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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 2:35 pm 
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I've been trying to wrap my head around how fallaway can be beneficial. Illustration A is a straight edge from frets 1-12 of a fretboard with (a highly exaggerated amount of) relief. Illustration B would be how that fretboard would look with fallaway planed into the upper fret area. Is that what people mean when referring to the relationship between relief and fallaway?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 4:36 pm 
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I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone talk about a relationship between relief and Fall away. If you were to put a straight edge on a fretboard with relief and fall away it would touch on the first and 12 th frets and not any others.

Fallaway is beneficial for the same reason that relief is. However you don't need quite as much because the strings are already a little higher up there and the shorter string has less of an arc.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 5:26 pm 
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I used to sometimes build a very slight fallaway into an acoustic guitar so that the very upper frets won’t buzz if the body swells in a high humidity situation. I build my tops with a 25’ foot radius dome. The top rises with humidity and drops when it’s dry. As I have tended to make the upper bouts stiffer and more supported, I generally don’t do the fallaway. There’s usually no need for fallaway on an electric.

You don’t want a fingerboard to look like picture A. As you fret the upper frets, you would get back buzz and rattle where the strings contact the frets behind where you are fretting.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 6:17 pm 
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Pmaj7 wrote:
I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone talk about a relationship between relief and Fall away.

There have been a number of threads here on OLF that discuss it. Hesh has contributed a lot of info on the subject and though I've never seen his work first hand, the testimonials of others lead me to believe he knows his stuff.

Pmaj7 wrote:
Fallaway is beneficial for the same reason that relief is. However you don't need quite as much because the strings are already a little higher up there and the shorter string has less of an arc.


I find it very interesting and want to learn how to (properly) implement it into my guitars. I can't ever seem to have any relief in my guitars because the minute I introduce more than a couple thousanths, I hear the strings rattling on the higher frets. Every straight edge I have claims that the frets are level and I have ruined many of my guitars second guessing the readings. However, I constantly hear people talking about relief and how beneficial it can be to a setup so I imagine there's something to it. I've been playing guitar since I was 6 and professionally since about 14. I hate to say it but either my dexterity is waning or, after almost 40 years of playing, I won't put up with a setup that's "just ok" anymore. Maybe a bit of both? Maybe because the gigs aren't quite as fun as they used to be and having an instrument I like playing can mean the difference between enjoying myself and hating my life. :D

Pmaj7 wrote:
If you were to put a straight edge on a fretboard with relief and fall away it would touch on the first and 12 th frets and not any others.

I think that's what I'm getting at. Picture A is GREATLY exaggerated to make a point. I've always thought about relief as the neck bending into an arc where the center of the arc just got further away from the strings in that area. After reading about the idea of it being a cantilever, I've been able to make more sense of it. At least I think which is why I'm calling on others to confirm that I'm thinking about it correctly or at least on the right path to figuring it out.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:14 pm 
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Overthinking it. Relief is just a bit of forward bow. Fall away is just a bit of drop off on the fretboard extension.

Acoustic guitars definitely benefit from relief and fall away. Electric shredders who want the lowest action often like a flatter fretboard.


Last edited by Barry Daniels on Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:16 pm 
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bobgramann wrote:
There’s usually no need for fallaway on an electric.

Maybe not on a LP-style. Since the extension is glued to 2" of solid hardwood, there's little to no chance of the upper frets riding up. Bolt-on necks are notorious for forming the "ski jump" or "ski ramp" as people have called it and fallaway is often thought of as a preemptive strike.
bobgramann wrote:
You don’t want a fingerboard to look like picture A.

Of course not. It's an exaggeration of a point that would never be perceived if drawn to scale. The thing I was trying to illustrate is that instead of an arc with it's outer points level with one another, the point on the left is physically higher which would allow strings more clearance over higher frets. At least, I think this is what happens when the guitar is under string tension and is most likely the piece of information that has illuded me up to this point.
bobgramann wrote:
As you fret the upper frets, you would get back buzz and rattle where the strings contact the frets behind where you are fretting.
Do you mean between the fretted note and the bridge or the fretted note and the nut? I can't tell from your wording.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:21 pm 
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Barry Daniels wrote:
Overthinking it. Relief is just a bit of forward bow. Fall away is just a bit of drop off on the fretboard extension.

Acoustic guitars definitely benefit from relief and fall away. Electric shredders who want the lowest action often like a flatter fretboard.

Well... up to now, it hasn't worked for me and I would like to know why.

Kudos to you for keeping it simple though. [:Y:]

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:32 pm 
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I don't know. Could be because your action is super low and you play with an attack that pulls the strings out letting them rebound against the frets? Could be something else. Does this happen to you on numerous guitars?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:12 pm 
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Barry Daniels wrote:
I don't know. Could be because your action is super low and you play with an attack that pulls the strings out letting them rebound against the frets? Could be something else. Does this happen to you on numerous guitars?

From what I can tell, my setup is pretty typical. 4/64 “ish”. I usually bring the low e up a hair and taper down to the high e but usually no lower than 4/64. Strings are 10-46 on electrics.

The acoustics I’ve built don’t really have this problem. I set the action in the same neighborhood but I use 12-53 so I imagine that’s why. I’m also aware of the geometry challenges of acoustic neck joints so I plan accordingly. I tend to lean on the straight side though, relief-wise.

I’ve played for a lot of years and have always had an electric player’s touch. I do have a heavier right hand than some but I’m not a “chord banger” by any stretch. Bear in mind.... I’m trying to take things to the next level. I strongly considered taking one of the courses at Ann Arbor Guitars but by the time I learned about it, well.... COVID happened and it looks like they’re just concentrating on actual luthier work now.

I don’t think it’s that complicated but I do believe in learning why things are done, not just a set of steps that makes things work. That’s paint by numbers, not craftsmanship. Each guitar is different and they routinely throw curve balls.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:43 pm 
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Back buzz is between the fretted note and the nut.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 10:28 pm 
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bobgramann wrote:
Back buzz is between the fretted note and the nut.
I guess you learn something new every day.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 12:37 pm 
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I'd likely describe my electric playing style similar to yours. I don't think I could make 4/64" and no relief work.

The physics behind how the string moves, and how much I like to dig in with my picking hand require a little more space.

To me fall away doesn't really hurt anything, and can be an elegantly simple solution if the higher register frets are interfering with your playing.



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 3:58 pm 
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Pmaj7 wrote:
If you were to put a straight edge on a fretboard with relief and fall away it would touch on the first and 12 th frets and not any others.

I'm sorry.... how much relief are we talking about here?

Reason being - I just pulled out a neck that I'm not going to finish for some reason and decided to try this. It hasn't been fretted but it is radiused (10") and when adjusted straight, it had ~ .007" of fallaway. With .010" relief from the nut to the 12th fret, a 24" straight edge would not make contact with the 12th fret at all. It touched the last 3-4 fret slots. So, I sanded some more fallaway into the extension. When I was done, I could lay my 24" straight edge across the whole board and it made contact at the nut, had .010" relief, made contact again at the 12th fret and all frets thereafter. So basically... the 12-22 fret area is flat. Next, I adjusted the fretboard to be flat from the nut to the 12th fret and measured fallaway again. I was almost able to slip a .020" feeler gauge underneath the straight edge at the 22nd fret! That just seems extreme to me. If the straight edge only touched the 1st and 12th frets, that would have to be quite a bit of fallaway. Unless, of course you are only talking about 2 or 3 thousandths.

I mistakenly put ~ .015" of fallaway (from 12-22) into a neck recently and it was very uncomfortable to play the high frets. I ended up pulling them and fixing the shape of the board so that it only dropped .007" from the 14th to the 22nd. It's much better now but it still feels a little strange playing those high notes. Strangely, I don't feel like there was any difference in the overall "cleanliness" of the notes between .015" and .007" of fallaway. In both instances, I was not able to add much relief at all before the 5th-9th fret area started sounding a little dead. I guess I just don't understand.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2021 2:16 am 
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I'm only shooting for a few thou of fall away. I consider myself to be sort of a Hesh disciple on setup issues. Hopefully he will chime in.

You haven't really said what you're hoping to achieve specifically. Sounds like your action is where you like it with hardly any relief and not buzzing, so...? Ideally I would want as little relief and fall away as possible without buzzing.

Pat

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:06 pm 
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Pmaj7 wrote:
I'm only shooting for a few thou of fall away. I consider myself to be sort of a Hesh disciple on setup issues. Hopefully he will chime in.

You haven't really said what you're hoping to achieve specifically. Sounds like your action is where you like it with hardly any relief and not buzzing, so...? Ideally I would want as little relief and fall away as possible without buzzing.

Pat


Thanks Pat.

The most important thing is to have some fall away. When I mark all my fret tops with red marker, straighten my neck and hit the entire fret plane with a calibrated leveling beam that has been flattened on a surface plate I want to see the red ink disappear on frets 1 - 12 and begin to disappear around the 13th fret then be visible on all remains frets. The frets have fallen... away so-to-speak. Our fall-away is also precision leveled with a shorter beam so no notes fret out because of a high fret in the path.

How much fall-away? Mario is who turned us all on to the concept of fall-away many years ago around 2006 or so on this forum. He builds superb and hard to get six string acoustics and he shot for around .015". My information on what he did is dated though, 15 years wow... so I don't know what spec he likes these days if he changed anything.

I know the OP said that it was uncomfortable for them and I wish I could see the guitar. .015" is not required and much less is also fine but have some that's what's really important.

I also wonder what the action is right now measured at the 12th for the high e and the low e when tuned to pitch measured in 64th". Discomfort over the extension area because of fall-away could also be the action is too high elsewhere and the instrument is not set-up properly. And of course the nut slots and truss rod come into play too.

My process is tune to pitch, adjust the truss rod for the level(s) of relief I like, tune to pitch again, cut the nut slots and then measure the action at the 12th. I have specs I use for the thousands of guitars I've set-up that are specific to guitar type, player, string gauge, etc. When possible..... in the past..... I asked my clients to play for me so I can see their attack.

Anyway if fall-away of less than .015" or even .010" is more comfortable and the instrument is properly set-up no problem it should be fine.

If by chance the OP is very heavy handed and you do get fret rattle with less fall-away you could have benefitted from more obviously.

Lastly for your efforts to understand fall-away consider this. Instead of the neck being one continuous plane it's now two. One plane is the 1st through the 12th and the second plane is the 12th through the last. The second plan droops slightly from the first plane as in....... fall-away. Both planes are precision leveled. Plane number one we have some control over with the truss rod. Plane number two is what we shape it to be.

Hope this helps and good on you for wanting to understand fall-away. Fall-away is one of the things that the folks who see guitars as tools for musicians recognize is useful and important.



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:11 pm 
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Pmaj7 wrote:
I'm only shooting for a few thou of fall away. I consider myself to be sort of a Hesh disciple on setup issues. Hopefully he will chime in.

You haven't really said what you're hoping to achieve specifically. Sounds like your action is where you like it with hardly any relief and not buzzing, so...? Ideally I would want as little relief and fall away as possible without buzzing.

Hesh wrote:
I know the OP said that it was uncomfortable for them and I wish I could see the guitar. .015" is not required and much less is also fine but have some that's what's really important.

I also wonder what the action is right now measured at the 12th for the high e and the low e when tuned to pitch measured in 64th". Discomfort over the extension area because of fall-away could also be the action is too high elsewhere and the instrument is not set-up properly. And of course the nut slots and truss rod come into play too.

I've been messing with the setup little by little and it's not bad by any stretch. It's pretty consistent with how my fret jobs and setups normally come out. action is just above 4/64 on the low e and almost 4/64 on the high e so it has a slight taper. Strings are 10-46. Nut slots are ~pretty much .010" above the 1st fret. I routinely cut them with a stack of feeler gauges .012" - .015" higher than the first fret knowing that by the time I get done fluting, polishing, obsessing, etc. They end up coming down to that .010" mark.

I played the guitar on a gig last night and it didn't disappoint me that I can remember. At least not for any reasons pertaining to this thread. :D I do have a pretty stiff, but controlled attack. I am a hybrid picker. Or at least I try to be. I do like to pop the strings occasionally and while doing this, I can pick out flaws in the fret plane.

It sounds like deciding on how much relief you want and using that to determine how much fallaway such a setup would require (or benefit from) is the key. Am I reading that correctly?

On an acoustic without a cutaway, frets 12-20(?) wouldn't be played often (if ever) so technically they don't even need to be there. In fact, a fellow musician here in Atlanta commissioned an acoustic build where the entire fretboard extension was fretless. It never even got slotted. He had the builder inlay the words "No Thanks" in that area. Brilliant if you ask me. Anyway... I'm getting off topic. An electric is a case where the fretboard extension should be as functional as possible so it seems critical use the correct amount and no more. Would you agree?

My illustrations above where to point out this concept. Quite frankly, it's the only way I can make any sense of it. I should've added C to my initial post to show what the neck would look like when adjusted straight. Once again... completely, unreasonably exaggerated amount of relief and fallaway only done to make my point clear. I suppose I just need to experiment with this more to see if it can make my setups any better. I do know that the guy I used to take my guitars made the neck increasingly straighter the more he got to know me and how I play. Unfortunately, that guitar was stolen which is one of the reasons I decided to get serious about building my own guitars. (Long story that probably wouldn't make any sense if I told it :lol: )


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 9:16 pm 
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Hey, resize your pics to "webpage". It's hard to compare the images with all the panning.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 1:17 am 
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I don't think there is any relation between relief and fall away. At least anything consequential.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:39 am 
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Pmaj7 wrote:
I don't think there is any relation between relief and fall away. At least anything consequential.

Pat
Two separate pieces of the same puzzle.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:05 am 
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CarlD wrote:
Hey, resize your pics to "webpage". It's hard to compare the images with all the panning.

Done

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 2:10 pm 
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Aaron your set-up sounds great, it's low but if it's not rattling for you that's great.

Your illustrations are accurate and you do get-it. Good job. I think of it as two separate fret planes one frets 1 - 12 and the other 12 - last with both of them sharing the 12th.

Fall-away can also be a big deal and important for Bluegrass players who flat pick, have a moderate to heavy attack, play 13's and have to try to be heard of the stinkin b*njo :)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:46 pm 
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Can anyone share their methods for applying fall-away?

I've been putting a few layers of tape over my sanding beam so that the beam rides over the 12th fret without sanding it.

I'm sure that others have better methods than mine.


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PostPosted: Sun May 02, 2021 11:39 pm 
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I have not posted in a while.
For me fallaway in context of Fender style bolt on necks is directly related to fretboard radius and scale length.
It is a geometry problem that has to do with how much deflection must be appled to the high E and B strings.
On a 25.5 scale the hi E must be bent past centerline to get a whole step bend.
As you know a 7.25" radius is most difficult to get really low action for this reason.
Here is where fallaway helps to get the next fret to be out of the way.
I have lost count of how many necks I have gradually applied about 0.010" fallaway from the 12 to 21st frets, while retaining same radius.
Usually I set my relief at .006" or less at fret 7-8 under string tension.
This method allows bends of 1.5 steps on hi E all the way up the neck.
Important note, A440hz tuning and 0.09-.010 string GA.
24.625 necks do not have the same problems due to less deflection needed to achieve the same pitch.
I hope that helps.

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2021 1:09 pm 
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Brett L Faust wrote:
I have not posted in a while.
For me fallaway in context of Fender style bolt on necks is directly related to fretboard radius and scale length.
It is a geometry problem that has to do with how much deflection must be appled to the high E and B strings.
On a 25.5 scale the hi E must be bent past centerline to get a whole step bend.
As you know a 7.25" radius is most difficult to get really low action for this reason.
Here is where fallaway helps to get the next fret to be out of the way.
I have lost count of how many necks I have gradually applied about 0.010" fallaway from the 12 to 21st frets, while retaining same radius.
Usually I set my relief at .006" or less at fret 7-8 under string tension.
This method allows bends of 1.5 steps on hi E all the way up the neck.
Important note, A440hz tuning and 0.09-.010 string GA.
24.625 necks do not have the same problems due to less deflection needed to achieve the same pitch.
I hope that helps.


Great post Brett and yes the need for fall-away is greatest with Fender bolt-on style necks. I just got done helping another Luthier solve the problem of a buzzing Fender and it is likely because of no fall-away.

Although the tight radius of Fender style necks certainly amplifies the need for fall-away on these guitars others benefit from it too and for other reasons not just fret board radius. Bluegrass players who have to keep up with a banj* and be heard and use heavy picks and are heavy hitters with mediums or lights often benefit if they like lower action.

Then there is Pete..... Pete Townshend and his windmills :)


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