#1
Hi, I was just wondering what my options are when it comes to lowering the action on my guitar. I have an epiphone masterbilt dr-500. It sounds great and I love it, but the action has always been far too high. I adjusted the truss rod slightly and it helped a little bit, but it still isn't quite as easy to play as I'd like (my point of reference being an epiphone ej-200 artist). From what I gather my options are to either shave the bridge saddle or to get a neck reset, the latter being extremely expensive.

Any advice and input is much appreciated.
#2
Quote by frank34443
Hi, I was just wondering what my options are when it comes to lowering the action on my guitar. I have an epiphone masterbilt dr-500. It sounds great and I love it, but the action has always been far too high. I adjusted the truss rod slightly and it helped a little bit, but it still isn't quite as easy to play as I'd like (my point of reference being an epiphone ej-200 artist). From what I gather my options are to either shave the bridge saddle or to get a neck reset, the latter being extremely expensive.

Any advice and input is much appreciated.


Take it in to have a tech set it up, usually isn't that expensive. It's definitely worth it.
#3
I shaved the bridge saddle on my acoustic with the help of detailed instructions from my guitar teacher, but I also have access to precision tools for measuring, as well as high quality files.

You will need these things, and a healthy degree of confidence, cause you can only shave it once, and shimming is a pain in the ass.

Or have a tech do it.
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#4
if your guitar is a recent "vintage", chances are poor that you need a neck reset, but if you feel that could be the case, you should definitely take it to a luthier. it shouldn't cost anything for them to take a look.

as far as the action, whether you lower the nut or saddle or both depends on where the action is high - top of the strings, bottom or the entire length of the strings. chances are you have over-adjusted the truss rod, which should only be used to adjust neck relief. a qualified luthier should see there's too much relief if there is, but might as well mention to him that you did adjust it.

a little info for you from frank ford, expert guitar repairman:

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musician/GenSetup/TrussRods/TrussRodAdj/tradj.html

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musician/GenSetup/NutAction/nutaction.html

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/Saddle/saddle01.html
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/LowerAction/loweraction01.html
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
Never adjust your truss rod to fix action, it's fine if you do it a little but ultimately it wont do much to the action. its main purpose is to fix intonation problems anyway. you can go ahead and shave your saddle with a file too, it's not hard. put the saddle in a clamp and slide a metal file across it diagonally but only shave a bit at a time. don't worry if you mess up and shave too far either, new saddles are fairly cheap.
#6
Quote by UseYourThumb
Never adjust your truss rod to fix action, it's fine if you do it a little but ultimately it wont do much to the action. its main purpose is to fix intonation problems anyway. you can go ahead and shave your saddle with a file too, it's not hard. put the saddle in a clamp and slide a metal file across it diagonally but only shave a bit at a time. don't worry if you mess up and shave too far either, new saddles are fairly cheap.


No, it's not. The truss rods MAIN purpose is to counteract the pull of the strings on the neck in order to maintain neck geometry. Intonation issues are not fixed via the truss rod.

And filing the saddle while it's clamped down is a very poor way of doing it. It's far better to use sandpaper which is stationary on a flat surface then rub the BOTTOM of the saddle on it. You have much better control of how much material you are removing.
Clamping a bone/ivory bridge saddle in a vise is also a bit on the risky side as it may crack if clamped too hard.

In short, your post is full of bogus information. Please be sure of your info before posting so that others don't follow said advice and run into problems you caused.
Last edited by LeftyDave at Oct 21, 2011,
#7
the truss rod has nothing to do with intonation at all. like LeftyDave says, its function is to adjust neck relief. and i would never do what you're suggesting - you need to use something way finer than a file on your nut and saddle.

Quote by UseYourThumb
Never adjust your truss rod to fix action, it's fine if you do it a little but ultimately it wont do much to the action. its main purpose is to fix intonation problems anyway. you can go ahead and shave your saddle with a file too, it's not hard. put the saddle in a clamp and slide a metal file across it diagonally but only shave a bit at a time. don't worry if you mess up and shave too far either, new saddles are fairly cheap.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#8
Patticake and lefty know what they are talking about. Either get someone who knows what they are doing or take it to a guitar tech for a setup. I think it was 30-50 bucks when I did it. Or, do it yourself and start looking for a new saddle
#9
Quote by LeftyDave
No, it's not. The truss rods MAIN purpose is to counteract the pull of the strings on the neck in order to maintain neck geometry. Intonation issues are not fixed via the truss rod.

And filing the saddle while it's clamped down is a very poor way of doing it. It's far better to use sandpaper which is stationary on a flat surface then rub the BOTTOM of the saddle on it. You have much better control of how much material you are removing.
Clamping a bone/ivory bridge saddle in a vise is also a bit on the risky side as it may crack if clamped too hard.
A bit of augmentation for your post.....

A good sandpaper for shaving a bridge is the same sticky back sandpaper used by body shops for their DA sanders. (The 80 grit takes stock off in a hurry, and then you can go to 180 or 220 grit for a fine finish). Get a nice piece of plate glass, at least 1/4" thick, put it on another flat surface, and don't grind off some stupid amount before you put it back in the guitar and try it, tuned up to pitch. Keep reversing the saddle, to avoid taking more off one end than the other, and block it against a 90 degree angle something or other, (called a "fence"), to keep the bottom at right angles to the sides. (I use a spare new saddle for the fence). Otherwise the saddle will lean funny in the bridge, and you may lose proper contact with the peizo. (If A/E)

If you understand automotive feeler gauges, use one to measure the action at the 12th fret, so you'll know how much needs to be taken off before you start.

That's as far as I'm willing to go in today's, "reinvention of the wheel".

Now I have a question, "why does every know it all insist on immediately flying at the truss rod adjustment for action height and intonation issues". It's almost a 100% negative correlation. Well, unless the neck is shaped like a banana. (With the concave curve pointing up).

@ the OP, Google this topic, there are a number of fine tutorials on the web about adjusting action on an acoustic guitar.

This is an excellent guide: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 21, 2011,
#10
my husband actually uses down to 600 grit for the final finish, and he says 200 will get you started, but 400 grit is better for the final. he uses a razor blade to shave down the nut and saddle after measuring and marking each, and his set-ups are stellar, but he's also been doing them for years.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
Last edited by patticake at Oct 21, 2011,
#11
Quote by patticake
my husband actually uses down to 600 grit for the final finish, and he says 200 will get you started, but 400 grit is better for the final. he uses a razor blade to shave down the nut and saddle after measuring and marking each, and his set-ups are stellar, but he's also been doing them for years.
I don't know about 600 grit having a perceptible sound difference from 220 or 320 grit.

But, I firmly believe that, "sandpaper is the only thing that separates man from the animals". So to that, I suppose you can never have too fine a finish on anything.

In my methodology, the 80 grit paper would sub for the razor blade. It probably takes a bit less practice also.

You could set the bridge saddle on a flat surface, lay the feeler gauge next to it, and mark a line with a brand new fine Sharpie. (Extra fine, perhaps even better). The solvent marker doesn't rub away as quickly as a pencil line would. (So's you don't forget where you are).

I suppose a shop couldn't do it the way I do, which is a bit tentative. I take some off, play the guitar for a while, then if it needs it, shave a bit more when I'm changing the strings
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 21, 2011,
#12
The professional way to adjust the action at the nut is with a set of precise "nut files" that fit the slots according to size of strings being used. Very nice, and rather expensive.

The backyard mechanic's way (mine..) is to use a "torch tip tool". This is a little device for cleaning welding/brazing torches. You get a nice set of graduated round files in sizes that correspond nicely to guitar strings.
Only a few bucks at a decent hardware store.
#13
Quote by kaptkegan
I shaved the bridge saddle on my acoustic with the help of detailed instructions from my guitar teacher, but I also have access to precision tools for measuring, as well as high quality files.

You will need these things, and a healthy degree of confidence, cause you can only shave it once, and shimming is a pain in the ass.

Or have a tech do it.


I've done this as well, but I screwed it up the first time. Went better the second time.
KEEP ON ROTTING IN THE FREE WORLD!
#14
600 grit doesn't have any perceptible sound difference, but you can feel the difference when you run your finger across it.

mind if i quote you on that? it made my day

Quote by Captaincranky
I don't know about 600 grit having a perceptible sound difference from 220 or 320 grit.

But, I firmly believe that, "sandpaper is the only thing that separates man from the animals". So to that, I suppose you can never have too fine a finish on anything.

In my methodology, the 80 grit paper would sub for the razor blade. It probably takes a bit less practice also.

You could set the bridge saddle on a flat surface, lay the feeler gauge next to it, and mark a line with a brand new fine Sharpie. (Extra fine, perhaps even better). The solvent marker doesn't rub away as quickly as a pencil line would. (So's you don't forget where you are).

I suppose a shop couldn't do it the way I do, which is a bit tentative. I take some off, play the guitar for a while, then if it needs it, shave a bit more when I'm changing the strings
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#15
[quote=".

And filing the saddle while it's clamped down is a very poor way of doing it. It's far better to use sandpaper which is stationary on a flat surface then rub the BOTTOM of the saddle on it. You have much better control of how much material you are removing.
Clamping a bone/ivory bridge saddle in a vise is also a bit on the risky side as it may crack if clamped too hard.

In short, your post is full of bogus information. Please be sure of your info before posting so that others don't follow said advice and run into problems you caused.[/QUOTE"]

*sigh* Okay.....
1. The reason for clamping down the saddle and using a file is because the file has a flat surface to sand with. Holding the the saddle and rubbing it over sand paper will cause the bottom of the saddle to become uneven, which will REALLY screw up the saddle. I'd bet money that your guitar's saddle is sitting sideways in you bridge right now if you follow that method.

2. Well no shit its gonna crack the saddle if you press metal clamps up too it and tighten it until you cant anymore. That's why anyone with common sense would put a piece of cloth or cardboard between the contact points of the clamp and saddle.

If you're going to attack someone via interweb, please remember not everyone's a dumbass.
#16
Quote by UseYourThumb
*sigh* Okay.....
1. The reason for clamping down the saddle and using a file is because the file has a flat surface to sand with. Holding the the saddle and rubbing it over sand paper will cause the bottom of the saddle to become uneven, which will REALLY screw up the saddle. I'd bet money that your guitar's saddle is sitting sideways in you bridge right now if you follow that method.
I didn't start this, and it's not me you're quoting. But it seems you missed the memo about using sticky back sandpaper on a plate glass surface, and sanding the saddle against a fence which is perpendicular to the glass..

I can guarantee you that my saddles are NOT sitting slanted in my bridges, and my peizos are making firm contact.

But, if it will make you happy, I'll check again next time I change any strings.

In the mean time, feel free to do it your way, and I'll do it mine.

Most of the "dumb a** nonsense" in this thread, is the part about, "how you take too much off the first time you adjust the action height, and then you have to shim, which is a PITA".

That's why they make measuring tools.

Oh, and enjoy the rest of you day on the interweb. Who are you anyway, Al Gore?
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 22, 2011,
#17
Quote by Captaincranky
I didn't start this, and it's not me you're quoting. But it seems you missed the memo about using sticky back sandpaper on a plate glass surface, and sanding the saddle against a fence which is perpendicular to the glass..

I can guarantee you that my saddles are NOT sitting slanted in my bridges, and my peizos are making firm contact.

But, if it will make you happy, I'll check again next time I change any strings.

I the mean time, feel free to do it your way, and I'll do it mine.

Most of the "dumb a** nonsense" in this thread, is the part about, "how you take too much off the first time you adjust the action height, and then you have to shim, which is a PITA".

That's why they make measuring tools.

Oh, and enjoy the rest of you day on the interweb. Who are you anyway, Al Gore?

...I meant to reply to leftydave, don't know why I replied to you. My apologies. And would you care to explain the Al Gore comment? I don't think I get it.
#18
ah shit, i just read the first part of your comment. There goes any credibility i might have had in this thread...
#19
Quote by UseYourThumb
...I meant to reply to leftydave, don't know why I replied to you. My apologies. And would you care to explain the Al Gore comment? I don't think I get it.
You didn't reply to me. My intention was to illustrate that the sanding method can be made to work well. As to filing, I have to suppose that it's just as possible to put a slanted edge on a saddle if your stroke isn't perfect.

I'm not advising against something I've never tried, so that part does need to be worked out with LeftyDave.

Al Gore during his presidential campaign was caught saying something like, "I took the initiative and invented the interweb". Hence the association with Al Gore. I thought you were being tongue in cheek by referring to , (what most call the "internet"), as "the interweb". You have to admit that while it's certainly acceptable, it is well off the beaten track. Peace.
#20
Quote by UseYourThumb
*sigh* Okay.....
1. The reason for clamping down the saddle and using a file is because the file has a flat surface to sand with. Holding the the saddle and rubbing it over sand paper will cause the bottom of the saddle to become uneven, which will REALLY screw up the saddle. I'd bet money that your guitar's saddle is sitting sideways in you bridge right now if you follow that method.

2. Well no shit its gonna crack the saddle if you press metal clamps up too it and tighten it until you cant anymore. That's why anyone with common sense would put a piece of cloth or cardboard between the contact points of the clamp and saddle.

If you're going to attack someone via interweb, please remember not everyone's a dumbass.


No, you're right, not everyone is a dumbass. Some do say some dumbass things though.

The sanding method of removing material from the bottom of a saddle is preferred. The sandpaper is on a flat surface, the saddle is then slid across it. Marks are made prior to any of this in case you're wondering so that you remove an even amount all around and yes, my saddles fit my bridges precisely. I've also insured the bottom of the bridge slot is as flat as it can be so that I get a very nice contact surface there. This is the point at which the majority of the strings vibrational energy is driven into the soundboard, so the truer each is, the better. I'm not saying you have to do anything either way, but common sense says that holding the saddle piece with your fingers is safer than clamping it in a vise. You have finer control over things this way. It's not an attack either, I've been in this forum since 2005 and have seen my fair share of bogus information fly through. Your remark about the truss rod was a dead giveaway. I tend to call 'em as I see 'em. I've also been playing guitar since 1977 and been working on all of my own since the early 80's. Do I know a bit about how to do these things? You could say that. Am I the be all, end all of everything there is to know about fixing guitars? Most certainly not. I leave the really technical stuff up to the real pros, like Frank Ford and especially Dan Earliwine. Look them up, you can learn a lot more from them than me.
#21
Quote by LeftyDave
but common sense says that holding the saddle piece with your fingers is safer than clamping it in a vise. You have finer control over things this way.
Actually, with today's intonation corrected saddles, you can't clamp them directly into a vise anyway, you'd crush the "B" string offset.
Quote by Bikewer
The professional way to adjust the action at the nut is with a set of precise "nut files" that fit the slots according to size of strings being used. Very nice, and rather expensive.

The backyard mechanic's way (mine..) is to use a "torch tip tool". This is a little device for cleaning welding/brazing torches. You get a nice set of graduated round files in sizes that correspond nicely to guitar strings.
Only a few bucks at a decent hardware store.
I know exactly what a top nut is, and ditto for a torch tip cleaner. I don't recollect envisioning them both in this context. So, good one!
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 22, 2011,