#1
So I bought a used Les Paul and the previous owner had it set-up for downtuned heavy gauge strings. I like to use 9s and was wondering in what way i should change the set-up.

I set the action really high because I noticed some buzzing caused by the frets closer to the nut. I read somewhere though that that's a truss rod problem but I'm new to playing guitar and don't want to accidentally turn it the wrong way or just straight up screw up.

I could bring it to a tech to have it setup but it'll be a while before I go since the nearest tech I know is two towns over.

I messed around with the pickups to the best of my ability and I set the intonation, and I was just wondering if I could lower the bridge and tail piece if I just adjust the truss rod correctly.
#2
It's not just the truss rod (and you want to know what you're doing when you adjust it at all), but the nut as well. If the previous owner had the nut cut for large strings, you may want to replace the nut altogether.
#3
Quote by dspellman
It's not just the truss rod (and you want to know what you're doing when you adjust it at all), but the nut as well. If the previous owner had the nut cut for large strings, you may want to replace the nut altogether.

Thanks, I'll probably just take it to the tech I know for all that.
In the meantime, I have it set up to the best of what i can get it. Will the high action and unconfigured truss rod damage the guitar in any way? I ask this because I'll probably still play it the way I have it now until i go see the tech.
#4
Being too afraid to adjust the truss rod is something that's easily fixed by just reading up how to adjust it properly. No harm can ever be done by adjusting it provided you follow a bit of common sense.

Provided you don't try and tighten it to extremes and you use the correct Allen wrench/nut driver there's nothing to worry about. The truss rod tightens/loosens in the same direction that any regular nut/bolt does. Adjust the truss rod up to 1/4 turn at a time. If it needs more adjusting than leave the guitar for a little while (the relief might change a bit on its own after you adjust it) before adjusting it again.

All of this fear surrounding the truss rod is propagated by places like Guitar Center and by extension online forums so that they get more money from doing setups.

Raising the action to try and correct buzzing because there isn't enough neck relief just compounds the problem. The truss rod is what needs to be adjusted, not the bridge.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Jun 9, 2016,
#5
Quote by dl2000820
...[ ].....I set the action really high because I noticed some buzzing caused by the frets closer to the nut. I read somewhere though that that's a truss rod problem but I'm new to playing guitar and don't want to accidentally turn it the wrong way or just straight up screw up....[ ]....
Before you fly into adjusting the truss rod, learn what the neck relief should be, and how to check it.

This is granted a setup guide for an acoustic guitar: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html But' it's a damnede good one. Electric setup is very similar to acoustic, perhaps even easier, due to adjustable saddles and bridge height. With an acoustic you have to sand saddles to the correct height, and it can be a PiTA.

Keep in mind when you change to lighter strings, you released a lot of tension. The neck will respond to the lighter strings in most cases by bending backwards, removing all "relief", and creating a "hump" in the neck, where there should be a slight dip.

Top check the relief, put a capo lightly on the first fret, and hold down the E-6 string at the 14th fret. You should see a touch of daylight under the string at around the 7th fret. Some people use a standard cheapo business card to measure relief, which should be about .010 under the string at that 7th fret.

So, read the guide I linked, and check your relief, adjust the truss rod if necessary as others have told you earlier, a little bit at a time.

Once you get that right, you can tackle the issue of whether or not the top nut grooves have been cut too deep.

The capo on the 1st fret when checking relief, takes top nut clearance completely out of the picture, and you can ignore it until you get the truss rod set correctly.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jun 9, 2016,
#6
Best $20 you can spend on your guitar is a book by Dan Erlewine called How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. Amazon, et al., have it.

You'll want to start with a flat fretboard with level frets. If you've got a good metal straightedge of about 18", you've got a start. "Relief" is not the first thing you want from your truss rod; it's "flatness." If your frets aren't level, you're going to be setting your action higher just to get rid of buzzing, so that's the first thing you want to know about.

After that, you want to know that you have a properly cut nut for the kind of action you'll want to be playing. Gibson generally cuts its nuts for medium to medium-high action, for example, and if you try to lower the action by dropping the bridge, you'll usually find that the frets above the 12-15 level are buzzing. Once your nut is cut accurately, you can drop the bridge to match.

Your fretboard has a radius. It may be different from what's spec'd on a website. You can read it with a set of radius gauges. Generally, the nut will be cut to follow that radius, but some folks like the bass-side strings to be as much as 1/64th" higher than the treble strings. With that in mind, and depending on how the nut is cut, the bridge should be shimmed/adjusted (where necessary) to follow the radius as well. Once you have that whole mess where you like it, "relief" can be added in very small increments to reduce buzzing.