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Need help setting up an Epi Hummingbird


fenderguy

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Hey guys. Here is the deal. I bought my girlfriend a Epiphone Hummingbird LTD from Musicians Friend. It just got shipped to me. Great looking guitar doesent hold a candle to my Takoma however it is pretty, plays decent and I believe a great xmas present for my girl, who is still trying to learn.

 

When I got the guitar I noticed the strings were used and the action was way to high, not that I was expecting otherwise. Tomorrow is christmas eve and I don't have time to bring it to a shop to get properly set up. It came with the truss rod wrench. My question is: Is it possible to adjust the action myself? How would I go about it? Is there any procedures you may have to do this? Or should I not even mess with it?

 

I have no problem changing the strings my self but do not have any experience with neck adjustments. I pay good money to have my personal guitars set up by reputable(waiting list)shops. I wanted the guitar to play nice as she will be getting it in front of her family. It doesent have to be perfect.

 

Anyways, Thanks for any input. I wish all you Gibby heads a Merry Christmas/Happy Hollidays. I have a SG I will be dusting off soon but my Strats will never need dusting:)

 

From the dark side

 

Ed

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well in terms of adjustment check the neck relief see if it is bowed the saddle can also contribute to a high action. I would look for some of the instructions online there are many great resources. If you have a long ruler, feeler gauges and the truss rod wrench neck adjustments if done slowly can be relatively easy. If you have decided it is too bowed then u need to make slow adjustments, loosen the strings turn the truss rod 1/8th of a turn then tune up. before you do any adjustment loosen slightly to ensure it is not tightened to its max, before tightening or because it hasn't been lubricated. I hope some of these points help, a little goes a long way so don't turn too much if you have a junker guitar you could try adjusting the rod on it first. good luck hope this helps and I hope other contribute their thoughts

 

Beard~

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Thanks Beard,

 

Should I still adjust slowly (1/8 a turn)if it is not Bowed? Also what do you suggest a ratio to turn in relation to 360 degree circle when I loosen the tension on the springs? In other words how much should I turn and in what direction? clockwise/ counterclock wise to lower the action? I understand this should be done in increments, tightening the springs to test.

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It came with the truss rod wrench. My question is: Is it possible to adjust the action myself? How would I go about it?

 

Welcome! As a newcomer, you haven't been subjected to this yet. So, prepare yourself. Here it comes ...

 

THE TRUSS ROD WRENCH IS NOT FOR ADJUSTING THE ACTION, IT IS FOR ADJUSTING THE RELIEF!!

 

What you want to do is: (1) Adjust the neck relief so that the neck has the amount of relief you want. Basically, if you hold down the high E string at the first fret and 12th fret, there should be just a little bit of space between that seventh fret and the string. You can find pictures on line of what the gap should look like, or take a look at a well set-up guitar. If there's a lot of space, you probably need to tighten the truss rod (start with 1/4 turn); if there's a none, you need to loosen it. (I have to say "probably", because you may need a little extra relief to keep it playable if the frets aren't level, until you get a real setup done.) (2) Check the action at the 12 fret. For a beginner, you probably don't want anything over 6/64" clearance between the low E and the fret and 4.5/64" between the high E and the fret. Lower is better if you can get lower without buzzing. You lower the saddle to get this: sand the bottom, be sure to keep it flat, and go slowly. To lower the action by X, the saddle gets lowered by 2X. (3) Ideally, you will file the nut slots to where they should be. But, if you don't have a set of files, this will have to wait. It's a bit tricky, but basically you want the strings to almost touch the first fret when they are fretted at the third fret. Do get it done though, because-too shallow nut slots makes the guitar much harder for a beginner to play.

 

Good luck, and happy holidays!

-- Bob R

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In other words how much should I turn and in what direction? clockwise/ counterclock wise to lower the action?

 

The general rule is that clockwise straightens the neck (assuming positive relief). This will lower the action as a side-effect. But

 

THE TRUSS ROD WRENCH IS NOT ...

 

Oops! I already said that.

 

-- Bob R

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It might be blasphemy to say this, but there's a really good intro guide to setting up acoustics on the Guild Guitars website. It has a few typos in it about what fret location is used for what so think through all the procedures carefully before you act but it's basically a very simple and structured procedure. Not many tools involved.

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Ok so I need to Adjust the saddle height and the nut slot depth to lower the action.

 

Thanks for the replies!

 

Ed

 

ya a quick fix for tonight would be to pull the saddle out with some pliers (should come out pretty easy) and sand the bottom down but make sure it is straight! Then you can take it next week to get a proper set up with a new bone saddle and nut and it will play like a dream for her!

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Ok so I need to Adjust the saddle height and the nut slot depth to lower the action.

 

Thanks for the replies!

 

Ed

 

ya a quick fix for tonight would be to pull the saddle out with some pliers (should come out pretty easy) and sand the bottom down but make sure it is straight! Then you can take it next week to get a proper set up with a new bone saddle and nut and it will play like a dream for her!

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Wow I can't thank you guys enough. Tonight I will check the neck relief first. There should be a slight bit of bow so that the strings do not buzz.

 

Second I will take a look at the nut. If I press the string at the second fret, there should very little space at the first fret. If there is a substantial amount of space, I will have to run out and buy some nut files and adjust as necessary.

 

3rdly I will take a look at the 7th to 12 fret, if the action is still to high, I measure the distance from the string to the fret near the 12th fret, take the saddle out and sand the saddle down absolutly making sure it is flat. assuming i am on the right track, should the distance from the string to the fret on the 12th divided by 2 equal what I would sand off the bottom of the saddle?

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Just to add a bit of nuance to the suggestions made already; when you sand the bottom of the saddle to lower the action, make sure you do this on a flat surface. Clamping or taping 150 grit sandpaper to a cutting board or marble block and holding the saddle firmly and square to the surface is important. If you get a beveled edge the guitar's tone will suffer. Also, be sure to only take off as much as you need. Marking the saddle with a pencil works to control that. For each 1/64" you want to lower the action, you remove 1/32 of material.

 

action06.jpg

 

Frank Ford has great information on lowering action with the saddle:

 

Lowering Action at the Saddle

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the neck should have a slight bow, but if the neck doesn't look like its bowing too much then the saddle height and nut slots need to be looked at next. the resource provided by drath looks good in order to lower the saddle height. Hope she enjoys the guitar

 

beard

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Contrary to popular belief .. The neck/fretboard doesn't always have to have a slight bow to play/intonate correctly, IMHO. For all of my personal guitars, the very first thing that I did was take the fretboard totally & as perfectly FLAT as possible. After this initial step, I started evaluating the saddle & nut respectively. On rare occasions, I've actually had to cut a new nut to slightly raise the action after getting the saddle perfect to suit me. I'm a 90% fingerstylist so I definitely prefer FLATNESS for fast & easy fretting past the 7th.

 

FYI .. sometimes that buzz that you think you hear is actually coming from a slightly "too thin" saddle & not a rogue fretwire. The saddle needs to fit the slot as perfectly as humanly possible without being too thin (rattles) or too fat (diminished bass response). Get that thing right & you'll be a happy dude in the end.

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Contrary to popular belief .. The neck/fretboard doesn't always have to have a slight bow to play/intonate correctly, IMHO. For all of my personal guitars, the very first thing that I did was take the fretboard totally & as perfectly FLAT as possible. After this initial step, I started evaluating the saddle & nut respectively. On rare occasions, I've actually had to cut a new nut to slightly raise the action after getting the saddle perfect to suit me. I'm a 90% fingerstylist so I definitely prefer FLATNESS for fast & easy fretting past the 7th.

 

FYI .. sometimes that buzz that you think you hear is actually coming from a slightly "too thin" saddle & not a rogue fretwire. The saddle needs to fit the slot as perfectly as humanly possible without being too thin (rattles) or too fat (diminished bass response). Get that thing right & you'll be a happy dude in the end.

 

+1 on this. I don't think this gets mentioned enough. Most properly made guitars should play well with good action and a totally flat neck. I flatten my neck out just as RASHARU says to do the action evaluation and then just introduce a slight amout of relief to the neck. The thickness of a business card is almost too much relief for me.

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+1 on this. I don't think this gets mentioned enough. Most properly made guitars should play well with good action and a totally flat neck. I flatten my neck out just as RASHARU says to do the action evaluation and then just introduce a slight amout of relief to the neck. The thickness of a business card is almost too much relief for me.

Thanks there, drathbun. It's quite rare that someone actually agrees with me. You are correct, I forgot to mention the part about "properly made guitars" (not necessarily "expensively made" guitars). Have you ever seen one of those fretboards that simply won't flatten out? They drive me CRAZY! A straight edge will prove that it's flat from (15) to the hole .. and flat from (5) down to the nut .. but then the truss will not bring the middle up flat without causing a goofy hump or ripple somewhere. YIKES!

 

I stay up near the 7th .. so obviously a flat, low & fast neck are imperative to my play. Hmmm, maybe a new discussion topic someday?

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Saddle Sanding - can be difficult. Yes you do absolutely need a 100% flat surface to put the very fine sandpaper on. But it is almost impossible to keep your hand 100% parrallel to this surface as you sand, so you can wind up with a rounded bottom to your saddle. Try getting two pieces of wood and set them side by side on the sandpaper - with a small channel in between that you can fit your saddle in and slide it up and down the channel. The two pieces of wood serve as a guide to keep your unsteady hand from rocking and rolling.. G'luck! Great present for your GF!

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