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Setup Experiments on the SJ200


drathbun

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I just received the pins and saddle I ordered from Bob Colosi. The pins are buffalo horn with abalone inlays and the saddle is bone.

 

So I decided to do some experiments with the action/relief on the SJ200. I put medium Elixir Nano PB strings on it when I got it. I love the tone of the mediums on the guitar, but playing it is certainly a challenge. I played for a couple hours for friends the other night and it was tiring to say the least. So since I have the new bone saddle, I thought I'd use the stock saddle (Tusq) to experiment. I bought a set of my usual string (Elixir Nano PB Lights) and installed those first. Then I checked the relief when tuned to pitch.

 

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The relief was more substantial than I prefer so I tightened the truss rod 1/4 turn and left it over night.

 

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That was last night. This morning I tuned the guitar and checked the relief. It was about .12" or the thickness of a business card, which is where I like it to be. The action at the nut was already perfect so I measured the action at the 12th fret. It was 8/64ths on the low E and 5/64ths on the high E (very high but not atypical of stock setup. Since I have the Tusq saddle to play with I thought I'd go as low as I thought I could go without buzzing and decided to lower the saddle by 1/32" which would reduce the action to 7/64 x 4/64. So I put some double sided tape on my marble slab and stuck a piece of 150grit sandpaper on it. Then I marked 1/32" with my pencil against my string action ruler and held the pencil there while I scribed the saddle against the pencil.

 

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That gave me a line of material to remove. I held the saddle against my sandpaper block and removed material to the line. I emphasized the bass end of the saddle because I wanted to come closer to 6/64 by 5/64 but I think I went to far.

 

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While the saddle is out of my guitar, I hold the strings in place with a capo. This makes it easier to restring and retune to pitch.

 

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When I rechecked the action, I had taken it down a little more than I had wanted, but I tuned it to pitch and played it. My immediate impressions where; a) getting lots of buzz on E A and G around the 5-7 frets, B) the volume and character of the guitar have changed remarkably. The action is now at 5/64 by 4/64, way too low.

 

So the next experiment will be to put the mediums back on the guitar, put the bone saddle in and check action and relief, and lower the action to 7/64 by 5/64. This time I will double check with my digital calipers and lower the action in increments, put the saddle back in and recheck and repeat. This is usually what I do but in this case, I had a saddle to waste and figured I'd see how low I could go. I do not want to have to shim a bone saddle.

 

One of the things that has disappointed me about the SJ200 is that the nut is Tusq as well. I had assumed it was bone, like it is on my SWD. However, on close inspection, the nut is Tusq. I should have checked before I sent my order in to Bob. Now I have to order a new bone nut.

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I moved over to mediums on my SJ-200 a few months ago. Mine are John Pearse .13s, they sound great, i can absolutely see what everyone was saying about running mediums on the SJ-200.

 

The first week or so my fingers definitely got thrashed but now i can't even tell the difference honestly. I didn't adjust the action as it was just slightly lower than what i wanted with .12s and with .13s it was kind of perfect. high and tight.

 

I did have to get my nut slots opened up a little though. I don't think i'll go back to lights on this guitar.

 

After such as success with my SJ-200 i did the same thing on my J-45 and i don't really like it. The action on the J-45 is a bit too high now so i'm not sure if bringing it down would help me or cause me to want to buy a new saddle. I'm guessing it's the difference between a short and long-scale guitar too.

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I should retitle this thread and call it "How HIGH can you go?" because I just put the mediums back on and shaped the Colosi saddle so it fits in the slot and restrung it without removing any height at all. The action is now at a TOWERING 10/64 x 9/64!!! Not playable of course, but I've left it that way because while I was checking all strings up the neck at this action height, I noticed it is still buzzing like hell between 5 and 7. I can't isolate it further than something to do with the Fishman Aura Ellipse. It might be one of the many switches and sliders or it might be some component on the circuit board. I could investigate further but I'm wary of voiding my non-existant warranty. So I'm taking it back to L&M tomorrow. I'll get their tech to get the saddle to my specs and check out the mysterious buzz.

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Interesting, thanks for sharing.

 

When I get my J-150 (its in Paris now) first thing Im doing is taking her to my tech for a full bone nut, saddle and pins makeover and a set up if required. All my guitars have an action of 6/64 on low E, except the SJ which is a bit higher on 7/64. I found there is a dramatic loss of tone with the SJ when I try to lower it below 7/64.

 

Hope you find the right balance in the end !

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I should retitle this thread and call it "How HIGH can you go?" because I just put the mediums back on and shaped the Colosi saddle so it fits in the slot and restrung it without removing any height at all. The action is now at a TOWERING 10/64 x 9/64!!! Not playable of course, but I've left it that way because while I was checking all strings up the neck at this action height, I noticed it is still buzzing like hell between 5 and 7. I can't isolate it further than something to do with the Fishman Aura Ellipse. It might be one of the many switches and sliders or it might be some component on the circuit board. I could investigate further but I'm wary of voiding my non-existant warranty. So I'm taking it back to L&M tomorrow. I'll get their tech to get the saddle to my specs and check out the mysterious buzz.

 

Well I took the SJ200 back to L&M today and told them about the buzz from the Aura. They said they'd have the guitar until Wednesday. However, I no sooner had walked out but when I received an email from Jeremy Morton of Gibson in Bozeman. He informed me of a fix for a known issue with a buzzing switch in the Aura. I beetled my way back in to L&M and showed the guitar tech the email and he fixed it while I waited.

 

They were going to have to charge me for the first time free setup because I had replaced the saddle with bone so I said no thanks and brought it home and lowered the saddle myself this afternoon.

 

The guitar is a killer now! OMG what projection!

 

I'm practicing "If I Laugh" and will make a video. [biggrin]

 

High praise for some unexpected but highly valued support from Gibson Montana! [thumbup]

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I initially went to mediums (13s) on my SJ-200TV but have recently gone to 12s. I like the bend-ability of the slightly lighter strings and the tone is still great. The saddle was already bone (standard on TVs) and I got a set of bone pins from Bob C. The stock pins worked fine and I'm not aware of any change in tone but the idea of plastic pins on a guitar of this caliber just struck me as a bit cheesy.

 

It's really a wonderful guitar for fingerpicking blues. I have several nice options to choose from but it's gotten the most play time by far since I've had it. And I marvel at how comfortable it is to play for such a large bodied guitar.

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