#1
I have a low-range Ibanez acoustic, and the action on it is pretty terrible. I mostly play electric, but whenever I pick up my acoustic, I almost have trouble playing it because the strings are so high.

What can I do to lower the action? Does it require me buying a new, lower saddle? Or even just cutting down my current saddle?

Thanks in advance!
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#2
lowering the saddle would come after adjusting the truss rod and ensuring it's properly hydrated
#3
Yeah I would give the truss rod a go. See how that works. You could shave down your saddle if you wanted, just be careful you don't make it too low.
"Because hoes don't trust anyone.. especially me."
#4
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#5
Quote by patticake


I think they meant to check if the neck is straight and adjust the truss rod if necessary to straighten the neck, which may be the cause of the high action. The proper way to adjust the action is to either sand the bottom of the saddle to lower it, and/or file the nut slots, depending on where the action is highest. Unless you're fairly skilled at this kind of thing, I would always recommend taking the guitar to a luthier or qualified guitar tech.
Acoustics:
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1964 Gibson Melody Maker D (DC)

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#6
Really and truly the best rule of thumb is if you have to ask "how do you adjust the action on an acoustic?" then your best bet would be to take the guitar to a shop for a pro set-up.

You can do some real damage if you don't know what you're doing. That being said if your guitar is an el cheapo and you won't be too upset if you destroy it, then read how to do it at frets.com and give it a try! That's how I learned.
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#7
The Frets.com site is pretty definitive; the guy has been a professional luthier for about 30 years.
I agree, if this is a first-time thing, you'd be safest to take it to a shop. However, if you're a tinkerer by nature and it's an inexpensive guitar... Perhaps a good learning experience.

People are quick to say things like "sand down the saddle" without any directions as to how to actually go about this. The Frets site will show you how to measure properly and how to use a sanding block to keep the bottom absolutely square and so forth.

As well, to adjust the nut properly requires a set of nut files and a knowledge of how to maintain a proper string-break angle.
I do this stuff all the time, because I build cigar-box guitars. I make nuts from scratch starting with an old doggie-bone and a hacksaw.
#8
Quote by patticake


relief affects action though
#9
since your neck curves as you adjust the truss rod, while you make the top and bottom of the strings closer to the neck, the middle part of the neck can be further away from the strings. also changing what is good neck relief can negatively effect tone and even intonation if you go too far.

you can only adjust the actual action via the nut and saddle - i'm not counting a full neck reset as adjusting the action.

Quote by mizxou
relief affects action though
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#10
Quote by patticake
since your neck curves as you adjust the truss rod, while you make the top and bottom of the strings closer to the neck, the middle part of the neck can be further away from the strings. also changing what is good neck relief can negatively effect tone and even intonation if you go too far.

you can only adjust the actual action via the nut and saddle - i'm not counting a full neck reset as adjusting the action.


Adjusting the nut and saddle to lower action makes no sense if the neck is bowing due to lack of support in the truss rod.

To me, it makes perfect sense to first adjust your truss rod, make sure your neck is properly in line, and then shave down your nut and saddle.

It's easy to say take your guitar to a pro, but that's not what he asked.
"Because hoes don't trust anyone.. especially me."
#11
A couple weeks agoo I was looking at my acoustic and the action was pretty high, it seemed, atleast to me the neck was bowing down and I adjusted the truss rod not thinking of the other options, it plays better now since it lowered the action

patticake is right if your guitar has a straight neck adjusting the truss rod will just **** things up, but you should just look at your guitar, is the neck bowed or are the strings just too high off the frets because the sadlle and nut?
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#12
but there's no reason to believe a neck is bowing.

the first thing to do is to check if the neck relief is good, but the first thing that most newbs and people who aren't really into guitar is grab the truss rod and wrench away. the action is by definition something caused and saddle, nut or both.

very few people who would ask know how to tell if their truss rod has the right amount of relief, and not only can too much or too little relief cause issues, but if your guitar is too dry or too humid, or if strings too heavy are being used, tweaking the truss rod without dealing with the problem can cause bellying, pull off the bridge or even put too much pressure on the neck joint. or it can simply compensate till the humidity/dryness issue harms or destroys the guitar.

Quote by FirstDegree
Adjusting the nut and saddle to lower action makes no sense if the neck is bowing due to lack of support in the truss rod.

To me, it makes perfect sense to first adjust your truss rod, make sure your neck is properly in line, and then shave down your nut and saddle.

It's easy to say take your guitar to a pro, but that's not what he asked.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#13
Quote by patticake
but there's no reason to believe a neck is bowing.

the first thing to do is to check if the neck relief is good, but the first thing that most newbs and people who aren't really into guitar is grab the truss rod and wrench away. the action is by definition something caused and saddle, nut or both.


There's definitely some truth to that. If you're not sure how the truss rod works, it's never good to just wrench away at it, and it would likely do more harm than good.

That said, repairing a high action should be a process of elimination. That is why I said give the truss rod a go (and like you said, check the relief), because adjusting your saddle with a potentially bowed neck would also do more harm than good.

When it comes down to it, it's kind of like building something, measure twice and cut once. Always check and double check before you wrench or shave anything.
"Because hoes don't trust anyone.. especially me."
#14
Thanks for the help guys, and sorry for not getting back sooner. I adjusted my truss rod last week, and that seems to have helped a little. I might try sanding down the nut this weekend.
Fender American Special Telecaster w/ Bigsby
Fender MIM Jaguar
Digitech Whammy-->Korg Pitchblack Poly-->Dunlop Cry Baby-->Danelectro Pastrami Overdrive-->EHX Big Muff Pi-->Joyo Digital Delay
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III Red October Edition