#1
Hello,

I just recently purchased a Seagull Coastline S6 CW Slim. Now this is my first acoustic guitar, so I need some feedback from some more experienced players. I know barre chords are a hot topic on here from beginners, but please barre with me lol

On my new acoustic, I find that i can play barre chords relatively well for not ever playing one before. I think it is due to the fact that i have 11s on my electric, so the transition has been easier. However, I just don't understand why it seems that the first fret barres seem almost impossible. Second fret is relatively easy, occasionally, there are muted notes and I'm going to give that to the fact my hand needs to strengthen. Yet every barre chord on the first fret seems exponentially harder. I try to readjust my positioning, but if I bring my wrist and more forward, I lose strength to press the 6th string. If I bring my wrist back the crease in my knuckle mutes the 1st and second string.

And if it was one barre chord, i would just say more practice. But its every barre chord. Six string and five string chords, even the four string major 7 chord all are clear on the second string and yet the first string is difficult. I checked the string action thinking that maybe my nut needs to be adjusted. These are the measurements:

12th fret 6th string: 2.3mm (.09")
12th fret 1st string: 2mm (.07")
1st fret 6th string: 1mm (.039")
1st fret 1st string: 1mm(.039")

Does that seem high at the first fret? Or do I just need more time at it? I have been playing the acoustic for a week. But it just seems peculiar that there is a road block only at the first fret.
Thanks for your help.
#2
From your description and figures I would say that the nut slots are probably too high, and the 12th fret action is also too high.

When I fret the string between the 2nd and 3rd frets, the distance between the string and the first fret is so small that I can only tell it is there by tapping the string and listening for the click. Some are even a bit lower than this and still work without fret rattle on the open strings.

I set my body fret action at 1.6 to 1.8 mm, treble side, and about 2.4 mm bass side. However before that you have to check the neck relief. If you press the string down at the 1st and body frets, the gap between the string and the 6th fret should be about the thickness of a business card, not much more or less.
#3
hey Tony,

Thanks for your input. What do you mean by body frets? Is that the 12th fret? I will go in and get it set up then.
#4
rhythman93 Tony is indeed talking about the "12th fret". But not quite exactly. The majority of modern acoustic guitar necks, especially those with cutaways, join the body at the 14th fret. So, count the frets to your body and use the one at the body joint as a basis for any measurements.

For example, (on a 14 fret guitar), to measure "the neck relief" you would fret the1st and.14th fret, then measure the relief at the 7th.

FWIW, assuming your electric 11's don't have wound 3rd, the tension should still be in the vicinity of maybe 140 lbs tops. A standard "acoustic light set" (.012 to .053 and what most makers ship with), will be about 165 lbs. So yeah, you would still need to build up a bit of strength to effectively do all the same things with your Seagull, as you would with your electric.

The nut slots not being deep enough is absolutely most of the problem. But, with the electric strung, "so heavy", you can pretty much transfer the settings from it, verbatim, to the acoustic. Well, save for adding maybe just a few thousandths, to accommodate the fact you'll most likely be swinging a just bit harder when you strum.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Nov 20, 2016,
#5
Captaincranky, Thank you for the information you provided. I will look at getting the nut adjusted to lower the action at the first fret.
#6
Quote by rhythman93
Captaincranky, Thank you for the information you provided. I will look at getting the nut adjusted to lower the action at the first fret.
You're quite welcome.

Just make sure you have the relief set first, then the action height, and last the nut slots. While there would only be a difference of perhaps a couple thousandths should you set the nut slots first and then set the action later, both prudence and superstition dictate doing it in the order I've suggested.

Take at look at Mr. Becker's guide before you do anything rash. His suggested settings and approach are as good as anything you'll find on the web: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html
Last edited by Captaincranky at Nov 20, 2016,
#8
Quote by Tony Done
Just seconding CC's order of operations - 1) neck relief 2) action height 3) nut slots.


I do it the opposite way.
#10
Quote by Tony Done
Garthman

You do neck relief last?


An adjustable truss rod is there to allow for adjustment of relief for strings of different tension, period.

OK - someone may have previously messed up the neck relief but the usual quick check - fret at 1st and 15t frets and there should be just enough space at the 7th fret to slip in a piece of paper under the string - will show if that is so. The nut slots need to be right (similar small space at the 1st fret when fretting each string at the 3rd fret) and action at whatever height suits at the 12th fret. Unless the neck relief is wildly out the amount it contributes to action at the lower and higher frets in minimal.
Last edited by Garthman at Nov 21, 2016,
#11
Quote by Garthman
An adjustable truss rod is there to allow for adjustment of relief for strings of different tension, period.



It isn't only different string tension that causes changes in neck relief, age and humidity changes can do it, for example. I had a Baby Taylor with an unstable neck that altered over periods of a few hours. (They were replaced under warranty in the US, but not here on Oz.) It is the first thing I check and adjust if doing a basic set up.
#12
Thank you everyone for you help. I think I will get a professional to adjust the neck relief and the nut. I get a free set up with the guitar from the place i purchased it from, but when I asked them to go over it, they told me it didn't need it. So I'll probably get it done at a small shop out of town. I'd rather pay a little to get it done well than get it free and do a poor job. It's too bad that the only place with a good selection of gear in my small town is a corporate store with usually poor customer service.

I have a question though. If I get the neck relief set first then the action then the nut, wouldn't lowering the nut slots in return lower the entire action? I'm probably wrong lol but nevertheless I really do appreciate the help. Especially to both Tony Done and Captaincranky
#13
Quote by rhythman93
. . I have a question though. If I get the neck relief set first then the action then the nut, wouldn't lowering the nut slots in return lower the entire action? I'm probably wrong lol but nevertheless I really do appreciate the help. Especially to both Tony Done and Captaincranky


The nut is the first job to do.
#14
Quote by Garthman
The nut is the first job to do.
No, the relief is the first thing you set.

A small amount of excess or insufficient relief, will have a profound effect on action height. In fact, as you yourself stated, "neck relief is only used for changing to strings of different tensions".

So, even if we go by your procedure, the relief would be set first, in any circumstance. I have found a small change in relief can have a profound effect on action height.

Ergo, were the action height to be off by virtue of added string tension alone, simply adjusting the relief, would place the action right back to the player's preferred height.

So, when the relief gets set first. the action will be at optimum for the neck geometry you'll be dealing with for the final action height adjustment.

As to whether you set the action height second or the nut height second, that might depend on which one is the furthest out of adjustment.]

Setting the action height will have its most profound height effect, obviously at the saddle, diminishing to zero effect at the nut.

Setting the nut clearance, will, (again obviously) have its major effect directly at the nut, and diminishing to zero at the saddle.

So, you still set the relief first, and then I suppose you can use your best judgement as to whether you want to start at the nut or the saddle the finalize the adjustment.

Keep in mind though, nut clearance is done on a string by string basis, whereas saddle adjustment, (more often than not), affects all strings at once.

Also keep in mind, common sense and judgement have to be attached to determining whether any nut filing will have too much of a profound effect on an action which is already set, "LAPWOB". But, when setting up a guitar in your own home, you always have the luxury of testing as you go, which is not generally afforded a guitar tech.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Nov 22, 2016,
#15
Quote by Captaincranky
. . No, the relief is the first thing you set. . . .


No! The nut is the first thing you attend to.
#16
Garthman

The nut measurement is the most precise of the set up distances if you want a really comfortable action, and the risk involved in doing it first is that it will end up a bit too low or a bit higher than need be after neck relief and action height are done, but depending on your method of assessing it. My method doesn't give the lowest possible clearance on the 1st fret, but it isn't dependant on the other measurements, so I could do it at any time. OTOH, those who do it by comparing 1st and (fretted) 2nd fret clearances would want to do it last.
#17
Quote by Tony Done
Garthman

. . . . . . OTOH, those who do it by comparing 1st and (fretted) 2nd fret clearances would want to do it last. . . . .


No, Tony. The method of adjusting the nut by using the space at the 1st fret when fretting each string at the 2nd is really independent of the neck relief and action at the saddle. The neck relief only effects (to any measurable degree) the middle length of the fretboard - the action of truss rod adjustment has virtually no effect on lower or higher frets - and certainly nothing measurable between the 1st and 2nd fret. And with the action at the saddle, whatever it is is negated by fretting each string at the 2nd fret.
Last edited by Garthman at Nov 24, 2016,
#18
Garthman

You misunderstood or I explained it badly. The method you describe is the one I use, and it is indeed independent of when you do it. However, there seem to be a substantial number of repairers and luthiers who do it by comparing the clearance of the 1st fret off the open string, and the clearance of the 2nd fret when the string is fretted at the 1st fret - and so on down the neck if you had a mind to. It is said to be possible to get the nut slots lower by that method, but I've never tried it.
#19
Quote by Tony Done
Garthman

. . . However, there seems to be a substantial number of repairers and luthiers who do it by comparing the clearance of the 1st fret off the open string, and the clearance of the 2nd fret when the string is fretted at the 1st fret - and so on down the neck if you had a mind to. It is said to be possible to get the nut slots lower by that method, but I've never tried it.


Gosh! Never heard of that method. It seems very laborious and I doubt if it does a better job (might even be a problem if you change string gauges???). Perhaps it's a sales hype?

Anyway - isn't it nice that we are all different?