I have a long time customer who ALWAYS seems to be a pain in the rear. He brings me A LOT of business as he is a full time guitar instructor and he plays in a popular local band. He is very good and experienced player and knows what he likes. I setup all of his guitars and he is very particular, he likes the action low but likes to bend really heavy. He plays strats and a PRS DGT.

    Here is where I ran into an issue. He gave me a sentimental Squire tele to setup. The tele appears to be in pretty good shape. The neck was straight, frets decent, upgraded pickups, and bone nut. 25.5" scale. I set this bad boy up, I had to shim the neck, and did a fret level and dress. I had the guitar playing great, or I thought I did. 

    When he came into pick it up he said he couldn't bend as easily as he thinks he should be able to. He said that he needs to be able to bend 1.5 steps without hesitation. He said he can do it with his other guitars, and he asked "why can't I do it with this?" Now the PRS is a different animal but his main strat is virtually identical in scale length and fretboard radius. He said he can do what he needs to do with the strat. I have the tele setup exactly like his strat, relatively straight relief .006, action at the 12th big E is .06 and tiny e is .42 he likes it LOW. He said he isn't afraid to go higher as long as it feels comfortable and he can bend. 

   Anyway he was here for about an hour and I changed the relief and changed the action and he still couldn't "comfortably" bend. Now 'disclaimer' I am not a great player and I don't think I could bend a 1.5steps if I tried for a week. I saw him bending and he was bending that tiny e half way though the fret board. After trying this and trying that the string BROKE! dead center in the middle of the fret board right around where he was bending 10th fretish. The strings were D'addario 10s, obviously brand new. He also said he felt like he couldn't hold onto the string. He said, and I saw, it kept slipping. Now the frets are decent height and defiantly higher than his strat, as his strat is ready for a refret. I just don't know what else to do and what else to try. He told me to put 9s on it he said he likes lighter strings but his strat has 10s on it as do the rest of his guitars.

    WHY is this tele not bending the way it should be? What else can I do? He insisted in paying up front and told me add whatever else onto if it was going to cost more. He is more than patient. He told me take my time on it and no worries... but hey I am worried! I feel like I am failing as a repairman or at least a setup man. 


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Just a thought. Is one truss rod maxed out and the other sitting idle?

The truss rod in the strat according to my notes is pretty tight while the tele is barely used.
Very good point Peter I'll order some Strings that are made to be slinky perhaps Ernie balls. I also think I can slightly alter the saddle height to be lower which would decrease the string break angle and improve bend ability. Thanks for the inspiration.

Unless he is bending on the wound strings, the brand makes no difference.

Hi Luke.

I agree with Jeff. The brand of strings don't make a difference as long as it's a well known & trusted brand.

Don't dwell on that broken string. It was likely defective. As you progress through your career, that will happen more often than you can imagine.

The EASIEST and most efficient way to change the neck angle in order to lower the saddles, is to remove or modify the neck shim you installed. Although shimming is a widely accepted and sound practice, there are side effects. I believe you are experiencing one of those. I learned about that through trial & error long before the interwebs existed.

Keep us posted? This is a GREAT discussion.

That "my other guitar feels just right" is a slippery slope. They all feel different no matter how much tweaking. It is what it is - at your optimum set-up. And taxes and death.

It may help to set the middle strings a bit higher than required for buzz free playing so that in deep bends you go underneath them rather than against them.

So much for the truss rod hypothesis.

"hard to bend" as in stiff? or as in needs to be displaced too far to get to the target pitch?

Yea stiff. He says he can't quite reach 1.5steps and that he has to put a lot more effort into it to get there. I think we have come up with a good plan to adjust a bunch of little things. I think lowering the saddles by adjusting the pitch of the neck will greatly improve the feel, as well as the other things we discussed. I'll be getting to this setup in the next few days and I will of course post my findings.

From all that you have said, it seems that his other guitars have taller frets, and this Tele needs a refret if it is to play as he wishes.  He says he isn't getting enough of a grip on the strings when he bends.  Not too mysterious.

Since you said it's not about fretting out, all the stuff about how to make bent notes ring more clearly on the upper frets, while worth knowing, is not especially relevant to the problem here.

Quote: "Unless he is bending on the wound strings, the brand makes no difference."



The Manufacturers of the various Guitar String Brands.

Do not normally make the Wire, the String is actually Fabricated from.

For this reason, what are commonly regarded as String Manufacturers, are not normally known by that Term.



In fact, they are known in Industry as "String Winders".

This is because they Do Not Manufacture the Wire that is used in their Strings.

But basically, "Wind" Various Types of Coverings  onto Different  Gauges of High Carbon Steel Cores.

They Purchase the Plain Wire from Specialist Wire Mills, that Create this Raw Product for a Multitude of Companies and Purposes.

It is also Very Common for String Winders to Purchase High Carbon Steel Cores from Piano String Specialists, like Roslau in Europe, or Mape's, amongst other Suppliers.

But, whether it comes from one of the String Specialists mentioned above or indeed another Wire Specialist altogether, a variety of factors mean, these may alter, as Suppliers are Changed from Time to Time.

In addition the Industry's High Carbon Steel,  Spring Tempered Type of Wire, used for Plain Strings and the Cores of Wound Strings, is usually referred to as "Music Wire" and Can be Un-plated or Tin Plated to reduce Corrosion, which is another Variable.




Different Guitarists, report differently.

On this Issue or Whether the "Branding" Makes any Difference.

Certain "String Winders" Fabricate and Packet Up Strings for a Number of Different Companies.

And their Variety of Brands, targeted at Different Price Points to a Different Demographic of Customer create Wider Choice in the Market.

Therefore it is Entirely Understandable why Certain Guitarists would report that there was No Difference, Between Certain Makes and Brands as is Implied in the Quotes.

However, I don't like to be Dogmatic myself about  this because Respected Guitarists, also report that they definitely find, Different Brands of String, as having Rather Differing Handling Characteristics.



How could this be?



I believe the answer to this conundrum to be.

Simply a matter of WHO Manufactured the Original Core Material Used by the String Winders.

Strength, Hardness, Toughness, Elasticity, Plasticity, Brittleness, Ductility and Malleability are All Mechanical Properties of Metal.

These are Technical Terms, and can all be Scientifically Measured and Quantified by Laboratories, and Customers can Specify Differences in Qualities for Specific Products.

There is also the Further Variable of How Consistently Quality was Validated by the Manufacturer, as Factories, definitely do Vary in the Frequency of Daily Test Sampling. The More you Sample, the Better.

In Addition, the Variable of the Veracity the Factory Metallurgy Labs, factors in too, as they Can Vary Widely in Quality, from Factory to Factory. Who did the String Winder Purchase the Wire from, Who made it, and to What Level of Specification and Quality Validation?



If  Two, Different Strings being Compared, came from the Same Batch of Raw Material, Manufactured to the Same Specification and from the Same Supplier, there should be No Difference.

But to Imagine that when Different Raw Material is used, Manufactured to Different Specification, made in Different Wire Producing Factories, Existing on Different Continents will all Sound and Feel Exactly is Same in All the Technical Respects described above, is Highly Unlikely to be entirely accurate, and  would Perfectly Describe and Explain the Distinct Differences, Certain Guitarists Report.

If a Manufacturer wants to Market a String with Very Particular Qualities, then it's not simply the Outer Windings where all the Differences in Tone and Feel, Lay.

Tin Plated or Un-Plated, Degree of Spring Tempering, and Many Other Critical Factors as Described Above, can Contribute to the Stiffness or Elasticity of the Plain Strings as well as the Wound.

So personally, I think it's worth, trying any Set of Strings that are Widely Recognised as Great for Bending, and Used by Many Guitarists, in that Style. At the very worst, it can't possibly do any harm, and could indeed make a Significant Contribution to the Overall Good.



Quote: "it seems that his other guitars have taller frets."



With the greatest possible respect.

I believe it's the other way around.

It's the Telecaster with Taller Frets.  

Quote from Original Post: "Now the *Tele* frets are decent height and defiantly higher than his strat, as his strat is ready for a refret."



As everyone has written.

A very Interesting Thread!




when I investigated this some time back I found that music wire, whilst having a higher yield strength  as required to withstand the required string tension, had exactly the same quoted modulus of elasticity as mild steel.

it's range of elastic behaviour is extended but it's stiffness remains the same.


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