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Old 05-28-2019, 07:58 PM
sloar sloar is offline
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Default does action affect tone?

The action was decent on my Martin Junior, it was a tad high but good enough until I was able to make the trip to get it adjusted. The sound was still very nice. I put new string on it the other day and switched to lights, I believe it came with mediums. Now the action is much higher and the sound is not as nice as it was. The new strings are Elixers light, I do plan on heading down this week for a setup. Is this all in my head or did switching to lights without a proper set up do all this? What strings should I go with now?
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:18 PM
mercy mercy is offline
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the strings will definitely change the sound of any guitar
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:48 PM
Cool555 Cool555 is offline
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Lighter strings = less tension = straighter neck = lower action.

Thatís my understanding.

So it may be your mind playing tricks.

Disclaimer: My deduction above may be wrong.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:02 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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In my experience, a higher action will give the player a richer tone and - usually - a louder instrument, as well. Many bluegrass guitarists keep their actions fairly high for just this reason.

As for lights versus mediums, the only way to produce tone on an acoustic guitar is mechanically, with the vibration of the top being driven by the vibration of the strings. The more tension that the strings generate, the more the top will vibrate (up to a certain point.) Medium gauge strings generate more tension than lights, so that has its effect on the tone.

So it isn’t surprising that changing the string gauge and action had an audible impact on the tone of your guitar; it would have been more surprising if it hadn’t.

Everything is a trade-off with an acoustic stringed instrument. Change one or two elements, and that will manifest itself in the sound (and perhaps playability) one way or another.

Hope that makes sense.

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Old 05-28-2019, 10:30 PM
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Martin puts Retro Lights on the Juniors, so the string gauge is the same. The Elixers will sound pretty different, regardless. And since the gauge didn't change, your action probably wasn't affected at all. You said it was "a tad high" to begin with, so just start there and get a basic setup. Evaluate the strings after they break in a bit, and experiment from there.

Last edited by Guest 728; 05-28-2019 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:22 AM
Russ C Russ C is offline
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Action affects tone if strings can't deliver their full amplitude to the saddle ie. they buzz.

A higher bridge will lever more 2nd harmonic onto the soundboard (though whether you'll hear it is another thing) and
more bridge material will inhibit the soundboard's responsiveness slightly. Those 2 points are only relevant if the height and/or mass of the bridge are the reason for the difference in action that you ask about (it could also be about the neck angle or soundboard contour).

Last edited by Russ C; 05-29-2019 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:30 AM
s2y s2y is offline
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Depends on the guitar and intended purposes. Gotta have some action on a DN in the bluegrass setting for volume. This is what we all have drilled in our skulls. There are no bluegrass bands in my area. As much as I love my loud DN, it's overkill in most settings.

Always look at getting guitars set up. Sometimes there's some unnecessary string height due to a poorly cut nut. You might also be able to drop it .01-0.02 and hear no real change in the sound, while making things much easier on your hands. My slightly oversized OM has lower action than my DN, about as much volume, and much easier to play for a long time.
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:42 AM
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Bear Davis Bear Davis is offline
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Action directly affects the dynamic range of the instrument which does have an affect on tone in certain situations.

For example a guitar with with really really low action will have less dynamic range than if the same guitar was setup with standard action. You won't be able to strum or flat pick as hard on the low action setup vs the standard setup. If you play finger style then lower action will be more desirable for most people. This is one of the reasons some folks have multiple guitars. There is no single setup that is ideal for all situations.

Now changing strings will directly affect tone. Different strings sound different. On the other hand going from mediums to lights should not have raised your action. The opposite should of happened so I doubt the old strings were mediums.
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:27 AM
Trinity13 Trinity13 is offline
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If the old strings on your Jr. were Retro lights......and you put Elixir lights on, there is a chance the Elixirs, even though being light have more tension than the Retro light Monels, which would raise your action a little. I have heard that the Retros are on the lower tension side....but I haven't confirmed this
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:00 AM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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Does action alter tone ?
Yes : Sky high action will forbid any playing, then no tone !
Easy one, sorry ! 😐
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