#1
Right now I want to lower the action on my acoustic guitar. I don't want to ruin the saddle so what do I do if I sand to too low?
#2
you can put something under it to raise it if you sand too much off. I use old strings...cut the A string into a couple pieces and put it in the groove, it'll raise it by a millimeter or so.

sanding the saddle down should be your last step though. make sure everything else is set up perfectly first.
.
Capitalization is the difference between "I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse" and "i helped my uncle jack off the horse"
Quote by stepchildusmc
either way your gonna need a big bucket... how you set it under the horse is up to you.
#3
Quote by dragonkidkoga
Right now I want to lower the action on my acoustic guitar. I don't want to ruin the saddle so what do I do if I sand to too low?


If you sand off a little bit, put it back in, tune the guitar back up and try it, then, "rinse and repeat as necessary", how can you sand it too low?

Should you manage to sand it too low, in spite of it being easier not to, you buy another saddle and start over.

Here, curl up with a good set of instructions, page 5.... http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

Quote by mike_oxbig
sanding the saddle down should be your last step though. make sure everything else is set up perfectly first.
Mike, if I may be so bold as to inquire, what part of "everything else" do you consider a prudent course of action for a rank beginner? Reslotting the top nut? Adjusting the truss rod? Filing the frets?
#4
Quote by Captaincranky
Mike, if I may be so bold as to inquire, what part of "everything else" do you consider a prudent course of action for a rank beginner? Reslotting the top nut? Adjusting the truss rod? Filing the frets?


Adjusting the truss rod (or at least verifying that it doesn't need adjusting) should be the first step, don't you agree? Even a beginner should be able to handle righty tighty lefty loosy. It would be a shame if he sanded down his saddle without realizing a bow in his neck was causing the high action, then ended up with fret buzz when he straightened it out.
.
Capitalization is the difference between "I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse" and "i helped my uncle jack off the horse"
Quote by stepchildusmc
either way your gonna need a big bucket... how you set it under the horse is up to you.
#5
Quote by mike_oxbig
Adjusting the truss rod (or at least verifying that it doesn't need adjusting) should be the first step, don't you agree? Even a beginner should be able to handle righty tighty lefty loosy. It would be a shame if he sanded down his saddle without realizing a bow in his neck was causing the high action, then ended up with fret buzz when he straightened it out.

I guess I'll need to take it to a luthier then? How much do setups usually cost? Just wanting to know whether the luthier is overpriced.
#6
Quote by mike_oxbig
Adjusting the truss rod (or at least verifying that it doesn't need adjusting) should be the first step, don't you agree? Even a beginner should be able to handle righty tighty lefty loosy. It would be a shame if he sanded down his saddle without realizing a bow in his neck was causing the high action, then ended up with fret buzz when he straightened it out.
It's probably a bit rash on my part, but I think manufacturers ship with the truss rods adjusted correctly, and the actions high on purpose.

With that said, I agree with you in principle, but I'm starting to see a profile emerge on the part of beginners. Every new item they learn about the set up, leads to hysterically obsessing about it.

Given that it also seems like they feel it's mandatory to continue sanding down the saddles until long after they've run out of meth, I always point them toward the area where they at least get a "do over".

Other than that, I'm patently and categorically fed up with debunking post after post of garbage. For example, earlier this week, one "expert" stopped by and proclaimed, that the, "action of a guitar should be the thickness of a quarter".

Then there's the average half dozen posts a week claiming that the way to adjust the action is by flying into the truss rod setting.

My way may not be ideal, ,but it's the safest way to get a guitar up and playing decently.

With that said, even your scenario of over-sanding a saddle because of excess bow in the neck, can easily be remedied by simply shimming the saddle. It's my hope that when the beginner gets to this point, he or she will actually have the correct tools, and know how to use them.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 10, 2012,
#7
Not sure if that was implying that i was one of those junk suggestions or not

the truss rod is the place to start, or at least look at. Problems are easily identified, It's reversible without buying new parts, if it needs adjustment it's as simple as right or left, and it's generally the culprit if you once had good action but now don't. Sanding the saddle will likely be the next step but you need a straight neck to judge the correct height of the saddle...at least that's the way I was taught.
.
Capitalization is the difference between "I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse" and "i helped my uncle jack off the horse"
Quote by stepchildusmc
either way your gonna need a big bucket... how you set it under the horse is up to you.
#8
Quote by mike_oxbig
Not sure if that was implying that i was one of those junk suggestions or not
No, not at all.

Quote by mike_oxbig
the truss rod is the place to start, or at least look at. Problems are easily identified, It's reversible without buying new parts, if it needs adjustment it's as simple as right or left, and it's generally the culprit if you once had good action but now don't. Sanding the saddle will likely be the next step but you need a straight neck to judge the correct height of the saddle...at least that's the way I was taught.
And I agree with you 110%.

With the following reservations:

I've bought 6 guitars in the past 2 years, and every one I've pulled out of the box has had the truss rod adjustment well within tolerance.

If a member is here asking how to lower the action, he or she is not at a level where I feel comfortable in recommending anything other than sanding the saddle.

Lowering the action by sanding the saddle will have the greatest effect on playability, and offers the potential of doing the least damage.

The beginners don't seem to own feeler gauges, nor do they seem to know how to read them. I doubt they have a couple of decent capos either, which would place them in a position to accurately measure the neck relief. (At least as a one person operation).

If you think I'm being to pessimistic about beginner ability, so be it. All I've gotten from many of them thus far, is the impression that all they really want to know is, how soon will they become stars. Oh, and how much they can dispense with learning and still become a star.

I could be wrong about that. Perhaps I've just listened to too many of those type of ruminations in "Musician's Talk".
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 11, 2012,
#9
What, you don't think it would be funny to hear about some noob that tightened his truss rod 3 full turns because "we told him to" ?

Personally i'm waiting for that day to come so i can tell him to move his nut so it's hanging an inch over the edge and use his guitar as a bow and arrow.
.
Capitalization is the difference between "I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse" and "i helped my uncle jack off the horse"
Quote by stepchildusmc
either way your gonna need a big bucket... how you set it under the horse is up to you.
#10
Quote by mike_oxbig
What, you don't think it would be funny to hear about some noob that tightened his truss rod 3 full turns because "we told him to" ?
As of yesterday, I didn't. However a new day has dawned for me, and now I think it would be uproariously so. I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd read this thread through to its conclusion, you'll quickly find out what changed my mind: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1525372

Quote by mike_oxbig
Personally i'm waiting for that day to come so i can tell him to move his nut so it's hanging an inch over the edge and use his guitar as a bow and arrow.
Good idea! If I might be permitted an attempt to enhance this concept, I'd like to suggest trying this out on a cheap electric with a Floyd Rose. Ya, know, ya just hang a ratchet on the Floyd, add a pulley here and there, and ya got yerself a compound bow. Play it to your hearts content. And don't forget the heavy strings! They'll make the arrows fly so much further....
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 11, 2012,
#11
Quote by Captaincranky
No, not at all.

And I agree with you 110%.

With the following reservations:

I've bought 6 guitars in the past 2 years, and every one I've pulled out of the box has had the truss rod adjustment well within tolerance.

If a member is here asking how to lower the action, he or she is not at a level where I feel comfortable in recommending anything other than sanding the saddle.

Lowering the action by sanding the saddle will have the greatest effect on playability, and offers the potential of doing the least damage.

The beginners don't seem to own feeler gauges, nor do they seem to know how to read them. I doubt they have a couple of decent capos either, which would place them in a position to accurately measure the neck relief. (At least as a one person operation).

If you think I'm being to pessimistic about beginner ability, so be it. All I've gotten from many of them thus far, is the impression that all they really want to know is, how soon will they become stars. Oh, and how much they can dispense with learning and still become a star.

I could be wrong about that. Perhaps I've just listened to too many of those type of ruminations in "Musician's Talk".

Yes, I'm uncomfortable with adjusting the truss rod. I'm already getting uncomfortable sanding down the bridge.

I have no clue what a feeler gauge is. I have no idea how to measure action but I have a "Dunlop Clip Capo".

Actually I usually play electric but I'd like to learn fingerstyle.
#12
Quote by dragonkidkoga
Yes, I'm uncomfortable with adjusting the truss rod. I'm already getting uncomfortable sanding down the bridge.
OK, I already linked an excellent tutorial on set up for you. In a take on the old carpenter's adage, "read it twice, before you sand the string saddle once".

Quote by dragonkidkoga
I have no clue what a feeler gauge is. I have no idea how to measure action but I have a "Dunlop Clip Capo".
"Feeler gauges", are generally sized metal strips that you slide in between two parts to measure the distance these objects are apart. IE, a string and the fret below it.

A simple Google search turns up all you'll ever need to know about feeler gauges, and then some: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&channel=s&hl=en&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=feeler+gauges+guitar&oq=feeler+gauges&aq=1&aqi=g9g-v1&aql=&gs_sm=1&gs_upl=2361l7076l0l10341l13l13l0l3l3l0l128l995l7.3l10l0

Quote by dragonkidkoga
Actually I usually play electric but I'd like to learn fingerstyle.

In a matter completely unrelated to guitar set up, Mark Knopfler, (formerly of "Dire Straits), can absolutely finger pick the living shit out of a Stratocaster.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 12, 2012,
#13
Quote by dragonkidkoga
Right now I want to lower the action on my acoustic guitar. I don't want to ruin the saddle so what do I do if I sand to too low?


Why not try de-tuning down a tone on all the strings and then using your capo on the second fret? - The capo will bring the strings closer to the fretboard and your guitar should be easier to play.

E.g Standard tuning -
e
B
G
D
A
E

Down a tone -

d
A
F
C
G
D

Now you put you capo on the second fret, and hey presto, you're back with standard tuning, the action should be tolerable and thus the guitar easier to play.

I think you should search this site with 'capo' as the keyword, as there are, from what i can see at least , two very decent lessons on their use.

Btw, if you're just starting out, I wouldn't advise adjusting the truss rod, sanding or filing the frets off unless you REALLY know what you're doing - you could cause irreperable damage to the guitar.

Hope this helps.
#14
Quote by SpekkyTom
Why not try de-tuning down a tone on all the strings and then using your capo on the second fret? - The capo will bring the strings closer to the fretboard and your guitar should be easier to play.
This is the standard approach, (tuning D to D with standard intervals), to keep a 12 string healthy.

That said, it does indeed lower the action. However, other issues crop up. The reduced string tension has an effect on the overall tone, the position markers are no longer, "where they should be", and you run out of neck sooner. (A 14 fret guitar becomes a 12 fret guitar).

That said, lighter strings, (which also change the sound), and / or sanding the saddle offers the most possibility of improvement.

I do agree that a beginner should not get into the esoterics of acoustic set up with things like regrooving the nut, or filing frets. In fact, I find myself typing that over and over, probably in this very thread.

So, thanks for the backup.
#15
Quote by Captaincranky


That said, it does indeed lower the action. However, other issues crop up. The reduced string tension has an effect on the overall tone, the position markers are no longer, "where they should be", and you run out of neck sooner. (A 14 fret guitar becomes a 12 fret guitar).
.


...Yep, thats the downsides. I also found you lose a bit of the guitar's sound volume too if you played a 'capo''d chord rather than one in the first position with the open strings ringing, so i'll admit it might be easier finger wise to use a capo in the fashion i said, but the volume loss and tonal cost is not worth paying, not in the long term at least.

To add to my earlier post, my advice to you dragonkidkoga is simply to take the guitar to a reputable music shop, and explain the problem to them - I think you can trust the guys there to set the guitar up properly for you - it would be money well spent IMO.
Last edited by SpekkyTom at Mar 15, 2012,
#16
Quote by dragonkidkoga
Right now I want to lower the action on my acoustic guitar. I don't want to ruin the saddle so what do I do if I sand to too low?


I just bought my accoustic..... not my first, and probably not my last... There are three things that I let the pro's do... Fret work, cutting the nut, and sanding the bridge saddles.

I have no doubt that I have the knowledge it takes to do all of those things, and if I don't, I can certainly learn... But I don't have, the tools I'd need to do the job, and I don't have the desire to invest the money into those tools knowing how often they will be used.

If your looking for advice... Take the guitar in to a tech that has the right tools, the right knowhow, and another saddle available if he sands yours down too far.
I Play Guitar
Some Like it
Some don't
I don't care
Beats Workin'
OLD GUYS RULE!!!!
#17
I don't know how many times people have to repeat all this....
First... Do not touch the truss rod at this point. The truss rod is not mean for action adjustment.

Action is essentially a three-point process.
First, you check to make sure that the neck is straight. That's all the truss rod is for; counter-acting the pull of the strings.
Second, you check the action at the nut. Everyone wants to start cutting away at the saddle... That's last.
Nut action is far more important to most begining players who will spend most of their time at the lower frets.
The action is adjusted at the nut with special files that match string diameter. If you don't know what you're doing, take it to a technician.
THEN you address the action at the saddle. You don't just go sanding away and re-trying; there are specific measurements you make to determine how much material to remove to achieve a standard string height.
The saddle must be cut absolutely square; you must use a sanding block and you must be careful.
Again, if you are not experienced it's best to see a pro.

For a nice, detailed explanation of how to measure and what to do, go to the excellent Frets.com site and check out the "instrument set-up" section:
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.html#Musician