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Songwriter String Action


LPguitarman

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So, I finally got fed up with the action on my brand new Songwriter Deluxe Studio, so I took the bridge out and sanded it down. The action is much better and surprisingly the intonation doesn't seem out.

 

My one question, when I play notes on the high frets, 15 to 16 and up, the strings fret out (I think that's the term). Is this fixable with a tweak of the truss rod? I really don't want to raise the action again. If that's the answer, I'll live with not getting clean notes on the very high frets. I rarely play there anyway.

 

If it can be fixed with the truss rod, which direction should I turn it, and how much? Or should I just take it to a guitar tech and let him adjust it?

 

Thanks for any help.

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Take care with truss rod adjustments (from personal experience)...

 

Unless the answer is straightforward...take to an experienced tech who can check the neck with a straight edge and very experienced eye...

 

Some people...including myself...can mess with truss rods and then require 'unmessing' from a pro...

 

V

 

:-({|=

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A truss rod adjustment MAY fix your problem, AND is your only hope short of a neck reset or "living with it". As you say, few people really play acoustics that high on the neck, but you want it available if needed.

 

The problem is probably the angle at which the neck and fingerboard proper meet the fixed fingerboard area glued to the soundboard. A TR tweak MAY help.

 

If you get this situations settled, you may have to address the bridge again to put everything in proper order.

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Take care with truss rod adjustments (from personal experience)...

 

Unless the answer is straightforward...take to an experienced tech who can check the neck with a straight edge and very experienced eye...

 

Some people...including myself...can mess with truss rods and then require 'unmessing' from a pro...

 

V

 

:-({|=

Thanks. [biggrin]

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A truss rod adjustment MAY fix your problem, AND is your only hope short of a neck reset or "living with it". As you say, few people really play acoustics that high on the neck, but you want it available if needed.

 

The problem is probably the angle at which the neck and fingerboard proper meet the fixed fingerboard area glued to the soundboard. A TR tweak MAY help.

 

If you get this situations settled, you may have to address the bridge again to put everything in proper order.

Thanks Larry. I may take it to Skip Goez.

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I do not believe a truss rod tweak with a fret issue that high up the neck will solve your problem,

 

how low was it before you started, and where is it now? (can you measure @ low E and high E @12th fret? something like 6/64s, or maybe 5/64s would be a good ball park I guess)

 

What you probably have is a high fret up in that area, and lowering your action has exposed it.

 

This is not a very hard issue to resolve, but you have to know what you're doing. Sanding down the bridge is one thing, re-leveling a fret, is a bit more involved.

 

But there's a few "kits" available for the DIY guy (look for "BUZZ OFF" http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003WRG9SK/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=4162054095&ref=pd_sl_8x9mo72toi_e)

 

IMO, this is one of those things that I would not hesitate to do on a $200/$250 import, I'd probably second think this on a $2k Gibson.

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I do not believe a truss rod tweak with a fret issue that high up the neck will solve your problem,

 

how low was it before you started, and where is it now? (can you measure @ low E and high E @12th fret? something like 6/64s, or maybe 5/64s would be a good ball park I guess)

 

What you probably have is a high fret up in that area, and lowering your action has exposed it.

 

This is not a very hard issue to resolve, but you have to know what you're doing. Sanding down the bridge is one thing, re-leveling a fret, is a bit more involved.

 

But there's a few "kits" available for the DIY guy (look for "BUZZ OFF" http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003WRG9SK/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=4162054095&ref=pd_sl_8x9mo72toi_e)

 

IMO, this is one of those things that I would not hesitate to do on a $200/$250 import, I'd probably second think this on a $2k Gibson.

Thanks kidblast, So taking this to a tech. might be the answer. I wonder if something like this is covered under the warranty? I got the guitar last January, so it's been a year already.

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The issue of warranty and liability can cause headache for some dealers...

 

Some dealers will set up a guitar to a customer's requirement at the moment of sale

 

In theory, depending on temp/humidity, storage conditions etc that careful set up can change somewhat over a period of time

 

Many owners, particularly of high end instruments, budget to spend money regularly on maintenance

 

Wood is wood and will vary between instruments and move over time....

 

IMX a typical high quality guitar will need adjustment anytime from 6 months old onwards...

 

Who covers or part-covers any labour costs can vary between dealers

 

And obviously...an internet purchase from outside the country is a different scenario altogether.... :blink:

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I wonder if something like this is covered under the warranty? I got the guitar last January, so it's been a year already.

 

I don't believe this would be covered as a warranty repair, if this wasn't happening with the factory setup, it's probably just enough of a difference now that you have lowered the action.

 

And a good tech can spot and work this out quite easily.

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Thanks Larry. I may take it to Skip Goez.

 

There's only two guys in town that I would let touch my guitars with tools in there hands, and Skip is NOT one of them.

 

I highly recommend a guy in town by the name of John Higgins. He's an independent, but does work for many area stores (Gravity and Tower to name a couple). Here's a blurb on Tower's website:

 

http://towermusic.com/instrumentrepair.html

 

PM me if you want more info.

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I wonder if something like this is covered under the warranty? I got the guitar last January, so it's been a year already.

 

I don't believe this would be covered as a warranty repair, if this wasn't happening with the factory setup, it's probably just enough of a difference now that you have lowered the action.

 

And a good tech can spot and work this out quite easily.

Thanks kidblast.

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You might have solved the whole action/fretting out issue by just tightening the trussrod a little without having sanded down the saddle. There may very well have been just too much relief in the neck. When you tighten the trussrod, it lowers the action, so that's why you have to get the relief right before adjusting the action. A good luthier will fix it. But don't be surprised if he tweaks the trussrod and then wants to replace the saddle to get it back where it needs to be.

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You might have solved the whole action/fretting out issue by just tightening the trussrod a little without having sanded down the saddle. There may very well have been just too much relief in the neck. When you tighten the trussrod, it lowers the action, so that's why you have to get the relief right before adjusting the action. A good luthier will fix it. But don't be surprised if he tweaks the trussrod and then wants to replace the saddle to get it back where it needs to be.

Here's the story: The intonation and neck (truss rod) was always good. I took it to the tech., shortly after I got the guitar, to lower the string gauge to .011's (.012's came on the guitar from Sweetwater)and do a set-up to adjust for the .011's. The tone was "dead" with the .011's so I went back to .012's. I decided on my own to try to lower the action by sanding down the bridge. I figured the worst that could happen was I'd have to get a new bridge saddle. It worked great, except for the high frets, so I just left it alone for awhile, figured I'd just live with it because I rarely go that high on the neck anyway, and the intonation was still good. So if I have to replace the saddle, so be it, just want to make sure the action gets as low as possible.

Thanks for your input. [thumbup]

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I agree with Kidblast. Even though I advocate doing your own work, this is not one of the jobs to start on. This sounds like a fret leveling situation not truss rod this high up. If this were a new guitar it would be a warranty issue. Short of that, ask a pro player in your area who they use as a luthier or the best guitar shop in town with high-end guitars. Or, just settle for higher action and shim the bridge/saddle back up. B)

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I agree with Kidblast. Even though I advocate doing your own work, this is not one of the jobs to start on. This sounds like a fret leveling situation not truss rod this high up. If this were a new guitar it would be a warranty issue. Short of that, ask a pro player in your area who they use as a luthier or the best guitar shop in town with high-end guitars. Or, just settle for higher action and shim the bridge/saddle back up. B)

Thanks. [thumbup]

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hey LP!

 

So if I have to replace the saddle, so be it, just want to make sure the action gets as low as possible.

 

did you measure before and after? do you know how much saddle you removed?

 

Depending on what you took off, you could just shim if needed to bring it back.

 

The way I usually do this is by 1/64" increments, (I draw a guide line on the bottom of the saddle that's 1/64s from the bottom)

 

Then I will the tape two different grits of sand paper to a flat surface, (250 grit to cut / 500 grit to smooth it off) then just start taking off saddle by sliding the saddle over the sand paper in very slow, methodical "Forward/Back" movements.

 

(Check often to ensure the saddle bottom is totally flat, then and stop when your guideline disappears) IME, That will lower the action by about half of what you took off (eg: 1/128th) not much I know, the idea is to go in gradual increments, (you can't put back what you take off, so take a little off, reset, tune up, check action, need more? another 1/64") This process will also most of the time take some life off your strings, (detune, remove saddle, retune -- it sometimes takes me three or four passes) if you go in standard increments, you know the ball park of what you removed, then you can "get back" to the old action setting by choosing the shim that matches what you took off the saddle.

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hey LP!

 

So if I have to replace the saddle, so be it, just want to make sure the action gets as low as possible.

 

did you measure before and after? do you know how much saddle you removed?

 

Depending on what you took off, you could just shim if needed to bring it back.

 

The way I usually do this is by 1/64" increments, (I draw a guide line on the bottom of the saddle that's 1/64s from the bottom)

 

Then I will the tape two different grits of sand paper to a flat surface, (250 grit to cut / 500 grit to smooth it off) then just start taking off saddle by sliding the saddle over the sand paper in very slow, methodical "Forward/Back" movements.

 

(Check often to ensure the saddle bottom is totally flat, then and stop when your guideline disappears) IME, That will lower the action by about half of what you took off (eg: 1/128th) not much I know, the idea is to go in gradual increments, (you can't put back what you take off, so take a little off, reset, tune up, check action, need more? another 1/64") This process will also most of the time take some life off your strings, (detune, remove saddle, retune -- it sometimes takes me three or four passes) if you go in standard increments, you know the ball park of what you removed, then you can "get back" to the old action setting by choosing the shim that matches what you took off the saddle.

Hi kidblast, My method was probably pretty crude. I pushed the strings (Low E and High E) down at the 12th fret to my desired height, and measured how much I pushed them down. Then I drew a line on the saddle for those dimensions. They were, of course, different on both ends. I sanded the saddle down very carefully with my power sander on slow speed. It worked great. I do have some shims that I can put in if I have to raise the strings, but I really don't want to do that because it would be defeating the initial purpose. The high frets are "livable". The notes still ring, but I just noticed a little deadening. I may not even do anything about it for now.

Thanks.

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power sander on slow speed

 

Woa! That my friend was ballsy move! !!LOL!!

 

In all the time I've been at this (jeeze,, I hate to say it but 40+ years on working on my own guitars now) I still do most of these sort of things by hand.

 

The only power-tool I adopted is a battery op'd screw driver for string changes.

 

But I know a few repair guys that use electric sanders for doing this, But - they also know how to make new saddles if something goes tragically wrong,, :)

 

I think leaving it be is the right plan. As long as you are getting what you need out of it, this is not really a big deal.

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power sander on slow speed

 

Woa! That my friend was ballsy move! !!LOL!!

 

In all the time I've been at this (jeeze,, I hate to say it but 40+ years on working on my own guitars now) I still do most of these sort of things by hand.

 

The only power-tool I adopted is a battery op'd screw driver for string changes.

 

But I know a few repair guys that use electric sanders for doing this, But - they also know how to make new saddles if something goes tragically wrong,, :)

 

I think leaving it be is the right plan. As long as you are getting what you need out of it, this is not really a big deal.

Yeah [biggrin]. I held the saddle with a pliers and, like I said, very slow speed (light on the trigger). I figured the worst that could happen is I go to GC and buy a new saddle.

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So here's another twist on the subject. I went to a local guitar tech. Saturday to take my son's Epiphone LP in for a check-up. While there I figured I'd just ask the tech. a question about my Acoustic. He said give it some humidity to see if that will do the trick. With the cold weather and the furnace going a lot, the heat permeates even into the basement. I haven't actually done it yet, but I'll probably humidify it and see what happens.

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You are correct that no adjustments should be done unless/until the guitar is properly humidified. Once it is good, the neck needs to be adjusted "flat" and that's the only adjustment that should be done via the truss rod. If you're only buzzing on upper frets, it could easily be an uneven fret, or two. Have the frets checked and leveled as needed. Once it is wet, frets leveled and neck straight - then check the action and adjust (if needed) via the saddle. Changing from medium strings to lights shouldn't change volume much if any. It could be that the nut is slotted for the meds. and not properly cut for lights. If you want to go back to lights for ease of playing, I would have the nut, saddle, neck, humidity & frets all checked and set up properly all at one time.

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So here's another twist on the subject. I went to a local guitar tech. Saturday to take my son's Epiphone LP in for a check-up. While there I figured I'd just ask the tech. a question about my Acoustic. He said give it some humidity to see if that will do the trick. With the cold weather and the furnace going a lot, the heat permeates even into the basement. I haven't actually done it yet, but I'll probably humidify it and see what happens.

 

 

that's right, in fact you must do this, get a dampit or something that you can keep moisture in the wood. I have dampits in most of my guitars, and on my taylor GS, I double up with a humidifier up at the headstock in the case

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