I have read that such athoritiypes believe in a flat neck V/S relief...Lookin' to see what others have to say about this subject..My experience...without complicated neck jigs,and with proper working skills, I can make a guitar play incredibly well , according to my customers....My question...If great fret work is done, and you are giving a neck relief,...Does that not cancel out your fret work in the middle of the neck...Because, if there is relief in the neck,,Is there not a piggy in the middle???

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Bob , Thanks for that , I had a few beers and imagination got going ! I understand now and agree with your observations . I find your input to this forum to be among the best .Len
One problem in setting up a guitar is the environment it is in. I can set a neck at my shop and maybe in your home the moisture in the air is different so in a few days the neck will change so if I give it a small relief it will always play but if the neck bowes back You have made a customer mad and might not come back. I always tell them that if it needs more adjustment to bring it back at no charge as I want him to be happy.

If the strings are to low at the nut on a acoustic guitar it is hard to do a hammer on.

I have had some good luck with a dead flat neck on short scale guitar, say a Les Paul. They just seem to have a more stable neck and so less buzz, wich is opposite to what my logic tells me (shorter scale means less tension means more movement of the string, wich would call for more relief). Guessing its the way they are built (stiffer?)
On the opposite a longer scale seems to play best with a little bit more relief and action height, I have given up on rationalize that paradox... That long bolted neck swings a lot maybe. Anybody figure it out? My final tough would be to keep that relief in the 1-12 frets, from10-up must be flat (that damn rising thong is a good money maker for sure...!). Of course no guitar are the same, final adjustments will be made while playing it.
Greg has the answer to the correct form of the fretboard.

If you peek down the board, it should be nearly not visible
at the high e-string side, but more so at the low.

Best way I think is that the bass side has a small twist upwards
at the nut, instead of beeing lowered towards the other end only.

The truss rod - and the relief associated with it, is a rather
useless tool, as it acts on the wrong place of the board.

My experience is mainly with nylon string guitars.
Steel strings may be a bit mor forgivin'.
but there is an obvious and wide spread
'myth of the dead straight fretboard'
This is the real world, concerning steel string guitars, and medium guage strings, only.
All or most guitar necks without an adjustable truss rod will have some relief, generally ranges from .006" to as much as .018".
Those with an adjustable truss rod, and a good sturdy neck, can many times be adjusted to be dead flat.

In my experience, the straighter the neck the better. Even a dead flat neck is fine, but it may require a taller saddle than one with some relief, to eliminate buzz's and rattles. I try to shoot for action at the 12th fret of 7/64" and 5/64",whether it's dead flat or has some relief.
This is just my opinion, and I'm sure many feel differently, but that's OK.

Whether you want dead-flat versus some bow also has to do with how you play your guitar. Personally, I do not want my action to continually increase as it gets closer to the saddle. I do not find that a little relief hurts playability in the slightest, and in fact it allows me to get consistently low action throughout the length of the fretboard without buzz. With a dead-flat neck and low saddle height, it will start to buzz as you play closer to the nut.


Reviving an old thread - 

I'm seeing some settings that are so extreme as to make me wonder if mis-measurements are being made.

If I set 1st fret action at .070 I'd have players throwing their guitars at me!  Even the most aggressive acoustic players will accept anything above .021 (low E) to .018 (high  E).

The following applies only to working with experienced players.  "Beginner action" is a different subject.

Most electric players work best with the 1st fret action at .012-016 (low E) to .009-.013 (high E) where relief is between .005 and .010, and acoustic players  one or two thousandths higher.

Only when working with slide players do I get ibntio 1st fret action settings in the .025-.035 range.....but never higher.

Obviously the exact settings go by the player's feel, pick attack and string gages, but there's still only a minor set of variations.  And 12th fret action is the *last* thing considered - it's simply a result of the preferred action at the lower frets and neck relief, not "where the action is set".

This is the method most of the other techs around here use - flatten the neck and level/crown frets; set relief and 1st fret action interactively; and upper fret action more or less "sets itself".

Type of guitar, scale length and string gages are all actors, but only in how they affect the feel.  Everything is set to the player's preference.

Commenting on the conversation, I think I agree with a little relief.  I personally prefer a low action.  As others say, much depends on the players style and preferences.  I like to do my setups with an optimum low string height at the nut using a capo at the third fret.  Then under tuned string tension (if alternate lower tuning is typically used, I'll use it as the baseline) adjust the neck flat.  Then set the saddle height down to the lowest point where no buzzing occurs with an 'average attack'.  Then back off the truss rod slightly giving a minimal relief.  I record all the measurements for during the process to monitor the work and for future reference.  There are other schools of the order but this seems to work for me and setting the nut first removes it as a variable allowing me to focus on neck then saddle.  I also like using a flat neck then getting a close to preferred saddle height using capo at first fret measuring saddle height at thirteenth fret method.  Then fine adjust the saddle height with the capo at the first fret removed if any is needed.  When setting the baseline, I also like to have an ideal ambient environment.  Then when things go dry or wet, since a little relief was given in the beginning there is some wiggle room and a little truss rod adjustment usually works to overcome the issues.  I'm not a professional so I welcome any comments.  Regards  


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