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PR-5E setup


Tknight

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Hi All,

I purchased a new PR-5E about a month ago and love it, but I think the action is a bit high. It's hard for me to judge, since my prior experience has only been with electrics. I've done some research to find string height dimensions for this guitar (including Dan Erlewine's excellent guitar repair book), but I haven't found any consistency in the numbers. I realize that guitar actions are ultimately a matter of personal preference and playing style, but I'm just trying to find a starting point for now. I've done setups on the 3 electrics my wife and I use and I have the necessary tools, so I don't want to take the axe to a guitar tech. Thanks in advance for your help.

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I know I'd not care to recommend anything at all - and I really enjoy my PR5e.

 

Then again, I play very gentle fingerstyle, the action is very low and the guitar wears DR Zebra 9-42 or a "string by string" batch of Elixir Polywebs in the same 9-42 gauge. (String by string since they don't make that gauge for acoustic.) The sound that way for how I play is definitely "pro quality," but were I a strummer I think it'd be about 80 percent horrid.

 

I'd say that you play the thing, decide what sorts of strings to use with your preferred technique and switch to those, and consider what you expect for sound, then do some adjusting.

 

Just one caveat, taking out the bridge saddle to lower the action can be "iffy" since the pup is that little stringlike thingie and it's possible that replacing the saddle/sanding it or whatever, can not have a good physical connection. It's not impossible, or even necessarily difficult to do, but it's a caution one doesn't usually experience on an electric.

 

Also, consider that an AE ain't quite an acoustic and ain't quite an electric. I think it'll always sound a bit different through an AE amp or a board. Some folks figure it'll sound bad through a regular guitar amp regardless, but I haven't done that in years although I don't recall problems through a Fender DR or a Fender Twin "clone on steroids" tube amp.

 

m

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Thanks for the reply, Milod. Right now, the PR-5E is still wearing the strings it came with. I guess I was hoping to get some kind of consensus from other 5E owners as to whether they were happy with the guitar's action "right out of the box" or if most new owners opted for lowering the action immediately (and if so, how much). At the present time I'm mostly strumming with a pick, but I'm planning to learn some fingerstyle as soon as the nail on my right thumb finishes growing back (but that's a story for another time...). I wasn't going to mess with the saddle, at least not yet, but eventually I'll replace it with Tusq or bone, keeping the original saddle intact in case I screw up on installing the new one.

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I guess I don't have any problems at all with the "plain old" stuff on the guitar.

 

I'm told tusc is fine on some guitars, for some pickers. Not so fine for others.

 

Then again, I'm pretty much in the "if it ain't broke" category.

 

Also... Yeah, my thumbnail currently is broken off too, but...

 

Consider that I did two recent fingerpicking gigs without it - and that mostly I've a callous on the outside of my thumb about where a thumb pick would be sticking out.

 

Nails... some folks are into longer nails; on most material I tend to be more in the "Segovia-classical" picking style with nails about even with the fingertips so both are in use, or it could be fingertips only or nails only, depending on the timbre sought. That's with steel or nylon For flamenco... a different tale and far more nail use.

 

I don't think Joe Pass used nails at all. Chet used only a thumbpick and I don't think he had much for long nails. As for classical guitar, and the options for different timbre, again I tend to be of the "classical guitar" school regardless that I mostly play steel strings.

 

m

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It's good to hear that someone with your experience playing a 5E is satisfied with the original saddle and nut. Problem is that I'm finding working on guitars as much fun as playing them, so I"m afraid the original nut and saddle are eventually headed to the dustbin. I appreciate your advice about the nail/no nail options for finger picking. Right now I keep a bandaid wrapped around my thumb to prevent the nail from coming off prematurely and grossing out my students (I'm a shop teacher). I'm thinking a thumb pick might be a good alternative, however.

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I started on classical guitar so... I think that's largely why I prefer not to use thumbpicks or such.

 

OTOH, on a 5-string banjo or a 12-string guitar or an autoharp I do use thumb and fingerpicks.

 

But there are so many variations that different folks prefer due to their technique.

 

Mother Maybelle, for example, used a thumb and fingerpicks on guitar almost identically to how she played the autoharp. (I play the autoharp that way, but not the guitar.)

 

Good luck however you decide to do your pickin'.

 

BTW, we've really great shop teachers where I live, and expanding shop programs for students that may expand to adults with help from one of the state's post-secondary tech schools. I've always been a supporter of such programs - so if you're even partly as good a teacher as the folks I know around here, there's a bunch of kids in your community who have the doors to more opportunities than they might ever imagine.

 

m

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Hey, that's neat - although I guess my head would want a four-stringer 'stedda something more like a dulcimer.

 

But it has the kids thinking about making their own "things are arts" and even their own "ideas" through music.

 

Good deal.

 

IMHO whether a kid is destined to specialize in teaching A.N. Whitehead at the university level (he'd be strongly supportive of your own work) or to do whatever everyone else thinks is simple repetitive manual labor, leaning to make such things enriches life and mind-set.

 

Congrats to your kids for having you as a teacher!

 

m

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