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  • Acoustic set up

    Posted by JoeT on April 10, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Here’s a good one for all you tech heads. I did a lot of research and I mean alot over the years more so lately, on the correct set up for a acoustic guitar. Talking about the truss rod, the nut and of course the saddle. As I mentioned in an earlier post I purchased a new 000-18 Martin, I’d like to think the nut was ok after checking the clearance at the first two frets, the truss rod needed a little tweaking. And on to the saddle, I wanted the lowest action possible without buzzing. I measure the string height at the 12th fret, I was shooting for 2.25mm it was at 2.50mm, so that was a .25 thousandth difference, so I doubled that and removed 50 thousandth from the saddle. everything turned out perfect, no buzzing, awesome action, intonation is damn near spot on, however, the saddle on the treble end is barely above the saddle, it looks kind of odd but everything is groovy. I’ve never seen one that close before, is it “it is what it is” or is that not right, it plays great and I’m happy with the results, any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated, Thanks……..Rock on!

    JoeT replied 1 year, 12 months ago 7 Members · 20 Replies
  • 20 Replies
  • JoeT

    Member
    April 10, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Here’s a pic of that set-up

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 10, 2022 at 6:30 pm
  • Bill_Brown

    Member
    April 11, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    Hi @Joemama , happy NGD🎼🤩🎼 Sounds like you have things the way you want. I’ve always been told that the “rule of thumb” is 3/32″ from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the strings. That works out to 0.09375 inches digitally, or 93.75 thousandths of an inch – I have no idea what that converts to millimeters.

    Enjoy😎

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 11, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    Which string are you referring to?

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 11, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks Bill, were you able to look at the pic?

    • Marty73

      Member
      April 12, 2022 at 11:38 am

      @Joemama TAC will no longer allow you to post photos or cartoons or much of anything except a member playing. They are afraid of a copyrights lawsuit. It’s NOT like the old TAC sight use to be. 😖🧙‍♂️😎

      • This reply was modified 2 years ago by  Marty73.
      • Cadgirl

        Member
        April 12, 2022 at 3:36 pm

        @Marty69 , thanks, I wondered what was going on with the pictures not showing up. Yeah @Joemama , we can see the picture. Just have to download it.

    • Bill_Brown

      Member
      April 12, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      Yes @Joemama , I had to download the photo to view it, but it only showed the strings and bridge, not the fretboard. From that photo, I can see the spacing between the strings looks excellent. What I’m referring to the height of all the strings above the 12th fret. I use a 6 inch metal machinists rule that is graduated in 1/64ths of an inch to check my guitar’s action. You could also use a dial caliper for an exact number, if you have one. The target is 3/32nds of an inch between the top of the fret and the bottom of each string. You can be slightly higher (or a lot higher if you use the guitar exclusively for bottle neck playing), but lower could cause the vibrating string(s) to hit another fret(s) and create that dreaded buzzing noise.

      Hope this helps clarify what I said earlier👍

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 12, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks Bill, it would probably require a machine shop to ensure all strings were at 3/32, that would mean the saddle would have to be sanded down at an angle because all the strings have different diameters.

    • tailsawaggin

      Member
      April 16, 2022 at 2:52 pm

      Hi @Joemama ,

      I took a look at the picture, and that saddle is indeed low. Very low. It’s so low that it makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with the neck angle on that guitar, and it’s also low enough that there’s very little break over from the pins to the saddle. That’s going to affect the amount of pressure the strings are exerting, and consequently the amount of energy transmitted into the top, and ultimately the volume of the guitar.

      You say your action is 2.25 mm, which is about .089″ imperial. That is a nice low action, and a little lower than the textbook .094″ that’s been mentioned earlier in the thread. For comparison, though, check out the break angle on my Guild OM-120. This guitar’s 6th string action at the 12th fret is .084″, and the saddle height between the 3rd and 4th strings is .339″. That’s just a bit shy of 3/8″, and more in line with what most folks would expect.

      Have you given your neck the “straight edge test to the bridge” test? That might shed some light on why that saddle is so so low.

      Of course, if you like the way it feels and sounds, this is all academic. It just kind of set some bells ringing over here, and I felt like sharing this information might be useful.

      Best,

      tails

    • tailsawaggin

      Member
      April 16, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      Oh, I missed one. I don’t think what Bill said about all the strings being the same height from the 12th fret is correct, or at least it’s non-standard, as it’s ordinary and desirable for the high string action to be lower than the low string action. Here’s a Sweetwater article with a useful chart of various guitar manufacturer’s recommendations:

      https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/guitar-setup-what-is-the-correct-string-height-for-my-guitar/.

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 17, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Good morning tailsawagging, you are correct it is low. It played just fine and I did straightedge the neck I gave it about .010 deflection. Even though the action was really low and it played great and very easy to fret there was something about the set-up that bothered me. I ordered a new saddle and redid it, my action now is 3/32 at the low E string and 2/32 (1/16) at the high E, I left the truss rod where I had it. As a novice when it comes to set-ups and somewhat of a beginner at learning/playing, just trying to get educated and my feet wet. I’m happy with the set up now and going to quit obsessing and going to just focus on playing, thanks man.

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 17, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Here’s what the new set-up looks like, I was able to check out your pic, looks good. Thanks again.

  • David_Leo

    Member
    April 21, 2022 at 12:18 am

    One thing I heard from a guitar tech / luthier may be helpful or pertinent. He said it’s important to have a high break angle of the string over the saddle to maintain optimum tone. So, at times if there is not room to lower the saddle, they will remove the bridge and sand some off the bottom to lower the string action.

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 21, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks David, not sure I’m going that route on a brand new Martin.

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 22, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Hey there Tailsawaggin, what kind of strings are those in your pic?

    • tailsawaggin

      Member
      April 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      @Joemama those are Martin Retro Monel strings, 11-52 (custom light) gauge. I’ve been using them on all my acoustics for a couple years now since I really like the way they sound on my mahogany guitars, they’re relatively cheap at 9-10 bucks a package, and they last a good long time. They also feel softer to me than phosphor bronze.

      If I had to pick something to not like about them, it would be that they squeak a lot on position changes. That’s probably more about shortcomings in my technique than the strings themselves, but other strings I’ve played have been more forgiving in that area. Balancing all the other factors, though, I’m happy with the compromise.

  • N-lightMike

    Member
    April 25, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    Hello @Joemama ;

    The problem with all the numbers you mention is that different luthiers have different numbers. You would have to get your numbers from Martin specifically for that guitar in order to be able to trust them. “Proper” set up is very different for different types of guitars. Setting up a guitar is one of those things that’s more of an art than a science. Your saddle should be above the bridge more than “barely”.

    However, for now, what you have works. You will have difficulty in the future and eventually have to get another saddle. As the guitar ages and as the weather changes, you may not have enough clearance to keep the strings from buzzing. If you were to decide you wanted to try lighter strings, you’d have a problem. Until any of these things (or other problems I haven’t thought of) occur, you are all good. Have fun.

    MG 😀

  • JoeT

    Member
    April 26, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks guys, I welcome all the education I can get. One thing I did hear from a couple of sources Mike is that strings need to have a decent fall from the saddle to the bridge pins to ensure good tone, Have you heard that?

    Rock on guys!

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