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Author Topic: does a good set-up affect responsivity?  (Read 793 times)
itscowfun
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« on: November 26, 2009, 06:17:19 PM »

hi all, i am in the market for a new guitar and browsed a few shops near me in the bay area (guitar showcase, gryphon strings).  i am leaning toward a martin OMJM (i was going to get an OM28V but didnt really prefer the v neck tho it didnt hinder my playing) to compliment my OM-09 but in my test drives i realized the guitars that impressed me the most were the ones that were very responsive.  i played a collings OM2H that just blew me away, piano like clarity and clear notes to the lightest touch.  all of the fingerstyle songs i played sounded so much more....clear, clean, and crisp on that guitar!

anyways, unfortuntaely 3500 dollars is a bit out of my price range, i was wondering...ive never had any of my instruments professionally set up...does that affect responsivity of the guitar?  i know playability and action is a large party of increasing responsivity i guess since its how it affects your playing but....i dont know how to ask without it sounding rather vague.  if a set up doesnt really affect it, what does? is a guitar more responsive due to more careful scalloping and build of the sound board and braces only?  thanks for any input!
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2009, 06:22:39 PM »

Yes. That's exactly the effect of a good setup. Your guitar should be at its peak responsiveness if done properly.
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tadol
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2009, 06:57:33 PM »

A good set-up will certainly help, but it can't compensate for the build.  The responsiveness you are noticing on those very expensive guitars does have alot to do with the bracing, top thickness, build details, materials - even the glue used if you read some opinions -

The value of the set-up is in getting the most you can out of the instrument, and in making it suit your playing style as well as it can.  A good tech, combined with some clearly defined desires with the way you want the instrument to work, makes a huge difference. And you should also listen to the tech - they can sometimes tell you if what you want for a set-up will work with the guitar you want it done to - sometimes you're better off with a different guitar - very responsive guitars that respond well to the lightest touch may be overdriven if you really lean into them with a heavy pick, and heavily built guitars that are great heavy bluegrass strummers may not respond as well to gentle fingerstyle, regardless of how you set them up.

But the investment in a really good set-up is very important - as well as a good working relationship with a good tech!

Tad
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2009, 09:07:04 PM »

Amen to everything Tadol said!  I am slowly learning (age challenged) that next to the build of a guitar, setup by an expert tech is everything.  Really the build of the guitar won't be fully appreciated until the set up is perfected to suit the guitar.  As I reflect on it now, a guitar that can't be sweetened considerably with an expert setup is a rarity.
Dave
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2009, 10:30:29 AM »

Pretty much agree with Tadol. It may depend on what you call responsiveness. To me that is more about the different sounds you can coax out of guitar than how easy it plays. My Gallagher plays like butter so it's reponsive as far as left hand and not being as hard to get clean note. And it sounds great, but I consider the L-10 more responsive because it repsonds differently based on attack and can provide more responses due to how you play it. So I'd lean more towards the build of the guitar for what I consider responsiveness. The setup could help some but it's not going to make a guitar with tone that dies going up the neck do much better up there. I think most people think about playability and no buzzing when thinking setup, more than what I consider responsiveness.
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frankhond
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2009, 10:46:25 AM »

I agree to everything, but the main question seems to be - if you do a setup to the martin, will it be as responsive as the collings? I would say no.

An "unresponsive"guitar when played fingerstyle will be "responsive" when played with a pick. The martin is a different compromise between responsivity and plectrum dynamic range than the collings.

If you like the collings, get it, even if it means you have to save more money. I have made that mistake once, not getting the guitar I really wanted. I eneded up buying it anyway later, plus the added cost of another cheaper guitar...
 
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SMixon
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2009, 02:32:20 PM »

I agree with Frank.  Save up for what you want if you really want the Collings. Fine guitar and I don't think you'll be disappointed. A,B them side by side to see what you like. 
Also, Yes a good set up should generally make your guitar more responsive.  I have all my guitars acoustic and electric set up professionally. Have them checked up on once a year or twice depending on drastic weather changes.

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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 02:10:45 AM »

A good setup on any guitar will help.But it needs to be the right guitar in the first place for you.
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2009, 11:02:55 PM »

Rule of thumb: there are some good Martins out there but you have to play every one to find them (sorry Martin guys; Martin makes some duds). I used to own a D-18 that was in the 'dud' class and after I got my Larrivee (and got it set up correctly) I went looking for another Martin. Unfortunately I played a Santa Cruz, Bourgeois, Collings, an OM-09 and they all beat any Martin I picked up EXCEPT a Martin Marquis (OM28 cutawas I think). I ended up buying a Collings used (E-Bay) sight unseen and another forumite's Huss and Dalton 00-sp, also sight unseen. The Collings, H&D and the Larrivee (which I did play but didn't realize it had a bad set-up) all now outperform any of the Martin's I've played recently with the exception of the Marquis.

You can save a bunch of money buying used but if the Collings is the one that's talking to you... LISTEN!!!


 
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2009, 02:27:22 PM »

A good set-up means string height and bridge and saddle and frets how you want them to be. The things you or a tech have control over.

While I like my strings really low on the fretboard, I've found that too low and I can't dig in with a pick, and yes, the pick is part of the equation if you use one, as is any finger picks. Digging in does give better volume. So its a trade-off. The kind and gauge of strings is a big part of responsiveness and the sound any guitar makes. I try to decide on strings before getting my optimal set up.
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2009, 02:44:31 PM »

Nornally I would do this quite quickly, but I only let 1 person right now touch frets so it took this long. Anyway I finally had the 000-60 done up right. All I had done myself up til now was adjust rod.
When Mark got done the action/saddle was able to be lowered substantialy. good compentsation cut into it, the nut tweaked a little. The saddle was able to be lowered in good part because the frets were leveled. Not so hot from the factory. So it certainly helped playability. And I guess responsivness as far as being easier to sound clear note more easily.
 He still has old L-10 and I'll get it back when he comes this way in the next couple weeks. I told him to do what ever it takes, including sanding if needed. But amazingly he said the 30 year old's neck is still straight as can be and just needs good fret touching up. Incredible. Not an adjustable rod in that guitar either!
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2009, 08:31:28 PM »

About responsivity. I owned a very good Avalon once and have played several Lowdens. The notes jump out of those guitars the moment you touch them, in fact a light touch already delivers what on most guitars would count as high volume, and a medium touch is near maximum (which by any standards is extremely loud). So the entire technique has to adjust, one plays mainly with different variations on a light touch. In comparison, martins, taylors etc feel like very hard work. Larrivee is somewhere in between. One significant factor here is the bracing design, the Irish viewpoint is that american style guitars are "overbraced". Anyway for sure a good setup will make a guitar play easier, but do try to play some Lowdens or higher end Avalons  if you get a chance, to feel what a super responsive guitar can be like. Whether you want a guitar that responsive is another matter...
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