Do PRS guitars require high action?

Discussion in 'PTC - PRS Tech Center' started by Christian King, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I've owned 3 PRS SEs so far with last one being my newest addition. All three required higher (~2mm) action to be playable without major fret buzz coming though the amp. I'm getting my current one set up by a tech but he said he has to lower the term below factory specs to lower the action, otherwise the saddle for the low E bottoms out. We had the same issue on my last SE. My first had a stop tail so it was a little bit easier to go lower but it would buzz no matter the relief. I've done some research and there are lots of questions about that online but the answers are always the same (adjust relief, nut etc.)

    For me a comfortable action is about 1.2-1.5mm or about .05-.06". That seems to be impossible to achieve for my tech without touching the term due to the saddle bottoming out as well as the fret buzz. There's a sweet spot for the guitar and that seems to be on the higher hand.

    I recently tried other guitars in guitar stores such as Ibanez, Shecter etc. while I was waiting for my new SE to arrive and they are super comfortable to play. Low action right out of the gate without buzzing coming through the amp. That seems to be impossible to achieve on the SEs I've owned.

    Is this normal? Do PRS guitars require higher action to function properly?
     
  2. Ovibos

    Ovibos Naughty Wood Librarian

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    Short answer: No.

    I have mine at low-medium action, like what you specified (1.25mm on high E to 1.5mm on low E). A little buzz is to be expected at this height - in fact when Sweetwater does a set up they ask you how much buzz you're ok with as a way to help understand what you like.

    It doesn't come thru the amp, tho.

    You might want to try a different tech, if you're not comfortable doing a setup yourself (something I learned to do this year that was really valuable).

    Where are you? Perhaps someone on here can recommend a tech.
     
  3. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    This
     
  4. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I'm located in SoCal, Riverside county.

    My tech is knowledgeable. He knows the term systems. He's worked on multiple PRS guitars.

    I'm currently at his shop. And he's saying that the saddle for th low E is already bottomed out yet my action is not even at factory specs. It's a tad higher. And I already lowered the term which he pointed out is way below factory specs already. He also said that the neck angle is too straight.

    He's got 50 years of experience almost. He's no idiot. The PRS I have is from Indonesia. They probably didn't glue the neck on the right way. Someone on this forum had the same issue. No one could help him. I asked him and it ended up being the back angle which is why he couldn't get the action low enough.

    I'm gonna have my tech work with it the best he can. But one thing is for sure, I will never get an SE again, at least not from Indonesia.
     
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  5. Ovibos

    Ovibos Naughty Wood Librarian

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    I have an Indonesian Zach Myers, and it's fantastic.
    Sorry you're having bad luck with yours.

    Not sure why you seem so defensive of the tech...never hurts to get a 2nd opinion.
     
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  6. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    My last PRS SE from Indonesia was set up by three different techs in my area with the last one being the current tech. He got it to play buttery smooth but the setup wouldn't hold. It would develop fret buzz after hours of practicing. Neck adjustments didn't do the trick. All three techs were at a loss as to what the problem could have been. I returned it for the current SE just to run into different problems. I'm not actually defensive of the tech I'm just angry and frustrated because the sentiment in the PRS community seems to be that it's either a techs fault for not being able to set up a PRS or it's my fault for not playing it right. PRS and poor QC? Not even an option in the PRS world. Of course that's only a small representation of PRS owners and not everyone glorifies brands and there lots of other brands out there they are just as glorified. I understand that. I didn't mean to jump on you. Don't take it personally. I'll look for a used core series with a thin shredder neck. Probably pattern thin. I'm sure I'll be happy with that. The SE I'll keep for riffing because that's what it's very good at.
     
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  7. swede71

    swede71 Tja ba!Läget?

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    Check the John Mann video on how to adjust the 6 tremolo screws.He use a 2.5 mm hexwrench as a feeler gauge.I have noticed on many SE models that the bridge sits very high.If 2.5 mm wrench doesn’t work try a 2.4 or 2.3 mm.To answer your question,yes every guitar needs high action to sound good. :)
     
    #7 swede71, Sep 4, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
    Christian King likes this.
  8. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    The problem my tech and I have is that the saddle for the low is bottomed out already despite the term being at stock height. I'm guessing that's why the Sweetwater tech set the action so high. He wanted to make sure the saddle wasn't bottomed out. So to get the action to spec height let alone below spec height the trem has to be lowered. But that means I won't have a fully functioning trem (1/2step at most). Another solution would be to file down the saddle but that would most likely create a host of other problems. I have to talk to my tech. But currently I'm shopping for a US trem. Maybe that'll give me more range with respect to string height. I'd like it to be about 1.2-1.5mm which is what I'm used to. The lowest possible action without lowering the trem on my current SE is about 2mm. The .5mm are so noticable for me it's bothering me a lot. Otherwise the guitar is good. It sounds great. I don't want to return it like I did the other one. I'm tired of it. So I'll make it work. I got Bare Knuckles sitting here waiting to be installed as well. There's gotta be a way to get to 1.5mm and my tech and I will find a solution. If not I'll contact PTC.
     
  9. Perry

    Perry New Member

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    Christian, not all PRS guitars can be set up by factory measurements alone. I set my action the same as you - 1.25 and 1.5mm respectively. I also have the truss rod set almost straight. I have 2 core PRS - a 2002 Custom 24 and a 2011 513. I also followed John Mann's video using a 2.4mm hex key (the nearest size I had) after which, the 513 bridge sat perfect height wise with no saddles bottomed out. However, the Custom 24 bridge became way too high - the bottom of the bridge was quite a way up, clear of the guitar face. I ended up lowering it by eye ensuring the bottom of the bridge stayed clear of the guitar top when rocked. Now the saddles sit correctly and the trem stays perfectly in tune.
     
  10. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I sent the guitar to PTC. They're taking care of it. They'll probably level the frets more and crown them as well as replace the nut and it it right. I told them I'd like it at about 1.25-1.5mm and they said no problem. We'll see.

    I've been practicing on my old Squier and it's so tough to play. I'm really missing the PRS haha.
     
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  11. RJK Tech

    RJK Tech New Member

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    If you have a choice, just get a core USA made and forget about it. I gave up on SE’s a long time ago.

    This may not be a popular opinion but it comes from my own personal experience.

    Core pickups sound 100 times better than those in SE’s. SE’s sound very thin to me. Again just my experience.

    The Zach Myers pickups are much better than the other SE’s.

    Maybe they’ve been improved since i last tried; my data is getting old now.

    It’s all part of the cost trade off on economy models.
     
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  12. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I want to buy one next year. But I'd want a 22 fret for sound and probably a pattern thin neck. I don't even think that's an option. The pattern thin necks come on 24 fret guitars I believe.
     
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  13. mm928

    mm928 New Member

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    Nope - my 2013 MT 408 came with a Pattern Thin neck and is 22 frets. Might just have to look around.
     
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  14. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot New Member

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    Just got an S2 594 Thinline and yea the action is a little high. The nut looks good, neck is straight, and I slammed the bridge all the way down. I think that's just the way it is. Still plays nice, just a tad higher than my Gibsons.
     
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  15. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    I agree, but I also highlighted and underlined an important part of that statement.
     
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  16. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I got my custom 22 SE back from PTC last Saturday. Action is low at 4/64 low E & 3.5/64 high e. It was setup with NYXL 10s. Initially it felt ok but very stiff. Not much sustain up the neck (especially g string from the 12th fret upwards). The more I played the more it buzzed (new strings breaking in, losing tension). So I changed strings. I went with EB 10s since I'm used to the slinky feel. After I put them on I adjusted the truss rod and the trem springs. It's back at 4/64 low E & 3.5/64 high e. The EB strings feel looser and buzz way more than the NYXLs despite the action being the same. Not a lot of sustain up the neck. Same as the NYXLs. It sounds like I've never played in my entire life. Every note up the neck sounds off because the buzzing kills sustain. Even with the NYXLs it buzzed and had little sustain. Additionally, with the EB strings I now have an intonation issue when playing a D chord which I didn't have with the NYXLs. I checked intonation at the 12th fret and it's spot on. Anyone have any idea why that is? Maybe a bad patch of strings? They're the same gauge strings so the nut can't be the issue (USA core nut, very low, cut properly from the way it looks)

    I'm simply at a loss. I cannot make this guitar sing with low action. Not even PTC could do it. They leveled the frets and did a nice set up. Sure with the lightest touch possible I can make it sing some. But I want to lean into it. I want some pick attack even when shredding. That isn't possible up the neck due to the fret buzz. My Jackson Soloist is sitting at 3/64 high E and 4/64 low E as well and it has sustain for days. When I play, say, the intro for Sweet child of mine, it sounds spot on. When I play it on the PRS it sounds off and choked making me sound like I just picked up a guitar for the first time. So weird. I set up the Jackson myself btw. The frets aren't even totally level ( SS jumbos). If I leveled them I could get even lower action buzz free. Why can't I achieve that with the PRS? Is it the design of the guitar? Neck angle? Fretboard radius? The Jackson has a 12" radius. So it's not that much flatter.

    Right now I only see two options. Either I go up a gauge (11s) in the hopes that this would be enough tension to make it buzz less and increase sustain or I raise the action a tad to get more sustain up the neck which might or might not make it tougher to play certain things. What should I do? What would you guys do?
     
  17. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob New Member for almost a year...

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    OMG I just typed a long response to this and it wouldn’t post! Doh!
     
    #17 Uncle Bob, Oct 13, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  18. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob New Member for almost a year...

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    Anyway, I’ll try again with a shorter version...

    I have a late 80’s Jackson Stealth, which is a bit like the Soloist (dots instead of shark fin inlays and the body goes super thin all the way out to the edges). That has a flat radius board (I forget the specs) and I have that setup quite low. The radius affects playability quite a lot more than people realise.

    It’s a lot harder to get sustain further up the neck because there’s less string to vibrate, however it won’t vibrate at all if it’s choking out, so I would raise the action a little, and maybe even raise the pickup a bit too.

    I also have a Korean SE C24, with the high E saddle slammed to the bridge, however in combination with the neck relief and nut slots being ‘right’ it gives me a setup I’m happy with (quite low - I can’t remember the actual figures off the top of my head), and in terms of tuning stability it’s actually a bit better than my core C24 (which is super sensitive to temperature).

    That being said, sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and just get something that plays how you want it to I.e if you live upwards of the 19th fret, get another shred machine!
     
    #18 Uncle Bob, Oct 13, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  19. swede71

    swede71 Tja ba!Läget?

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    I would do as I always do,set action at 5/64 for all strings with 9s and relief at 0.010.
     
  20. Christian King

    Christian King New Member

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    I got myself a set of 10.5s yesterday. That solved the issue. They sound full, beefy, and they have more sustain ( i adjusted relief back to where it was to account for the change in tension). It still buzzes a little but I can dig in. The only downside, bending the g string feels like bending a steel chord. But tension wise they're about the same as D'addario 10s. Bending isn't a problem it just feels weird because the strings are thicker. But the high e still sounds off when I play a d chord. It's perfectly intonated at the 12th fret, though. I had this problem before I sent it to PTC. So it can't be the nut or the setup otherwise they would have fixed it. I might make a separate thread for that.
     
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