Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
User avatar
eno
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby eno » Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:39 pm

Dear luthiers, could you educate me on setting the action on the 1st fret? I prefer lower action to be gentle with my aging fingers, and lower action means not only 12the fret but also the 1st where one must apply the hardest effort especially with full bars. I'm considering lowering action on my Bernabe which still has the original setting: 0.8mm @6th string and 0.5mm @1st string at the 1st fret. Many years ago I lowered the 1st fret action on my Takamine down to 0.5mm @6th and 0.4mm @1st and it became really easy to play. Is will buzz if I pluck an open string strongly but I'm not a concert player so I don't care. But it created a subtle problem. When the 6th string is pressed at the 3rd fret and I pluck G @1st string the left side of the 6th string resonates and buzzes because it almost touches the 1st fret. Now I'm afraid to file the nut on the Bernabe because if it will make a similar problem that would then be hard to fix. So what is a proper way to lower the 1st fret action but avoid the buzzing?
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Takamine C-128, Yamaha SLG200S silent, CompositeAcoustics steel-string, Fender Strat, Lineage MIDI

OldPotter
Posts: 1671
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:31 pm
Location: Channel Islands

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby OldPotter » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:10 pm

I have used this method, fretting the string at the third fret and checking the gap between the string and the first fret. It has always worked for me but I couldn't guarantee no buzzing.

viewtopic.php?t=99820
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

User avatar
eno
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby eno » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:17 pm

Great, thanks a lot for that link, it makes perfect sense!
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Takamine C-128, Yamaha SLG200S silent, CompositeAcoustics steel-string, Fender Strat, Lineage MIDI

User avatar
mikfik
Posts: 233
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:03 pm

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby mikfik » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:35 pm

When filing the nut slots put a feeler gauge in front of the nut to stop the file before you hit the target depth. The feeler gauge should be slightly thicker than the 1st fret's height. I usually use a .050' feeler pushed up in front of the nut. Remember to angle the slot toward the peghead and stroke in only one direction to avoid rocking the file so the slot stays flat and true.

Steve Toscano
Luthier
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 12:01 pm
Location: Newcastle, Australia

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Steve Toscano » Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:58 am

I suggest you take the guitar to your local luthier for him/her to lower the string slots.
You should be able to get to your 0.5mm and 0.4mm but there is soo many variables when it comes to action and setup and it varies a lot from guitar to guitar.

User avatar
Eberhard Mueller
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:58 pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Eberhard Mueller » Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:28 am

You could, as an alternative approach, look into the "zero glide" system available for CG. This basically places a fret at the nut and gives you various fret heights to experiment with.
Neil Douglas 2001 (German Spruce / German Maple)
Neil Douglas 1992 (Engelmann Spruce / Brazilian Rosewood)
La Patrie Motif
Cordoba Mini M

User avatar
eno
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby eno » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:36 pm

Steve Toscano wrote:I suggest you take the guitar to your local luthier for him/her to lower the string slots.
You should be able to get to your 0.5mm and 0.4mm but there is soo many variables when it comes to action and setup and it varies a lot from guitar to guitar.

I know but I'm an engineer :D and should be able to figure it out myself. I'll do it in baby steps one string at a time when approaching the limit- file a bit, try, file, try and so on and watch for the buzzing sound level limit.

Interesting that when I tried to lower the action on the saddle I made a new saddle out of bone and the result was disastrous: sharp and clacking sound. The original saddle is not bone, I guess it's TUSQ or some other plastic. The Bernabe is very sensitive and amplifies high pitches so I guess bone does not sound good on it. I'll try with TUSQ next time.

Thank you all for good advice!
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Takamine C-128, Yamaha SLG200S silent, CompositeAcoustics steel-string, Fender Strat, Lineage MIDI

Bill B
Posts: 1006
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:06 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Bill B » Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:41 pm

you could do like people suggest when you adjust the saddle. buy a blank and cut that, so you can always put the original back in if you need to. I bought a sack of bone blanks on e - b a y foe less than a buck a piece. they are all oversized so i have to fit them, but thats what you want anyway.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

User avatar
eno
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby eno » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:31 pm

Bill B wrote:you could do like people suggest when you adjust the saddle. buy a blank and cut that, so you can always put the original back in if you need to. I bought a sack of bone blanks on e - b a y foe less than a buck a piece. they are all oversized so i have to fit them, but thats what you want anyway.

Yes, that's what I did with the saddle, I will always keep the original intact. But with the nut I'm not sure it would be easy, the nut can be glued to the neck and I'm afraid to damage the neck if I remove it. So if I mess up the nut then I will have to take it to a luthier to fix.

Yes, bone blanks are cheap, the TUSQs are more expensive though.
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Takamine C-128, Yamaha SLG200S silent, CompositeAcoustics steel-string, Fender Strat, Lineage MIDI

Steve Toscano
Luthier
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 12:01 pm
Location: Newcastle, Australia

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Steve Toscano » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:44 am

eno wrote:
Steve Toscano wrote:I suggest you take the guitar to your local luthier for him/her to lower the string slots.
You should be able to get to your 0.5mm and 0.4mm but there is soo many variables when it comes to action and setup and it varies a lot from guitar to guitar.

I know but I'm an engineer :D and should be able to figure it out myself.


Fair enough then. :)
You are going about it the right way.
Also keep in mind you can always fill a nut slots (if you absolutely have to) with a bone dust and super glue mixture. Assuming the nut is bone.

Bill B
Posts: 1006
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:06 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Bill B » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:16 pm

eno wrote:
Bill B wrote:you could do like people suggest when you adjust the saddle. buy a blank and cut that, so you can always put the original back in if you need to. I bought a sack of bone blanks on e - b a y foe less than a buck a piece. they are all oversized so i have to fit them, but thats what you want anyway.

Yes, that's what I did with the saddle, I will always keep the original intact. But with the nut I'm not sure it would be easy, the nut can be glued to the neck and I'm afraid to damage the neck if I remove it. So if I mess up the nut then I will have to take it to a luthier to fix.

Yes, bone blanks are cheap, the TUSQs are more expensive though.

is yours glued in? I have seen in, but none of my classical guitars came that way....
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

User avatar
eno
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:56 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby eno » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:23 pm

Bill B wrote:is yours glued in? I have seen in, but none of my classical guitars came that way....

I don't know, will find it out
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Takamine C-128, Yamaha SLG200S silent, CompositeAcoustics steel-string, Fender Strat, Lineage MIDI

User avatar
mikfik
Posts: 233
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:03 pm

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby mikfik » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:53 pm

Whenever I hear about nuts and glue I feel I must say: It only takes a couple of small dots (use a toothpick when applying) to glue a nut into position.
This way only a light tap will be needed to remove the nut when removal is required.

Bill B
Posts: 1006
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:06 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby Bill B » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:31 am

mikfik wrote:Whenever I hear about nuts and glue I feel I must say: It only takes a couple of small dots (use a toothpick when applying) to glue a nut into position.
This way only a light tap will be needed to remove the nut when removal is required.

Right. Just put a block of wood on the fretboard and slide it toward the nut to tap it, the glue will separate easily if its glued in lightly.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

User avatar
georgemarousi
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:10 am

Re: Nut adjustment and setting the action at the 1st fret

Postby georgemarousi » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:12 pm

Hi Eno,

I strongly encourage you to go to a luthier for a setup ! There are steps for setting the nut and saddle for a perfect setup, with very precise measurements. I'm sure you can do it and come close, but whatever you "miss" will actually devalue your play experience for long !

For instance, I had new saddle put and setup ( perfectly.. ) for 20 euros, at a local luthier here. But the value I have added to performance and playability of the guitar is too much more..
--Classicals--
Paulino Bernabe Especial 2009
Ramirez 1A 1980
Alhambra Luthier india 2012
Juan Martinez nr 55 (the return @2014)
Yamaha cg 110 (as a kid @88)
--
student again since 2015, to my degree @..? - God bless!


Return to “Luthiers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bmdavis, Brandwatch [Bot], CommonCrawl [Bot], hatalap, Marshall Dixon, Ricardo Barros, sfusco and 31 guests