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BozeMan

J-45 Lowering Action

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Hi,

 

I've had several Gibson Acoustics, but I'm writing about my J-45 TV. It's from 2008. I love the sound of the guitar, but I'm not happy with the action after the 5th fret.

 

I've adjusted the truss rod to what I believe to be correct, and I've sanded down the saddle - with no buzz, but if I take it down any more I know it will buzz.

 

I'm still seeing about 6/32" at the 12th fret. Which isn't tremendous, I know, but everything I read/see says it should be around 3/32 or 4/32.

 

Are there any other options for lowering the action on an acoustic?

 

Everything I read talks about adjusting the truss rod and maybe sanding the saddle a little. What do you do from there?

 

Any input or direction would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

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There are many angles of approach to this basic set-up procedure. A good luthier will balance them all and is well worth the investment. Anytime you whip out the sandpaper and f with the saddle you're upsetting the balance. Take it to a pro.

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Many aspects to the issue of action adjustment on an acoustic.... :blink:

 

From personal experience can be frustrating and dependent on a number of factors

 

Stability of temp/humidity plays a part

 

An experienced guitar tech will have met many of the situations... [thumbup]

 

Take care with truss rod adjustment...not as 'straight'-forward as might be assumed

 

All guitars age and wood moves in a unique way per instrument

 

In the last 12 months I have had 2 necks re-set to address issues of overly high action

 

String gauge is another fairly obvious factor

 

Playing style can influence preferred settings...a hard plectrum style will necessitate a higher buzz free action than delicate finger style

 

On a personal note...I don't bother with any 'recommended' settings any more

 

A couple of my acoustics look very high in this aspect...yet play well and intonate correctly high up the neck.... [thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Yep, It could be the nut. How does it play with a capo at the first fret? It shouldn't be any harder to play open than with a capo, if string height at the nut is optimal. If not you are back to saddle and neck relief. With the capo at the first fret the relief at the 8th fret should be about .002. A pro set up is never a bad idea but I am from the school of do what you can yourself. If you have multiple guitars it almost becomes necessary. This isn't hard, get a set of feeler gauges, (or some of the nice measuring tools that Stewmac sells), go slow and don't force anything (truss rod) and you will be fine.

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Hi,

 

I've had several Gibson Acoustics, but I'm writing about my J-45 TV. It's from 2008. I love the sound of the guitar, but I'm not happy with the action after the 5th fret.

 

I've adjusted the truss rod to what I believe to be correct, and I've sanded down the saddle - with no buzz, but if I take it down any more I know it will buzz.

 

I'm still seeing about 6/32" at the 12th fret. Which isn't tremendous, I know, but everything I read/see says it should be around 3/32 or 4/32.

 

Are there any other options for lowering the action on an acoustic?

 

Everything I read talks about adjusting the truss rod and maybe sanding the saddle a little. What do you do from there?

 

Any input or direction would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Do you know what the humidity of your guitar or house is. Humidity issues are a common problem this time of year. All other measurements and adjustments are a waste if you have a too dry/wet guitar.

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12/64" at the 12th fret is indeed too high, making playing higher up the cane difficult.

 

Gibson's acoustic specifications are as follows:

 

  • 1st fret treble side - 1/64" (0.396875mm)
  • 1st fret bass side - 2/64" (0.79375mm)
  • 12th fret treble side - 5/64" (1.98438mm)
  • 12th fret bass side - 7/64" (2.77812mm)

Given the truss rod is perfectly adjusted, the angles of attack for lowering string action are the following:

 

  • the saddle: a sanded-down saddle to lower, or one supported by shims to raise, the action is usually a quick DIY fix.
  • the nut: a properly carved nut with the correct slot height for each string has a huge impact on string action. Usually requires a luthier to do so.
  • the bridge: in some cases a luthier can ever so slightly carve down the bridge a tad to correct string action that could otherwise, by fixing the nut or saddle, no longer be corrected much.

I don't think that after sanding down the saddle there's much else you can do by yourself. Contacting a luthier is my recommendation. Luthier work of any kind has become very affordable these days.

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A good luthier will balance them all and is well worth the investment.

 

I agree completely. [thumbup]

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A guitar's "action" is the combination of the height of the saddle, the curve or straightness of the neck (called "relief"), the height of the nut slots and the tension of the strings (I am omitting relative humidity and neck dive issues and assuming a healthy guitar).

 

Just adding relief to a neck by turning the truss rod will affect action but it might not be what the guitar needs. I always like a bit of relief in a guitar neck although some players like the neck to be dead straight. You can check relief by putting a capo at fret one, pressing the low E string at the 12th fret and checking the space between the bottom of the string and the top of the 6th fret. For my tastes, I like a space about the thickness of a business card there.

 

The nuts slots affect how playable the guitar is in the lower part of the neck (below 6th fret). Slots that are too high will make the guitar feel stiff in the first position chords. Slots too low will cause open strings to buzz when strummed firmly. Check the nut action by pressing down on each of the strings at the 3rd fret and tap the top of the string over the 1st fret. You should just be able to hear a tiny ping as the string hits the top of the fret. That means there is a small gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret. If there is no sound at all, the action is probably too low. If the gap is large and you get a louder ping, then the action is probably high and the guitar feels stiff when playing in first position.

 

The saddle height affects the height of the strings over the entire fretboard, but most especially in the upper fret range. Use a ruler with fine increments (64ths) to measure from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the low E string and then again on the high E string. Following the references given in the posting above by Dr. McCoy:

 

Gibson's acoustic specifications are as follows:

 

12th fret treble side - 5/64" (1.98438mm)

12th fret bass side - 7/64" (2.77812mm)

 

will get you in the ballpark for standard action. If you play with a light attack, you can lower the action. If you have a heavy attack, this action will probably work for you or you may need to go higher if you are Richie Havens.

 

All of these measurements will change if you increase or decrease the tension of your strings which will either pull harder on the neck causing more relief and higher action or have less pull on the neck causing less relief and lower action. To counteract the increased tension or forward bow, tighten the truss rod. To counteract lower tension or back bow, loosen the truss rod. Always work in 1/4 turn adjustments and never over-tighten a truss rod.

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On 1/25/2016 at 12:08 AM, BozeMan said:

Hi,

 

I've had several Gibson Acoustics, but I'm writing about my J-45 TV. It's from 2008. I love the sound of the guitar, but I'm not happy with the action after the 5th fret.

 

I've adjusted the truss rod to what I believe to be correct, and I've sanded down the saddle - with no buzz, but if I take it down any more I know it will buzz.

 

I'm still seeing about 6/32" at the 12th fret. Which isn't tremendous, I know, but everything I read/see says it should be around 3/32 or 4/32.

 

Are there any other options for lowering the action on an acoustic?

 

Everything I read talks about adjusting the truss rod and maybe sanding the saddle a little. What do you do from there?

 

Any input or direction would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

ARE YOU SURE ITS 6/32  AND NOT 6/64'

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1 hour ago, ndx202 said:

ARE YOU SURE ITS 6/32  AND NOT 6/64'

At 6/32” I’d be getting out the slide. 

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