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JasonM

Posts: 1696
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

Are you adding relief? 

I haven’t asked a question in a while ... Do you add relief to your fretboards, or just go perfectly flat?

On my last guitar I did not add neck reinforcement, perfectly flat fretboard, level frets. as far as I can tell, the neck looks perfectly flat under string tension. There doesn’t seem to be any relief just from tension despite not using reinforcement. Although I don’t have a notched straight edge to make a precise measurement. But for the next one I’m thinking of trying to go lower on the action and I’m using a reinforcement strip. So I assume string pull won’t add enough and I’ll have to build it in.

I am a bit nervous about adding relief onto the fretboard. It’s easy to level the frets across the whole board, but to try and add a slight ramp on the bass side while trying not to just plow the frets all flat again seems a bit tricky. Do you ever add relief to just the frets and then recrown?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 12 2020 1:17:03
 
RobF

Posts: 1116
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

Hi Jason. There is a chance that you could have stiffened the neck or even added a touch of backbow if the fret slots were too narrow for the tangs. You don’t need to buy a notched straightedge to check the board, you can easily make one (see picture below). Adding relief at the fret level can be done to add a smidgen of relief, but care should be taken not to add too much and end up with overly low frets.

If you are reinforcing the neck and want to add relief when planing your fretboard you can start by dressing it to be dead flat and pointing to where you want it, then lightly add relief to the bass side while doing the cleanup sanding by increasing pressure in the area you want the relief to be. In other words, as you pass over, say, the area between the third or fourth fret to about the 12th portion of the board, just gradually increase, then decrease, the pressure on the bass side of the sanding block. Constantly measure the progress with a straightedge and feeler gauges (or by eye).

You can also use a scraper to add the relief, instead of a sanding block. In some ways it’s better because it’s less likely to round down towards the edge of the fingerboard, which sanding can do if the paper is just held over the block. Or use both.

With the guitar you have, if the problem is really bugging you, it might be worth checking the dimensions of the neck with an eye to possibly reducing its thickness, which could allow it to pull some relief under tension. If the guitar isn’t playable, then a refret isn’t the end of the world and relief can then be added to the board. Just make sure the fret slots are deep enough before refretting.

I’m sure there are lots of opinions on this, these are just things I’ve done in the past. I don’t always add relief, I try to judge the neck. Some makers will string up the guitar before fretting and see how the neck will behave and assess or adjust the relief accordingly. That’s probably the smartest way to do it.

The notched straightedge can be made by planing an off-cut (from a side, for example) true and then adding the notches with a table saw.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 12 2020 1:45:43
 
JasonM

Posts: 1696
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to RobF

Thanks for the reply, Rob. Helpful info as always!

So there is no rule of thumb then. I sort of assumed that you probably add it when using a reinforcement strip to stiffen the neck.

I’ll use your idea for a notched straight edge and check my guitar. I’m not really having a big issue with fret buzz but I’m curious to know if the neck did pull a bit. Especially because the neck cedar and the fretboard are both a little thinner than what is typically standard thickness. And I was really paranoid about creating fretboard compression so I filed the tangs down on the frets and glued them in for extra security. But who knows.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 12 2020 17:12:19
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

How do I spell relief?

R-O-L-A-I-D-S

_____________________________

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 13 2020 3:06:40
 
RobF

Posts: 1116
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to estebanana

quote:

How do I spell relief?
R-O-L-A-I-D-S

This is what happens when you chow down on fermented habanero peppers.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 13 2020 4:01:12
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1488
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

Over the years I have been planing less and less relief into fingerboards before fretting. Just a few thousands of an inch seems to be best. Now I do it by sanding because it is so slight and to avoid tear out.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2020 0:26:30
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1488
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to RobF

quote:

You can also use a scraper to add the relief, instead of a sanding block. In some ways it’s better because it’s less likely to round down towards the edge of the fingerboard, which sanding can do if the paper is just held over the block. Or use both.

I deliberately round fingerboards slightly because it makes fingering some chords easier. Such as half bar chords that leave the first string open.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2020 0:29:45
 
JasonM

Posts: 1696
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

Over the years I have been planing less and less relief into fingerboards before fretting. Just a few thousands of an inch seems to be best. Now I do it by sanding because it is so slight and to avoid tear out.


But isn’t that couple of thousands of an inch of relief swallowed up by the margin of error from installing the frets?

Once the frets are hammered / pressed in, there are often some slight undulating height differences that need to be leveled out., right? . The super precise amount of relief in the fretboard almost seems like it would be negated - unless the frets are perfectly seated and after leveling the fret tops, those areas with relief are indeed still below the fret-crown plane. Otherwise , that couple thousands in the fretboard just gets washed away. you wind up just adding relief to the frets themselves... im Not doubting you at all, just what I “assume” might happen when I do it!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2020 2:26:42
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to constructordeguitarras

I try to get the board flat and if the neck has any inherent micro flex I don’t put in relief. After the guitar is strung up, the neck will pull up a tiny bit, I check the relief a day later because by then it’s probably pulled up as much as it’s going to pull up and the strings have stopped stretching enough to give full pull to the neck. Then I do the test holding down the strings at frets on both ends of the string and sighting under it. After that, I play the guitar a few days and let the strings stop stretching and check it again. If the sighting under the string looks like the neck didn’t move, I’ll take the strings off and graze the tops of the frets with a fine file in the area that might need a bit of relief. Then touch up the crowns of the frets. But I’d only do that if there was a problem that relief would be the remedy to. You know some flamenco guitars are ok with very minute relief.

If it were me I’d go with a dead flat board first, unless you left your neck like 23mm thick or over, then it probably won’t flex.
Flex also can be achieved by how the neck is graduated in thickness. And that graduation can moderate the amount the neck will pull up, and where.

Then you can always use a truss rod. I guess in a heavy body Negra with thick sides you could get away with it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2020 2:45:20
 
ernandez R

Posts: 490
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

I cheat, I glue up my fretboard before the neck is glued up to the body. I also slot it and install the frets too.

I leval the fretboard with a block of marble or granite with some sticky sand paper, I cross hatch the fretboard with pencil then sand until they are gone. I slot with my band saw cause is easy. Level again. I spend a fair amount of time making the slots perfect with a chamfer and just the right depth so frets go in nice without any jacking around.

I cheat and use grande frets cause I like them and being stiffer they stay true whilst I am banging away at them.

Last two necks only needed a few taps here and there after checking with the fret rocker. Not a file stroke one exept for the ends. Being consistent with the fret hammer is important, Keeping the head square with the fretboard too.

I let any relief happen with string tension. I don't use any carbon bars or whatever and I thin the neck so any flex happens mostly where I want it. Luck? Take it where you can get it. In my flying world we say: better to be lucky then good, I always add, but it helps to be both.

Plop plop fizz fizz...


HR

_____________________________

I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2020 5:22:03
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to ernandez R

You work too hard. Just sharpen the b-Jesus out of a plane iron and plane your fingerboards. Then scrape a hair of relief. Sanding? Bah!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2020 11:31:05
 
RobF

Posts: 1116
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

If plane is the weapon of choice, try to remember to prep the fingerboard with any runout pointing towards the bridge. I often forget. Same with the neck wood, except point it the other way. Save the ebony dust when you sand. Save rosewood dust, too. Dusts from woods can be used to fill the tear-out everybody but estebanana gets when planing, mainly because they didn’t sharpen the plane enough and forgot the orientation rule. The dusts can also be soaked in alcohol and acetone to make dyes. The dyes are good to spill on your clothes and all over your bench and are very effective stains for your fingers. The stains can be cleaned off with alcohol, or alcohol can be used to forget they’re there. It’s a brave man who frets before gluing the FB onto the neck. Brave too, is he who flirts with a moose. Even if it likes you it’s probably not a good idea. Actually, especially if it likes you. Wear sunscreen and don’t make faces at people just because you’re wearing a mask and think you can get away with it. One day you’ll forget you don’t have one on.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2020 15:56:32
 
RobF

Posts: 1116
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to RobF

I know, I know...30,000 comedians out of work, and I try to be funny...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2020 17:54:42
 
JasonM

Posts: 1696
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to RobF

Thanks Estebanana, Ernandez, and Rob. I like the idea of stringing up the guitar with frets installed and adding a touch too the frets if needed.

I got a Carbon reinforcement strip for the neck I’m making but haven’t decided if I will use it. If I do, then I get the sense that I will have to worry about relief later on during setup.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2020 21:22:04
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1488
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

quote:

But isn’t that couple of thousands of an inch of relief swallowed up by the margin of error from installing the frets?

I don't think so. At the end, I level the frets with a wooden sanding block about 6 inches long, covered with 400 grit sandpaper. The shortness of the block allows it to follow the relief. Then I recrown carefully, with 400 grit paper. Very little leveling is required because I use fretwire from StewMac which comes without dents and I use a hammer with a hard plastic head which doesn't dent the frets. Fret wire from LMI is very nice, but I don't use it because it always arrived dented up.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 21 2020 5:30:45
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1488
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Are you adding relief? (in reply to JasonM

quote:

I got a Carbon reinforcement strip for the neck I’m making but haven’t decided if I will use it. If I do, then I get the sense that I will have to worry about relief later on during setup.

If you make the slot for it a little too deep, then the neck could still flex that much, but not too much.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 21 2020 5:33:33
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