Help Fine Tuning the setup on my Aristides H/07

Stephenar19

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Hey guys,
Having done my own setups for years now, I feel like a bit of a scrub for posting this, but I need some advice.

I got a brand new Aristides H/07 (w/ hantug floating bridge) a couple of months back and it was set up absolutely flawlessly. I've always set my guitars to some pretty tight action, but this blew them out of the water. No buzz anywhere and razor thin action all the way down, with about 1.3mm clearance from the fretboard at the 5th fret when the strings are pressed at the 1st and 12th.

Well after a fair bit of playtime over a few months, I picked it up and noticed that my high e string was not only buzzing, but nearly completely fretted out on the first fret. At this point, none of the other strings were giving me any issues on any frets. When I pulled up on the floating trem just slightly, I could get a clear high e to ring out, so my thought was that I may want to raise the high e string saddle. I didn't do this, however, and instead reached out to Aristides for their expert opinion. The guy got back to me pretty quick and suggested that I instead adjust the truss rod counterclockwise to add a little bit of relief. I gave it about a ~1/8 turn cc, and while it mildly alleviated some of the buzz on the high e, I started getting some serious buzz on my low B and E. Adding even more relief (about a total of 1/6 of a turn cc) produced some nasty buzz all the way up to the 5th fret of the low B, and to the 3rd fret of the low E. The high e still had a slight buzz when played open as well.

I waited about a week for it to settle, and then tried slowly turning the truss rod back to it's original position, but the action never quite returned to where I wanted it, and the buzzing never really went away on my low strings or high e. After giving it a few more days to adjust, I've since moved the truss rod back again to a full 1/4 turn counter clockwise from the original factory position, and have gotten the buzzing to a minimum, although it is still present on the low strings. My action is now sitting at about ~1.45mm at the 5th fret with the 1st and 12th pressed. I also have noted that the floating bridge has popped up about 1mm from the factory setup (originally flush with the body). I haven't made any adjustments to the bridge or springs yet, however.

Any advice on how to get as close as possible back to my factory setup? I'm a bit annoyed that now my action is notably higher, and strings buzzing, and I can't seem to dial it back in.
 

cardinal

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If you've yet to touch the saddles or bridge, I would suggest 1) leveling the bridge (probably just temporarily block it level for present purposes) and then (2) just adjust the neck relief back to the action you measured when you liked it (1.3 over the 5th fret when pressing down at the 1st and 12th, which TBH seems like a pretty weird way to measure action/relief).

That should work because the saddles didn't move themselves up or down. Just the bridge came up a bit (maybe the springs stretching) and the neck can move around. So get the bridge where it was and then adjust the neck relief back to where you liked it.
 

Stephenar19

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Okay, thanks, I'll give that a shot. I did try holding the trem to a position flush with the body and the checking the strings, and they were still buzzing, but it's worth a try for sure.

Also, you said it was weird how I was checking the relief. How would you measure it?
 

NoodleFace

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Typically people measure action as the distance between the string and 12th fret (with nothing fretted). I'm not really sure what you're actually measuring there - not being a dick, I've just never heard of that technique.

Couple things I'd consider. On the lowest string, fret the first fret and the fret where the neck meets the body. You'll want to look at the 7th fret (I use 7, some people use others) and check the relief there. There should be a tiny gap between the string and the 7th fret. No gap = give it more relief. Big gap = tighten it up. My main goal with the truss rod is to eliminate buzzing on frets 1-7 at the end of the day. If you're getting excessive buzzing on those frets, then give it a little more relief.

Once you have relief settled, you can move onto the bridge. Typically when lowering/raising a bridge I'm lowering it as low as I can to get an acceptable amount of buzz on frets 12+. When I say acceptable.. some guys can deal with a little buzz, and some guys hate it.

If you're getting buzzing on any open strings (like your high E on the first fret), you may need to shim the nut. I'm not familiar with Aristides and how they do their nuts/slots/bridges, but any fretting out on an open string leads me to believe the nut needs to be shimmed. If when you say it's fretting out on the first fret, you mean when you are fretting at the first fret it's buzzing out then I agree with their techs that you need more relief.
 

Hollowway

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If you’re measuring neck relief by fretting at the first and 12th frets, that sounds reasonable, as that’s exactly how I measure it. However, 1.3mm between the fretboard and string is a weird way to measure it, because you need to subtract out the height of the fret to get an idea of how much relief is actually there. What is the distance between the 5th fret and the string? I set mine to barely any space there. Like the thickness of a sheet of paper.

If you mean that, when holding the string at the first and 12th frets, the distance between the fifth FRET and string is 1.3mm, then I’d say that’s far too high to get reasonable action.

Like I said above, I think if you shoot for just a hair’s width space at the 5th, then I bet you can get super low action.

The way I actually measure relief is I fret the first fret on the low string with my index finger on my left hand. Then I fret the string at the 12th fret with my right hand pinky finger over the top of the fretboard (as if I were two hand tapping). Then I take my index finger of my right hand and take up and down on the string over the 5th fret. If it makes no noise, I need more neck relief. If I can feel it move just a little bit, and hear it hit the fret, then I know I have enough. I do it by feel, because if I can see daylight between the string and 5th fret it’s probably too much relief.

Also, when I tighten or loosen the truss rod, I’ll give the neck a gentle bend in the direction the truss rod will move it, because I want the neck to hurry up and adjust, and not have to wait over night. That’s probably a terrible habit, but I’m impatient, lol.
 

c7spheres

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Also, when I tighten or loosen the truss rod, I’ll give the neck a gentle bend in the direction the truss rod will move it, because I want the neck to hurry up and adjust, and not have to wait over night. That’s probably a terrible habit, but I’m impatient, lol.
This works and I never had any problems doing it, but I found a way that works better for me which is to hold the guitar like normal and just slap the back of the neck up and down and around it with your thumb like slapping a bass but not even that hard really. seems to pop in quicker than the bend method ime.
 

c7spheres

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I was gooing to say not to touch anything and try to put truss back to where it was close as possible and put the exact same guage and strings brand, tuning everything like you got it from the factory and go from there, because you already know the factory had it flawless.
 

Stephenar19

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Awesome, thank you for the responses. I tried Holloway's trick of putting my pinky on the 12th and tapping the 5th, and I'm at a point where I can't see any discernable gap between the string and fret, but I can hear a click if I tap. I did the same with my pinky where the body meets the neck and tapping the 7th and it's just barely off the fret there too. Anyway, I've gone ahead and adjusted the bridge and am now at about 1/2 turn cc on the truss rod from the factory setup. I still have a wee bit of buzz on the first few frets but it's at a good enough point where I can live with it. Honestly, I think it might have just boiled down to this truss needing to turn more than I was initially comfortable with to produce a noticeable fix.
 

NoodleFace

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As long as you aren't doing full turns on the truss rod or fighting and crazy resistance you can adjust it a pretty good deal more than you'd think. Additionally, I find truss rods react pretty much instantly to adjustments. Ive done a million setups by this point and I only let them sit overnight when I've made my final adjustment just to make sure it settles right.
 

Stephenar19

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So as it turns out, the fret buzz was starting to bother me and I decided to keep adding relief. I've now turned the truss rod almost a complete turn from the factory setup and hit a point where it is giving me some fair resistance. Going any further doesn't really seem to be an option at this point, and the buzz seems hardly any better. I'm really kind of scratching my head at this point, because I know the guitar was set up well when I got it, and it doesn't seem logical to need to raise the action at the bridge when I haven't even changed the strings on it yet. The relief in the neck also doesn't really seem to have changed much at all and is still sitting at right about where it was when I last posted. Is it possible that the truss was already nearly at full relief when I got the guitar?
 

Hollowway

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So as it turns out, the fret buzz was starting to bother me and I decided to keep adding relief. I've now turned the truss rod almost a complete turn from the factory setup and hit a point where it is giving me some fair resistance. Going any further doesn't really seem to be an option at this point, and the buzz seems hardly any better. I'm really kind of scratching my head at this point, because I know the guitar was set up well when I got it, and it doesn't seem logical to need to raise the action at the bridge when I haven't even changed the strings on it yet. The relief in the neck also doesn't really seem to have changed much at all and is still sitting at right about where it was when I last posted. Is it possible that the truss was already nearly at full relief when I got the guitar?
That's possible. But, just to be sure we're on the same page, when you say you're turning the truss rod a full turn, you are turning it clockwise or counter clockwise? (From the perspective of looking at it from the headstock end.) If you're turning it clockwise you're tightening it, and that's adding LESS relief, not more. Tightening the truss rod is to counteract string tension. So if you want more relief you need to turn it counterclockwise, which will loosen it, and should make it easier to turn, not harder.

If you have a double action truss rod (which I'm 99% sure all Aristides do) then you could, by turning it counterclockwise, turn it past neutral, and start tightening it the opposite direction, and ADD relief to the neck.

So, first question is: which direction are you turning?
 

Stephenar19

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From the headstock (or lacktherof), looking down the neck and to the body, I'm turning the truss rod counterclockwise. Checking the relief, I'm still at a point where when pressing the first fret and twelfth or even fifteenth, there's still no visible gap between the low b and fifth fret (though I can tap it and hear a click).

One piece of info that maybe I should've added before is that on the very first adjustment I ever made to the guitar, the truss rod seemed to 'slip'. What I mean is that it felt securely in it's original position and then loosened up and jumped maybe 1/10 - 1/8 of a turn. Nothing dramatic, but it was very easy to turn after that. I just chalked this up to the rod being settled into it's position from not being touched since factory setup and the guitar being shipped overseas and then sitting though.

I just find it weird that a guitar like this would only have ~1 turn cc on the truss rod from the factory. I emailed Aristides about how many turns I should be able to get out of it, but the answer I got was a nondescript 'a lot'. Maybe I can continue to turn past the current resistance? I haven't tried really giving it much pressure, but I've always been of the mindset that when the ease of turning stops, then I should too.
 
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