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Old 08-02-2014, 07:29 AM
Luke_ Luke_ is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: PA, USA
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Default Setup concepts, questions, approaches

Just like the title states...

Does getting the strings too low both the nut and saddle effect tone or just volume? I've tried two approaches... Both with about .005 of relief

1) low nut slots .010e - .015E and .065e - .080E at the saddle. The low nut slots to aid in less fatigue during barring in the first and second positions.

2) moderate nut slots .015e - .025E and .055e - .070E at the saddle. This setup seems to play even.... Even up the neck.

What do y'all use for setup specs and why? Are there tone and volume issues from some?
Martin HD28E Retro
Seagull Maritime Mahogany
Alvarez Rd8c
Dean EABC5
Gretsch 9121
Lag TN100 Nylon
Recording King RO-10
Recording King RP-06
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:20 AM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
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Location: Dartmouth, NS
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Raising or lowering the saddle puts greater or lesser torque on the bridge, resulting in a different harmonic balance. Usually, to a point, raising a bridge will bring more volume and higher partials in the harmonic balance, whereas lowering the bridge tends to bring the harmonic response more towards the lower partials.

Nut slots should be cut as low as possible but still avoiding undue buzzing. Ie: there should be no more buzzing at the open string than there is on the same string at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd frets. Nut slots too high will often lead to intonation issues, especially in lower positions, as well as LH fatigue as you identified.

Usually I set up steel string guitars anywhere from about 1.7-2.1mm (high E string) and 2.2-2.7mm (low E string) at the 12th fret. Neck should have no more bow than the thickness of the high E or B strings.

Ned Milburn
NSDCC Master Artisan
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:41 AM
B. Howard B. Howard is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Magnolia DE
Posts: 672

Nut slots should be at the same height as the frets to a few thousandths higher. While as you noticed the height of these slots will affect playability the real reason to get them down to fret height or very close to it is intonation. If the slots are high it will greatly affect intonation in the first 4-5 positions in a very negative way causing all those notes to pull markedly sharp.

I set nuts slots first, then adjust relief if the guitar has an adjustable truss rod and then adjust action via the saddle. Different players with different styles and string preferences will require different numbers here, there is no magic set up that works for everyone. Lighter strings will require more action and possibly relief when played harder. I measure my action in 64ths of an inch measured at the 12th fret o most guitars. For lighter handed players I usually aim for action of 5-3.5, Heavy handed strummers and bluegrassers usually like 7-4.5 and maybe a bit higher.
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