Support Q and A

Truss Rod Adjustments

Truss rod adjustments are necessary to balance the string tension of the neck and maintain the proper neck relief.  Tightening the truss rods will usually lower the action or string height above the fretboard.  Conversely, loosening the truss rod(s) will raise the action. To tighten the truss rod…  Insert a 1/8 inch Philips screwdriver into  the adjustment wheel closest to the bass string side of the fret board, then turn the truss rod wheel toward the treble strings (clockwise looking up the neck from the body end). Use you fingers to bend the strings out of the way to avoid damage to the strings.    Sometimes the instrument can take a while to settle in and may need to be adjusted again later if it settles in differently over time.  It may take several turns or partial turns. Check the neck relief after adjusting to determine if you need to turn more or less to achieve the desired neck relief. If fret buzz occurs around the 1st through 5th fret range it may be necessary to loosen the truss rod(s) by turning the adjustment wheel form the treble side to the bass side (counter clockwise looking up the neck from the body end).

Ideally you will want to have about .002-.003” neck relief from the tops of the frets to the bottom, of the strings.  This is about the thickness of  1 or 2 business cards, depending on how you like your action set. You can measure the neck relief by holding a string down to the frets (with out putting pressure on the neck with your instrument in playing position).  the lower the action the more you want the frets or fretboard level.   To measure the neck relief, hold an individual string to the frets at the 1st fret and the last fret then gauge the distance of the bottom string to the top of the 12th fret.

Intonation Adjustments

With wooden bridge base plates on arch top model guitars and  many of my basses.   some versions have two intonation adjustment screws.  one on each end of the saddle, that which, when turned, will move the bridge either toward or away from the neck.  the saddle can be milled to compensate or intonate the instrument with the strings. some bridges have pins under the saddle or even visible to the side of the saddle in all cases the bridge should lift straight off the instrument body in all cases after the strings are removed.

If the fretted note at the 12th fret is sharp of the harmonic of the 12th fret… then the saddle needs to be moved away from the neck.  Or if the fretted note is flat… then the saddle needs to be moved toward the neck. The harmonic and fretted notes should match on the 12th, 17th and 24th fret positions.

The Finish

The oil finish can be kept to look new for a lifetime.  The finish is hand rubbed or “French polished” using a 100% pure polymerized tung oil that is thinned only with 10-20% citrus solvent.

If the surface is damaged or feels rough.  You can sand with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper and tung oil / citrus solvent mixture.  Sand with the oil to lubricate the sand paper and polish at the same time.  Then wipe off the extra oil using a small piece of lint free cotton cloth leaving only a fine coat of oil and let dry overnight. You can apply additional coats of oil daily using a soft cotton cloth as an applicator.  Apply one coat per day until the surface is saturated with oil. After the oil is completely dried about 2 weeks,  then you can use a carnauba wax to get more of a shine. For regular cleaning, use orange oil or lemon oil with beeswax.

Piezo Saddle Height Adjustment

The height of the bridge saddles can be adjusted by either installing a shim under the saddle or by removing a shim.  There is only a small amount of extra wire to allow the saddles to be lifted just enough for a shim to be placed in the slot under the saddle. Do not try to pull the saddles out more than the length of the wire allows. The wires on the saddles are fragile and can break easily.  All of the saddles are wired together in parallel on  the bottom of  bridge.  The entire bridge can be lifted for access to the bottom of the bridge. There is coaxial wire from the bottom of the bridge through to the pre amp with just enough extra wire to facilitate removal.

Let me know if you have additional questions regarding your instrument..

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5 thoughts on “Support Q and A

  1. Ken,
    I am lucky to be the new owner of the Gothic Angel. I’ve enjoyed playing the guitar and like the warm sounds of the Bartolino pickups. I have a question about the tone knobs. Are both knobs connected to both pickups?

    Thank you for building a fine instrument. What a pleasure it is to play a work of art.


    • Congratulations! and thank you! the tone controls on the Gothic Angel are part of the active circuitry. both pickups are affected by the treble and bass control knobs which are neutral in the center positions and can be adjusted plus or minus. let me know if you have any more questions. enjoy

  2. I am very VERY, VERY interested in having you build an electric bass for me. Whats the best way to talk to you. I am very interested on an electric bass. I havent see any bass like yours. Please contact me on my email or to my cel 9154975019. Thank you.

  3. hello there,

    I am very VERY interested in having you build an archtop electric guitar for me. Is there a best way to discuss with you, as to what I am looking for? (by the way your instruments you make are absolutely beautiful and shine with your love, hence me coming to you.)

    • I would be honored to build an instrument for you. I would be happy to talk with you either by email or phone. Email is good because we can send photos or drawings back and forth and keep a good record of details. my email address is and my phone number is 530-292-0156.

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