Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Douglass Scott
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Douglass Scott » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:01 pm

James Lister wrote:
David_Norton wrote:I seem to recall David Schramm saying that the fretted method was the best way. May have been on the old AG Forum though.
Does he say why? I can't think of a reason. Given that most people measure with the strings open, it can only lead to confusion.

James
I'm guessing it's probably because the nut height is taken out of the equation that way. Obviously you can't compare 12th fret action heights measured on fretted strings with ones measured on open strings.
But, for example, when two guitars measure 3.0mm on the high e string (measured on open strings), if there is any difference between the nut heights of the guitars, which is possible, then the 12th fret action heights on the guitars are actually not as identical as the measurements indicate. Actually, the bass strings are where you'll see the most variation in nut height among different well made guitars. It can easily be enough to affect the 12th fret measurement.

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Les Backshall
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Les Backshall » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:02 am

Not sure of the benefits of measuring with the first fret held down. After all, that's not what happens when you are playing, unless you have a capo on the first fret.

Les
Lester Backshall, Guitar Maker - Aylesbury UK

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Michael.N.
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:15 am

I don't see the benefit. There may be slight variations in string height above the 1st fret but that variation is going to be in the region of 0.2, 0.3 mm at the most. The amount it affects 12 th fret action isn't worth bothering with. I know folk are measuring to 0.1 mm :roll: action but they've obviously been influenced far too much by the NASA engineers.
Historicalguitars.

Lance Litchfield

Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Lance Litchfield » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:13 am

Yes, I prefer fretting the first. It's most relevant when trying to communicate action height when you can't see the guitar. For instance, a client in a different city or country has a guitar, and wants his new action the same, or changed. I will ask them to measure it fretted, and just sort out the optimal nut height seperately. I don't know about you guys, but sometimes guitars have wildly different nut setups either on purpose or from wear. Many a time I have seen nuts way too low well and truly contacting the 1st fret when fretting the 2nd. Some unreasonably high. It makes a significant difference to me, and takes the nut variable out. I agree though that if one eyeballs the nut height is reasonable on a guitar you may not need to use the fretting method.

oc chuck
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by oc chuck » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:19 am

FYI

2 weeks ago I received a special order Rafael Moreno Rodriguez spruce
and "CSA" rosewood guitar. 655 / 54 mm.
Fabulous guitar. The action is 3.75 mm on bass side
and 3 mm on treble. I will make a new saddle to lower the treble
side to about 2.5 or so too see how it plays. Bass side as is will buzz a little
if pushed hard.

lapaget
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by lapaget » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:52 pm

At the age of 77, I have problems with the steel strings, as they go deep into the fingers skin, making hard to play after 5 minutes.

I thought was a problem of action for my 60 years old acoustic guitar, but I measured and found 3 and 4 mm, which matches the average indicated in this post.

I will need to use a file lo lower the action, as at that time there was no bar, and the bridge was fixed. The neck is straight. Not easy.

Any suggestion for hardening the fingers instead? As I am no more playing long enough to allow the build up of callous. Any cream?

Thanks

simonm
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by simonm » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:09 pm

Steel strings generally have action that is quite a bit lower than nylon strings. 3 & 4 seems very high to me for a steel string. I will let someone else suggest a better number. Steel string guitars sometimes require a neck reset to correct the action.

lapaget
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by lapaget » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:43 pm

I am using Dogal green, as I always did, which are smooth, having an additional layer around the lower pitch strings.
But this does not help with the tip of the fingers that became delicate.
I will try to lower the action of about half millimeter.

SteveL123
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by SteveL123 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:51 pm

lapaget wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:52 pm
At the age of 77, I have problems with the steel strings, as they go deep into the fingers skin, making hard to play after 5 minutes.

I thought was a problem of action for my 60 years old acoustic guitar, but I measured and found 3 and 4 mm, which matches the average indicated in this post.

I will need to use a file lo lower the action, as at that time there was no bar, and the bridge was fixed. The neck is straight. Not easy.

Any suggestion for hardening the fingers instead? As I am no more playing long enough to allow the build up of callous. Any cream?

Thanks
Having used both a file and sandpaper on bone nuts and saddle, I will never use a file again. Bone will glide on a file and require a lot of pressure to cut. Sandpaper requires much less effort and give you better control. Get a quality 320 grit paper, lay it on a flat surface or use a small sanding block. 320 is fine enough for the finish on bone while coarse enough for material removal.

johnparchem
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by johnparchem » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:22 pm

Interesting posts. I have wondered in both building a classical guitar and setting one up how much the consideration should be made for the ultimate use of a guitar. Would I make and set up a guitar the same way for someone who plays in their living room vs If I was making a guitar for a capable guitarist that was going to play it un-amplified in large concert halls. I have heard concert guitars that do not really get their voice until they are played loud; not really ideal for in the house playing.

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geoff-bristol
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by geoff-bristol » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:06 pm

petermc61 wrote:
Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:10 pm
I measure the action heights accurately rather than eyeballing. The simplest and most accurate method is to start with two little bits of aluminium bar. Each bit of bar is 25mm wide and probably about 50-60mm long and I lay it under the string to be measured across several frets.

One bit of bar is 3mm thick which is used under the sixth string. The other is 2.5mm thick which I use under the first string. Both have been checked for thickness with a micrometer. I then use a set of feeler gauges to measure the gap and the bottom of the string and the top of the bar. An accuracy of say 0.05mm is easily achievable.
Thats how I do it now. Its very hard to accurately measure something that is not rigid ! ( way easier at the nut ) A standard blank of known thickness to sit on two frets ( stays level - I use the 12th and 13th ) What I like is you can 'hear' when the steel feeler guage just rubs the string. Before that I used a piece of white plastic marked with a sloping black line - which I still use as a rough guide.

Lately I have paid more attention to the top string clearance than the lower. Thats where I think it can be dropped more for easier playing. Not mentioned is any bow on the middle of saddle - I normally let the middle of saddle arch lightly. This would affect how low the e can go ?

lapaget
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Proper action height for a metal strings guitar

Post by lapaget » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:41 pm

I used to play this guitar since 1955 two hours a day. Callous on my fingers, no problem.
I am used to the space among strings and among frets, so I would like to be able to use it again.
Living near a lake in 1990, heavy humiditity caused the banjo drum to crack, the 12 strings neck had to be readjusted, and here the bridge got broken. A new one was put up by a professional, so I have no idea what the original action was.
I also have a classical with plastic strings too much spaced, and an amplified with the spacing too narrow.
This one would be right for me, if I were able to play it occasionally for more than five minutes. Not possible to have callous again, as the skin is no more hard enough.
Therefore I will try with sandpaper, instead tha with a file.
As I have seen in a catalogue by Cremona Tools that there is a set of ten edge cut nut files ranging from 0.25 to 1.5 mm, which cut on the rounded side only, specially builded to create or deepen grooves. I would not have the skill.
Therefore
I will try with sandpaper.

Any suggestio by peple having had similar problems ?

SteveL123
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by SteveL123 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:19 pm

Only the nut should have grooves for the strings, saddle should not. Here's a sanding stick I made to compensate the saddle high e to bring the string exit point closer to the nut. I used left over window insulation shrink kit double sided tape to glue the sandpaper to a square stick. The red one is 320 grit 3M Pro grade paper and the black is 1200 grit wet dry. It took just a few minutes and was very easy to control without slipping off the saddle. Those round notches between strings was done with 320 grit paper wrapped around a round chopstick and was fast and easy to make.
20180305_120445-1305x979.jpg
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Last edited by SteveL123 on Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Proper action height for a metal strings guitar

Post by Lovemyguitar » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:43 pm

lapaget wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:41 pm
...This one would be right for me, if I were able to play it occasionally for more than five minutes. Not possible to have callous again, as the skin is no more hard enough...
In addition to lowering the action a little bit, you may wish to try "silk and steel" guitar strings, which are made for steel string guitars like yours, but which apparently have lower tension and a softer feel than regular steel strings. I have never tried them myself, so I cannot personally vouch for them, but this is what I have read, and it may help you. You can do a google search, to find more info about them. Cheers!

GuitarsWeB
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:22 pm

I know a number of luthiers who put small groves on the back side of the saddle, Oribe, Schramm, Gilbert and sure many more.

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