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Thread: Common pitfalls

  1. #1
    Kim Rummel

    Common pitfalls

    When conventional (street) wisdom might get in the way of your guitar performing at its best:

    1) action too low: strings can't properly ring, fingertips lose grip and nuance, picking attack too light

    2) pickups too high: magnetic pull (singles), string outside of optimal field, over modulationtion (lack of clarity)

    3) neck too straight: relief creates "stadium seating" from the nut toward the bridge, harmonic tones require string amplitude (room for the string to move up and down), action high at the last frets (21, 22, etc) but too low in the cowboy chords

    4) nut slots too high: everything in the cowboy chords (first four frets) pulls sharp, intonation off at the first octave in order to compensate, etc.

    5) "super pots:" Potentiometers with values over 500K ohms and high-output pickups = "ice-pick," fuzziness on the bridge pup, mud on the neck pup.

    6) super-light gage strings: often require a HIGHER action to avoid fret buzz (greater string flexibility equals more travel (higher up & down amplitude for same pick attack on a heavier string)

    5) saddle slots too wide or deep: sympathetic vibrations in the saddle valley steal away string vibrations (buzz and rattle too)

    6) If your "Tunomatic" isn't locked down, it's not good: Nope, it just has to fit and sit properly (check out a nice floating bridge hollow-body, a banjo or a Stradivarius)

    7) Your Les Paul stop tail HAS to be screwed down tight on the top ala J. Page: Nope... the relationship of tail piece height to bridge height alters string tension, and LOWER tension increases sustain. There's a sweet spot there and it's worth finding.

    8) Pole pieces HAVE to be radiused on Humbuckers in order for them to sound "right:"Arguable.... the magnetic field of a humbucker pickup is single-lobed in the string path, unlike a single coil (double-lobed). In other words: Pole height on 'buckers has a lot more to do with unwanted string contact and street lore than the a/c signal created by the moving string passing through the field... Moving the pole barely moves the field.

    more after some coffee.....
    Last edited by Kim Rummel; 06-08-2011 at 07:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Member DGNGuitars's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Great post. All good points. One thing to note about pickup height, on a strat and some high output hums a pickup that is too high can also throw your intonation out the window.
    Owner of DGN Custom Guitars - Handmade Guitars, Repair and Restoration of stringed instruments.

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