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Author Topic: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar  (Read 3515 times)

psy

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Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« on: January 27, 2012, 12:21:15 PM »
A little different to the normal electric based question on here  :D

I think the action on my acoustic guitar (Ibanez EP-9) could do with being a bit lower.  This is probably a daft question, but is it just a case of sanding the a little from the bottom of the saddle?
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Philly Q

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2012, 12:26:24 PM »
I believe it's exactly that, although I don't speak from personal experience!  :)
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Lezard

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2012, 02:31:15 PM »
That's normally all that's needed.
assuming the truss is set correctly.

is the action too high all over the neck or above a certain fret?
It wasn't a mistake, it was chromaticism, I swear.

psy

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2012, 03:00:05 PM »
It seems generally too high all over.  It's playable (in fact I've been fine with it for the past 5 years).  It's just now I'm gigging more & alternating between acoustic shows & electric shows I've noticed some songs with lots of hammer-on's & pull off's are much much harder to execute on the acoustic.

When I get the chance I'll take a few photos showing the string height (just in case it's me being a wuss & just need to man up & play harder)
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FELINEGUITARS

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2012, 03:18:55 PM »
3 points of adjustment to look at :

1 Height of strings as they pass over the nut - depth of nut slots
2 amount of relief in neck - truss rod
3 Overall action - height of bridge saddle
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WezV

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2012, 05:02:15 PM »
3 points of adjustment to look at :

1 Height of strings as they pass over the nut - depth of nut slots
2 amount of relief in neck - truss rod
3 Overall action - height of bridge saddle


yeah, dont ignore point 2.   you dont generally have much adjustment in the bridge and obviously its less reversible than on an electric so make damn sure everything else is correct before the file everything off the saddle

mniel8195

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2012, 08:56:14 PM »
check your intonation before you do any work...this tells me how off your truss rod is.  then if you still feel like its to high start sanding.

Shag101

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2012, 12:13:31 AM »
i had issues with humidity and the sound hole sinking into the body.  
all rules mentioned above are great but check the bow of the belly with the straightedge.  
maybe its convex......thus increasing the action.  not sure how much humidity you have..
if all is good, then get the sandpaper out.  Just make sure you keep it even so the saddle nut fits
flush to the saddle slot.  

here is a good reference..
http://www.larrivee.com/features/humidity.php

here are some measurements from my acoustic so you can see if the top of the sound hole is sinking in....which is a
common low humidity issue..

top of 12th fret to low E string is 5/64
top of 15th fret to low E string while holding 1st fret is 5/64
top of last fret to low E string while holding 5th fret is 5/64

if your measurements increase when going up the neck, then the sound hole is sinking in.
you can try throwing some damp sponges in Ziploc bags with holes to try and get it back...kinda like over humidifying it..
usually i just shave the saddle nut if the guitar has not been properly humidified and the wood has basically settled to a constant state.....this gives me better action and no stress worrying about humidity as the guitar is shot but still playable..
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 03:38:29 PM by Shag101 »
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psy

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2012, 03:48:26 PM »
Thank you for all the responses.  Much more to think about than I thought.  It's a bit silly, but I've always been a bit scared of touching truss rods on guitars.  I have the fear I'll break something.  Are they generally ok to tweak without cause catastrophic damage?  :shock:

Here's some photo's.  I don't know if they're much help to anyone.







* sorry, could only find a steel rule with imperial measurements.
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Shag101

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 04:32:18 PM »
question.....why are bridge pins so high up?

looks like the top of sound hole sunk in little...not too bad..

here are my measurements the way you took the photos

1st fret = 1/64"
12th fret = 5/64"
20th fret = on top of 6/64" line

i do not believe the truss rod will effect the higer frets that sunk in a little. 

press the 1st and 14th fret......u should have 1/64" under the 5th fret..(use a capo or ur 3rd arm.. :D)
adjust truss if needed.  only 1/8 turns......dont worry....u wont damage anything....
use a marker to make a mark from your starting point so you can always go back and can measure your turns better...
people turn these things a full turn and more and f#$k things up and wonder why.......
u will be fine...

the thing that you need to pay attention to is sanding the bridge nut....
too much and you will buzz
not flat and you wont get the most surface contact to the saddle...(more contact...better vibration)
its not hard, just go slow...
if you do take too much......I use the bottom of matches to bring it up a little. 
from the looks of the photos, you prolly just need 1/64" off the bridge nut...

if you really want to get into adjusting tone...the bridge pins are cool to play with......wood...bone....brass...etc...
i know a couple fellas that like a lot more bottom end so they have E-A-D with brass pins and G-B-E with ebony..
seems to work...
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peter123

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2012, 09:33:38 AM »
Acoustic guitar setup is not an arcane art but rather a series of steps by which While adjusting the truss rod does affect the playing action.

psy

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2012, 11:45:59 AM »
Thanks for the amazing info Shag101.  Rookie question... which direction on the truss has the correct effect for what I need?

On the end pins...  I just push them in as far as they go without forcing them.  They're secure.  I always struggle to get end pins back out if I jam them in too far.  The pins (also saddle & nut) are something called Ivorex.  It might be fun to play with different pins sometime :D
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Shag101

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2012, 11:30:02 PM »
which direction on the truss has the correct effect for what I need?
well it depends on whether you have the 1/64" measurement by the 5th fret when holding down the 1st and 14th fret.
if you have more than 1/64", then you go clockwise till your able to get 1/64" (stings need to be loosened when adjusting truss rod...and in tune when taking measurements)
if you have less than 1/64"....then leave the truss rod alone...(going counter clockwise will increase the distance....but since you already have high action...i wont make it higher...) (on an electric...you can go counter clockwise till you get 1/64", then lower the bridge to put the action back to where you like..though on an electric...it wont be the 14th fret....it would be the fret where the neck meets the body) My acoustic meets at the 14th, so that is why I gave that number...also, the 1/64" distance for electric will be 7th fret..

now, I like the 1/64" if all is well on the guitar.  on some acoustics with really bad action...i tighten the truss rod (clockwise) till the distance under the 5th fret when holding down the 1st and 14th fret is almost zero...only a thin piece of paper can fit under it.....this is fine and preferred by some people who have a light strumming hand.....the only thing you will need to check after is whether you get any buzzing.....if not, great....if yes, then keep going counter clockwise till the buzzing stops.....

if you get no buzzing and are at or below 1/64" and you are still not pleased with the action, then get out the sandpaper... :D  

as for bridge pins....they should be in as far and tight as possible.......dont want to loose an eye or worse...tone :lol:
sorry if this is a stupid question, but you know the half moon cutout on the end of the string winders are for pulling out the pins correct?  the cutout goes under the pin ball head and you press down on the string winder to pop em out...
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 11:36:34 PM by Shag101 »
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psy

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 10:47:32 AM »
Cheers Shag.  I really appreciate all the detail you're going in to.  I've got a couple of weeks until my next acoustic gig so I'll try & have a look at the guitar this week.

Bah, I'm such an amateur.  I'll make sure I push the pins in as far as possible from now on.  I've probably been lucky not to have any ping out yet *touches wood*.  I must admit I've never ever used a string winder so didn't even know about the peg puller-outerer :)

Oh... and because you I now have end pin GAS :P  http://www.pinzuk.com/news_order-brass-guitar-pins-pounds_6.htm   mmmmm.... end pins
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Shag101

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Re: Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2012, 12:25:07 AM »
Take a Beano.

Beano contains a natural enzyme that can help prevent gas before it starts.  :lol:
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