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Old 10-09-2006, 04:10 PM
WorksInTheory WorksInTheory is offline
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Default Does low action affect sound volume?

I have a jumbo that plays awesome - feels great but I wonder if the low action has taken the loudness and tone from the guitar. I was playing it the other day and realized - wait a minute - this is a jumbo but it isn't very loud. I have light strings on it now as well so maybe it's not the action but that I need to have a medium on it?

It's rosewood back and sides. Spruce top.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:15 PM
OMega28 OMega28 is offline
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Low action can have an effect on volume.

Especially if you can't thump the strings so hard before they rattle against the frets. But there's more to it than just that.

1. Light gauge strings will take some off
2. Lowering the action by reducing the saddle height will take off volume. That's pretty important. A good "break angle" over the saddle (to the pin slots) will give a better volume, and that's the critical factor.

R.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorksInTheory View Post
I have a jumbo that plays awesome - feels great but I wonder if the low action has taken the loudness and tone from the guitar. I was playing it the other day and realized - wait a minute - this is a jumbo but it isn't very loud. I have light strings on it now as well so maybe it's not the action but that I need to have a medium on it? It's rosewood back and sides. Spruce top.
Action can alter tone...sometimes a lot. Most Martins, for instance, are shipped with "higher action" (saddle height--and we're talking the "D's") because bluegrass players like the higher action for that "cannon-like" dread tone. And, a medium gauge string will cause the spruce top to vibrate/resonate more than lights! I have a Jumbo rosewood/spruce 855 12. It's plenty loud, and punchy...but I have the action on it a teeny bit higher with the new bone saddle I had installed than the original "tusq," AND I do not use "extra lights" on it. The Omega came set up for mediums---I had that re-set up for "medium light" strings (sorry, I don't have all the "12's, 13's nomenclature down). Keven Gallagher built the Omega MJ with bone all the way, and the neck relief only needed to be tweaked almost not at all.

So, bottom line: higher "action" (saddle height) and medium strings WILL increase the volume on your Jumbo. You may need to try a couple of "mixes" to find your "sweet spot." That can be fun, too! Good luck.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:18 PM
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Go with the low action and just amplify. It'll give your fingers a break and allow you to do more fun things with the guitar - multiple pull off/hammer on combos, bending etc. Everything is easier with low tension.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:43 PM
steverok steverok is offline
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In my opinion, jumbos are meant to be powerful, strumming guitars, with higher action. People play my jumbo and say "whoah, the action is pretty high". Well - guess what, it's supposed to be like that, and I love it ! Then I strum an open E chord and blow them out of the room
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:52 PM
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I put a new saddle on my acoustic and I left the saddle a bit higher. I don't know if it was the extra hight or the increased break angle over the saddle but my guitar became noticibly louder and sounded more woody. I kept the saddle at that hight because I love the sound. My fingers are used to the hight now.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:41 PM
WorksInTheory WorksInTheory is offline
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Well looks like I either need to get a new saddle for my Martin SPJC16RE or used medium strings. Or as TBMan said just amplify.

This one doesn't seem like a jumbo like a Guild or a Gibson is a jumbo.
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Old 10-11-2006, 06:50 AM
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And now for the rest of the story ...........

All of the suggestions thus far have been correct but you need to understand what is happening and what "can" happen if the saddle is raised too high. When you increase the saddle height it increases the torque placed on the bridge. The saddle acts as a lever with the string acting as the force. The longer the lever the more load that is placed on the top with the same amount of string input. Raisning the saddle height will equate to volume ........ BUT ....... increasing the lever or saddle height too much can lead to other problems you may not be aware of. The excess load can deform the top causing it to sink in excessively in front of the bridge and belly up too high behind the bridge. This movement can also case top brace glue joints to separate beneath your top. It can also lead to bridge failure ie. the bridge glue joint can fail or worse yet, the bridge wood can split.

This is not to scare you but to just inform you of the ramifications. Repair techs love it when people make adjustments to their guitars and then they get to reap the benefits of fixing other's mistakes.
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:05 AM
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Hi WIT...
My .02 cents worth...on top of Tim McKnight's $10 worth (that was rich Tim).

I play fingerstyle, without nails & with a medium touch. I tend to gravitate toward guitars which are naturally louder set up with low action. This is a deliberate choice so I can have a style that is full sounding with a lot of sustain and a wider range of dynamics.

After playing regularly and frequently for over 35 years, the hand/arm/wrist strength is there to pick up most guitars and play.

But when I get hold of a guitar that is set up high with heavier strings, the delicacy of my styling just falls apart. It takes so much effort to play that I succumb to playing notes instead of making music. No fluidity, no punch, and everything comes out luke warm volumewise.

Every change imparted to our guitars has an equal and opposite effect, and it's not always the effect we were hoping for.
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:14 AM
ship of fools ship of fools is offline
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So Larry are all your guitars set to the same height for the action or do you use different settings for each of your guitars,the reason I ask is because I use different guitars for different songs and some are set higher than others,I have my Dread set even slightly higher than the builder origianlly set it at and I find it just booms without loss of intonation or sustain,where as my smaller body guitars are set fairly low and so forth mind you I tend to play latley either with pick-ups on my smaller body and my Dread I use a directional mic, if I am going amplified.louis
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ship of fools View Post
So Larry are all your guitars set to the same height for the action or do you use different settings for each of your guitars
Hi Louis...
Great question. I've not put a ruler on them, but my luthier has, and they are all pretty close to the same. When the weather changes (a frequent thing around here) they vary a touch till they settle down.

I probably prefer them the same because I grab whichever strikes my fancy, or whichever one is not tuned to some dropped tuning when I head out the door for gigs or sit down to rehearse.

If I ever decide to finally learn how to flatpick, we'll have to see where the action shakes out on one of my guitars...thanks for the idea.
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Old 10-12-2006, 10:00 PM
WorksInTheory WorksInTheory is offline
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Well I am not the original owner of my guitar and the action looks to have been lowered. No buzzing problems really but I do think for a jumbo it should be louder. I don't play with a pick but I do strum with my thumb or back of my fingernails. Compared to my Larrivee Dread or other guitars it's not as loud. Don't know if it's the Rosewood or the saddle height but I don't know what my guitar should sound like as I have never seen another one to compare.
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Old 10-13-2006, 06:47 AM
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Another option might be to slightly raise your saddle and install a JLD Bridge Doctor. The JLD Bridge Doctor has been known to enhance volume and will negate the torque that Tim referenced by transfering it to a leverage block and tension post. The JLD Bridge Doctor is easy to install (about 30 minutes). I have noticed improved volume on the guitars that I have installed this system on. BTW, I have no financial involvement to this product.
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:25 AM
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WorksInTheory another thing you could try, to get some more volume besides raising the saddle is to think about maybe switching over to unslotted pins,from what I understand is that the pin angle is increased slightly and because the pins are holding the strings tighter( the ball end) against the bridge you get a better and stronger vibration to your top giving you more sound to work with.louis
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Old 10-14-2006, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorksInTheory View Post
Well I am not the original owner of my guitar and the action looks to have been lowered. No buzzing problems really but I do think for a jumbo it should be louder. I don't play with a pick but I do strum with my thumb or back of my fingernails. Compared to my Larrivee Dread or other guitars it's not as loud. Don't know if it's the Rosewood or the saddle height but I don't know what my guitar should sound like as I have never seen another one to compare.
Bear in mind that jumbos often sound much louder to the listener out front than to the player. I have an SJ200 which projects very powerfully but from behind doesn't sound especially loud.
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