Considering some DIY work

philbagg

Just Killing Time
Hi all,

I'm thinking of doing some work on my guitar myself, and I'm mainly looking for thoughts/opinions/advice. The guitar is an Ibanez RGA121 Prestige, like this:
47695_l.jpg

The first thing is a repair job.

I may be wrong on the terminology, but I believe there's a back-bow on the neck: basically, as if the neck bends backwards in a bow-shape. There's some fret-buzz on the 9th fret, the intonation is slightly off, and my pinch harmonics are dying out very quickly - as if the strings are touching the frets and causing them to cut off too soon.

I'm not saying this is a simple thing to look after, but is this something I could look at myself? Obviously, with great care being taken, without f***ing it up permanently. Have any of you ever done something similar before? Any guides?

The second thing is more of a modification: repaint.

As you can see from the picture above, the guitar is very plain looking, and I'd like something a little different. Once again, not an easy job I'm sure but have any of you ever done it before?

Thanks in advance :)
 

ranjam

New member
This should explain it all:
MGG_neck_diagram.gif

Now, if the neck is back bowed, loosening the truss rod should help, and can never hurt. ;) Just don't go too far, and have an up bow!Loosen it maybe a 1/4 turn. If that seems better, but still not enough, another 1/4 turn is all I'd go. After that, I'd take it to a serious repair guy. The 9th fret buzzing seems in line with a back bow, but you may also just have a high fret, or the action is set a little low. Here again, a good repair guy can set up the guitar properly, and you'll save a lot of frustration. Go slow, and good luck.
 

Phrasemaker

New member
It's something you should be able to sort out with a little care and attention. Sometimes the problem occurs because the string diameters have been changed from what the instrument was originally strung with. Once you have it set up for the strings you are using, it would be a good idea to stick to same kind of strings when replacing. When altering the truss rod tension I find it best to adjust a little, re tune play for a bit to settle it in then see where it's at before tinkering again, making sure your'e bang in tune with the instrument settled each time. Fret the strings at each semitone along the neck and take some measurements so you can see each incremental adjustment translated to a change in the neck curvature as you alter the truss rod.

Regards

Tim
 

philbagg

Just Killing Time
Well I just had a bit of a run at it. Loosening the truss rod made the buzzing a little bit better, but the pinch harmonics are still dying very quickly, and it was at the expense of the action....

The action on the guitar isn't super low or anything, but it definitely felt horrible when it was brought up. Would it be a case of loosening the rod and then adjusting the bridge? :confused:
 

philbagg

Just Killing Time

That was beautiful :p

Thanks though. I'm gonna sit down with it properly later on. I'm pretty much getting that I need to loosen the truss rod to bring the neck back to normal, and then adjust the bridge to lower the action back down. If it's still ballsed up I'll just have to bite the bullet and bring it to someone who knows what they're doing.
 

Greg_L

Banned
That was beautiful :p

Thanks though. I'm gonna sit down with it properly later on. I'm pretty much getting that I need to loosen the truss rod to bring the neck back to normal, and then adjust the bridge to lower the action back down. If it's still ballsed up I'll just have to bite the bullet and bring it to someone who knows what they're doing.
Yeah it's a balancing act. Neck relief vs action height. Everything affects everything. Try it out. If you get lost, just take it in to someone. A set up is not expensive.
 

philbagg

Just Killing Time
I'm interested in trying my hand at it anyway. This might be a silly question, but is it possible for the strings to buzz due to a back bow, then to loosen the truss and eliminate the fret buzz, but the action is too high, then to lower the action using the bridge and have the action back to normal without the buzz? :confused:
 

Greg_L

Banned
I'm interested in trying my hand at it anyway. This might be a silly question, but is it possible for the strings to buzz due to a back bow, then to loosen the truss and eliminate the fret buzz, but the action is too high, then to lower the action using the bridge and have the action back to normal without the buzz? :confused:

Yeah that's normally how you'd fix it. In very general terms the way I understand it, you have to think about it like the tension of the strings are trying to yank the headstock towards the bridge. The truss rod provides a counter force so to speak and keeps the neck straight under all that string tension. Loosening the truss rod allows the neck to give in to the strings a little and it will bow the headstock towards the bridge. This will naturally make the action higher. To remedy this, you simply lower the bridge. If the action is still too high, you went too far with the truss rod and need to straighten the neck back out. This will lower the action again. Re-adjust the bridge. You go back and forth until you have good action and no dead notes or excessive fret buzz. Then you fine tune and re-set the intonation. It's not hard shit to do, but it can be tricky for your first few times. If you have bad frets, uneven frets, or a twisted neck, it can be a nightmare that never gets right.
 

philbagg

Just Killing Time
Yeah that's normally how you'd fix it. In very general terms the way I understand it, you have to think about it like the tension of the strings are trying to yank the headstock towards the bridge. The truss rod provides a counter force so to speak and keeps the neck straight under all that string tension. Loosening the truss rod allows the neck to give in to the strings a little and it will bow the headstock towards the bridge. This will naturally make the action higher. To remedy this, you simply lower the bridge. If the action is still too high, you went too far with the truss rod and need to straighten the neck back out. This will lower the action again. Re-adjust the bridge. You go back and forth until you have good action and no dead notes or excessive fret buzz. Then you fine tune and re-set the intonation. It's not hard shit to do, but it can be tricky for your first few times. If you have bad frets, uneven frets, or a twisted neck, it can be a nightmare that never gets right.

Sweet. Is there any way of identifying bad frets? Or is that oversimplifying it?
 

Greg_L

Banned
Sweet. Is there any way of identifying bad frets? Or is that oversimplifying it?

I'm not a luthier so I don't know the technical aspects of identifying real problems, but the obvious stuff is grooves worn into a fret, flattened frets, or maybe a fret that is higher or lower than it's neighboring frets. For example, you say you have problems at certain frets no matter what you do. Lay a straightedge across that area of the fret board and see if one or more of those frets is higher or lower than the others. You might need a pro set up and a good fret dressing. The set up you can probably do yourself. The fret dressing would probably need to be done by a pro.
 

philbagg

Just Killing Time
I'm not a luthier so I don't know the technical aspects of identifying real problems, but the obvious stuff is grooves worn into a fret, flattened frets, or maybe a fret that is higher or lower than it's neighboring frets. For example, you say you have problems at certain frets no matter what you do. Lay a straightedge across that area of the fret board and see if one or more of those frets is higher or lower than the others. You might need a pro set up and a good fret dressing. The set up you can probably do yourself. The fret dressing would probably need to be done by a pro.

Good to know. Cheers Greg :guitar:
 

muttley600

Banned
Sweet. Is there any way of identifying bad frets? Or is that oversimplifying it?

Loosen the strings and lay a long straight edge along the neck. A 18" rule will do or similar. If you have a gap between the mid point of the rule and the frets then you have neck relief. If it is dead flat then the neck is dead flat if the ruler rocks you have either very bad high frets or back bow.

To check for high frets you use a small straight edge about three inches long and place it over the suspect fret. If it rocks on that fret it is high. If you can see a gap between the ruler and fret you have a low fret. Do it where the fret chokes. You can get a good idea by using a credit card as a rule.

If you have high frets you can check they are seated properly. If yes then it would be best to get a competent guy to fix it.

The issue of back bow, neck relief and should the neck be straight or bowed is down to the gauge of strings you use and the action and intonation that is set. Normally you set the neck dead flat with the truss rod with the strings off. When you bring upto pitch the strings pull the neck forward you correct excessive relief by tightening the truss rod. The amount will depend on the guitar it's action and string gauge. Set the action first at the 14th fret to what you want. The truss rod performs only one function and that is to counteract the pull of the strings. Tweaking it will not fix problems with the fret job or a badly bowed or twisted neck.
 

Nebakanezer

New member
My 2 cents worth....Remember a little goes a long way! Get a 6 in metal ruler from Lowes, the kind that breaks an inch down to 32nd increments. You can use it to address the fret height issues and see what your string heights are as well. I think the Stewmac website has a bunch of videos on all kinds of stuff. I've had his book for years and it's pretty good at explaining a lot of set ups and repairs.
 
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