Action and a confession. . .

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
lifewithasong
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Location: Columbia, SC

Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:13 pm

Hi All,

I recently got a nice guitar again, and have decided to really dial this one in in terms of playability.

My local repairman/luthier had a it for a few weeks for some fretboard shaving and a re-fret, as well as an overall check-up. I myself have made a couple of unbleached bone (I really believe in the stuff) saddles for it, and am almost embarrassed to admit that in all my years of playing the classical guitar, the one thing I have ignored is truly getting the action to that general 4mm on the bass side/3.25-3.5mm on the treble side level. In fact, I have probably been playing most of these years at a height well below this, although I have always been generally pleased with the playability and tone of my guitars in the past. But just within the past few weeks of testing out different string sets, I have found a new level (pun intended, I guess :) ) of enjoyment in my playing, as there is now zero buzz of any kind, and a wider range of dynamics from medium-tension strings (my general preference).

Anybody else late getting to this?

BTW, I currently have a set of Ramirez mediums on here, and am thinking that I really like them. This is my first go-round with a carbon G, and I'm not yet sure what I think about it. Any suggestions for a replacement to try?

Greg
Esse quam videri

sayar
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:26 pm

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by sayar » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:54 pm

I am not as good player as you for sure, but I have always avoided a high action. The phobia probably arises from the horrible experience I had with my very first guitar when I was a teenager, that was an absolute piece of junk and its high action made me push hard to make a sound, and the thing ruined my left hand technique... I'm sure you're right, high action gives a nice sound, but it makes the guitar more difficult and less enjoyable to play IMO.

For the string, I used to play with medium tension and was fine, but for about a year tried low tension, and then had hard time going back to medium tension! Currently I have a medium tension on my guitar, but I feel a little hesitant to play with it!! The sound of medium tension is a bit better, but it's a little harder to play with; I guess light tension spoiled my left hand.

I once put a set of Aquila Alabastro (low tension) on my cedar top, and the sound blew me away, loved it. It was a bit dull, strong, masculine but very sweet. Though if you like carbon strings, I have to tell you this string is kind of the opposite! So you may not like it!! On my spruce top, I am still experimenting to find the best string, but so far have had good experience with La Bella 2001.

Happy playing!
Last edited by sayar on Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Douglas
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Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by Jack Douglas » Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:29 am

If you like medium tension get yourself a set of Knobloch Active strings, medium high tension and buy a couple of carbon g strings that you can swap if the nylon g doesn't suit. The carbon g is the nicest one I've found.
These strings will get your immediate attention.
Hauser III 2014!

MessyTendon
Posts: 1167
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:33 am

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:02 am

The Alabastro are the best damn treble strings money can buy. If you want a bright wimpy twinkling sound look no further than conventional Dupont/Tynex materials.

This plastic/polyester whatever it is, just seems to have a lasting tone. A few people have suggested the tone is wimpy or dull. But the frequency response is loud. I think the rounded tone is perceived as dull but it is in fact quite bright when projecting.

I like to treat the Alabastro trebles as Michelin tires, long lasting and reliable old standards...But the Michelin food critics, they all probably eat at MacDonalds before tasting some of that molecular gastronomy.

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petermc61
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by petermc61 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:10 am

Jack Douglas wrote:If you like medium tension get yourself a set of Knobloch Active strings, medium high tension and buy a couple of carbon g strings that you can swap if the nylon g doesn't suit. The carbon g is the nicest one I've found.
These strings will get your immediate attention.
That's a good recommendation, including the carbon G. My only refinement to the recommendation would be to use medium tension for the Knobloch given you are coming from medium tension Ramirez.

Peter

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:19 pm

sayar wrote:For the string, I used to play with medium tension and was fine, but for about a year tried low tension, and then had hard time going back to medium tension! Currently I have a medium tension on my guitar, but I feel a little hesitant to play with it!! The sound of medium tension is a bit better, but it's a little harder to play with; I guess light tension spoiled my left hand.

I once put a set of Aquila Alabastro (low tension) on my cedar top, and the sound blew me away, loved it. It was a bit dull, strong, masculine but very sweet. Though if you like carbon strings, I have to tell you this string is kind of the opposite! So you may not like it!! On my spruce top, I am still experimenting to find the best string, but so far have had good experience with La Bella 2001.

Happy playing!
I've got a couple of sets of low tension strings waiting to be tried out on this guitar. In hindsight, I tried a set on a guitar years ago, but realize now that they probably didn't work because my action was so low on that one! Sure did have a sweet and mellow sound, though.

I've just about convinced myself that I'm going to have to try the Alabastros soon. There have been so many good comments here about them. I may also have to give the LaBella 2001s another try. I recall liking them years ago on another guitar I had.

Thanks--you too!
Esse quam videri

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:25 pm

Jack Douglas wrote:If you like medium tension get yourself a set of Knobloch Active strings, medium high tension and buy a couple of carbon g strings that you can swap if the nylon g doesn't suit. The carbon g is the nicest one I've found.
These strings will get your immediate attention.
Jack, do you mean buy a couple of the Knobloch carbon Gs? I actually have a set of their MHT here, and various carbon Gs (I placed a large order several weeks ago and have them all organized and ready to try). I like the Ramirez strings so far, but wonder if there is a better carbon G for this set. The one it comes with seems a little lacklustre thus far.

I did try the MT Knobloch actives nylon on this guitar, plus a lesser Yamaha I had a couple of years ago. I really liked the basses for sure. May have to try the complete set again, as this latest (higher) saddle I made has only been on the guitar for a couple of weeks now.
Esse quam videri

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:26 pm

MessyTendon wrote:The Alabastro are the best damn treble strings money can buy. If you want a bright wimpy twinkling sound look no further than conventional Dupont/Tynex materials.

This plastic/polyester whatever it is, just seems to have a lasting tone. A few people have suggested the tone is wimpy or dull. But the frequency response is loud. I think the rounded tone is perceived as dull but it is in fact quite bright when projecting.

I like to treat the Alabastro trebles as Michelin tires, long lasting and reliable old standards...But the Michelin food critics, they all probably eat at MacDonalds before tasting some of that molecular gastronomy.
Yeah, I've talked myself into getting a set of the Alabastros. They sound like a great string.
Esse quam videri

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:28 pm

petermc61 wrote:
Jack Douglas wrote:If you like medium tension get yourself a set of Knobloch Active strings, medium high tension and buy a couple of carbon g strings that you can swap if the nylon g doesn't suit. The carbon g is the nicest one I've found.
These strings will get your immediate attention.
That's a good recommendation, including the carbon G. My only refinement to the recommendation would be to use medium tension for the Knobloch given you are coming from medium tension Ramirez.

Peter
Yes Peter, and I believe I have one or two Knobloch carbon Gs here at home--I've read that they're among the best. Am I going in the right direction here?
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Jack Douglas
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Location: Ashland, Va

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by Jack Douglas » Sat Jul 16, 2016 3:11 pm

lifewithasong wrote:
Jack Douglas wrote:If you like medium tension get yourself a set of Knobloch Active strings, medium high tension and buy a couple of carbon g strings that you can swap if the nylon g doesn't suit. The carbon g is the nicest one I've found.
These strings will get your immediate attention.
Jack, do you mean buy a couple of the Knobloch carbon Gs? I actually have a set of their MHT here, and various carbon Gs (I placed a large order several weeks ago and have them all organized and ready to try). I like the Ramirez strings so far, but wonder if there is a better carbon G for this set. The one it comes with seems a little lacklustre thus far.

I did try the MT Knobloch actives nylon on this guitar, plus a lesser Yamaha I had a couple of years ago. I really liked the basses for sure. May have to try the complete set again, as this latest (higher) saddle I made has only been on the guitar for a couple of weeks now.
I didn't explain that well. Yes, I meant get yourself a couple of the individual carbon strings. I suspect medium tension will be perfect, but since individual strings aren't that expensive it may be worth getting a couple of different tension Knobloch Carbon G strings just to make sure you get the right feel and sound for your guitar.
For my ear the Knobloch Carbon G strings are clear, sweet and are an improvement over the nylon G.
Let me know how you like them.
Jack
Hauser III 2014!

MessyTendon
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Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:33 am

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Jul 16, 2016 4:02 pm

If the Knobloch carbon strings are to your liking, you might as well just buy the fishing line in bulk lengths, it's cheaper per string and most likely exactly the same material.

Each manufacture likes to embellish something that is more or less a common mass produced synthetic material. Brand A of carbon, may very well be the same as brand B of carbon.

Most producers actually do very little production in house of the synthetic materials. The cost comes from testing for quality control.

But fishing line is more or less the same thing.

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:43 pm

Thanks Jack, and thanks, MessyTendon, for the tip about the fishing line.

I'm honestly not sure if I'm going to be a carbon string lover. It will be interesting to experiment with the carbon Gs, though.

By the way, after about nine days of playing with the Ramirez MT set, they're off my guitar. I'm starting to think that this guitar wants at least MHT strings. Last night I put on a set of the Royal Classics Sonata MHT, and am already really, really liking them so much more. One thing that comes into play is that I'm discovering that I like strings that have a larger diameter--seems to me that there is more mass there to "grab hold of," and therefore more sound available. I also think the top on this guitar is such that it needs that little extra bit of tension to get going.

Any of you guys prefer a MHT string over other tensions? I recall from several years ago when I was testing strings on other guitars that HT sets seemed to be a little stiff for me (although I realize that what is considered "high tension" varies a good bit across manufacturers).

Thanks again guys.
Greg
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Brandon Walker
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Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:12 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by Brandon Walker » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:39 am

I am looking for advice relevant to adjusting action.

I tend to attempt simpler maintenance tasks on my guitars, and have replaced/resized the saddle on one of them. No real issues.

The problem I have is with my Asturias. The action is a touch too high, at about 4.8mm on the side of the E6. I would like to lower it to the 4mm/3.25mm mentioned above, or thereabouts. But the original, thin, bone saddle has never been touched, and it's a mid to late 80s A80. (I have all these nightmarish visions of the wood splitting on the bridge... :shock: )

What is the best way to remove the saddle? Is there any advice, in general, that you would give about doing this? When I did this on another guitar, the saddle was loose compared with this one.

Any advice would be appreciated. :merci:

Brandon Walker
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:12 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by Brandon Walker » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:19 pm

Update: I managed to get it out. I think it was just a case of not being too timid with the thing.

Anyway, it's done. Action lowered, guitar feeling a lot nicer.

lifewithasong
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:23 pm
Location: Columbia, SC

Re: Action and a confession. . .

Post by lifewithasong » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:04 am

. . .just an update to my last post above: The Sonatas kind of dulled out on me pretty fast, so I'm on to my first HT set on this guitar--the Pepe Romero set. It's only been 24 hours since I've had them on, but I've been taking some advice from you guys about stretching, and they do seem to be settling in really well. I like them! I'll report more over on the Pepe Romero thread, but I'm starting to think that my guitar (a Torres-style) prefers HT strings.

Greg
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