Just Got Some Radius Gauges...

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by SquierTap, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    And I'll say this... I've only been modding and doin my own maintenance and setups and stuff for about a year and a half now... But one thing that always confused me is saddle height...
    I heard a Fender Master Builder say that he uses the "T.R.A.I.N" method to set up his own guitars... Which is;

    Truss Rod/Relief
    Action (saddle height)
    Intonation
    And Noodle, to see if it's right...

    And what I usually do is just lower the saddles as low as possible without buzz... But playing a guitar where the saddles are correct, in height, AND relation to radius, can REALLY have an impact on your setup...
    Before when I was just guessing at it, there were times when I could tell a particular string was slightly higher or lower than the others and it would bug the hell outta me, lol...

    So the other day, I jumped on Amazon and bought myself a set of radius gauges... I think they were about 9 bucks... But so far, MAN! It makes a big difference...
    I found out that evidently that '89 Korean Squier II that I just picked up has a 14" radius... And I had heard that the Bullet Mustang had a 12" (which I confirmed) and I set it up best I could...
    Actually, my Bullet Mustang was what got this whole ball rollin... I pulled it off the wall and it felt really "off"... Here in Tennessee we've already had some really cold weather... And I know if the weather changes and you pick up your guitar and it feels different, it's usually just a small truss rod tweak... It's not like you slept walked over and started screwin with the saddles, lol... But the saddles weren't optimal anyway... But it plays great now, lol...


    And the way I've been doin it so far, is to make sure that all the strings are touching the radius gauge equally... I'm sure there's a proper technique for it, and I'm sure there'll be some YouTube tutorials in my immediate future, lol... But just so far, even with my ignorance, it's made a big difference and been a big help...
     
  2. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Squier-Meister

    very good expenditure of a small sum of money that pays an outsized dividend in helping to get your guitar playing well. Definitely helps to get that last few % of tweaking to make your guitar play the way you want.

    got a steel ruler or string height gauge yet? It can be a slippery slope once you start accumulating tools but it isn't as bad as it seems.
     
  3. Tele-kitty

    Tele-kitty Squier-Meister

    322
    Dec 12, 2016
    Florida
    String action ruler! You’ll want one.
    I love mine and so much easier to use than my old, hard to see metal ruler.

    I always set mine by using the neck method so never tried using radius gauges.
    Measuring string height in relation to fretboard always gives me the proper radius at the saddles without too much fuss.
     
  4. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Squier-Meister

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  5. waynes world

    waynes world Squier-Nut

    Age:
    51
    508
    Jan 27, 2019
    Saskatoon
    I always use a business card with a pen mark of my best set up guitar and it’s my gauge ha!
     
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  6. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Hey... NOTHIN' wrong with that! That fits in both categories for me; Cheap, AND it works! Lol...
    I bought a lil string height ruler a while back... You've seen 'em, they look like a metal business card... And while it does help, I'm still tryin to get a feel for how to do a proper set up... With my limited (but ever expanding) knowledge, and a lil luck, I can usually get there... But in all my years of playing, I've only ever paid for one set up... About a year and a half ago, after I dug my trusty (AND rusty, lol) '97 MIM Strat out of the closet and gave it a complete overhaul... I kept the pups cause the stock ceramics sound SO awesome and "stratty", but I replaced everything else... But after I had 'er up and runnin, I took it to Sam Ash and had them do a set up on it... Now, calm down, lol... Like I said, it was the ONLY time I ever paid to have a set up done, and in my opinion, I begrudgingly admit that it WAS worth it... The guitar plays AMAZINGLY, and it kinda gave me a mark to shoot for...but, lol... You should've seen the guy's face when I handed him my Squier, lol... He was like, "You want to pay me to set THIS guitar up???" I know the math that was goin through his head, lol... The set up cost more than half of the guitar's worth, lol...
    But when I came back to pick it up, he had changed his tune, and we both had a good laugh over it, lol... He straight up admitted what he initially thought, but after he got his hands on it, he said it was "great lil Strat..." And that it was better than MOST Mexi Strats that he's came across... Then I explained how in '97 Squier used Fender necks and bodies for their MIM models...
    So he set up my guitar, and I "set up" his mind... Lol...

    That's actually kinda funny, lol... I used to run around straight up campaigning for Squier and tellin EVERYONE how good they are, and could be, but now that the secret's out and the prices are up, I'm re-thinkin that one, lol...
     
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  7. waynes world

    waynes world Squier-Nut

    Age:
    51
    508
    Jan 27, 2019
    Saskatoon
    Whenever I get a new acquisition I take it to my guy for a set up and restring just to make sure there’s not something I might miss, but after that I fearlessly do my own tweaks when needed. The top end Squiers keep right up with mims imo, I have both love my Squier deluxe Strat as much as my MIM Strat! Stay awesome have fun!
     
    dbrian66 likes this.
  8. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    90
    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    Now see there how freekin different I am..I've had a set of radius gauges for 10 years or more and seldom used them..Guess I'm still stuck in the old sound and feel method from the old days before things like that were available..lol..
     
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  9. waynes world

    waynes world Squier-Nut

    Age:
    51
    508
    Jan 27, 2019
    Saskatoon
    The guitar guides you to it’s sweet spot!
     
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  10. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Different strokes for different folks, Papa... Guess it don't matter much HOW we get there, as long as we do... Lol...
    But when I try to do it by sight, I NEVER know where to start... I think I've been settin my saddles too high to START with and then adjusting to the radius... But using these radius gauges almost kind of gives me a "guard rail" or a safety net, if ya please... As long as they're all touching that gauge similarly, they're good to go...

    Plus, my eyes lie to me constantly, lol...

    I'll tell ya what my problem is; Too many chiefs and not enough braves, lol... EVERYBODY has posted a "How To Set Up A Stratocaster" video, and EVERY ONE of 'em is different! Lol...

    I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "Man, I just wish I knew somebody who did professional grade set ups so they could just walk me through it!"

    I know it seems simple to y'all that know EXACTLY what you're doing, but to someone new to modding and doin their own stuff, it's a LOT to process... Not to mention every person you talk to about it all seem to know the "right" way, and it's ALWAYS different, lol...
     
    dbrian66 likes this.
  11. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Age:
    43
    Sep 27, 2014
    Canada
    I use a Canadian Loonie - 1.95mm thickness....under the 17th fret on all strings - follows any radius perfectly....
     
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  12. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    Chicago
    Gauges, you don’t need no stinking gauges... you just need a credit card!
    Radius, and action all at once!



    :D
     
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  13. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Age:
    49
    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    I like this guy a lot, but this particular video just never worked for me. I wanted it to, because it’s so simple. Not sure what I was doing wrong.
     
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  14. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Age:
    38
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Yep, I've saw this many times... It's where I lifted the "You didn't get up in the night and sleep walk over and adjust your saddles" line, lol... And I've attempted this method, but just like @dbrian66, I just can't get it this way... But then again, I'm the kinda guy that'll attempt something 2 or 3 times, and it won't work, and then the 4th time (for WHATEVER reason, like I was "holdin my mouth" the wrong way, lol) it'll work like a charm... I'll bet it's because I either miss a small step (or a big one, lol) or I just don't "see" how to do it and how it works, until I attempt it a few times...
    Just to be honest, I'm not "handy"... At all... I'm straight-up retarded when it comes to ANYTHING technical, or involving tools... It's a complete MIRACLE that I've came as far as I have, but it's just a testament to the extremely knowledgeable (and PATIENT) people on this forum...
     
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  15. drneilmb

    drneilmb Squier-Meister

    Age:
    112
    267
    Jun 8, 2019
    Iowa, USA
    Since we're talking about setups again, I'm going to plug oldtimer's unusual setup method: .http://www.squier-talk.com/threads/advice-on-my-first-setup.85389/#post-402251

    If you're not fixing the nut, you only have two things you can adjust, saddles and truss rod.

    Make the saddles as low as you can until there is not buzzing on the 15-21 frets. I actually lower it until they buzz and then raise it back up until they stop.

    Then, tighten the truss rod until it just doesn't buzz on ALL the lower frets. Again, I flatten the neck until it does buzz and then loosen the truss rod until the buzz goes away.

    If you want the action higher than that setup, make it as high as you want above that point.

    I KNOW this is not the recommended method. But it works for me and is extremely approachable for a beginner. It gives the lowest possible buzz-free action all over the fretboard using the two adjustments available. If you're into tweaking the nut, then oldtimer has instructions, but I've never tried that before.
     
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  16. glmino

    glmino Squier Talker

    59
    Nov 11, 2018
    Mars
    "And what I usually do is just lower the saddles as low as possible without buzz..."

    That's great, use Your ears, that will come in handy when working with Your gauges!


    "make sure that all the strings are touching the radius gauge equally... I'm sure there's a proper technique for it, and I'm sure there'll be some YouTube tutorials in my immediate future, lol..."

    This is where you use Your ears with the gauges... First, set both E strings right then, get the saddles high on the A,D,G,B strings to get them up out of the way, then hold very light up pressure on the gauge contacting the "E" strings. Then, adjust the A,D,G,B saddles down until they all just "buzz" on Your gauge, You'll be an expert in no time!

    Good Luck and have fun,
    Mike
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  17. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Age:
    54
    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    I just match the arc of the neck to the saddles at just above buzzing ;)
     
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  18. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    Chicago
    I have gauges, but when I saw this video... the first thing I said was “Why didn’t I think of it?!”

    The first thing I did after seeing this video, was check the last few guitars I had set-up using the gauges... this is what I found:

    The secret is to use a very thin credit card... membership cards (Sams, gas discount, grocery cards) work the best for guitars, thicker conventional cards work better on Basses.
    Use blue painters tape to hold the card in place, and make sure the card is sitting flush on the radius of the neck. It’s not perfect, but is IS a great baseline to start from for setting action/radius. I usually only have to tweak a saddle of two a very little after doing this.
     
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  19. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Age:
    49
    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    I only use the gauges to find out what the neck radius is for my own information. (everyone says the SE’s have 9.5 radius’s, but all mine are 12 and one is 14) But to set the saddles, I just measure string height at the 17th fret I think. (I have it written down) just measure each string and adjust them so they are the same. Easy peasy!
     
    glmino likes this.
  20. Best1989

    Best1989 Squier-Nut

    657
    Apr 25, 2019
    Arequipa
    Nice to read that those worked for you! I just purchased a set some days ago, along with a string action ruler and some feeler gauges. Waiting for those to arrive and be able to test them with my SE.
     
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