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Setting up JTV-89F / intonation problems?


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Hi all,

 

I have my JTV-89F about 17 months now and figured that I should get it set up by a guitar tech. I sent it to a local shop and the tech rang me today to ask a few questions. I didn't know the answers so I'm hoping someone here does. I have zero experience with guitar setups.

 

He was going to lower the action but had some concerns. Are the frets high by design so that the pickups/modeling work best (kind of like how midi guitars have high frets)? Will lowering them affect the modeling? He described the guitar as needing a very light touch on both the left and right hands as it is set up right now and also that the truss rod needs to be a little looser. Has anyone else had this experience? I find the guitar comfortable to play but I've gotten use to high-ish action with a stock Les Paul.

 

Without changing the action, the tech noticed some buzzing on the high frets (above the 14th) which seems to be due to some waviness in the neck. Is this a Line 6 build quality issue? I live in a mostly temperate climate and the guitar doesn't travel (she's been complaining about that recently, all her friends are traveling etc.). What should I do in this situation?

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Hi all,

 

I have my JTV-89F about 17 months now and figured that I should get it set up by a guitar tech. I sent it to a local shop and the tech rang me today to ask a few questions. I didn't know the answers so I'm hoping someone here does. I have zero experience with guitar setups.

 

He was going to lower the action but had some concerns. Are the frets high by design so that the pickups/modeling work best (kind of like how midi guitars have high frets)? Will lowering them affect the modeling? He described the guitar as needing a very light touch on both the left and right hands as it is set up right now and also that the truss rod needs to be a little looser. Has anyone else had this experience? I find the guitar comfortable to play but I've gotten use to high-ish action with a stock Les Paul.

 

Without changing the action, the tech noticed some buzzing on the high frets (above the 14th) which seems to be due to some waviness in the neck. Is this a Line 6 build quality issue? I live in a mostly temperate climate and the guitar doesn't travel (she's been complaining about that recently, all her friends are traveling etc.). What should I do in this situation?

There might be some confusion with terminology here. Raising or lowering the "action" is completely independent of the size of the frets themselves. Action is the height of the strings above the tops of the frets. He seems to be telling you that he wants to grind and polish the frets. At least I'm assuming that's what "needing a very light touch on both the left and right hands" means, though it's a peculiar way to phrase it...when that's done, the action can still be adjusted to whatever height you're comfortable with, regardless of how much meat is left on the frets.

 

There are a million different sizes of fret wire...each differing from the next a millimeter or less. It's mostly a personal preference. If you bend a lot, you'll probably prefer a wider and taller fret. Nothing is forever though...grind and re-crown frets enough, and they're toast and need to be replaced.

 

As for the truss rod, sooner or later they all need adjusting. Not a big deal, provided that he knows what he's doing.

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Hi all,

 

I have my JTV-89F about 17 months now and figured that I should get it set up by a guitar tech. I sent it to a local shop and the tech rang me today to ask a few questions. I didn't know the answers so I'm hoping someone here does. I have zero experience with guitar setups.

 

He was going to lower the action but had some concerns. Are the frets high by design so that the pickups/modeling work best (kind of like how midi guitars have high frets)? Will lowering them affect the modeling? He described the guitar as needing a very light touch on both the left and right hands as it is set up right now and also that the truss rod needs to be a little looser. Has anyone else had this experience? I find the guitar comfortable to play but I've gotten use to high-ish action with a stock Les Paul.

 

Without changing the action, the tech noticed some buzzing on the high frets (above the 14th) which seems to be due to some waviness in the neck. Is this a Line 6 build quality issue? I live in a mostly temperate climate and the guitar doesn't travel (she's been complaining about that recently, all her friends are traveling etc.). What should I do in this situation?

 

I think I get what he is saying. Taller frets if you have heavy hand can go slightly sharp when press down. This likely is be by design as the 89f is designed like some "I" guitars, setup for speed. Less pressing down to make a clean note can be faster, and most have taller frets.  Truss rods need adjustment from time to time. Just tell him to adjust the thing, don't know why he even mentioned that to you, it's an standard part of a setup. I would ask about the "wavieness" in the neck, should like a word for "warped" to me, which is should not be and is not repairable. If it's wrapped you need a new neck and if under warranty I would like return. Now I'm not saying that what he means but I would for sure ask more about that. Although if you just notice fret buzz on some frets, it's likely due to a uneven frets. In that case it needs to be level and recrowned as cruisn descibed above. My 89f had 2 high frets right out the box, something I really would not expect with a guitar this $$$ but the guitar itself was worth the extra cost to get that corrected and isn't that uncommon. 

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My 89f had 2 high frets right out the box, something I really would not expect with a guitar this $$$ but the guitar itself was worth the extra cost to get that corrected and isn't that uncommon.

Mass produced factory fretwork just plain sucks. I don't care who's making it...I have seen $3K-$4K (and up) guitars with embarrassing out-of-the-box fretwork. If they're not being seated manually by someone who both knows what they're doing AND actually gives a sh*t about the end result, you're gonna get high frets, sharp ends, and it just won't play well until it's all rectified. I don't get it...it's like putting a set of $69 pizza-cutter spare tires on a Ferrari, trying to do triple-digit speeds, and wondering why it handles like a freight train.

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I just got done handling a guitar from Australia that was custom made for Stevic McKay, by a top luthier.

I too has sharp edges. But the reason for that isn't the same as crusisinon2 says,... at least in this case.

 

Sharp edges, because of the climate difference, so the ebony shrank a smidge, just enough to feel the frets.

JTV's are built in Korea (unless it's specified as a US model),... of almost equidistant, and even more different

climate. Some climate differences worse than others. And before you say lollipop, check it out with the like of

Dan Erlewine,... I'm sure he can get into more particulars than I have time or space for here.

 

I also agree with crusisinon2, I too have seen some real slock out there. We had a fret spec that was a smidge

off, but that was rectified some time ago. The present fret spec has been better. If it wasn't they'd hear about from

me, and they all know it, since I work on these and this is one of my pet peeves with these.

 

"... the tech noticed some buzzing on the high frets (above the 14th) which seems to be due to some waviness in the neck"---

If it's at fret-14 and/above, then it's not waviness in the neck,... it's called "over-bowing", and is a result of the relief

not being set right at the truss rod. You can check with Dan Erlewine on that too.

 

Set-Up's are done at the main distribution hub, and depending on the retailer, gets checked over again and adjusted for climate differences for that geographic locale. When I do a repair, I do the set-up for the end user's location climate.

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Sharp edges, because of the climate difference, so the ebony shrank a smidge, just enough to feel the frets.

 

Months or more likely years later in an overly dry environment, sure. But a fretboard ain't gonna shrink enough overnight to make the fret ends poke out. Wood moves slowly. I'm talking about brand-spanking-new sh*tty fretwork...cut, slapped in with a press, and not dressed properly (if at all), on expensive instruments from Big Names who should know better (and likely do, they just don't care). Even without a straight edge, just sighting down the neck of some of these things, looks like tracks on a roller coaster. Seen it a million times, on guitars that hadn't existed long enough for the wood to shrink.

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Agreed. I get where you're coming from,... irks me too.

There are a number of reasons for it, and I see all the maladies on a daily basis, 

not just the frets, and not just here at Line 6. And by now you're familiar with my lengthy

curriculum vitae as well. 

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Sorry for the delay in thanking all of you. This was all really helpful to me; I have a shameful lack of experience here.

 

Raising or lowering the "action" is completely independent of the size of the frets themselves. Action is the height of the strings above the tops of the frets...

 

If you bend a lot, you'll probably prefer a wider and taller fret...

 

As for the truss rod, sooner or later they all need adjusting. Not a big deal, provided that he knows what he's doing.

Thanks, cruisinon2 - this is all useful information.

 

Taller frets if you have heavy hand can go slightly sharp when press down... Less pressing down to make a clean note can be faster, and most have taller frets... but the guitar itself was worth the extra cost to get that corrected and isn't that uncommon.

Thanks, Palico. I'm pretty sure that's what he meant by 'light hand'. I'm glad he didn't touch the fret height (or at least not noticeably) now. I didn't get a firm answer about whether or or the neck was warped but if the intonation is correct along the neck and strings, would that rule this out? I can test that myself. I agree about the 89f being worth the extra setup cost.

 

"... the tech noticed some buzzing on the high frets (above the 14th) which seems to be due to some waviness in the neck"---

If it's at fret-14 and/above, then it's not waviness in the neck,... it's called "over-bowing", and is a result of the relief

not being set right at the truss rod. You can check with Dan Erlewine on that too.

 

The tech. adjusted the truss rod and I don't hear any buzzing there anymore. I'll check the intonation with a tuner but it sounds okay from ear. Thanks for the Pro perspective - I appreciate the staff taking time to post here.
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Thanks, Palico. I'm pretty sure that's what he meant by 'light hand'. I'm glad he didn't touch the fret height (or at least not noticeably) now. I didn't get a firm answer about whether or or the neck was warped but if the intonation is correct along the neck and strings, would that rule this out? I can test that myself. I agree about the 89f being worth the extra setup cost.

 

If you no longer have any buzzing then psarkissian was correct on it being just neck adjustment, you should be good to go.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Guys,

just FYI, wood moves FAST! Guitars are very susceptible to humidity. Specially open pore UNFINISHED woods such as fretboards. Electric guitars don't move much with humidity as their bodies are sealed with sealers and finish unlike acoustics which are bare on the inside. Electrics can adsorb ( and loose) humidity via the unfinished areas like the pockets and whatnot. BUT the fretboards are the easiest thing to be noticed as the humidity changes. Because most fretboards are quartersawn for stability the wood moves sideways and if dry it shrinks causing the fret ends to stick out. I always recommend oiling the fretboards with a good butcher oil let it soak in and then wipe of and coat with a good wax. I found over the years that it helps. But it still moves. Always be conscientious to not leaving a guitar inside the car, or in a hot place..... 

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