Tips From Chip!

On Truss Rod adjustment:

Truss rod adjustment should not be used to correct string height The truss rod is there to counteract the pull of the strings so that the neck won't take a permanent bow. Truss rod adjustment is to get the right geometry to keep the strings from buzzing on the frets when playing in different positions on the fretboard. Too little bow, and the strings will buzz around the 10th through the 15th frets, approximately. Too much bow and the strings could buzz slightly nearer the topnut.

The neck tilt adjustment was designed and included to change the angle of the neck, thereby raising or lowering the strings. The individual height adjustment of the saddles is to get the strings into an arched pattern to conform with the radius of the frets.

If someone at Peavey, or the instruction manual, told you to use the truss rod to change string height, then they are WRONG. This isn't a matter of opinion, but a provable fact, and the reason Hartley and I designed it into the T-60. I would hate to think that someone at Peavey is in a position to pass on such misinformation.

While I'm at it, the term, "truss rod" is correct for the function of the device in the common guitar neck. "Torsion rod" is incorrect, as torsion means twist, and nothing about the single rod will influence any twisting motion. Truss is the term for a member that is anchored at both ends and forms a arched or v-shape that bends or supports an object, as in a truss bridge across a river, etc.

The proper bow for the T-60 neck is measured at the 7th (or 8th) fret when a string is fretted at both ends, or when a straight edge is employed on the frets. Depending upon playing style , the clearance between the bottom of the strings to the top of the 7th fret should be between 1/32 to 1/64 inch. (.031"-.016"). If a light touch is your style, then the clearance might be taken down to .010". To straighten the neck more, tighten the truss rod nut clockwise. This can cause a backbow (convex), if taken past straight. Conversely, to allow more concavity, loosen the truss rod nut counterclockwise.

I'm sorry I take this so seriously, but misinformation can make a good guitar seem beyond repair. It's not a complicated thing, but poor information can make it seem complex. A guitar is a tool, albeit, a very companionable tool. It has no magic, only misunderstandings that seem like a mystery.

Knowing nothing beats knowing something that ain't so!


On Painting:

Nitrocellulose is the most forgiving paint of all times. Sanding between coats is a study in futility. If the coats you are spraying are influenced by the sanding you did, then you are spraying paint that's got too much thinner, and/or you are not putting enough volume of paint on with each coat.

I thin my lacquer only enough to get it to go through the gun. I get my lacquer at Sherwin-Williams, (the makers of the urethane that is on T-60s), and make sure that it is pure nitrocellulose, and not acrylic lacquer. The secret to laying down a lot of paint is to read the flow and thickness behind where you are spraying, as the area ahead is dry and tells you nothing. If there isn't a good wetting of lacquer behind where I am spraying, I slow down my stroke and/or open the fluid valve more. If the fluid is pretty thick, then it will take a few seconds to flow out. If too thin, then it'll flow out, but not fill.

Aside note: The painters at Fender put about 25 coats of paint on, because they've been doing it that way for 25 years. I showed them that I could put the same amount of paint on in 3 coats and the all gathered around to see it run. They were all disappointed, but I was unable to get their foreman to bring them up to a higher level.(another of the reasons Fenders cost so much; they can sell all they make, so why change the recipe). The guys that hired me were no longer there, and I was Dir. of R&D and not over production.

Opaque colors:

I spray about 4 heavy coats, spacing the coats about 30 minutes apart, (or more, depending upon the humidity). When the paint is dry, (about an hour, at least), I follow the opaque paint with clear lacquer. You will be able to see, (if you are looking at the paint behind your spray), the clear lacquer melt into the solid color. If it isn't real shiny where you just sprayed, then you should slow your speed of progression.

After spraying about 4 thick coats of clear, let it dry for about an hour, then abraid the surface lightly with 320 open coat sandpaper. This tells your eyes where the top surface is. By moving your head a very little bit back and forth, you can compare some little thing or the top of the opaque paint with the abraided surface and tell how thick the clear layer is. I usually shoot for .060" (1/16"). Spray until you get the depth you want and let it dry at least overnight. If you don't give it this time, you can polish to a mirror finish and count on having to re-do the polishing, and the paint will be thinner and more dangerous then.

I sand with only 600 grit wet or dry keeping it rinsed well. Balling up on the sandpaper or the surface of paint tells you that the paint isn't hard enough to sand, yet, or you are using Norton paper. I only use 3M, after quite a few years of owning a body shop. You are removing too much paint and wasting energy sanding with a grit finer than 600. In sanding you want to keep a cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface quite often. This keeps the sandpaper from loading up so quickly and allows you to see when you've sanded enough. The surface should be completely dulled, with no shiny spots. The shiny spots are small dips or orange peel on the surface and need to be eliminated. WATCH THE EDGES AND ANY PLACE THAT CAUSES THE ENERGY YOU ARE EXPENDING TO BE CONCENTRATED ON A VERY SMALL AREA. Edges are hell.

Then hand rub the surface with rubbing compound, (red-brown), then polishing compound (white), and then with Swirl Remover, either DuPont or McGuires. The sanding,compounding, and polishing should give you a surface that is downright shiny, or you haven't rubbed enough. The swirl remover is magic, and removes all the microscopic scratches that you rag leaves. I can remove scratches from CDs with swirl remover, it's so fine. that's more than you bargained for, but should achieve a mirror finish for you.

I have discovered that open coat (white or yellow) sandpaper will cut faster, smoother and much, much longer if you sprinkle a very small bit of talcum powder on the surface before sanding. It also makes the sandpaper last about 5 times as long.



On Body Woods:

The natural-finished T-series guitars, and most of the sunburst ones, were made of Northern Ash, a very heavy wood with a beautiful, contrasty grain. We used this weighty wood because Hartley was afraid of bucking commonly-held beliefs, of that time, that heavy bodies sustained notes longer. It wasn't my money that was being gambled on a new product line and extremely innovative manufacturing methods, so Hartley had the say.

Later, when the market had finally realized the heavy didn't equate to sustain, and we were comfortable with production, we came out with opaque colors, which allowed a wood change. The lower-priced woods of Alder, Poplar, and Maple were tried and Poplar, the cheapest, lightest, and most easily carved, was chosen for all opaque colored guitars.

On Compensated Nuts:

Compensated nuts were thought up by shallow thinking. Since the frets are straight, compensating the nut doesn't change any string's length without making ALL of that string's frets at the mathematically wrong positions! This is an unarguable fact. It was dreamed up by someone who didn't know how to set up a topnut.

In theory, the frets go out to infinity. Therefore, the topnut MUST act like another fret. How simple can that be?. To set the topnut slots to a PERFECT, (and we all know that nothing's perfect), depth,:

=Fret the string at the first fret, then push the string up and down over the second fret.

=Notice the amount that the string moves before it touches the fret. (this is quite easy to see).

=Then, file the topnut slot until the open string moves the same distance down before it touches the first fret.

IMHO, only a fool would argue against that. How can it be any easier or straightforward? The industry gives all sorts of linear measurements, which don't hold true for any but one bridge saddle height. The above is true for ANY fretted instrument!

If you do the above, (and one must be as careful as if you were participating in a "Leaning-Out-Of-The-Window Contest"), you will have players oohing and aahhhing over your action. Don't tell them this well-kept secret.

On Intonation:

The accepted, and time-tested method of setting intonation is to pick a harmonic over the 12th fret and compare it to the fretted 12th fret note.

I have found this to be an approximation. When trying to get 17" scale length guitars to play in tune, we found it impossible to get the intonation right. Peavey dropped the project years ago.

Last year or two, I felt that I needed to validate the 17" scale guitar design, so I came up with what's proven to be a much more accurate and useful method of setting intonation. In some cases, it agrees with the old method, if one is lucky in using it, but I bet that one can't set all six strings accurately with the old method.

= Set your intonation by the 12th fret harmonic method, first.

= Play a fretted note, let's say, at the 9th fret, then play the note one octave up, (21st fret). Do they sound an octave apart? I've found that about 30% of the time, they don't. If you set the intonation to where the 21st fretted note sounds like an octave above the 9th fret, that will be sufficiently intoned. If you re-check the old 12th fret method now, it'll still indicate perfect intonation. This points out the increased accuracy of the octave method.

It's even better to use a gauge when using the octave method, but that's splitting hairs, because it's pretty easy to hear the "not-an-octave" note.

=Ideally, checking at the 12th fret and the 24th fret would be more accurate, only we all don't have 24 frets to use. (5th to 17th fret is better than the 12th fret harmonic, but the higher you go up the neck, the more accurate it gets).

Try this and I know you'll have better intonation.