The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21655   Message #231521
Posted By: MK
21-May-00 - 04:37 PM
Thread Name: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
Setups and Action for Acoutic Guitars

With changing seasonal and climate conditions, most acoustic guitars will require adjustments from time to time to correct minor fluctuations of intonation and action, due to the slight expansion and contraction of tops (between the sound hole and bridge, and the area of the top just below the bridge) and, the fingerboard. This is normal as wood is a "living and breathing thing."

Before, having a set up done by your favorite luthier, it is very important to determine the gage of strings you use, and stick to that gage for a given instrument. (Feel free to experiment with different name brands of strings, provided you keep the guages consistent.)

The setup and adjustments completely take into consideration what gage of strings are on the instrument. If you should decide to change string gages once a set up has been done, know that it will affect not only the action but also the intonation, and, require a new setup to correct any new problems.

Separate Tip:
I also, strongly recommend against bridge shaving to correct neck angle problems.

Virtually every guitar is going to require a neck reset every 15 to 25 years. It is the nature of the beast. Truss rod adjustments can only do so much. Shaving a bridge is only postponing the inevitable (ie: a neck reset), and by doing so, ensures that you will also have to replace the bridge down the road as well. There is nothing to fear in having a neck reset done to your instrument, provide the work is carried out by a qualified luthier. It will enhance your playing and apprecation of the instrument as well as the tone, and will not devalue it in any way. It is the direct (but a little pricey) route to take.
The tell-tale sign of an impending neck reset, is that the saddle has been shaved down so low over time to improve the action, that there is virtually nothing left to shave, and, your action still remains high.

Last Tip (for now)

If you have a guitar you cherish, or one that you have a sizeable investment in, or one that you simply want to keep in good shape, buy a hygrometer (measurer of relative humidty in the air) and keep it in the same room where your guitar(s) is/are stored. (Buy more than 1 if you have them all over your house. Most reputable guitar shops sell them.) You want the guitars stored in an environment of between 68 and 74 degrees F., and with a relative humidity setting of between 40 and 55%. If the relative humidity is less that 40%, purchase a guitar humidifier (ie: "Dampit" or other brand names" and refill them (wringing out the excess water so they don't leak inside your guitar) twice a week...usually during the winter months, unless you live near the equator or some place warm. Monitor your hygrometer settings on a daily basis. If the humidity starts to exceed 55% (as in the summer months) store your instruments in their cases when not being played, and in a cooler, dry area of your house. Your guitar top and braces will thank you, and you won't have to worry about cracks developing.