Neck Relief - Vintage Gypsy Guitars - Busato- Favino-Di Mauro-Castelluccia

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Neck Relief

Useful Info > Tricks to Improve Guitar Performance

What is the right neck relief, and how to check it.

You need a certain amount of neck relief on your gypsy guitar. And, trust me, the right amount is of paramount importance.

  • Too much relief and it is hard to play, if not impossible, if the relief is too big.

  • Not enough relief or a back-bow and the guitar buzzes and, in some cases, it’s impossible to play it at least above the 5 th fret.

It’s useless to check the neck relief by looking at the neck from the point of view of the headstock. If you do you will look like an amateur and you are not measuring anything. I always have a lot of fun when I see a potential buyer doing it (that’s the way I was doing it before learning from a pro luthier).

A real luthier does it like this:

  • Press with one finger (index) of your left hand the first note on the string (F on the low E for example).

  • At the same time, with another finger (obviously) of your right hand, preferably the thumb, press the octave note on the same string (higher F on the also E string).

  • With the index finger of your right hand, check how much distance there is between the string and the top of the 8 th fret. Press a couple times to see if you are a mile away or just a tad. There should be only a clearance the thickness of a business card.

If much more, you should consider adjusting the neck relief with a truss rod, if there is one, or level the fret board and re-fret.
You can also check the high E string in addition to the low E string.
When buying a vintage guitar play it and also check the relief that way. You would be surprised if I tell you I found this measurement to be the thickness of 10 business cards on guitars people tried to sell me. If I was buying, it is because the price was correct to allow for a neck leveling and a re-fretting (500$).

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