#1
From reading various posts i think it's how far the strings are from the neck but i could be very wrong!

My strings seem very far away from the neck which makes it very difficult to quickly hit the right note, especially high up the neck.

I have a yamaha f310 which is very basic so this may explain the quality.

Am i close?!
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.
#2
Yes, the action of a guitar is how close the strings are too the frets. a lower action will require your fingers to move less. Requiring lower action (see how that works lol).

You will need to adjust your truss rod to acquire the lower action at which you wish to play with. I would recommend taking the guitar to your closest music store or guitar shop and having them look at it for you. Save yourself the chance of doing something wrong.
#3
Yes, that's exactly what it means. Unfortunately, unless you have a LOT of experience with guitar setup (and the fact that you don't know what action means suggests that you don't) I think if you want to get this fixed it's going to require handing it over to a professional at a guitar shop, who should be able to make it a bit more playable. Some guitars just have very bad action, however, and you may just have to deal with it, like I do with my old Harmony electric. Eventually if you're serious about guitar playing you'll get something slightly nicer that will be set up a bit better out of the factory.

Most electrics are also much better than acoustics in this regard, which is why I generally think learning on an acoustic is better, since it builds up finger strength which then makes playing on electric far easier if/when you switch.
#4
Quote by godisasniper
Yes, that's exactly what it means. Unfortunately, unless you have a LOT of experience with guitar setup (and the fact that you don't know what action means suggests that you don't) I think if you want to get this fixed it's going to require handing it over to a professional at a guitar shop, who should be able to make it a bit more playable. Some guitars just have very bad action, however, and you may just have to deal with it, like I do with my old Harmony electric. Eventually if you're serious about guitar playing you'll get something slightly nicer that will be set up a bit better out of the factory.

Most electrics are also much better than acoustics in this regard, which is why I generally think learning on an acoustic is better, since it builds up finger strength which then makes playing on electric far easier if/when you switch.


Well i did hear it's easier to play electric so after 4 years of struggling with acoustic the electric should be a dawdle! Pity i have no desire to play electric!

Roughly how much would a shop want for a setup? Bearing in mind it didn't cost much in the first place!
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.
#5
Quote by bass94
You will need to adjust your truss rod to acquire the lower action at which you wish to play with. I would recommend taking the guitar to your closest music store or guitar shop and having them look at it for you.
Well NO, adjusting the truss rod is NOT the way to lower the action, unless the neck is badly warped. The bridge saddle is shaved, first and foremost.
#6
Quote by Captaincranky
Well NO, adjusting the truss rod is NOT the way to lower the action, unless the neck is badly warped. The bridge saddle is shaved, first and foremost.


On that note, how is this piece attached and how do they remove/replace it? Glue??
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.
#7
Quote by The Daver
On that note, how is this piece attached and how do they remove/replace it? Glue??
On an acoustic guitar, the "bridge saddle", (the white piece in the middle of the bridge), is simply a pull out, push in affair. In some cases, there are shim pieces, (also drop in), under the saddle, which can mostly eliminate the need for sanding the saddle.

Here's a really thorough guide to the process: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

You can use this search term, "adjusting the action on an acoustic guitar", to bring up more info and videos.

One of the quickest ways to destroy the neck of a guitar is via the truss rod. In general, any adjustment made is very slight, on the order of a quarter turn. The truss rod mainly controls "relief" in the neck, and Mr. Becker's guide explains this in great detail as well.

As a starting point the string height on a steel string acoustic should be between .125 and .100 of an inch. (1/8 (high), 1/10 (ideal, but not always attainable).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 3, 2011,
#8
Quote by The Daver
Well i did hear it's easier to play electric so after 4 years of struggling with acoustic the electric should be a dawdle! Pity i have no desire to play electric!

Roughly how much would a shop want for a setup? Bearing in mind it didn't cost much in the first place!

It really doesn't matter how expensive the guitar is, it's going to cost you anywhere from $10 to $100 US to get a full setup. For me in the past (though I haven't gotten anything set up professionally in a couple of years since I've learned how to do it myself), I've usually spent $50 at my local guitar shop for a full setup (action, other neck adjustments, some cleaning, new strings installed just right, etc). I'd look around, see who can do it near you. If you're not desperate to do in the absolute cheapest way possible it's probably better to go with whoever seems to know what they're doing, as opposed to choosing by price.
#9
I would caution the OP as well, "if you have to ask what the action is, you're probably not ready to undertake the setup process". It really depends on how much experience you already have in other areas with tools and woodworking, to decide if you're ready to tackle the project.

Although, there isn't really a tremendous amount of jeopardy in sanding the saddle down. They're not too expensive, and if you goof, your punishment is having to buy a new one.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 3, 2011,
#10
Quote by Captaincranky
I would caution the OP that, "if you have to ask what the action is, you're probably not ready to undertake the setup process".

That's pretty much what I said. The setup process, particularly on an acoustic like he has, is much too complicated to just jump in and hope for the best.
#11
Quote by godisasniper
That's pretty much what I said. The setup process, particularly on an acoustic like he has, is much too complicated to just jump in and hope for the best.
I edited that sentence to acknowledge your contribution.

Normally, acoustics ship with the action too high. I've found with the 2 Ibanez I've recently acquired, that the saddle height drop was all that was necessary. As I edited above, shaving the saddle isn't a high risk undertaking, and you can have a do over.

But, with that said, leave the truss rod and string height in the top nut adjustments completely... ALONE.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 3, 2011,
#12
Thanks for the comments.

I have no intention of doing this myself, i'm a DIY man but this is too much!

I need to sound as if i know what i'm talking about or else they'll see right through me and rip me off. Very cynical i know.

I've had my guitar for 4 years and haven't realised it's a problem till now. Think how easy it'll be once it's set up :-)
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.
#13
Quote by The Daver

I have no intention of doing this myself, i'm a DIY man but this is too much!
If you're familiar with "feeler gauges", you might measure the string height at the 12th fret. Post the result.

Quote by The Daver
I need to sound as if i know what i'm talking about or else they'll see right through me and rip me off. Very cynical i know.
Cynical, maybe, paranoid, very. C'mon, it's not like the Irish Travelers are at your door telling you your roof needs replacing. It's not even as bad as taking your car to an unknown mechanic.

Quote by The Daver
I've had my guitar for 4 years and haven't realised it's a problem till now. Think how easy it'll be once it's set up :-)
Really, some guitars have shims under the saddle. Check, next time you change the strings. You might be lucky, and only have to pull out a couple of shims. It can't hurt to look.
#14
Quote by Captaincranky
If you're familiar with "feeler gauges", you might measure the string height at the 12th fret. Post the result.

Cynical, maybe, paranoid, very. C'mon, it's not like the Irish Travelers are at your door telling you your roof needs replacing. It's not even as bad as taking your car to an unknown mechanic.

Really, some guitars have shims under the saddle. Check, next time you change the strings. You might be lucky, and only have to pull out a couple of shims. It can't hurt to look.


I'm familiar with feeler gauges but don't have any. Will millimetres do?

Oh and what are shims?
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.
#15
Quote by The Daver
I'm familiar with feeler gauges but don't have any. Will millimetres do?
Of course. I take it you're not here in the "colonies"? Anyway, we'll just have to convert the measurement so we're on the same page, as it were. You measure from the bottom of the E-6 string, to the top of the 13th fret. I've been using this oddball circular spark plug gap tester. It is designed to go on a key ring and tapers around the circumference.
Quote by The Daver
Oh and what are shims?
Some manufacturers ship with plastic "shims" under the plastic saddle. They're just thin plastic strips in the shape of the saddle, designed to raise it.

My recent Ibanez' did not have any shims in them, so I needed to sand the saddles to adjust the action. This is possibly because both of the guitars are acoustic electric, and Ibanez wants direct contact with the saddle and peizoelectric pickup for best sound.

I do suggest you read the set up article I linked earlier. Even if you send the guitar out to be set up, you'll have a much better understanding of the process. Again, here's page 5: "setting saddle height" (with pictures). http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_05.html

Take note: there is supposed to be a slight "bow" in the guitar's neck at the seventh fret. Fret the E-6 string at the 1st & 12th fret simultaneously, and make sure there's a bit of daylight under the string at the 7th fret. This is called "relief", and for an acoustic guitar, should be on the order of 10 to 12 thousandths of an inch, but not more. You'll have convert that term, but generally, "a bit of daylight" is about right. That's in the article as well.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 4, 2011,
#16
Tangentially off-topic; correct me if I'm wrong but in classical you can't adjust the action; can you? (Using all my willpower to resist making Soviet Russia jokes)
#17
Quote by Lord Kamina
Tangentially off-topic; correct me if I'm wrong but in classical you can't adjust the action; can you? (Using all my willpower to resist making Soviet Russia jokes)
"In Soviet Russia, the action adjusts you"!

Was that the punchline you were expecting?

If that was a serious question, classical guitars have a bridge saddle the same as a steel string. One supposes that it can be adjusted. Nylon strings have less tension, and hence greater excursion than do steel strings, therefore the action must be higher.
#18
Quote by Captaincranky
"In Soviet Russia, the action adjusts you"!

Was that the punchline you were expecting?

If that was a serious question, classical guitars have a bridge saddle the same as a steel string. One supposes that it can be adjusted. Nylon strings have less tension, and hence greater excursion than do steel strings, therefore the action must be higher.


To that, yes and yes.

It was a serious question (mostly out of curiosity) and I'm aware they tend to have higher action. Since I thought (Which might or not be true) that adjusting it on a classical might be harder, the whole Soviet Russia is a pretty appropriate punchline. "Just stop whining and get used to the action"
#19
Quote by Captaincranky
Of course. I take it you're not here in the "colonies"? Anyway, we'll just have to convert the measurement so we're on the same page, as it were. You measure from the bottom of the E-6 string, to the top of the 13th fret. I've been using this oddball circular spark plug gap tester. It is designed to go on a key ring and tapers around the circumference.
Some manufacturers ship with plastic "shims" under the plastic saddle. They're just thin plastic strips in the shape of the saddle, designed to raise it.

My recent Ibanez' did not have any shims in them, so I needed to sand the saddles to adjust the action. This is possibly because both of the guitars are acoustic electric, and Ibanez wants direct contact with the saddle and peizoelectric pickup for best sound.

I do suggest you read the set up article I linked earlier. Even if you send the guitar out to be set up, you'll have a much better understanding of the process. Again, here's page 5: "setting saddle height" (with pictures). http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_05.html

Take note: there is supposed to be a slight "bow" in the guitar's neck at the seventh fret. Fret the E-6 string at the 1st & 12th fret simultaneously, and make sure there's a bit of daylight under the string at the 7th fret. This is called "relief", and for an acoustic guitar, should be on the order of 10 to 12 thousandths of an inch, but not more. You'll have convert that term, but generally, "a bit of daylight" is about right. That's in the article as well.


That certainly explained a few things and more! Cheers captaincranky.

And your right, i'm not from the 'colonies', i live in Scotland.

I measured the gap between the low E string and the neck at the 12th fret and it was almost 5mm which is almost 1/4 of an inch. I think that's quite a bit so will seek a setup. There was the gap at fret 7 as you mentioned.

Thanks again.
The cat taught the tiger everything he knows. One day the tiger turned on the cat and the cat ran up a tree. That was the one thing the cat never taught the tiger.