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My Gibson J-45 Custom action is way too high

#1 User is offline   fumblefingers 

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:47 PM

I don't post here often, mostly read because I don't offer much insight being a self-taught hack who just loves the sound of the guitar, but I did post a thread 3 years ago when I became the proud owner of a brand new Gibson J-45. The problem I am having is that the action is so high it's always been difficult to play.

I do not know much about guitars and when I bought it new it was supposed to be set up correctly from the factory. One of the first players who saw and tried it said "wow, this action is pretty high, makes it tough to play." I kind of just thought that's how guitars are because my old guitar was even worse - an old junk Matao which was just awful.

Anyhow, I just measured at the 12th fret and the treble side is 7/64", and the bass side is 10/64" to give you an idea. The 1st fret bass side looks like about 4/64" and the treble side is north of 1/64" but my eyes have a hard time with that measurement.

When I look down the neck, it's bowed a slight bit, mostly on the low E side, though, as the high E looks straighter? I've been careful not to let the guitar dry out or anything, I keep it in the case, but I live in the PNW which is really humid this time of year anyhow.

To me, the saddle looks very high. Also, the nut could be an issue if it's not carved right, and given that it's high there I'm thinking I have more than one issue. I'm disappointed in myself for not understanding the guitar better before I bought it, but I also feel like Gibson did not set this guitar up right. Should I just find a Luthier at this point, or should I contact the company and have them handle it? I don't know any Luthiers and don't want somebody messing up my guitar. I keep it in mint condition.

Please advise, and thank you so much for reading.

PS- I will take some pictures tomorrow so you guys and gals can see. I measured with a 32nds rule and doubled it.

This post has been edited by fumblefingers: 09 January 2018 - 09:53 PM

2014 Gibson J-45 Custom Vintage Sunburst
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#2 User is offline   fp 

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 10:41 PM

Do you know of any guitar techs that you could take it to ?
Sounds to me like it just needs a good set up. Get the relief correct, check nut slots to see if they are low enough and then adjust the saddle to get the action so itís playable for you.
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#3 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:04 AM

View Postfp, on 09 January 2018 - 10:41 PM, said:

Do you know of any guitar techs that you could take it to ?
Sounds to me like it just needs a good set up. Get the relief correct, check nut slots to see if they are low enough and then adjust the saddle to get the action so itís playable for you.


I agree.

The only other thing I can add is there is no right or wrong action height. What matters is what works for you. I have had some musicians, who like their action way too low from my perspective, tell me the action on my guitars is too high. So, donít take what someone else said as necessarily 100% accurate. For example, action height can impact volume, the ability to play up the neck, the ability to dig in and fingerpick or do hammer-on/pull-offs, etc. etc. And, everyone plays differently.

But, if you have any question, take it to a good luthier for a set up that meets your playing style.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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#4 User is offline   Dave F 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:21 AM

Where do you live?
Maybe we can recommend someone
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#5 User is offline   Murph 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:28 AM

View PostQuestionMark, on 10 January 2018 - 12:04 AM, said:


The only other thing I can add is there is no right or wrong action height. What matters is what works for you. I have had some musicians, who like their action way too low from my perspective, tell me the action on my guitars is too high.


I agree with Jeff. I always actually preferred a higher action on acoustics because of the struggle for volume without amplification. However, my new J-15 is low and fast, and I'm kinda diggin' that too.

Make it the way YOU want it.
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#6 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:33 AM

Hi there, so just to point out a few tings..

The factory set up is never "Correct", it is only a starting point and as mentioned by fp. every player will have a different requirement.

it also sounds like there are possibly a few things going.

The action you see is very high, the factory set should be some where around 7/64s Bass side, 5/64s treble, and for me, even that is too high. The nut sounds high too


btw.. I like it some where around 5/64s ~ 4/64s at the 12th fret.

Also, It could be that due to your climate, your guitar is retaining additional moisture and the top has swelled. if you have a hydrometer, put it in the case and see what it's reading. the comfort zone is some where around 45 to 60% RH. (I'm in the Boston area, and it's extremely dry, low 20s RH, My acoustic cases, last I checked struggle to stay at 30, and that's with 2 humidifiers in them)

The bowing you are seeing is not all that uncommon where one side appears to have more bow then another, it's not quite right tho, it should be correctable. have you tried to take out any of the relief on the trus rod (tighten a 1/4 turn or so? - counter clockwise sighting down from the head stock)

I would look around for a good setup tech in your location, seems to me that you are way over due for one.

This post has been edited by kidblast: 10 January 2018 - 05:34 AM

/Ray
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#7 User is offline   aliasphobias 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:47 AM

Without a doubt take it to a Luthier. And I don't mean one of those G.C. hacks. Many times a setup takes less than an hour and most Luthiers are happy to show you what they are doing and why. Please don't start humidifying or dehumidifying without knowing what your humidity is. Good luck!
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#8 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 06:32 AM

View Postaliasphobias, on 10 January 2018 - 05:47 AM, said:

Without a doubt take it to a Luthier. And I don't mean one of those G.C. hacks. Many times a setup takes less than an hour and most Luthiers are happy to show you what they are doing and why. Please don't start humidifying or dehumidifying without knowing what your humidity is. Good luck!



Exactly right

Just go to a luthier.
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#9 User is offline   jvi 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:25 AM

those measurments are beyond what the factory should ship, have a pro check it out and ask if the neck angle is ok, Gibson sends many guitars out with too high saddles ,once they are lowered they can lose the sound you paid for,
they say this makes future set ups easy but, I feel its to cover up sheety work 7 32 as a start is crazy for MOST people- max for many as well good luck !
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#10 User is offline   bassetman 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:14 PM

View Postjvi, on 10 January 2018 - 09:25 AM, said:

those measurments are beyond what the factory should ship, have a pro check it out and ask if the neck angle is ok, Gibson sends many guitars out with too high saddles ,once they are lowered they can lose the sound you paid for,
they say this makes future set ups easy but, I feel its to cover up sheety work 7 32 as a start is crazy for MOST people- max for many as well good luck !

Three years down the road is pretty far to blame this on the factory.
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#11 User is offline   jvi 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:40 PM

View Postbassetman, on 10 January 2018 - 12:14 PM, said:

Three years down the road is pretty far to blame this on the factory.

op states the problem was there from the time he got the git and others noticed also, and I didnt blame the factory for his problem
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#12 User is offline   fumblefingers 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 03:26 PM

Thank you for all the responses. I'm almost ashamed to admit the guitar still has its original strings! I never measured the action when it first came. Heck, I just learned how to do that yesterday after searching online for info. I dug up the paperwork I got from Gibson and they recorded the measurements on the 12th fret as "6" on the low, "4" on the high. I am assuming they are talking in 64ths of an inch? Their measurements on the 1st fret were .22 on the low and .11 on the high.

Insofar as humidity is concerned, I have always kept a hygrometer with the guitar. It is at 53% as I type. I have a humidifier if needed in the summer. I suppose the guitar could have "fallen out" of spec by playing it at times? It's not been played much, so not sure what could cause it to be so wildly out of adjustment. I want to buy a better measuring tool, like a caliper or something, but I know for sure this thing needs a little adjustment at the very least. I am in the Gig Harbor, WA area.
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#13 User is offline   fp 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:48 PM

Do a search for a guitar tech or Luthier that you can take it to. Itís not going to fix itself asking anymore questions here.
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#14 User is offline   fortyearspickn 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:37 PM

jvi said:

1515597930[/url]' post='1907916']
those measurments are beyond what the factory should ship, have a pro check it out and ask if the neck angle is ok, Gibson sends many guitars out with too high saddles ,once they are lowered they can lose the sound you paid for,
they say this makes future set ups easy but, I feel its to cover up sheety work 7 32 as a start is crazy for MOST people- max for many as well good luck !


Not 7/32..... OP stated 7/64.
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#15 User is offline   jvi 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 05:57 PM

right 64s not 32s -
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#16 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 06:21 PM

My J45 Standard sounded great at the shop and I went then to buy one in about 2010, after reading....Gibson forum.

After playing at home for a hour, my delicate digits said: ĎOuch! No good, much hurting, boss!í

So off to the best luthier in the country it went and returned with the classic Ďplays like butterí setup the luthier usually does for me. It is kept in the case with Humidipaks, and it has held the same setup for about 7 years. If I played it now, it would be hard to tell the difference from when I got it back that day. This is luck. Guitars move.

But you can lower the odds of a bad setup job by doing some internet research to find the absolute, very best Gibson expert guitar tech in your area and take it there immediately!

Either that or keep playing it with the blues face [blink]


BluesKing777.
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