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Noob to self-setups; question about raising/lowering action.


guitarsss

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Hello,

 

I recently picked up an LP and the action is a little high for what I'm used to playing. I usually take my guitars to a teach for anything beyond string changes. I just started setting intonation myself. I thought I'd try to attempt lowering the action myself. It needs to go down about one mm on the low strings. The high strings feel pretty comfortable for me.

 

Now, I know lowering the action at the bridge will bring the intonation out of whack again, so I am prepared to fix that. My main question is, will lowering the action at the bridge make it so the guitar requires a neck adjustment? The truss rod is the one thing I still don't feel comfortable messing with. Can I lower the action at the bridge by this hair without having to touch the neck? I'm basically wondering how dependent they are upon each other.

 

Thank you!

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You can.

Did you buy it new and if so, have the place you bought it from set the action for you and adjust the neck.

Honestly, adjusting the neck is very simple to do. Spend $20 - $30 on a guitar maintenance book and then a few more dollars on some feeler gauges and you're good to go!

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Lowering the bridge will not throw anything "out if whack" neck adjustment or intonation wise.

 

Les Pauls are not tiffany crystal just spin the thumb screws down to your liking and viola'.

 

The book is a good idea though...

 

Maybe I should write one +:-@

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Lowering the bridge will not throw anything "out if whack" neck adjustment or intonation wise.

 

Les Pauls are not tiffany crystal just spin the thumb screws down to your liking and viola'.

 

The book is a good idea though...

 

Maybe I should write one :-k

 

 

Thank you. That's good to know.

 

I was figuring it would mess the intonation because the string length might end up being slightly different.

 

One last question before I go for it: Is it okay for me to lower the side with the heavier strings down about 1mm but not touch the lighter side at all? I'm guessing that won't affect the neck either, but I thought I'd ask.

 

Thanks for the book suggestion. Does anyone have a good book to recommend?

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Lowering the bridge will not throw anything "out if whack" neck adjustment or intonation wise.

 

Les Pauls are not tiffany crystal just spin the thumb screws down to your liking and viola'.

 

The book is a good idea though...

 

Maybe I should write one :-k

 

dropping the bridge will mess with the intonation b/c it does change the string length. it's a geometry/trig thing.

 

 

also, make sure the neck is right first... then the bridge. usually a slight tweak on the neck fixes most action problems. dropping the bridge without checking to see if the neck has a bow in it, can result in dead notes and rattles in the middle frets.

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dropping the bridge will mess with the intonation b/c it does change the string length. it's a geometry/trig thing.

 

 

also' date=' make sure the neck is right first... then the bridge. usually a slight tweak on the neck fixes most action problems. dropping the bridge without checking to see if the neck has a bow in it, can result in dead notes and rattles in the middle frets.[/quote']

 

If I fret both the 1st and the 24th fret, the dip and arc in the neck between the string space seems about the same as all my other guitars. Is there something else I should be doing to check it as well?

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umm... LPs only have 22 frets unless you have a funny model. the check should be done between the 1 and 15th anyway. that's the point where it joins the body and the truss rod generally has no effect above that point.

 

Haha, you're right. I meant 1 and 22.

 

Anyways, I think the basic answer here is that I should not lower the action at the bridge without expecting side effects in the neck, which is something I'm uncomfortable touching, right? I think I'll bring it to a tech if that is the case.

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I think people wig out too much about adjusting the truss rod. If you don't know anything about it, there are some good tutorials out there on it. Yes, you can do some damage with it, but if you make small sensible adjustments, you're fine.. you'll save yourself some bux too.

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that can work too... it just changes where you check it at (7th). my real point was that you can't do it at the last fret b/c you are past the point where the truss rod has any effect.

 

however, i must point out that Gibson really isn't the final word on how to do this stuff. i'm not either, of course.... but just b/c they made it doesn't negate the experience of thousands of luthiers around the world.

Gibson isn't exactly known these days for perfect setups anyways.

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I some-what disagree with the first paragraph, that the strings should be under normal tension, there are probably some exceptions to this, here is one. I bought a 35-year old 12-string acoustic a few weeks ago with high action (it was about 9 or 10/64 at the 12th fret, but acoustic-player types would tell you that is pretty good action, I personally though it sucked). I found that the neck had too much relief, so I tightened the TR, but it took a good bit of pressure and the TR did not budge. I risked it and forced it and it finally "clicked" and I was able to turn it about a 10th of a turn and it got really hard again (I was convinced that this guitar was not TR-adjusted in many years and it "stuck" in its place). I left the guitar alone for a week and decided to change strings and found the neck had straightened a bit more over time, then I removed all the old strings and I was surprised to see it was now easier to turn the TR another 1/10th of a turn. I then put all the 12 new strings and the action was now 3/32", which is pretty darn good for an acoustic. In summary, I think that if the TR is too tight, loosening the strings might make it a little easier to move the TR rather than just trying to overpower it and risk breaking the headstock. I am not an expert on this, but that was my experience with that odd guitar. Err-ing on the side of caution is never a bad thing.

 

Guitarsss, why don't you take a precise ruler and measure the string clearance under the low-E at the 12th fret without pressing the string and post the measurement here. You can probably lower it to 2/32 (or 1/16) and if you lower it less, you will probably get buzzing for sure. I would first try to use the bridge adjustment first to see if it gets you the action you want (before trying the TR adjustment), then find out on which fret(s) it buzzes (near the nut or near the high frets?), if it does buzz, ...and if it don't buzz, great!, you did it!. Intonation would not change much, if it does, just tune the open strings to normal tuning, then press with NORMAL pressure the 12th fret and see if the string is still in tune at this higher octave,.... just lenghten the string if too sharp, and shorten the string if too flat, easy stuff.

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I found that the neck had too much relief' date=' so I tightened the TR, but it took a good bit of pressure and the TR did not budge. I risked it and forced it and it finally "clicked" and I was able to turn it about a 10th of a turn and it got really hard again [/quote']

 

Marcelo, you did this with a 12 string without slackening the strings ?

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Yes, I did this with the strings at standard tuning. I tell you what, I will never do that again (I was really scared that I would snap that headstock). It all was more smooth on the second TR adjustment a week later, with the strings totally loose (also the neck had straightened itself up some more after a week I did the first adjustment, and this probably had something to do with giving the TR some more working slack so I could apply the second adjustment without too much force, as I was not having to fight-off the original neck's huge relief anymore and the strings either).

 

I might try the string-loosening on my 6-stringers next time too, especially in cases where the TR is too hard to move.

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Lowering the action will not affect the neck relief so go ahead. And don't worry about lowering just one wheel. Keep in mind, though, that the action might be set high because it will buzz if it's lower, and that might be because of the relief. Each of the steps in a setup will affect the ones after it if it's done in the proper order: trussrod (relief), bridge height (action), and saddle compensation (intonation).

 

You can eyeball the relief by holding the low E string at the first fret, and at the body-joint fret, then see how much space there is in the middle under the string.

 

By the way, if I found a trussrod nut on a twelve string that was really hard to turn, my first inclination would be to slack the strings and back that nut off the trussrod to get some lubrication under there. I have a tiny little tube of clear grease that came with a Penn fishing reel that works wonders. Dan Erlewine swears by Vaseline. So it's not as important what you use just as long as you use something on the threads. Otherwise I wouldn't be afraid to turn a trussrod nut with the strings at tension.

 

Dan Erlewine wrote a book called How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great that is a good guide for setups and basic maintenance. Then there's the Guitar Player Repair Guide that he also wrote, with more information than you'll ever need. Both have sections with measurements that he took of various guitar heroes axes.

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