#1
My brother-in-law offered me a free acoustic guitar and I took him up on it. It's an older Yamaha FG-420.

I know a bit about electric guitar set-up.
So I noticed that the action was extremely high. I loosened the strings and pulled the saddle out. I sanded the bottom of the saddle to remove some height. The good news is I got the action down. The bad news is I apparently took too much height off the saddle under the 6th string. The string doesn't touch the saddle any more.

But I must say that the guitar seems to be playable in spite of that. The action is still higher than I'm used to but I'm guessing that an acoustic is supposed to be higher than the average electric. Is that right?

Then the other thing is the intonation. The intonation is a bit off on almost all of the strings. It's especially off on the 6th string of course. Yeah...
I get the impression that a luthier would have to do something to the saddle, or maybe you could buy a saddle. I dunno.

And I was under the impression that I ought to be able to reduce the action until it was buzzing if I took height off the saddle, but this saddle is about as low as a saddle can get. Is it possible that the bridge - uh... tailpiece? is too tall?
#2
If you've taken too much off the saddle you can use a shim underneath it. A strip the same size as the base of the saddle cut from an old credit card will do the trick.

Your comment about the bridge being "too tall" makes me think that perhaps the top of the guitar has risen. This commonly happens over time due to the tension of the strings. Place a straight edge on the guitar top just behind the bridge - this will show if the top has risen around the bridge area. If so you can sand a little off the top of the bridge - just enough so that the saddle stands proud in the slot. It's not an ideal fix but for an old budget guitar you won't want to spend a lot of money and the guitar will at least be playable.

You might also check the neck relief - the truss rod may need adjustment.
#3
Thank you for your reply. I checked neck relief and that was perfect. I also checked the body of the guitar and it does appear to have a bit of a belly. I guess that's my problem.

It's not too bad. I got some accurate measurements at the 12th fret. The action is high (.100") on all strings but it used to be about twice that height.
#4
Go to Frets.com and check out the "basic instrument setup" section. It'll give you all the standard measurements..
If the guitar has started to pull up at the belly...(Not uncommon with older instruments) it may just have been in an overly-humid environment. You might try removing the strings and letting it dry out a bit....
However, that's usually due to mechanical strain over the years. Sadly, not much to be done about that other than a neck reset which would likely cost more than the guitar is worth.

If the string is resting on the bridge assembly rather than the too-low saddle.... You may be able to releive the bridge a bit by carefully removing material with a Dremel. Hey... It's a free guitar.
#5
Quote by Bikewer
Go to Frets.com and check out the "basic instrument setup" section. It'll give you all the standard measurements..
If the guitar has started to pull up at the belly...(Not uncommon with older instruments) it may just have been in an overly-humid environment. You might try removing the strings and letting it dry out a bit....
However, that's usually due to mechanical strain over the years. Sadly, not much to be done about that other than a neck reset which would likely cost more than the guitar is worth.

If the string is resting on the bridge assembly rather than the too-low saddle.... You may be able to releive the bridge a bit by carefully removing material with a Dremel. Hey... It's a free guitar.


Yeah and honestly it's playable enough for me as it is.

That low E string doe... It's not actually resting on the saddle OR the bridge. The tension on the end of the string - where it comes up from under the pin - is keeping it elevated. I don't know how long it'll last like that. I think it'll eventually kink, maybe break.
I think that it's still about as good as my Epi Les Paul. That one has some minor fret problems and the bridge isn't quite right.

I'm not afraid to work on my guitars and I've got a pretty good idea about what to do if I decide that it needs fixed. Thanks.
#6
You need to sort that low E, otherwise the intonation will be crap. Try a thin shim under the saddle.
#7
FYI, you can buy a new saddle for a couple bucks on ebay or at any guitar shop.

Acoustic guitars are set up higher than an electric. As a general rule of thumb, the lowest you should go is 2.5 mm on the 6th string 2.0 mm on the 1st. Any lower and you'll likely have a lot of fret buzz. It depends how level the frets are.