#1
Hi, first of all, I am more of a casual guitar player, so I hope you won't look down on me too much for not being the most knowledgeable... Anyway, I have a problem with my guitar.

Maybe 11 years ago, I bought a Taylor 30th anniversary 410-CE. I love it. However, shortly after I bought it, I moved to Japan and have lived here since. When I was in the US, I regularly went to guitar shops to get my guitar set-up, so when I came to Japan, I asked someone I worked with if they knew of a guitar shop. Unfortunately, I was in a tiny little town in the countryside of Japan and so I was told that there were no guitar shops (that my co-worker knew of, anyway). I didn't speak/read Japanese at the time, so I didn't even try looking for myself. My co-worker did say that they had a friend who was a professional guitar player and was probably able to set it up. So I asked for him to set it for me. We traveled a few towns over and I met this "professional guitarist" who was an older (60's or 70's), stern looking man. I had felt like my action was a tad bit high, and when my friend translated that to him, he proceeded to adjust the truss rod.... I had already felt nervous about this, but I was in absolute horror as the man started going crazy with the truss rod and turning it again and again and again. Because of the culture here in Japan, I already knew that I, being just out of college at the time, I couldn't embarrass the man by demanding that he stop - so I just screamed inside and there was nothing I could do about it.

Afterwards, I got the guitar back and the action was even higher than it had been before. I tried adjusting it myself again through the years, just making tiny adjustments, but no matter what I do, the action is still way higher and the strings feel tighter than I ever remember them feeling when I first got the guitar. Recently, I watched a few do-it-yourself videos, and decided to try again, but when I bring the action down, the strings buzz really badly and it becomes unplayable. My guess is that the saddle needs to be sanded down too???? But I don't have enough knowledge to say for certain (and like I said, when I first bought it, I remember it feeling so smooth and easy to play the upper frets....so perhaps the extreme humidity of Japan's summers have slightly warped the top, or maybe my memory is just not right and the action was always kinda high, or did the man who "setup" my guitar just ruined it beyond repair??? I don't know! I just know it's not what it should be!)

I have looked occasionally through the years for other guitar shops, especially now that i live in Tokyo. However, none of them seem all that professional and every single place has said, "Your guitar looks just fine." Well, YES, it sounds GREAT still. BUT, according to videos I've seen, the action should only be about 2-3 pieces of paper high at the 14th fret, and yet on my guitar, the action looks like about 20 pieces of paper could fit at the 14th fret (might be a bit of an exaggeration)! OBVIOUSLY something is wrong, but no guitar shop seems to think so, so I've almost completely lost all faith in Japanese guitar shops! I don't know what to do! Is it possible to just completely destroy a guitar by overdoing it with the truss rod? Should I try sanding the saddle by myself, since obviously NO guitar shop in the area seems to feel there's a problem with it (and therefore, how can I trust any of them to fix it either?)? Sorry for the long post, but someone please have pity on me and give me some kind, helpful advice!
#2
Based on your level of experience I would suggest you search harder for a qualified guitar tech. The truss rod doesn't adjust action so when it was changed in order to fix the action it most likely put everything wrong. Typically action on an acoustic is lowered by sanding material off the bottom of the saddle and it's raised by replacing the saddle or adding a shim. Taylor started using adjustable necks on their acoustics about 10 or 15 years ago. If yours has an adjustable neck then the action should be adjusted by changing the neck angle.
Not taking any online orders.
#3
Thanks for the reply! Well, I'm still looking for a guitar shop nearby. There is one nearby that is supposedly certified by Fender and other major brands, but they specialize in electric guitar, and even though they offer repairs for acoustic guitars, they told me that simply adjusting the action would cost about $200 USD. Maybe I'm just not knowledgeable enough, but that seems absolutely ridiculous...and unfortunately, that is one of the shops that I went to where the tech initially looked at the guitar and said there was nothing wrong with it. As for the price, Japan is usually pretty universal about everything and anything, so that is most likely the going rate for any certified place, whether they actually know what they are doing or not. As green as I am in guitar maintenance, I'd almost risk sanding the saddle myself than pay $200 (cause, if I sand too much, can't I just buy a new saddle and try again?)

I'm sure I could go into downtown Tokyo where they have a certain district that is famous for having a whole street lined with tons of music stores...but again, the price is probably going to be insane for even the most minute of repairs, and I don't have a car so that means I'd have to lug my heavy guitar through the super crowded streets and buses and trains of downtown Tokyo just to get there anyway.... (now I'm just complaining).

Question though, you said that the truss rod doesn't adjust the action, but then you said that I should adjust the action by changing the neck angle if I have a Taylor with an adjustable neck. Isn't that the same thing?

Also, tell me if I'm understanding correctly - the action is affected by three things: the truss rod (even Taylor has an official video of adjusting the truss rod to fix the action), the nut, and the saddle. I also realize that the saddle is probably the #1 thing to adjust, but like I said, it was after the guy totally screwed with the truss rod that I felt the action got super high....I can't remember having a complaint about the action when I first bought it, so even if the saddle were sanded, I don't think that's the only problem....... And, you're right, I just need to do whatever it takes to find a qualified tech, but my experience with guitar techs in Japan has been so bad that I'm just really having a hard time trusting anyone. How do I know they are really qualified? What if I pay $200 and then get another idiot who just goes crazy on the truss rod?
Last edited by kimyeongtae at Mar 4, 2017,
#4
Quote by kimyeongtae
As green as I am in guitar maintenance, I'd almost risk sanding the saddle myself than pay $200 (cause, if I sand too much, can't I just buy a new saddle and try again?)
Like they said in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"....., "don't panic", well get to adjustments, and the order in which they must be performed in just a moment.

Quote by kimyeongtae
I'm sure I could go into downtown Tokyo where they have a certain district that is famous for having a whole street lined with tons of music stores...but again, the price is probably going to be insane for even the most minute of repairs, and I don't have a car so that means I'd have to lug my heavy guitar through the super crowded streets and buses and trains of downtown Tokyo just to get there anyway.... (now I'm just complaining).
Perhaps so, but you're certainly not complaining without cause.
Quote by kimyeongtae
Question though, you said that the truss rod doesn't adjust the action, but then you said that I should adjust the action by changing the neck angle if I have a Taylor with an adjustable neck. Isn't that the same thing?
The truss rod AFFECTS the action when neck "relief" is adjusted, but it is never intended to, or used to set the overall action height.

The truss rod must however, be adjusted first, before any other adjustments are made. When you put neck relief into the neck, the action rises, taking relief out, lowers the action.

Quote by kimyeongtae
Also, tell me if I'm understanding correctly - the action is affected by three things: the truss rod (even Taylor has an official video of adjusting the truss rod to fix the action), the nut, and the saddle. I also realize that the saddle is probably the #1 thing to adjust,
NO, it's not. You set the relief first.

Quote by kimyeongtae
but like I said, it was after the guy totally screwed with the truss rod that I felt the action got super high....I can't remember having a complaint about the action when I first bought it, so even if the saddle were sanded, I don't think that's the only problem....... And, you're right, I just need to do whatever it takes to find a qualified tech, but my experience with guitar techs in Japan has been so bad that I'm just really having a hard time trusting anyone. How do I know they are really qualified? What if I pay $200 and then get another idiot who just goes crazy on the truss rod?


The overall action is set in the following order: 1st, the neck relief, 2nd the saddle height, 3rd the height of the strings in the nut grooves.

Taylor's product didn't always have bolt on necks, (AFAIK). So, the first order of business is finding our if your particular Taylor even has a bolt on neck.

Assuming it does, and again assuming the neck has rotated upward from string tension or age, that would be the time to order a set of shims and install them.


But, many people are confused about when to shim the neck, and when to adjust by the standard means, sanding down the saddle. If you have plenty of saddle showing, and get the action back into tolerance without burying the saddle into the bridge, then sand the saddle.

If you have a lateral error, perhaps where the bass strings are too high, it CAN'T be cured with shims. You must sand the saddle lower on the bass side, or favor the bass side when the action needs to be lowered overall..

In practical terms, shimming a Taylor neck is called for, at the same time you would normally have to send a glued on neck guitar to the shop for a neck rest.

In which case, if you've been following my instructions, you should also order a new saddle along with the shims.

Here's a excellent guide to setting up an acoustic guitar: http://thbecker.net/guitar_playing/guitars_and_setup/setup_page_01.html

Please rake the time to try and digest the material. If anyone needs to know how to setup an acoustic guitar, your situation demands it. Besides, adjusting the truss rod itself, depending on climate, can be a seasonal issue. In fact, where seasonal temperatures and humidity changes are extreme, it might even call for a different saddle on hand, to compensate for seasonal rise and fall of the guitar top itself.

So read the setup guide already!

You should be to find Taylor videos on replacing neck shims as well.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 4, 2017,
#5
kimyeongtae

Pretty much what Corduroy said, except that the first step IMO is to ensure that neck relief is right via the truss rod before any other adjustments or alterations are made. I have had guitars, including a Baby Taylor, where the action height would change due to a change in neck relief - more bow = higher action. However, from your description, I would say that there is more wrong than too much neck relief.
#6
Quote by Tony Done
kimyeongtae

Pretty much what Corduroy said, except that the first step IMO is to ensure that neck relief is right via the truss rod before any other adjustments or alterations are made. I have had guitars, including a Baby Taylor, where the action height would change due to a change in neck relief - more bow = higher action. However, from your description, I would say that there is more wrong than too much neck relief.
Was my post too long and obtuse for you not to realize I put all those facts in it?

Second, not all Taylors had bolt on necks until almost 2001, (sez Taylor): https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/acoustic/features/nt-neck

But most importantly, I have a Taylor 150e 12 string with the strings about .080 on the e-1, and damned near .125 on the E-6 side. So, should I fly into trying to fix it by shimming the neck, or grind an offset angle into the bottom of the saddle?

As you can tell by the demeanor of this post, I'm reasonably fed up with people buying into Bob Taylor's hype about the bolt on neck being the be all, and end all, in setting up a Taylor acoustic.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 4, 2017,
#7
Captaincranky

I think we cross-posted, I didn't see yours.

The OP's Taylor would be inside your time limit, at about 2006.

You know perfectly well that I know that the neck shim is fix for a bad neck angle, and that the fine tuning is done from neck relief followed by saddle height adjustment. - So find someone else to whinge at. Your fix (as you know!!) is to file an offset on the saddle. I do this by clamping it in the vise, and using the jaws as a file stop.
#8
Quote by Tony Done
Captaincranky

I think we cross-posted, I didn't see yours.

The OP's Taylor would be inside your time limit, at about 2006.

You know perfectly well that I know that the neck shim is fix for a bad neck angle, and that the fine tuning is done from neck relief followed by saddle height adjustment. - So find someone else to whinge at. Your fix (as you know!!) is to file an offset on the saddle. I do this by clamping it in the vise, and using the jaws as a file stop.
Although I mentioned you in the prelude to that post, I was, in large part, being quite general as to its intended recipients..

I think the "shred necks on acoustics" thread, has had somewhat of an effect on my judgement.
#9
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I will definitely check the guide for setting up guitars, thank you Captaincranky - also for being understanding of my difficult situation. Many years ago when I was living in the US, I had an opportunity to take a luthier course, but I thought I wouldn't need it because I had always been able to get quality help at low prices. Man, do I wish I could go back in time. My work is a lot of volunteering/non-profit in education, social welfare, family counseling, that sort of thing, so I am on a very tight budget and can't afford to have someone else take care of my guitar with the prices over here. Let's see if I can teach myself at least the more basic things!

Also, I took some pictures - don't know if you'll be able to tell anything from them. You can find them here:

http://imgur.com/a/S47Fy

I looked at my neck again today - I pressed down on the 1st fret and 14th fret simultaneously and looked at the action along the neck. It does appear to be relatively straight, though I THINK the middle frets (6th or so) seem to be ever so slightly curved back creating more action there. Ideally, since I'm pressing down on the 1st and 14th simultaneously, shouldn't all the frets all down the neck be touching the strings?
Last edited by kimyeongtae at Mar 4, 2017,
#10
kimyeongtae

Press down on the 1st and 14th frets on the bass string then look at the gap between the bottom of the string and the crown of the 6th fret. There should be a small gap, about the thickness of a business card. I find it helps to tap the string onto the fret to judge the gap.
#11
Quote by Tony Done
kimyeongtae

Press down on the 1st and 14th frets on the bass string then look at the gap between the bottom of the string and the crown of the 6th fret. There should be a small gap, about the thickness of a business card. I find it helps to tap the string onto the fret to judge the gap.


Oh, there SHOULD be a small gap? Well, there is, just like you say. So perhaps my truss rod is not as bad off as I thought.
#12
kimyeongtae An inexpensive, simple tool such as this spark plug gap gauge, can be your best friend when trying to suss out action height.

The tool can be balanced on 2 frets, and measures to a 1/10 of an inch, about the correct height for your Taylor's E-6 string at the 12th fret. (Measure from bottom of string to top of fret). If the whole gauge slides under, the action is way too high.

So, knowing what the string height is, and where it needs to be, is the first step on the way to fixing it.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 4, 2017,
#13
Relief looks good.  The purpose of relief is to establish a very slight curvature between the 14th and the nut so that the strings don't buzz BEHIND the fingered string.  Truss relief adjustment has a minor accidental effect on the action.
Nut looks good.  Strings are way too high at the 14th.  The solution is a neck angle reset.
I have fixed this problem using various tensions in the neck attachment bolts.  (1) Tune 1 step below Standard Concert.  (2) Loosen the forward bolt(s), tighten the rearward bolt(s) to bring the string height down at the 14th.  (3) Check for action/buzz.  (4) If needed repeat 2 and 3 til satisfied.  Done.  Retune.
Others will say you need to shave the saddle.
Yet others will say you need to shim the neck.  Matter of preference really.
I would rather shim the neck than lose saddle material.
Now that you know exactly what's needed you can explain what you want to get done.  I would request a neck shim.
Last edited by skido13 at Mar 6, 2017,
#14
Quote by skido13
Relief looks good.  The purpose of relief is to establish a very slight curvature between the 14th and the nut so that the strings don't buzz BEHIND the fingered string.  Truss relief adjustment has a minor accidental effect on the action.
Nut looks good.  Strings are way too high at the 14th.  The solution is a neck angle reset.
I have fixed this problem using various tensions in the neck attachment bolts.  (1) Tune 1 step below Standard Concert.  (2) Loosen the forward bolt(s), tighten the rearward bolt(s) to bring the string height down at the 14th.  (3) Check for action/buzz.  (4) If needed repeat 2 and 3 til satisfied.  Done.  Retune.
Others will say you need to shave the saddle.
Yet others will say you need to shim the neck.  Matter of preference really.
I would rather shim the neck than lose saddle material.
Now that you know exactly what's needed you can explain what you want to get done.  I would request a neck shim.

Silly question......... The solution that you mentioned - a neck angle reset - is the same, or different, from a neck shim??    Also, I'm not sure about the neck attachment bolts... I don't see any bolts or anything I could screw or unscrew except for the truss rod.  Well, I'll do some more research!    Thanks for the info though!

Oh, last thing - from the pictures, does it look like this is something I should be able to fix by myself with a lot of research and preparation, or is this something that MUST be done by professionals?  
#15
Quote by kimyeongtae
Silly question......... The solution that you mentioned - a neck angle reset - is the same, or different, from a neck shim??    Also, I'm not sure about the neck attachment bolts... I don't see any bolts or anything I could screw or unscrew except for the truss rod.  Well, I'll do some more research!    Thanks for the info though!

Oh, last thing - from the pictures, does it look like this is something I should be able to fix by myself with a lot of research and preparation, or is this something that MUST be done by professionals?  

I think you really missed the point. You can't figure this out by having someone look at pictures a half a world away. You have to measure. After you find out how much too high the strings are, then you can decide what course of action to take.

I pointed you at an excellent guide, apparently to no avail.

The neck bolts are inside the body. And yes shimming the neck with a bolt on neck, accomplishes the same thing as a "neck reset", when you're dealing with a glued on neck.

As far as losing saddle being the wrong way to go, a Taylor saddle can be purchased over the counter at major retailers, at least here in the US. Whether here or in Japan, you have to beg Taylor for the shims, and you have to know what angle shims you need. (AFAIK). unless they send you an assortment, and you would have to take that up with Taylor's customer service.

As far as I'm concerned, you sand down the saddle until you run out of it, THEN you order the neck shims and a fresh saddle along with them.

Now, you still have to figure out much too high the strings are now, before you do anything. I posted a picture of a tool you can use to guesstimate, (you'd need to guess over 1/8").. That won't require listening to a bunch of bullshit from some zen master. Just a simple trip to an auto supply store. You need the spark plug gap gauge which goes to .100 (a tenth of an inch).
#16
Quote by Captaincranky
I think you really missed the point. You can't figure this out by having someone look at pictures a half a world away. You have to measure. After you find out how much too high the strings are, then you can decide what course of action to take.

I pointed you at an excellent guide, apparently to no avail.

The neck bolts are inside the body. And yes shimming the neck with a bolt on neck, accomplishes the same thing as a "neck reset", when you're dealing with a glued on neck.

As far as losing saddle being the wrong way to go, a Taylor saddle can be purchased over the counter at major retailers, at least here in the US. Whether here or in Japan, you have to beg Taylor for the shims, and you have to know what angle shims you need. (AFAIK). unless they send you an assortment, and you would have to take that up with Taylor's customer service.

As far as I'm concerned, you sand down the saddle until you run out of it, THEN you order the neck shims and a fresh saddle along with them.

Now, you still have to figure out much too high the strings are now, before you do anything. I posted a picture of a tool you can use to guesstimate, (you'd need to guess over 1/8").. That won't require listening to a bunch of bullshit from some zen master. Just a simple trip to an auto supply store. You need the spark plug gap gauge which goes to .100 (a tenth of an inch).

Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was ignoring your post (I think I even mentioned that I was going to spend time looking at that link), it's just that I'm living the typical Japanese 12-14 hour long work days, and over the weekend my best friend got married so I was busy with rehearsals and parties, etc.  I haven't ignored your advice, I just haven't had time.    But, other people had offered advice, so I was just throwing back a real quick response based on initial thoughts, without doing any research yet.  

And YES, I have ordered the tool you have suggested!!  So, I will know more in the coming days!  But Japanese people are not about the whole "fix-it-yourself" mentality, so tools like that have to be special ordered and the one I found on Amazon has to be imported and might take over a week to get here.   So, I hope I haven't offended you, this just happens to be my situation.   
#17
The "improvements" to this sites software have gotten to the point were it's almost unusable to me.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 9, 2017,
#18
Quote by Captaincranky

The neck bolts are inside the body. And yes shimming the neck with a bolt on neck, accomplishes the same thing as a "neck reset", when you're dealing with a glued on neck.

As far as I'm concerned, you sand down the saddle until you run out of it, THEN you order the neck shims and a fresh saddle along with them.


IMO, that summarises it well. The only comment I have is that "sanding" [sic]  needs to be done with care, to avoid getting a curve in the bottom of the saddle, especially if a UST is fitted. I prefer to use a file for the final bit, or I would stick the abrasive paper to a flat surface with carpet tape.
#19
Where in Japan are you? Here in Tokyo, there is a plethora of amateur and professional guitar repair shops, and from what I've seen, they all seem to know their stuff. And if you buy the right salary man a drink on a given night, you might just get someone to fix your guitar for free.