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Hard Strings?


leenej

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I don't know if it's the right term, but my guitar (a gibson epiphone pr7e) has hard strings. Hard strings,meaning that its hard to hold down chords in the fret board. I think its because there is too much space between the strings and the fret board. I've tried playing in other guitars and I can hold down chords with ease. Is there a solution to my problem?

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You have what is known in the parlance of guitardom as High Action. There are many potential causes, most of which can be solved by a competent luthier or guitar tech. I would take it in for service. Work required could be anywhere from simple (filing down bridge saddle or nut slots) to complex (neck reset).

 

Good luck!

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I don't know if it's the right term' date=' but my guitar (a gibson epiphone pr7e) has hard strings. Hard strings,meaning that its hard to hold down chords in the fret board. I think its because there is too much space between the strings and the fret board. I've tried playing in other guitars and I can hold down chords with ease. Is there a solution to my problem?[/quote']

 

Funny how the same strings will feel hard on one guitar and soft on the other. That is just the amount of pressure it takes to fret the note. where does it feel hard? Does it feel stiff at the upper frets or the lower?

 

There are three things to look for:

 

1. Action at the nut

2. Action at the 12th fret

3. Neck relief

 

1. Nut Action (if your action feels hard in the first position)

 

Put your reading glasses on (this is what I do) and get yourself close to the low E string at the first fret. Now press down on the low E at the third fret (fret a G note in other words). There should only be a hair space between the bottom of the string and the top of the first fret. You can hear that space if you tap on top of the string lightly. If there is a larger gap, your nuts slots need to be lowered. If the gap is the same for all strings, you can remove the nut and lower it by sanding some of the bottom of the nut down. If it is individual strings, you need nut files. In either case, it is probably a job for your guitar tech.

 

2. Action at the 12th fret (if the action feels stiff the higher you go on the neck)

 

Get a ruler and measure the distance between the 12th fret and the bottom of the low and high E strings. That is your string action. If it is more than say 7/64" at the low E, you might want to lower the saddle. Again this is something a guitar tech can do quite easily.

 

3. Neck relief

 

This is the amount of curvature or flatness of the neck. The string pull against the neck and cause it to bow forward. The truss rod counteracts this forward bow to flatten the neck. Most players like the neck to have a slight forward bow (very slight). If you capo the first fret and press down the low E string at the 12th fret and look at the space between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret at the 6th fret, you'll see how much "relief" your neck has. I like to have about the thickness of a business card relief at the 6th fret.

 

 

Lastly, you could have neck angle problems which usually happen in older instruments. The guitar strings pull on the neck and over the years the guitar starts to collapse in on itself with the neck starting to dive into the body and the top rising behind the bridge. You can check for this by laying a straight edge along the neck and slide it down until it touches the bridge. If it slides right over the bridge (not the saddle the bridge) then your neck angle is perfect. If the straight edge points lower than the top of the bridge, and your saddle can't be lowered any more, that is neck reset territory.

 

Of course the short answer is, take your guitar to a qualified guitar tech and have him diagnose it and do a setup. Generally it costs about $30 and a set of strings.

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Thank you very much for your kind response. You people surely know many things about the guitar. I'll probably take this to a guitar technician as soon as I have the money. I think the problem is also the neck is kinda bowed, like what drathbun said. I'll loosen up the strings for now and practice with my other guitar. Thanks everyone.

 

And by the way, I guess its hard even on the lower frets, but just a little difference with other guitars. Though its really hard(requires more pressure) on the higher frets.

 

Hey, I really appreciate your responses.

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Thank you very much for your kind response. You people surely know many things about the guitar. I'll probably take this to a guitar technician as soon as I have the money. I think the problem is also the neck is kinda bowed' date=' like what drathbun said. I'll loosen up the strings for now and practice with my other guitar. Thanks everyone.

 

And by the way, I guess its hard even on the lower frets, but just a little difference with other guitars. Though its really hard(requires more pressure) on the higher frets.

 

Hey, I really appreciate your responses.[/quote']

 

Sounds like a simple setup needs to be done. And, you don't need to loosen the strings. The guitar will be just fine tuned to pitch.

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I just read DRATHBUN ... that is an EXCELLENT write up on high/low action, neck adjustment. Man how accurate that is! Copy it and keep it (that is why a forum like this is so valuable). You not only benefit from the question, but from all of the answers you read. ALL of them. This one especially. Instead of a ruler I use an automonile feeler guage and use 1/2 the thickness of the larger E string (.25) as a clearance measure at the first fret (open). But DRATHBUN is better because it is WHEN THE STRING IS DEPRESSED that it is "in action" and that is when you fingers are on it. And .. how is the action all the way up the fretboard (you wouldn't have a piano that could only play three chords would you?) Excellent write up (obviously knows his his science!) Thanks to DRATHBUN for that help.

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I just read DRATHBUN ... that is an EXCELLENT write up on high/low action' date=' neck adjustment. Man how accurate that is! Copy it and keep it (that is why a forum like this is so valuable). You not only benefit from the question, but from all of the answers you read. ALL of them. This one especially. Instead of a ruler I use an automonile feeler guage and use 1/2 the thickness of the larger E string (.25) as a clearance measure at the first fret (open). But DRATHBUN is better because it is WHEN THE STRING IS DEPRESSED that it is "in action" and that is when you fingers are on it. And .. how is the action all the way up the fretboard (you wouldn't have a piano that could only play three chords would you?) Excellent write up (obviously knows his his science!) Thanks to DRATHBUN for that help.[/quote']

 

Wow! Thanks man! I appreciate that. But I have to say that a LOT of what I know about guitar setup comes from places like www.frets.com (Frank Ford). I have taken an excellent guitar repair course from Miles Jones here in Calgary which certainly gave me practice at many of these things, but the ins and outs of guitar setup are complete and clear on Frank's excellent website.

 

I like to use feeler gauges too because now that my eyeballs have gotten shorter, I'd rather feel it than try to see it!

 

I love working on guitars. I've just completed the restoration of a 1961 Hofner 172 (l) (identical to my first electric guitar) that I bought on ebay for $75. Now I'm working on a Yamaha FG411EC for a friend. I'm making a new bone nut and saddle and installing an LR Baggs Active iBeam pickup.

 

Doug

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