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NickyJ 01-14-2022 01:44 PM

Neck relief and action question for Waterloo
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Hey all,

I noticed my T-bar Waterloo had really high action back in early December. The low E at the 12th fret was well over .110".

Feeling adventurous, I did my research and sanded down the saddle myself. I got the action feeling great, .090" at the 12th for the low E, .070" for the high E. I was happy.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I noticed the action looking and feeling high again. It's not crazy high, but I measured it, and it does seem to be a little higher than when I last measured after the saddle work.

I'm in Oakland, CA and it has been a colder winter than usual. We have also had lots of rain lately, so humidity is probably up. Earlier this week I moved the guitar to a wall hanger near a window and am wondering if that could have been a mistake. My house is old, poorly insulated, the windows are single pane glass, and the temperature fluctuates a lot when we don't have the heater on, and we leave it off overnight.

When I look at the side profile of the neck, I'm wondering if I see a bit more relief than before. It seems like if it had a truss rod, this would be a good time to use it to reduce the relief, which would presumably lower the action in the upper registers of the fretboard. But with a T-bar, I obviously cannot do this. I can post photos later today.

I've never had guitar issues in over 20 years in the Bay Area, so I've never paid too much attention to humidity, but this is the nicest guitar I've owned so I want to make sure I'm not ruining it!

A little more info:

Action is great lower down. No buzzing anywhere, so I don't think anything terrible is happening.

I turned on my Dyson heater this morning and it told me humidity was like 90%. After being on for a few hours, it now says humidity is 63%, which is less alarming, but still above the optimal range I see on these forums.

I don't know how quickly guitars react to environmental changes, or what I can expect to see as it spends time in this room, but I'd love to get some more informed opinions on what is going on, if it will sort itself out eventually, and if not, how I might be able to both remediate the neck relief issue (if I'm not just making this up) and to maintain it going forward given my current conditions.

I try to minimize energy consumption, so I'm guessing the easiest thing to do is just keep it in its case with a humidifier, but I'd love to be able to keep it out and accessible without messing it up if possible.

Edit: Added photos, and I'm curious if I can safely take the saddle down at all anymore. It appears to have just over 1/16" above the bridge.

Thanks for any advice.

Robin, Wales 01-16-2022 05:42 AM


Hopefully, folks will come in and talk about how to control humidity, and the effect that may have on your guitar.

But just in terms of your saddle: I would suggest buying a spare saddle blank and working on that to get the action height you want - don't sand the fitted saddle because if you go too low then you have nowhere else to go! It always makes sense to buy a replacement saddle and work on that, leaving the original saddle alone. Also, you can use the original saddle as a guide when shaping the new one. With your non-adjustable neck you may find that you want a summer saddle and winter saddle anyway (that's what many players use to do before humidity control was a thing).

A.Wilder1 01-16-2022 06:06 AM

I think your first order of business is to get your WL-K in a consistent environment between 45-55% humidity and 21-24 degrees, case or not. Give it a couple of days or a week and measure again.

Also I would also suggest getting a backup saddle so you have some flexibility moving forward. Bob Colosi would be my guy.

The WL-K is very lightly built so it’s important to be extra vigilant with the details. Speaking of which, it is recommended that you use custom light strings on the guitar. What do you have on it now? That might be effecting the action too.

Mr. Jelly 01-16-2022 10:23 AM

My Deluxe Waterloo is .100 at the 12th fret E and .08 on the high e string. It's okay for me for the winter here at around 30 rh. Which is very dry. Come summer it'll change. I always wonder with these questions what the settings were last summer. If you don't know then you are stumbling in the dark.

Rudy4 01-16-2022 02:13 PM

You hint at a possible relief problem, but you need measure this and monitor the relief to truly know what's happening with your instrument.

Capo the first fret, hold down a string at the body / neck joint and measure the widest gap you have, which will usually be around the 7th fret. Monitoring the true relief will provide you with a much more informed way of diagnosing any potential problem.

With the humidity numbers you posted I'd get a "second opinion" gauge. If you're truly at 90% then you have bigger problems. At 90% you need to keep it in a case with a desiccant, not a humidifier.

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