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What is going on with the fretboard, the neck curve and the strings?

What's with the StewMac neck jig that holds the guitar and neck?

Do you completely flatten the neck, sand all the frets to be perfectly level when the neck is flat? If so, what happens when the neck get the relief? Or do you have the neck held as it should be with the curve and then dress the frets level? That seems wrong because if the frets are all level why have the curve?

Thanks
 

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Fingerboard surface is as flat as you can possibly get it, then you file/sand with a dead flat bar the tops of the frets so as to make a plane. The motion of the plucked string is wider in the centre of the field so reintroducing some relief provides it some clearance. I generally try to adjust the relief as flat as humanly possible without buzzing.

You can check that the neck is adjusted flat by using a spanning straightedge that clears the frets for a given scale. You can check that your frets are on an equal plane (flat, even) by marking the tops and removing material until there are no more low spots (marking removed everywhere). If you sand or file all frets along the plane at the same time when you do this and remove the last of the marked top, you will know that you have a flat plane (provided your levelling bar is as flat as can be).

I haven't used it, but it's my understanding the SM jig provides support and simulates string tension to control as many variables as possible. I sort of simulate this myself by keeping the strings on/at pitch and sanding under them with a "T" shaped beam rather than a box beam. I get enough clearance by placing a tall nut or radiused piece of wood or pencil etc. under the strings against the nut, like one of those nuts that converts your guitar for slide. This takes out of play any anomalies that might happen when a particular neck is under tension vs not; as close to as it is in its actual playing state.

Here is a great resource to have at hand if you're interested in learning. Plenty of in-depth videos on the 'Tube as well.
 
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Fingerboard surface is as flat as you can possibly get it, then you file/sand with a dead flat bar the tops of the frets so as to make a plane. The motion of the plucked string is wider in the centre of the field so reintroducing some relief provides it some clearance. I generally try to adjust the relief as flat as humanly possible without buzzing.

You can check that the neck is adjusted flat by using a spanning straightedge that clears the frets for a given scale. You can check that your frets are on an equal plane (flat, even) by marking the tops and removing material until there are no more low spots (marking removed everywhere). If you sand or file all frets along the plane at the same time when you do this and remove the last of the marked top, you will know that you have a flat plane (provided your levelling bar is as flat as can be).

I haven't used it, but it's my understanding the SM jig provides support and simulates string tension to control as many variables as possible. I sort of simulate this myself by keeping the strings on/at pitch and sanding under them with a "T" shaped beam rather than a box beam. I get enough clearance by placing a tall nut or radiused piece of wood or pencil etc. under the strings against the nut, like one of those nuts that converts your guitar for slide. This takes out of play any anomalies that might happen when a particular neck is under tension vs not; as close to as it is in its actual playing state.

Here is a great resource to have at hand if you're interested in learning. Plenty of in-depth videos on the 'Tube as well.
Thank you for your posting. I thought the radius leveling blocks are important?

 

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Thank you for your posting. I thought the radius leveling blocks are important?

I have a short radiused wood block that I ordered when I had to true up a fingerboard during a re-fret, but I've never tried one for the fret tops. A flat bar is definitely more versatile in that it doesn't care what radius you're working with, it can follow the string path (wider at the saddle, narrower at the nut) and smooth/transition between them. It's also much cheaper.

I tend to introduce a compound radius (flatter towards the heel) and/or fallaway, so the flat beam works for me. I don't see why those wouldn't work for a straight radius, especially if it's long enough. I would think it's more critical to stay dead straight on the centre line when sanding though or things could get pretty screwy. Ex. if you're slightly counter-clockwise, you've pretty quickly made the first few frets too low on the high strings (bad), and just the opposite on the lower stings (really bad, given the situation under the high strings). I'd definitely like to try a long, radiused bar sometime though and see how it works.
 

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I've used a radius block to level frets where a non-uniform twist/wow could be addressed before a fingerboard level and re-fret. In my case, the twist/wow may introduce some buzz in some isolated areas on only one side of the fingerboard. Careful measurements are needed to proceed this type of repair. A vernier (digital) caliper plus a fingerboard level tool is critical to assess how to go forward. In my case , fingerboard level at center , low edge and high edge were uneven in different areas, but within what could be addressed with leveling fret tops. Yeah it was painful, multiple levels and crowns, but finally with a good outcome. A beam might also have been effective in my case but this guitar, having two trips to a (famous shop) tech previous, needed radius restored too. With feedback over 4 seasons that all is well, I feel I can report that this method has its merits in certain cases.
 
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I've used a radius block to level frets where a non-uniform twist/wow could be addressed before a fingerboard level and re-fret. In my case, the twist/wow may introduce some buzz in some isolated areas on only one side of the fingerboard. Careful measurements are needed to proceed this type of repair. A vernier (digital) caliper plus a fingerboard level tool is critical to assess how to go forward. In my case , fingerboard level at center , low edge and high edge were uneven in different areas, but within what could be addressed with leveling fret tops. Yeah it was painful, multiple levels and crowns, but finally with a good outcome. A beam might also have been effective in my case but this guitar, having two trips to a (famous shop) tech previous, needed radius restored too. With feedback over 4 seasons that all is well, I feel I can report that this method has its merits in certain cases.
What's a fingerboard level tool?
 
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