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Author Topic: how hard would this setup change be....?  (Read 1828 times)
kensmith
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« on: August 23, 2006, 08:12:01 PM »

I am considering getting a D-03e on a trade (posted in other thread on Larrivee Guitar thread...

The current owner had it worked on my a well respected local luthier and had some  nut work done
(lowered action at nut) and did some fret finishing work, and also took down the b-string saddle a bit.

The action at nut side frets is fine, but high for my liking at 12th fret. Is there somthing I could do myself
to adjust or would it have to go back in for setup. I assume that taking the saddle down is a possibility (but
I would worry about too much change to break angle that may impact tone). I know truss bar adjustments are not used for action
but I have seen some posts indicating that putting some neck relief will lower action in mid-neck.

I know that it could be setup to my liking, I am just wondering if I can do that myself.

thanks
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 10:05:45 PM »

First-yes you can do it yourself.
Second-take the saddle down not the bridge. :GRN>
Third- if your not comfy doing it olease bring it to your tech.
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2006, 10:22:40 PM »

Welcome to the forum Ken.

Start at www.frets.com for all the info you would need on this set up as well as most basic acoustic guitar care.  It is a great resource that has helped me to become much more familiar with my instruments and confident doing minor things to them.  If you have any questions let us know.

-josh
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2006, 10:54:37 PM »

+1 unclrob, +1 jwities
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drathbun
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2006, 05:41:10 PM »

To lower the action down 1/64" at the twelfth fret, take 1/32" off the saddle by sanding the bottom. You can mark 1/32" in pencil on the bottom of the saddle and then sand to the line. Just take the saddle out of the bridge, place a piece of fine sandpaper on a hard, flat surface, hold the saddle so it is completely flat and put in a little elbow grease. Keep checking until you get to the height you want.

I keep two saddles, one for the winter and one for the summer (both compensated bone from Larrivee - cheap investment).
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Hoser Rob
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2006, 12:37:51 PM »

First, I think 1/32" at a time at the saddle is a bit much unless it's ridiculously high.  Take a sharp pencil or extra fine Sharpie marker and draw a line right along the bottom edge.  That'll be about 1/64" maybe.  Sand that off and try again.  That much will make the difference between a clunky playing guitar and a well playing one.

However you need to check the relief and nut first.  No, the truss rod is not for lowering the action, though it does affect it.  What's it for?  To prevent buzzing in the lower positions.  Picture a vibrating string.  When it's not doing that it's dead straight but when you pluck it it's not straight anymore, it's curved into an elliptical shape.  If the neck is too straight it'll buzz like crazy near the nut unless you raise the saddle too much.  Hence the need for relief.

The way I check relief is to play all the notes from the 6th or 7th fret (9th on electric) on down to the 1st fret.  Play them hard enough so they start buzzing (all guitars will buzz to some extent except lap steels, it's a matter of whether it'll buzz too much when you play it).  It helps a lot to put your ear near the fret so you can hear the onset more easily.  Little buzzes like that aren't audible unless you do that but they kill your tone.

NOTE: when you do this, put your ear behind the neck, with the fingerboard pointed away from your face.  You really don't want to break a string with it an inch or or two from your head.  You can still hear the buzzing that way.

If it buzzes more easily near the nut than the 6th fret your neck is too straight (not enough relief).  You need to loosen the rod a tad.  No more than 1/8 of a turn at a time, or it'll go past where you want it.  Loosening it is usually pretty safe.

If it buzzes more at the 5th or 6th fret you have too much relief and you need to tighten the rod.  This is where you can ruin the guitar if you're not careful.  If the rod doesn't turn pretty easily with easy wrist action, stop and take it to a qualified tech.

Once the relief is right the nut can be checked.  This is actually the most common action problem but it isn't something the average amateur wants to mess with.  A couple of thousandths of an inch make a big difference.  Plus the files you need to do a good job cost way more than a shop would charge for a new bone nut.

Then check the saddle.  Unfortunately a lot of people who have no idea what they're doing go for that first and can't understand why it still doesn't play right.

FInally, remember that while beginners need low action, you're going to get better results ... both feel and sound ... if you work with the guitar rather than try to impose your will with a bunch of spec clearances on it.  Most top luthiers don't measure and it's taken me a while to begin to understand why.  Also, almost all the best players I know actually prefer pretty high to really high action and big strings.  That's the only way to get that sound.
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jimmyd
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2006, 11:36:00 AM »

Hoser Bob makes some good points. I'd add the following. If you want to try some adjustments on your own you can read up on the subject for free. Links below. In addition to Frets.com  briankimsey.com has some really detailed info on setup specs. Dan Erliwine's book, Guitar Player Repair Guide, will teach you more than all the internet forum wisdom I've yet to read if you really want to go deep into this subject which is more complex than many realize.  Some luthiers do setups by feel. Others will go from precise specs and tweak the instrument after meeting those specs.  There are as many preferences for setup as there are players and there are some tradeoffs for any given setup. The setup that is most comfortable for you that still sounds good makes sense to me. What others tell you it is supposed to be are only guidelines, not requirements. Your picking technique will have a lot to do with the best setup for you. For example Bluegrass pickers and players working without a pickup or instrument mike need to really dig in if playing in a loud group and often run a pretty high setup. High setups can have intonation problems if you play or capo up the neck.There are exceptions. Tony Rice runs a setup so low that his guitars are practically unplayable by most other pickers. He seems to get pretty good tone. :WNK>  What most people don't discuss is the condition of the neck and frets and the neck angle which is critical to getting a really sleek action. If the neck isn't perfectly straight and the frets aren't perfectly level then the action will have to be set up a bit higher than you might like. If you take the guitar to a tech it might help to bring along a guitar with the setup you prefer so they can compare it to the one you want to have adjusted. The good news is that you most likely only need some minor adjustments.

http://www.bryankimsey.com/
http://www.frets.com/
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rpg51
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 11:58:35 AM »

If the neck is too straight it'll buzz like crazy near the nut unless you raise the saddle too much.  Hence the need for relief.

If it buzzes more easily near the nut than the 6th fret your neck is too straight (not enough relief). 

If it buzzes more at the 5th or 6th fret you have too much relief and you need to tighten the rod. 

FInally, remember that while beginners need low action, you're going to get better results ... both feel and sound ... if you work with the guitar rather than try to impose your will with a bunch of spec clearances on it.  Most top luthiers don't measure and it's taken me a while to begin to understand why.  Also, almost all the best players I know actually prefer pretty high to really high action and big strings.  That's the only way to get that sound.

The premise here - that lack of neck relief generates buzzing at the upper frets in the nut area is counter intuitive to me.  I always thought that increasing neck relief had the primary effect of increasing the height of the strings mostly in the 7,8,9,10 fret area, not so much in the nut area.  Also, I always thought that buzzing in the nut area or first fret or two (assuming nice flat frets) is generally caused by too low nut slots, not lack of neck relief.  My understanding has been that buzzing in the middle of the fretboard is often addressed with the truss rod - but adding a little relief. All of this assumes of course that the frets are all nice and level - which is not always the case and could well cause buzzing almost anywhere. But basically I am feeling a little confused by this - ??????

I do this process a little differently, first I remove ALL relief from the neck using a staight edge layed along the top of fret 1 and fret 12 or 14, measuring or looking closely at the fret 7 or 8 area to see that the relief is removed and the board is flat.  Then I add just a tiny tiny bit of relief or sometimes leave it dead flat.   Then I check the string height at the nut by fretting each string at #3 and looking at the height of the stings over the top of fret #1.  I like it to have just a very very tiny distance.  If this looks high or if the stings are too low and touching the first fret I let a pro have at the nut before I go any further.  There are numbers that you can measure here using feeler guages but I tend to just eyeball it.  If it looks good then I put a capo on fret #1 and I measure (using a wonderful tool from stew-mac) the height of the strings over the 12th fret.  I measure very carefully from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string.  I have a number that I know I personally like but others may like a higher number.  My number is about 5/64ths or so for the low E and 3/64ths or so for the high E. This is personal choice and some folks I know prefer different numbers.  If this number is off I adjust the saddle height until it is right.  Then I play the guitar and see how it goes. Usuallly its great.  If there is any buzzing it is usuallly in the 7,8,9 area and I can eliminate it by adding just a tiny bit of relief in the neck with the truss rod.

For what its worth, I am familiar with many excellent set up techs who definately use measurements as part of there set up process.  Also, while high action may be preferred by some pro players, others like low action - plus low action on a well set up guitar can be a big help to some  beginning or intermediate players- (like me).  But to me it is a big help to know what numbers I like in a set up - it makes it easy to communicate with a tech and it makes it easy to get my guitars the way I like them.
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