neck, not at an angle.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    String are clearly skewed / off-set.
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Loosen neck bolts slightly, shimmy neck back into alignment. Stuff like this shifts on newer instruments, especially during shipping.
     
  5. pick_d

    pick_d SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for an answer.
    Why would it shift like that on 4-bolt necks? I mean, neck in its pocket sits pretty firmly and there are 4 huge bolts, should be rock-solid.
     
  6. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

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    Because they didn't do the star pattern, tighten in 2-3 rounds thing you're supposed to do with lug nuts, neck plates, etc?
     
  7. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    We like to think of wood as being solid, it can in fact shift, expand, bend, and contract somewhat significantly depending on the conditions it's in.

    Friction based fasteners, like bolts, can do the same.
     
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  8. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Yep. What they said. You can usually tilt the neck angle in the pocket one way or the other to get it just perfectly how you want it. It's the slightest movement but makes a huge difference. I like having the adjustability over some pockets that are perfectly tight.
    - On that one in the pict that is way off just slightly loosen all bolt, pull headstock towards the sky (while holding guitar) then tighten using the star pattern. All is good.
     
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  9. Vede

    Vede SS.org Regular

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    This isn’t always about bolt-on necks shifting. I’ve experienced this with neck-through guitars, as well. And Ibanez isn’t alone in it. In fact, it’s common enough that it’s become the #1 thing I look for when I’m shopping for guitars online. If the strings are shifted a little to the bass side it’s ok for me, but if they’re shifted to the treble side, my vibrato can easily end up taking the E string off the edge of the fret.

    I have a Washburn N4 like this that I have to be especially mindful of when I play or else the high E string will regularly fly off the board.
     
  10. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I guess there’s a possibility the bridge was mounted slightly off center. Maybe whatever template they’re using or CNC program is slightly off.

    I guess you never know how much work is done by hand, if you’re not using a drill press a bit can easily walk when drilling a material like wood.

    My RG8’s bridge is a little skewed, not that noticeable unless you really look close. The alignment is fine, just slightly turned. It still intonates fine and it was a cheap guitar anyway, but yeah, for a guitar of that price, I’d for sure want to make sure it can be fixed by shifting the neck in its pocket before I parted with any money.
     
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  11. Vede

    Vede SS.org Regular

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    Per what I was saying earlier about this not being exclusive to Ibanez, here are two neck-through Music Man Majesty guitars (one is an import, one is USA-made) that exhibit the same problem to varying degrees. On any given day, with any given batch of inventory, go to sweetwater and look through their 6- and 7-string Majesty collection and you're likely to see a lot of this. And it isn't just the photos; I've played Majesty guitars like this.

    Strings shifted to the treble side...
    [​IMG]

    Strings shifted to the bass side...
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. xzacx

    xzacx SS.org Regular

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    It's not always about that, but when it IS a bolt-on, it's a non-issue. It's not necessarily a huge issue neck-thru or set necks, but one that requires a more involved fix. For example, I had a neck-thru with that issue once and had to have the Floyd posts doweled and re-drilled. Wasn't a big deal and only cost me like $100, but obviously not as easy as loosening 4 screws.
     
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  13. gunshow86de

    gunshow86de Beef Jerky Time

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    This happened on my JPX7. The neck was perfectly straight and aligned in the pocket, but the tremolo posts were actually slightly off center. Had to have a tech pull the bridge post anchors, "dowel" the factory holes, and drill new holes ~1mm to the left. I got the guitar for a good deal second (possibly third) hand, so it wasn't a huge deal. But I would have been pretty upset if I paid new price and it had those issues.
     
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  14. Viginez

    Viginez SS.org Regular

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    yeah i'm picky about that too
    some people seem to not really care
    also, depending on the neck pocket construction, some are really sensitive, cracks can easily happen when shifting the neck
    you must be really careful doing that, theres always some risk
     
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  15. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I've probably corrected close to one hundred guitars with this issue, most likely more now that I think about it. Of all those, I can remember two that wound up having superficial finish cracks in the neck pocket from being corrected.

    You don't just turn the bolts to the left once and whack it with a mallet. You undo the bolts until lose enough to move by just orientating the guitar the other way, get it lined up, and tighten it back up. Any more force and you're doing something terribly wrong.

    Neck pocket finish cracks are very common, and it's usually improper curing of the finish that causes them. When the wood shifts naturally the finish is too hard and brittle and a crack will form, regardless of the position of the neck. I'd say maybe half of one percent are from a structural issue with the neck pocket itself.

    So basically, if cracks result from moving the neck, there was likely an issue with the finish already and cracks were more a matter of "when" than "if".

    Fujigen built Ibanez seem to be more prone to this, especially on AANJ and Tilt joints. ESP guitars from the production bolt-on shop (the name escapes me) can be prone as well, just on Mavericks for some reason.
     
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  16. Vede

    Vede SS.org Regular

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    Max, sounds like you're the perfect person to ask about this: Why/how does this continue to happen here in the CNC era? We often hear about how incredibly accurate CNC is (0.020mm or something like that), and yet we still get neck-through guitars like the Majesty with string alignment that can easily be off a full mm or more to the left or right. Is the problem that CNC machines aren't as accurate as we've been told, or is it that humans aren't always loading wood into CNC machines perfectly, which leads to imperfectly positioned holes?
     
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  17. Vede

    Vede SS.org Regular

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    Well, it isn't necessarily a big deal to have holes filled and redrilled, but it can negatively impact the aesthetics of the instrument depending on the amount of repositioning needed. And someone who's buying a trans purple Majesty with a flamed top probably cares an awful lot about aesthetics.
     
  18. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    There's a huge misconception about what exactly happens during the build process with CNC machines.

    First of all, not all CNC setups are the same, and certainly not all machines (or programs) are created equal. A $200k Haas will be far more consistent than a $500 homebuilt unit meant for hobbyists or prototyping.

    Speaking specifically to those Majesty models, there are a number of factors. From what I've seen of their (EBMM) process the CNC machines (which are definitely high end) drill the pilot holes for the bridge studs. A human being actually has to install the studs, likely pressed in an arbor by hand. So if they're not lined up just right, you'll be off and not know it until the guitar is at final assembly. I'd also be interested to see what the nut looks like, as it's alignment and cut is important too.

    Studs can also be ill-adjusted, which would skew how the strings look when photographed straight on. For instance, if you raise the bass side and lower the treble side, given the nature of two point trems, the strings would look like they're shifted to the treble side.

    Without having the guitars on hand, there are just too many factors to really say one way or another if there is an actual problem, or just a sprucing of the setup.

    For more general information on CNC use for guitars, check out the awesome write up sticky'd in the Luthier section by Ron Thorn.

    Posts are in-set in the trem route. You'll never see them if they're redone proper.
     
  19. Vede

    Vede SS.org Regular

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    Thanks. That's interesting info and helps explain why this still can and does happen.

    While I can't speak to the two Majestys in the photos I posted because they're just random shots I found online, the few I've actually held and played with this issue all had well-aligned nuts. In other words, the 6 (or 7) strings were all properly centered over the frets at the nut-end of the neck but then moved increasingly out of position (either to the left or right) as you moved closer to the bridge.

    With some brands, in my personal experience, it almost seems like perfectly centered strings are the exception rather than the norm, which makes me think most folks simply don't notice this, their playing isn't impacted by it. I only ever noticed it a few years back because I started wondering why my high E string kept slipping off the fretboard on some of my guitars but not others.
     
  20. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I've certainly run into guitars with wonky bridge installs, but I can't say it's been very many, and certainly very, very few in the $2k+ range.

    Most of the time it's a compound setup issue that's fixed with minimal correction. It's incredibly rare that it can't be fixed in an hour or two of work unless it's off by a HUGE amount, even if it actually is a badly placed bridge.

    It's not one of those things where you can evaluate without having the guitar on hand and measured up in fine detail.
     
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