Non-Recessed Floyd Rose Action/Compound Radius Fret Leveling?


Hi all, I have a Warmoth tele with a non-recessed Floyd Rose + angled pocket, and a 10"-16" compound radius neck. It mostly plays perfectly, with the exception of the upper frets. The action is low across the board with pretty much no fret buzz before the 12th fret, but starting there the notes start to choke out and not really sustain. It will still intonate and the notes aren't completely dead, but it can sound better. For what it's worth, the neck is about 10 years old so it has some wear from normal playing. I don't think adjusting the truss rod or raising the action at the nut would really do anything, so unless you guys know of a better way, my options seem to be shimming the Floyd Rose saddles, or leveling the frets (with the idea being a level would shave off a bit of fret height across the board, while getting rid of any potential high frets). 

For what I'm working with, the bridge is a Schaller Floyd Rose with Graphtech string saver saddles (which have a radius of 12"), and the frets are normal 6105 fretwire. I've done fret levels and crowns on straight 9.5" and 12" radius necks before, but a compound radius is a first for me. I don't want to raise the bridge using the post screws, because I want the bridge to sit against the body and be dive-only. Any help/suggestions?

(link to image of the guitar if you're curious:
Welcome Pizzathehutt. Ideally you do need to shim the radius of the bridge saddles to around an 18" radius to work optimally with a 10 - 16" compound radius.

I would sort that out prior to doing levelling etc. so you then have a better view of how it plays with the bridge adjusted.

Leveling compound radii is similar to levelling a straight radius with the exception you need to keep your leveling beam for example following the lie of the strings rather than being parallel with the necks centre line.
Thanks stratamania! I’ll be sure to try shimming the saddles first, interesting though how the 18” bridge radius is supposed to work better with the compound radius. Is it because the nut is already a 10” radius and the strings will naturally follow the changing curves from the gradually changing radii? I should also mention that the D and G strings definitely have this problem, so I’d probably need to raise the saddle height in addition to shimming for the new radius. If the strings are really low, would raising the height slightly not make too much of a difference below the 12th fret while making a bigger difference above the 12th fret, because the neck pocket is angled?

I’m confused by the leveling beam following the lie of the strings. I’m not entirely sure what that means or what tge steps for doing that process would look like, sorry.
A 10 - 16" fretboard is a progressively increasing radius, which if followed to its logical conclusion will end up around 18" or so at the bridge. Looked at in cross section it represents part of a cone rather than a cylinder which a straight radius would have.

Your strings are not parallel with each other, they taper wider as the go towards the bridge that is the lie of the strings that needs to be followed on a compound radius.

I was part of a rather long thread on TGP where this was discussed. This is a drawing I did of a plan view of a cone. The red dotted lines would be incorrect for levelling if your leveling beam were to follow such a line.

Cone Plan View
by stratamania, on Flickr

This might also help.


See also here for Setting Up Your Tremolo or Floyd Rose.
OK I read that TGP thread you mentioned, and I think I may have been overthinking the process. So for straight radius necks, I fret level by using the corresponding radius block up and down the center of the neck. But for the compound radius, I'd use a flat, long, narrower block, and make a small oval-like sanding motion where I treat the strings as the centerline? So for example, I could start with the high E as the centerline, which would be at an acute angle from the actual centerline of the neck, and the angle gets more shallow until I get between then D and G strings, then start going at an angle again, treating the A string as a centerline before gradually moving on to the low E. Do I have the right idea for the process? Am I wording it in a confusing way? Is it something that is easier to get a feel for once you actually do it?
You seem to be making it more complicated than it is. You don't need to make any oval motions nor do you need to use a radius block on a straight radius neck you can also use a levelling beam on those.

You have six strings that each follow their own line along the neck. That is the lie of the strings.  Imagine an infinite amount of strings and lines spaced out across the board which with a compound radius is what is a conical shape, that is what you need to follow.