#1
After like 6 months with an old acoustic guitar that i found in my home, my fingertips still hurt when i play it (especially after the 7th fret or so).Since i should be used with it after that time, i decided to measure the string action.

On the 12th fret, the action is of ~7,5mm on low E and 8mm on high E.It is useful to note that the action seems to increase proportionally to the fret number,what is kind of wierd.

So the question:is that acceptable or it is mandatory to decrease the action?

If yes, how can i do it?

Thanks in advance.
#2
I have the exact same problem with my classical guitar, and I think the bridge is too high, and might need to be sanded down (correct me if that is a bad idea). You should take it to a professional luthier. And I'm not talking about the "luthiers" and "repair men" at Guitar Center. They don't know what they are doing, for the most part.
#3
Quote by kingjames123
I have the exact same problem with my classical guitar, and I think the bridge is too high, and might need to be sanded down (correct me if that is a bad idea). You should take it to a professional luthier. And I'm not talking about the "luthiers" and "repair men" at Guitar Center. They don't know what they are doing, for the most part.



Thanks for the reply.

After a close analysis considering your answer, i see that in fact, the bridge is too high.The problem, however, is that there are no professional who can do the service in my town (there isnt even a musical store here...).
Do you have any idea of how much it costs?Cause it seems to be a cheap guitar, so depending on the price, i would prefer to wait a bit and buy a electric one (my objective with this guitar is to actually learn enough to play a electric).

Thanks.
Last edited by TripaEscorrida at Jan 26, 2014,
#4
Hi there,

I think it would probably be quite costly. My local guitar charge in excess of £50.00 which is about $75 to adjust the action which I think is crazy. I' am saving my money to invest in a good guitar probably in about 5 months time as my current guitar at the moment is quite cheap and it just doesn't seem worth it in the long run..
#5
Quote by hellybelly
Hi there,

I think it would probably be quite costly. My local guitar charge in excess of £50.00 which is about $75 to adjust the action which I think is crazy. I' am saving my money to invest in a good guitar probably in about 5 months time as my current guitar at the moment is quite cheap and it just doesn't seem worth it in the long run..


Thanks for the reply.

Well,considering these values adjusted to brazillian economy, i think i will save my money then.This guitar seems to be of the cheap kind, so i will instead wait until i can afford a electric guitar, which is my actual dream *.*.

I was wondering: letting personal preferences aside, is there a maximum value for string action?The height that, if trepassed, will affect playing on a negative way?

If someone know, please share with me.

Thanks in advance.
#6
that string height is indeed a bit high. you CAN sand it down yourself. it really isn't that hard. the only thing i can't stress enough is "easy does it". if you loosen up the strings just enough to be able to carefully pull out the saddle, you can sand it down bit by bit. just take a little off and re-install it. see how it plays after tuning it back up. repeat it until the saddle is at an acceptable height. make sure that every time you take the saddle out, sand it and re-install it that none of the frets are buzzing all the way down the neck.
it'll take you about 6 times or more of removing the saddle and putting it back before you get the height right.
just remember that you can't be too anxious about it becasue it you take too much off, you'll have to order a new saddle. just a little at a time. it should take you about an hour or two got get it where it's more comfortable to you, maybe less.
you can't put it back on the saddle so dont sand too much off at once. make sure that when you do the sanding, go evenly across the whole thing.
if it's a saddle that's compensated at the B string that you dont put it back in backwards !!
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
#7
Quote by stepchildusmc
that string height is indeed a bit high. you CAN sand it down yourself. it really isn't that hard. the only thing i can't stress enough is "easy does it". if you loosen up the strings just enough to be able to carefully pull out the saddle, you can sand it down bit by bit. just take a little off and re-install it. see how it plays after tuning it back up. repeat it until the saddle is at an acceptable height. make sure that every time you take the saddle out, sand it and re-install it that none of the frets are buzzing all the way down the neck.
it'll take you about 6 times or more of removing the saddle and putting it back before you get the height right.
just remember that you can't be too anxious about it becasue it you take too much off, you'll have to order a new saddle. just a little at a time. it should take you about an hour or two got get it where it's more comfortable to you, maybe less.
you can't put it back on the saddle so dont sand too much off at once. make sure that when you do the sanding, go evenly across the whole thing.
if it's a saddle that's compensated at the B string that you dont put it back in backwards !!


After some research i discovered that buying a new saddle is cheaper than sending the guitar to a luthier .I am not sure if there are high and low quality saddles, but due to the price disparity (at least on the net) i will assume that there are.

Since i have both your answer and some videos on how to make it, i think i should give it a try,after all i got little to lose,since i dont plan to keep this guitar for too long.
If possible, however, can you explain what you meant with "compensated at the B string"?I didnt understood that part.
Thanks.
#8
The derivation of the ideal formula that relates string length, mass/unit length, tension, and frequency involves at least two unrealistic assumptions: First, it is assumed that the string does not have to be stretched to push it down to the fret. Second, it is assumed that the string has zero bending stiffness. Consider the difference between a piece of cooked spaghetti (low bending stiffness) and a steel string (higher bending stiffness).
Then there are (at least) two phenomena that cause a string to go sharp when it is fretted:
1) The string must be stretched a little to push it down to the fret. This increases the tension in the string and thus makes the fretted string go sharp.
2) The string's finite stiffness makes the "effective" vibrating length of the string shorter than its "measured" length. This makes a given string's frequency at a given tension and length higher than what would be predicted by the ideal formula. In addition, the stiffness of a string makes the partials (harmonics) successively more out of tune with the fundamental the further up the harmonic series you go. This is because the stiffness shortens the effective length of the partials (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, ...) more and more, the further up the harmonic series you go.
So while it would be possible, for example, to replace the low E on a steel-string acoustic guitar with a plain string with the same tension, this string would a) need to be intonation-compensated even more than the wound string, and b) sound pretty bad due to the partials being out-of-tune with the fundamental.
There should be a dimensionless parameter defined something like this:

(d^p)*(E^q)
-----------
(T^r)*(L^s)

(d = string diameter
E = string material modulus of elasticity
T = string tension
L = string length
p, q, r, s = exponents necessary to make the expression dimensionless)
which should be kept _less_than_ some value in order to produce a string that doesn't need "too much" intonation compensation and whose partials are not "too far" out of tune with the fundamental. Exponents p, q, r, s that will make this parameter dimensionless are
d^3 E
how's
just a quick explanation bear in mind that if you do purchase a new saddle, it will still have to be sanded down to the desired height. it's easy....just time-consuming.
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
Last edited by stepchildusmc at Jan 26, 2014,
#10
Quote by stepchildusmc
The derivation of the ideal formula that relates string length, mass/unit length, tension, and frequency involves at least two unrealistic assumptions: First, it is assumed that the string does not have to be stretched to push it down to the fret. Second, it is assumed that the string has zero bending stiffness. Consider the difference between a piece of cooked spaghetti (low bending stiffness) and a steel string (higher bending stiffness).
Then there are (at least) two phenomena that cause a string to go sharp when it is fretted:
1) The string must be stretched a little to push it down to the fret. This increases the tension in the string and thus makes the fretted string go sharp.
2) The string's finite stiffness makes the "effective" vibrating length of the string shorter than its "measured" length. This makes a given string's frequency at a given tension and length higher than what would be predicted by the ideal formula. In addition, the stiffness of a string makes the partials (harmonics) successively more out of tune with the fundamental the further up the harmonic series you go. This is because the stiffness shortens the effective length of the partials (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, ...) more and more, the further up the harmonic series you go.
So while it would be possible, for example, to replace the low E on a steel-string acoustic guitar with a plain string with the same tension, this string would a) need to be intonation-compensated even more than the wound string, and b) sound pretty bad due to the partials being out-of-tune with the fundamental.
There should be a dimensionless parameter defined something like this:

(d^p)*(E^q)
-----------
(T^r)*(L^s)

(d = string diameter
E = string material modulus of elasticity
T = string tension
L = string length
p, q, r, s = exponents necessary to make the expression dimensionless)
which should be kept _less_than_ some value in order to produce a string that doesn't need "too much" intonation compensation and whose partials are not "too far" out of tune with the fundamental. Exponents p, q, r, s that will make this parameter dimensionless are
d^3 E
how's
just a quick explanation bear in mind that if you do purchase a new saddle, it will still have to be sanded down to the desired height. it's easy....just time-consuming.


Thanks for replying.
Well,that is a lot of info ,but i promise i read every line of it.
I think most saddles come higher than the average so you can adjust them to your preferences.Thanks for the reminder, however

Quote by StuartBahn
A quick and cheap fix might be to use lighter strings.


Thanks for replying.
I'm currently using D'Addario Extra Light .010-.050.At least from this brand, those were the lightest I found.This is, however, an important aspect to note,since AFAIK the string gauge play an important role on playability.
#11
Wow Step I would have expected that reply from Cranky not you. Speaking off Cranky no see him around here lately. Cheers
#12
yeah, Tuxs. not sure what's up with old Cranky. considered sending someone to his house to check and see if he's still kickin'. i worry about the old windbag !!
but, in lieu of Cranky being here.... someone's got to pick up the slack. Cranky has a heavy cross to bear when it comes to in-depth answers( that one hurt my little noggin.. and you thought us muscle-heads were all empty inside !) and i did my best to over help
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
#13
Managed to sand down the saddle yesterday.Even with the neck slightly warped, the results were impressive.Thanks for everyone who posted!
#14
good job Tripa. glad your happy with it ! if there's a slight warp in the neck, guess a minor trussrod adjustment is in order. that should be handled the same way... a 1/4 turn at a time at MOST.
most guitar maintenance is pretty simple, we just fear the unknown.
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
#15
Quote by stepchildusmc

most guitar maintenance is pretty simple, we just fear the unknown.


Exactly,best quote i've seen on a while.
Confidence to do the maintenance on the guitar comes with time, and is a important skill to learn.

Its funny to remember the times when i was afraid of simply changing the strings
Or to snap the strings when tuning it (although i still sweat a bit when tuning the high E )

As soon as i find the correct allen key (it came with the guitar), i will give it a shot.
#16
Quote by TripaEscorrida
After like 6 months with an old acoustic guitar that i found in my home, my fingertips still hurt when i play it (especially after the 7th fret or so).Since i should be used with it after that time, i decided to measure the string action.

On the 12th fret, the action is of ~7,5mm on low E and 8mm on high E.It is useful to note that the action seems to increase proportionally to the fret number,what is kind of wierd.

So the question:is that acceptable or it is mandatory to decrease the action?

If yes, how can i do it?

Thanks in advance.


Here's a guide for the setup of any steel string acoustic guitar: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

By your measurements, you might have the saddle in backwards. The low E (bass) string should be higher than the high E string. You've measured the reverse of that.... (Ideally, you might come up with something like .10 (1/10") on the low E, and maybe.090 (90 thousandths) on the high E.
Ideally" means just that. You may not be able to get the action that low, considering possible high or low frets, and neck warps.

One important point. Many times, very old acoustics "settle in". That is to say, the neck rises in relation to the soundboard. Once this happens, it isn't really possible to setup the guitar solely by sanding the saddle, the neck itself needs to be, "reset".

In other words, taken off the body, and glued back on at a lower angle. This is a very expensive prospect. It isn't practical for any old clunker. Now, if you've found an old Martin or Gibson, it's a different story.

Quote by stepchildusmc
yeah, Tuxs. not sure what's up with old Cranky. considered sending someone to his house to check and see if he's still kickin'. i worry about the old windbag !!
I just got unbanned about a 1/2 hour ago. It's heartwarming to know you'd admit to missing me. I missed you guys too.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 31, 2014,
#17
Quote by Captaincranky
Here's a guide for the setup of any steel string acoustic guitar: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html



Was reading it, pro stuff.Thanks for the link.

BTW,the saddle is not reversed, checked twice to make sure (it would be quite embarassing,sanding it and all just to see is reversed )
But the reversed measuremente you said left me wondering what might be causing it...
Thankfully its a old and cheap guitar.I have plans on keeping it,however, as a memo of when i was a beginner.
Last edited by TripaEscorrida at Jan 31, 2014,
#18
Quote by TripaEscorrida
Was reading it, pro stuff.Thanks for the link.

BTW,the saddle is not reversed, checked twice to make sure (it would be quite embarassing,sanding it and all just to see is reversed )
Not really, It's an easy and honest mistake to make with an "uncompensated saddle".
Quote by TripaEscorrida
But the reversed measuremente you said left me wondering what might be causing it...
Oftentimes, the bottom of the saddle needs to ground on a slight angle, (end to end, lengthwise). If I were doing this to an imaginary guitar, I would bias my sanding to the high end, taking a slight amount more off the high string side.

Read through Mr. Becker's guide again, paying particular attention with respect to keeping the bottom of the saddle square to the sides, and dead straight end to end.

This so you'll be ready if you ever need to do a guitar with a piezo pickup under the saddle...