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The benifits of lowering string action

#1 User is offline   Zippydog 

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 06:13 AM

I've had my EL-00 for two years now and for the most part, it played fine.
This past weekend my son came for a visit and played it.
He thought that the action was a little high. I trust him emensily as he has played and worked with guitars since he was 10 years old.
He's 32 now.
I would never think of shaving the saddle myself no way, but my son did this in no time.
The end result was quite noticeable.
What a delight it is now. It plays easier than ever chords and single note pressing is effortless.
I know some like their action on the high side for acoustic play.
I got to say that for an intermediate player like me, it' makes all the difference in the world.
Hey bro, I know you're up there.
Thanks for your advice and help growing up.
Let's have a beer someday.
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#2 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 01:31 PM

It's always a personal preference matter to finding the sweet spot for string height for each guitar (and player). On my EL-00, I raised the action a bit on mine with a higher saddle and by using medium strings, which fits my fingerpicking and playing attack. And, volume preference. But, yet, I found on my Gibson Gospel Reissue, considerably lowering the saddle's action and using lights made it a much better playing and sounding guitar. Again, it's finding that sweet spot on each individual instrument.

Glad to learn you have an EL-00. You, then, also know it's a fabulous little guitar.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#3 User is offline   Zippydog 

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 01:53 PM

Yes each guitar needs itís own set up for sure.
My electrics range between low and medium.
I guess the lesson here is it pays to experiment.
The EL-00 IS a fabulous little guitar.
Hey bro, I know you're up there.
Thanks for your advice and help growing up.
Let's have a beer someday.
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#4 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 02:13 PM

That is indeed the lesson. One should not be afraid to experiment to find what works best. Worst case one has to carve or buy or have a luthier make a new saddler if it ends up being too low. (Or, cut a piece of a credit card to put under a saddle to raise it a bit until one of the others can occur.). Been there done that, too. Bottom line is to get the action and playability right for the guitar and player.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#5 User is offline   wildkat1 

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 07:00 PM

Zippydog.....just what is the process to "shave" the saddle??? What do you use to shave it down?? Just curious as I'm reluctant to mess with mine...
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#6 User is offline   Zippydog 

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 07:36 PM

View Postwildkat1, on 27 October 2017 - 07:00 PM, said:

Zippydog.....just what is the process to "shave" the saddle??? What do you use to shave it down?? Just curious as I'm reluctant to mess with mine...

Hey Wildkat,
I didn't actually perform the adjustment but I watched my son.
He took a piece of flat glass and laid a piece of 800 grit sandpaper on top.
Using a small block of wood behind the saddle to keep it vertical and straight, he rubbed until he took off what he estimated needed to be removed.
Placed it back in the slot and I was in business it didn't look that hard for him at least. Guess you need to know how much to take off.
A little at a time I guess.
He also tweaked the neck a tiny bit.
Worked well.
Good luck if you try it.
Hey bro, I know you're up there.
Thanks for your advice and help growing up.
Let's have a beer someday.
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#7 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 10:41 AM

One always has to be careful with their guesswork of shaving a saddle. I have been working on lowering the action on my 1955/56 Epiphone F79 off and on for about a week. I had it lowered pretty good and was playing it, yesterday, and I thought, what the hey, I will go a little lower with it. End result, I went a sliver too low and was getting buzzing from the saddle on the first, second, and third strings. To try and compensate, I lowered the slots on the strings' nuts to add more downward tension from the strings' angle on the nut to the tuners. And adjusted the truss rod a bit. Worked and sounded great until I put my capo on the fifth fret where I sometimes play and without the downward pull of the strings at the nut, I was back to string buzzing at the saddle.

I ended up cutting a sliver of plastic from an old credit card and placing it under the saddle to shore up the saddle that I shave a bit too much, probably the thickness of the credit card plastic I used used as a shim. No more buzzing anywhere and it sounds great. At some future point, I suppose I will recarve a new saddle the size and height of the one in there now, including the shim height. But, that's another project for another time.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#8 User is offline   wildkat1 

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 11:47 AM

Zippydog...thanks for the overview on the haircut and "shave"!!! It really is helpful! Now if I can only find help with my esonic2 hum problem!!!! I posted info on it just before yours but no views yet..... [confused]
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#9 User is offline   Irish_Rover 

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 01:27 PM

View Postwildkat1, on 29 October 2017 - 11:47 AM, said:

Zippydog...thanks for the overview on the haircut and "shave"!!! It really is helpful! Now if I can only find help with my esonic2 hum problem!!!! I posted info on it just before yours but no views yet..... [confused]

For some obscure reason the amount of views is only shown after a reply has been posted. Plenty of videos on YouTube on shaving/sanding down saddles.
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#10 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 05:07 PM

Agree, there are indeed plenty of videos on YT on shaving saddles. I watched a few today before I started carving a new saddle to replace the one I messed up. Also, watched some videos on how the master luthiers are now making some pretty cool shims if they shave a saddle too low, though I decided to just make a new one from scratch to replace the one I shaved too low. A good Sunday afternoon project for me.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#11 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 07:02 AM

There are certain repairs and adjustments I will do on a guitar and those I will not go near. It also depends on the guitar. I am far more inclined to mess around with Supertone Concert than a Gibson Banner J-50. I have shaved and shimmed saddles. I have replaced bridges. A while back I repaired a broken headstock on a Harmony Sovereign. I give it an 11 out of 10 for stability (it is stronger now than it was originally) but only maybe a 6 or 7 on cosmetics. But I am not a skilled luthier being more of a putzer and am not about to let anybody else who fits into that category mess with my guitars especially if it is an irreversible action such as shaving or ramping a bridge.

But I have never gotten the obsession with having the action on an acoustic darn near as low as that on an electric. I set the action on my acoustics on the high side of normal - around 8/64" on the low end. It may be though that because of the old el cheapo guitars I tend to like I have gown used to it.
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#12 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 07:08 AM

View PostQuestionMark, on 28 October 2017 - 10:41 AM, said:

One always has to be careful with their guesswork of shaving a saddle. I have been working on lowering the action on my 1955/56 Epiphone F79 off and on for about a week. I had it lowered pretty good and was playing it, yesterday, and I thought, what the hey, I will go a little lower with it. End result, I went a sliver too low and was getting buzzing from the saddle on the first, second, and third strings.


You got me knocking on wood. After I got rid of the original rosewood saddle on my FT-79 I have had to do nothing to it in the way of playability other than a truss rod tweak in well over a decade. I have developed an immense amount of faith in that guitar.
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