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Gibson String Height


jw3571
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This is a subject I was wondering about.   I do all my own setups.   Acoustic and electric.   I have a tough time when trying to play a new guitar.  Even the ones that are the nicest around my home town. There are Gibsons,  Martins,  Taylors  Collings, really some nice high end guitars.  Or high priced anyway. To me, everything is not only too high not only at the 12th fret but also the first. When I go to play I expect guitars to not only be playable but tunable as well.  Was at a local shop the other day. Initials are GC. Every acoustic in the store was unplayable. these were guitars priced between the $2000-$4500 US. I pulled down a $3500. Taylor. Took 2 quarters out of my pocket, slid them under the strings at the 12th. There was still space between the quarters and the string. I don't know how anyone would buy something that has that kind of action. This was a brand new guitar. Not an isolated incident. Different shop different town 10 miles away. This place, Mom & Pop place. A Taylor/Fender shop. Nice wood room with humidifier in it. Picked up an 814 and same thing. Just pushing the string stretches it so sharp that it is un tunable.. My main acoustic for the past 15 years or so is a Gibson J185. Have short fingers so I like the shorter scale. Have it set up with 11's  String height at 12th fret 6-.052, 5-.050, 4.048, 3-.046, 2-.044 1-.042,      First fret 6-.015, 5-.014, 4-.013, 3-.012, 2-.011, 1-.010. Intonation strobes with Peterson 490 Dead Nuts. Also have a 000 Martin set up to the same specs with the same strings. Both stop the strobe open and fretted. I can play my guitars for hours at a time, without much fatigue.  So if I can get an acoustic to play this sweet, you would think someone trying to sell one could at least get it close. Another note. My 185 when I got it I couldn't do a 45 minute set with it, without getting cramps in my hand. Now it plays just as easy as my Les Pauls.

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On 11/30/2019 at 8:42 PM, ezpikins said:

This is a subject I was wondering about.   I do all my own setups.   Acoustic and electric.   I have a tough time when trying to play a new guitar.  Even the ones that are the nicest around my home town. There are Gibsons,  Martins,  Taylors  Collings, really some nice high end guitars.  Or high priced anyway. To me, everything is not only too high not only at the 12th fret but also the first. When I go to play I expect guitars to not only be playable but tunable as well.  Was at a local shop the other day. Initials are GC. Every acoustic in the store was unplayable. these were guitars priced between the $2000-$4500 US. I pulled down a $3500. Taylor. Took 2 quarters out of my pocket, slid them under the strings at the 12th. There was still space between the quarters and the string. I don't know how anyone would buy something that has that kind of action. This was a brand new guitar. Not an isolated incident. Different shop different town 10 miles away. This place, Mom & Pop place. A Taylor/Fender shop. Nice wood room with humidifier in it. Picked up an 814 and same thing. Just pushing the string stretches it so sharp that it is un tunable.. My main acoustic for the past 15 years or so is a Gibson J185. Have short fingers so I like the shorter scale. Have it set up with 11's  String height at 12th fret 6-.052, 5-.050, 4.048, 3-.046, 2-.044 1-.042,      First fret 6-.015, 5-.014, 4-.013, 3-.012, 2-.011, 1-.010. Intonation strobes with Peterson 490 Dead Nuts. Also have a 000 Martin set up to the same specs with the same strings. Both stop the strobe open and fretted. I can play my guitars for hours at a time, without much fatigue.  So if I can get an acoustic to play this sweet, you would think someone trying to sell one could at least get it close. Another note. My 185 when I got it I couldn't do a 45 minute set with it, without getting cramps in my hand. Now it plays just as easy as my Les Pauls.

Guitar store setups can get interesting. Sometimes it's factory decree. Always easier to go down than up. I had to file 4 nut slots my last new guitar (Martin D-41) down .002-.003 to be somewhat uniform with string height and radius. I could go more, but it's still too soon. I normally like to wait a little bit before doing too much. 

What do you set your relief set to along with with these string measurements? Your specs are a lot lower than what most people post. Any loss of tone or anything? Did you have to level your frets to get to this spot? 

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I set my relief with something that's easy to remember 5@5   .005 @ fifth fret. But truss rod set to environment. That said living in KCMO, air starting to dry out and furnace also producing dry conditions.

I keep fresh humidipaks in guitars and cases. Guitars always in case when not being played. If I was going to hang it on a wall I would leave the saddle maybe .005 higher. I have a beater, a Dean I call my Bar Guitar. Not too expensive. I keep it .047-.057 at the 12th. Always have truss rod wrench in case so if strings start to feel like they are cutting me, just an 1/8 turn tight will fix it. On the other end, when weather turns dry and things start to buzz turn it back.  Just went through my 000 15 Martin and it ended up at .007 at the fifth fret. I play .011-.052. Likely a bit lower than say a flatpicker would want. But I do want my guitars to play in tune. (DON"T WE ALL)? I may not be the best guitarist out there , but damn-it I'll be in tune.... I get those who want the saddle higher. But when I cut the nut, I do it with a strobe tuner. Take it down till the first fret note isn't sharp. Of course have to cut the saddle height first... Unlike a lot of people, I don't sand the bottom of the saddle and throw it out of square.  I'll cut the slots just like the nut. Then do the nut. then the intonation. And lastly pull the saddle and take down the top till the string just rests on the top of it. I use ROTOSOUND Super Bronze formerly Country Gold strings. It is a contact core string so the slots I cut for the larger strings are similar to the B and high E. So its possible to raise action a bit by  installing an ordinary set of strings. Depending on weather.... the 5@5 rule will be plus or minus..... Also each guitar may require slight modifications so my measurements are where they have arrived at over time. With a tweak here and there. Moved to KCMO from central California. When we got her all my acoustics went crazy. A little love and they sing.

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