To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
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petermc61
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by petermc61 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:20 am

Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:08 am
You can use a 6 inch metal ruler to measure action. I actually prefer them without the 0.5 mm increments. I just 'split' the mm by eye. If you go up to the 14th fret, down to the 10th and back up to the 12 th you should be able to read 0.2 mm accuracy if not slightly better. More than good enough.
Still relies on the eye and judgement. You may do it well because you are practised. I can’t imagine an amateur getting it that accurate.

There is a simple way involving taking a high resolution photo from a camera or camera phone at right angles to the neck and between the plane of the strings and the fretboard. If you know the scale of the guitar then you already know the fret to fret spacing between the 11th and 12th frets or even the 11th and 13th frets. Blow the photo up on a PC or iPad and use a ruler to measure distances and you can calculate the action pretty easily just using measured ratios and a known fret to fret distance.

I know this technique presumes accurately installed frets, but I am hopeful a luthier would do this pretty accurately - certainly more accurate than the error estimating action height by eye.

Scott Phillips
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Scott Phillips » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:23 am

My action is 3.2 mm on 6E and 2.8mm on E1. I had it set up as 8/64 and 7/64, and I converted it for our friends across the pond. I wouldn’t have it so low, but higher I find it difficult to play. I don’t pluck that hard.

I am on an anti-Parkinson’s medication that weakens my grip as a side effect. I can’t play as fast as I used to since I’ve been on it. I have played guitars with higher action, and hard tension strings, but I can’t play as long. My hands and wrists fatigue quicker. Most classical guitar players would find my guitar set up too low. The hardest piece that I can play is Bach’s Bouree. I could play it on my guitar, but couldn’t on a friends 67 1A. I have been dabbling in classical for two years. When I got the guitar in December of 2016, the action was quite high.

SteveL123
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by SteveL123 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:40 am

petermc61 wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:20 am
Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:08 am
You can use a 6 inch metal ruler to measure action. I actually prefer them without the 0.5 mm increments. I just 'split' the mm by eye. If you go up to the 14th fret, down to the 10th and back up to the 12 th you should be able to read 0.2 mm accuracy if not slightly better. More than good enough.
Still relies on the eye and judgement. You may do it well because you are practised. I can’t imagine an amateur getting it that accurate.

There is a simple way involving taking a high resolution photo from a camera or camera phone at right angles to the neck and between the plane of the strings and the fretboard. If you know the scale of the guitar then you already know the fret to fret spacing between the 11th and 12th frets or even the 11th and 13th frets. Blow the photo up on a PC or iPad and use a ruler to measure distances and you can calculate the action pretty easily just using measured ratios and a known fret to fret distance.

I know this technique presumes accurately installed frets, but I am hopeful a luthier would do this pretty accurately - certainly more accurate than the error estimating action height by eye.
That's a neat way. I use a simpler method. I made a sliver of cedar 1/8" wide about 4" long with a taper from 1 mm to 5 mm. I lay the guitar on its side with the neck parallel on a table and let the sliver of wood drop and wedge between the string and the 12th fret. Mark the spot with a pencil and measure with a digital vernier to get the string height. Since the wood sliver weighs so little it does not displace the string and gives a pretty accurate reading.
Last edited by SteveL123 on Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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petermc61
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by petermc61 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:53 am

Steve

I like that way too! You could probably use Balsa for that to keep it VERY light.

Regards
Peter

Rasputin
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:21 am

petermc61 wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:20 am
the strings and the fretboard. If you know the scale of the guitar then you already know the fret to fret spacing between the 11th and 12th frets or even the 11th and 13th frets. Blow the photo up on a PC or iPad and use a ruler to measure distances and you can calculate the action pretty easily just using measured ratios and a known fret to fret distance.
Using a lo-fi version of this approach (blu tack a ruler to the neck and take a photo at right angles, as nearly as you can get it, then zoom in and read the action off the ruler) I have 4.75 at the 12th and 2.5 at the 1st, on the bass side.

From what people are saying above this seems a little high but not crazy high - is that a reasonable assessment?

Rasputin
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:28 am

That's about 3/16 and 3/32 BTW... or 3/16 and 13/128 if we are getting really precise. I don't even know whether you use 128ths.

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petermc61
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by petermc61 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:30 am

4.75mm is high for an amateur, if you are measuring from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string.

Did you mean 2.5mm on the first string at the 12th fret??

If you really mean at the first fret on the 6th string your nut is ridiculously high. So high I can’t believe it. You aren’t measuring from the plane of the fretboard are you?

Rasputin
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:05 pm

petermc61 wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:30 am
If you really mean at the first fret on the 6th string your nut is ridiculously high. So high I can’t believe it. You aren’t measuring from the plane of the fretboard are you?
I did mean that, but there's a flaw in my method. The ruler obscures the top of the fret so that when you zoom in on the photo, what you think is the crown of the fret is not actually the crown. In the photo of the first fret, it is actually just the end of the fretwire, so in effect I have pretty much measured from the plane of the fretboard there. The true figures will be lower - quite a lot lower for the 1st fret, especially if you look at it proportionately - so I won't worry.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:09 pm

I'm using this precision wedge plus a digital tires caliper for quite reliable measurement.

This is the method I learnt from Sascha Nowak.
You put the wedge under the string the action of you want to measure the guitar is lying on its' back. You shift the wedge slowly and tap the string onto the wedge, and this gives a clear sound. Just when the sound ceases to occur, you have the distance from the fretboard. Then uou measure the height of the fret with the digital tires caliper et voilà, the difference is it. No guessing whatsoever.
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Rognvald
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rognvald » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:16 pm

I use a business card with the appropriate measurements marked in ink. It has given me, in my opinion, a very accurate and light measurement device. If you need micro adjustments to your bridge height from over sanding, you can use thin, nut length slivers of the business card underneath the bridge nut. With this simple method, I have adjusted all my guitars with very good precision for playability. I hope this helps. Playing again . . . Rognvald
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rojarosguitar
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:31 pm

Of course close to the 12th fret, I forgot to say. I do it behind the 12th fret to have a conservative figure, but it's only a very minute difference before and behind.
rojarosguitar wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:09 pm
I'm using this precision wedge plus a digital tires caliper for quite reliable measurement.

This is the method I learnt from Sascha Nowak.
You put the wedge under the string the action of you want to measure the guitar is lying on its' back. You shift the wedge slowly and tap the string onto the wedge, and this gives a clear sound. Just when the sound ceases to occur, you have the distance from the fretboard. Then uou measure the height of the fret with the digital tires caliper et voilà, the difference is it. No guessing whatsoever.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

Rasputin
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:23 pm

Here's another cheapskate method for those of us who don't necessarily have access to little wooden wedges and calipers, but do have access to a stationery cupboard - take a block of small post-its and peel off enough so that the block will fit under the string at the 12th, displacing it just a little. Position it with the top edge on the crown of the 12th, the bottom edge just shy of the 15th, and the front edge under the A (or B) string. Remove individual post-its until you find that, when the string is plucked very lightly, there is just a hint of a palm mute in the sound, then measure the thickness of the wadge you have left.

This method gives me 4mm at the 12th and a smidge under 1mm at the 1st.

I am realising that it is not very practical to measure the action at the first, so I guess there is some other fret that it typically compared with the 12th to get an idea of relief.

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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:17 pm

To find out about relief it would not be useful to measure the action at first fret, it says more about your nut. For the relief you would have to press down the string at first fret and behind the 12th (means at 13th) and look for the place of the greatest distance between E6 and a fret.
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Rasputin
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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:42 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:17 pm
For the relief you would have to press down the string at first fret and behind the 12th (means at 13th) and look for the place of the greatest distance between E6 and a fret.
Ah, thanks. To judge by eye you would think the string is in contact with all the frets, but if I tap over each fret with a spare finger, I get a note at 8 9 and 10 and it is clearest at 9. Is this normal?

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Re: To my Fellow Beginners: action height matters!

Post by rojarosguitar » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:22 am

Well, different makers have different ideas about what the relief should be. Some Spanish makers (especially flamenco guitar makers) don't do any relief at all. One thing for sure: the relief should not be excessive; if you have a clearance of significantly over one-two millimeters (I can't remember the exact number right now) somewhere between the second and twelfth fret, that could indicate a slightly bent neck. But as long as there are no problems with playing or intonation, I wouldn't care too much.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

My Youtube Channel is: TheMusicalEvents

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