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Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?

Donuel 23 Sep 18 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Rigby 23 Sep 18 - 03:13 PM
punkfolkrocker 23 Sep 18 - 03:22 PM
Backwoodsman 23 Sep 18 - 03:46 PM
Gurney 23 Sep 18 - 04:43 PM
gillymor 23 Sep 18 - 07:03 PM
Donuel 23 Sep 18 - 07:47 PM
Backwoodsman 24 Sep 18 - 01:54 AM
GUEST,Ray 24 Sep 18 - 03:35 AM
Stanron 24 Sep 18 - 06:29 AM
gillymor 24 Sep 18 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 24 Sep 18 - 11:02 AM
punkfolkrocker 24 Sep 18 - 11:17 AM
Donuel 24 Sep 18 - 02:23 PM
punkfolkrocker 24 Sep 18 - 02:44 PM
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Subject: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Donuel
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 02:57 PM

I've thought of grooving the nut or the bridge or both. There are no existing grooves. Re setting the neck seems too invasive. To the middle frets is almost over 6mm. It's as uncomfortable as a G string that is too high. Ouch


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 03:13 PM

Best to take it to someone who knows what they're doing, as there could be several different causes.

The neck should be almost dead straight, with the barest hint of a curve. You can test this by fretting the same string at both the first and last frets. It should be barely clear of the neck in the middle. If you fret in both places and there's a lot of space between string and neck, then the neck relief needs adjusting, which is easy if the guitar has a truss rod and more or less impossible otherwise.

It's unlikely to be the nut -- if the nut was too high, the problem would be most apparent at the first fret.

If the neck relief is OK then you can try reducing the action at the bridge, but there's a limit to how far you can take this. Don't do it by filing deeper grooves -- remove the saddle and take the extra from the back of it.

In all honesty if it's an old guitar then the chances are a neck reset may be the only option, but it's expensive.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 03:22 PM

Depends if it's a good old guitar worth throwing more money at to get it fixed...???

Nowadays, a perfectly acceptable quality and easily playable brand new gutar,
might not cost much more than a pro repair...

I've a guitar which needs a neck break sorted out,
the average quote is betwen £100 - £150...

It is actually worth it for this guitar.

But I could also get an almost as 'good' replacement for that kind of money...


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 03:46 PM

"Best to take it to someone who knows what they're doing, as there could be several different causes."

YES!! In view of Donuel's apparent lack of knowledge, this is absolutely the best piece of advice anyone could give.

"The neck should be almost dead straight, with the barest hint of a curve. You can test this by fretting the same string at both the first and last frets. It should be barely clear of the neck in the middle. If you fret in both places and there's a lot of space between string and neck, then the neck relief needs adjusting, which is easy if the guitar has a truss rod and more or less impossible otherwise".

Not the first and last fret, the first fret and the fret where the neck joins the body - usually the 12th or 14th fret (although some occasionally join at the 13th). The generally accepted wisdom is that relief should be between 0.004" and 0.010" at the 7th fret, measured using feeler-gauges between the crown of the fret and the underneath of the low E string. If an adjustment is required, the truss-rod should be loosened to increase relief, or tightened to reduce it. All guitars have a truss rod (also called a neck-reinforcement bar/rod), most nowadays are adjustable but, for a non-adjustable bar, relief adjustments, which should only be made by a suitably qualified technician, are effected by other methods including compression-fretting or heat.

"It's unlikely to be the nut -- if the nut was too high, the problem would be most apparent at the first fret."

Yep, agree.

"If the neck relief is OK then you can try reducing the action at the bridge, but there's a limit to how far you can take this. Don't do it by filing deeper grooves -- remove the saddle and take the extra from the back of it."

Not 'from the back of it' - material needs to be sanded from the bottom of the saddle, but remember that whatever amount you want to lower 12th fret action by, you must remove double that amount from the saddle.

But absolutely the BEST advice is to take the guitar to a good luthier or technician and get their advice. Hopefully, a full set-up will solve your problems but, if it's a re-set that's needed, you're going to have to make a decision taking the value of the instrument into account. as Rigby says, it's not cheap.

The usual disclaimers apply......IMHO, YMMV etc.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Gurney
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 04:43 PM

Just a thought: You could but a new guitar and keep the one with high action for playing slide/bottleneck.

(Says he who has accumulated guitars over the last half century.....)


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: gillymor
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 07:03 PM

Don, if you're determined to do your own setup work you might want to check out frets.com.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Donuel
Date: 23 Sep 18 - 07:47 PM

Thank you all, these are generous responses particularly backwoodsman.
I've worked on violins and cellos for 20+ years but I am a guitar neophyte. There is some slight evidence of a botched re set and there is not enough saddle left to sand. The neck has retained its ideal aspect. It is just an acoustic electric Washburn that was $100.

Which leaves me at a Gurney solution with a possible Rigby.

I do know these adjustments can come down to mere tenths of a millimeter and violins are even smaller.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 01:54 AM

Don, have you run a straightedge along the F/B to see where it lands on the bridge? If the neck is correctly set, it should hit the bridge on or around the top of the bridge (the wooden part, not the saddle). If it hits more than a couple of millimetres or so below the top of the bridge, it's likely that the body is folding and you're into reset territory.

And I agree with Gillymor regarding Frets.com - Frank Ford is a brilliant source of information for luthiery.

You might also want to check out Bryan Kimsey's luthiery Pages - http://www.bryankimsey.com/music/lutherie.htm


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 03:35 AM

+1 for the frets.com recommendation.

You say there isn't enough saddle left to sand. Are you looking at that part of the saddle which pokes out of the bridge or have you taken it out and decideed the slot isn't that deep?

If there's enough saddle slot left, you could shave some wood off the top of the bridge. This could make the guitar more playable but the loss of bridge mass can reduce the guitar's top end. This can be restored by using brass bridge pins which add the mass back.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Stanron
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 06:29 AM

There are a couple of reasons to avoid lowering the height of the wooden part of the bridge. It reduces the tone and volume of the guitar and it is not reversible. So if, in the future, you or somebody else decides to get the neck reset, the bridge would also need to be replaced. If the height of the wooden part of the bridge is significantly lower than 0.5" the bridge has already been lowered and neck reset and bridge replacement is the only way to go.

I agree with the recommendations for Frets.com. There's a lot on there about neck resets old and new. Frank Ford also has a luthier forum at

http://fretsnet.ning.com/forum

Right on the first page is a link to a Neck Reset Gallery. You might find that interesting.

A very early method of neck resetting was to separate that part of the guitar back under the heel of the neck, pull the neck back and re-glue it. This could be a lot of work if there was decorative binding on the back of the guitar.

More recently steam was used to remove the neck and now people are talking about introducing a heating element into the joint and not needing steam at all.

Some of the cheaper guitars are glued with epoxy type glues that make standard neck resets difficult. For cheaper guitars the neck is sawn off, reshaped to the correct angle and then re-attached with a bolt or bolts.

Frank Ford's Frets .com covers this option as well.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: gillymor
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 07:47 AM

Lots of good set-up info at StewMac, as well.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 11:02 AM

Donuel - could you perhaps put some photos on (say) Dropbox and post a link? Then people could see something of the issues and have a more informed comment.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 11:17 AM

From what I'm reading here..
this cheap Washburn might have a use
as a DIY project to practice on and gain experience...

Rather than a good old instrument you have a sentimental bond with...

I'd see this as fair reason to buy an affordable new or used guitar
that plays well with no issues...

There are plenty of good budget price name brand guitars available all over the place, all the time...


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: Donuel
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 02:23 PM

Great links and resources.
Rather than a DIY project (I already have too many) I brought it back for someone else to be challenged. It would have been a 4th mediocre guitar. So I am looking at a Marcassa laminate Martin with spruce top for $600+!!. It is set up and ready to go with no worries ( unless it shatters !?) It's made in Mexico which is a plus to me.
All I know is that carbon fiber cellos can also sound super.

I still have a soft spot for 'old' and 'real wood' but the sound of the Marcassa DX 1AE Martin - oh my.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Guitar Strings too high - best fix?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 02:44 PM

A decade ago I bought a few Switch Vibracell solid body guitars...

Vibracell - a moulded plastic foam resin of some kind that was suposed to sound and play like premium 'tone woods'..

Vibracell didn't catch on with a conservative guitar market,
so I got them very cheap discontinued..

They were actually quite good, loads of sustain - but easily chipped...

Compressed paper Martins reminds of the vintage Danelectro guitars
made cheaply of minimal wood frame covered in hardboard...

They sounded great...


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