It's hard to learn how to setup your own neck

For 23 years after I bought a guitar I would drop it off at my technicians house and he would do a fret level and a setup and it would be done. Played pretty nice. Of course, that didn’t last. Several months later I would hear buzz and I would bring it back to him and he would tweak it and fix it. Sadly he passed away so I can’t use him anymore. And he was very good.

I live in Minnesota where we get all four seasons, and now we are into fall and the temperatures and humidity are changing. And guitar necks are very sensitive to those things.

I have a Hendrix Strat which is acting up. I’m hearing fret buzz mostly on the treble strings.

I’ve tightened the truss rod taking all the relief out of the neck, but then the action got really low.

I’ve gradually introduced more relief into the neck but I can still hear some fret buzz.

Every Strat I’ve had has gone through this. It’s frustrating for me trying to eliminate fret buzz with only limited success.

Right now I’ve got probably about. .006" relief in the neck. Everyone has a different opinion on how much it should be.

The frets should be fine as they were leveled by the guitar tech I used.

I’m thinking guitars just need time for the wood to stabilize before they will stay put and not shift around.

If you can tell me what you guys do when you start hearing fret buzz maybe it would help.

.006" relief isn’t enough. It just isn’t. You’re not giving the strings room to vibrate in their normal arc. It’s physics and math.

Fender’s published recommendations:

Radius (inches) Relief
7.25 .012-inch (or .3mm)
9.5 to 12 .010-inch (or 0.25mm)
15 to 17 .008-inch

If it’s a Monterey Strat, you’re at half the factory spec. If it’s a different model, it’s most likely a 9.5" radius and you’re still running 40% less relief than Fender specifies. No factory Hendrix Strat has a 15-17" radius. Even then - the neck is too shallow.

Also how you’re measuring relief matters. Per Fender, capo at the first fret and then fret the low E string at the last fret. Insert a feeler gauge at the top of the 8th fret, then consult the chart. Loosen to increase, tighten to decrease relief. Never more than a quarter turn at a time.

Once relief is set - use the bridge saddles to adjust the action, roughly following the radius of the fret board. I have a set of radius gauges (cheap sets are less than 10 bucks on Amazon). That gets me close, and then I adjust for feel and buzz (if any). From Fender:


I’m not convinced that using a radius gauge is a good way to set the radius of the saddles. I’ve used them and I’ve found that according to the gauge I’ve needed to lower the G string or raise the low E string, when the low E string plays fine, and I have wanted to keep the G string higher to avoid fret buzz. The G string is famous on my guitars for buzzing. And you can only raise the saddles so much before the screws come loose and then your saddles get loose and the screws look tilted to one side.

I think 4/64" is the same as 2/32". I’ve been measuring action at the 12th fret and shooting for 4/32" on the bass side and about 3/32" on the treble side.

I do measure relief at the 8th fret with a feeler gauge.

Hence why I said the radius gauges get you close.

Regardless, .006” of relief ain’t enough.

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Okay I’ll try setting it up for about .012".