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  #16  
Old 01-17-2012, 06:50 PM
billder99 billder99 is offline
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Just want to jump in and say this is the best thread I have ever seen in regard to setup. Every one of you guys are helping me to understand the interrelatedness of the variables. Thank you!
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  #17  
Old 01-17-2012, 08:45 PM
jeffsanders jeffsanders is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby b View Post
I wouldn't overlook the nut. If there is too much string height at the nut, even with the saddle adjusted, it could be quite uncomfortable to play first position chords.
Also, if indeed there is alot to come down at the nut, after having set the saddle, the saddle may end up now being too low, ya know.
This is true. And another thing to think about is if your nut slots are too high, your open position chords will be slightly out of tune from the added stretch it takes to press the strings down.
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  #18  
Old 01-17-2012, 10:09 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffsanders View Post
And another thing to think about is if your nut slots are too high, your open position chords will be slightly out of tune from the added stretch it takes to press the strings down.
Very interesting point that I hadn't (likely nor would never have) thought of. I had read that deep slots could cause tuning issues as well. I had been planning to shave down so the strings rest halfway exposed. Or at least somewhat for the high strings - I'd hate to overdo it and end up having to shave deeper slots and throw off the radius. Wish me luck lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billder99 View Post
Just want to jump in and say this is the best thread I have ever seen in regard to setup. Every one of you guys are helping me to understand the interrelatedness of the variables. Thank you!
That's so cool. I pretty much thought most of this time I was talking to myself and a handful of knowledged folks that had pity on me lol.

[edit] P.S. Been playing the Martin tonight and it plays really well. I can't quite make a comparison to the pre-setup setup since it had the stock tusq nut and I had not shaved down the FWI saddle. The action is just a tad higher than I'd truly prefer but completely tolerable. What's bothering me is a small gap at the base of the nut where, despite my efforts, I must've not sanded completely straight.
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Last edited by the.ronin; 01-18-2012 at 08:04 AM.
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  #19  
Old 01-17-2012, 10:21 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Lol sorry this is bugging me so much, here are closeups of the nut ...



And this side has the gap I was referring to ...



I guess I could shim it or really throw caution to the wind and try to level it out but I'm not sure I've got that much action to play with. Otherwise, at least to my untrained ears, the guitar sounds pretty sweet and there are no glaring intonation issues (12th fret harmonic on the A is like 10 cent off or something).

I know I know probably not the best idea to take a hack at an FWI nut my first go around but what the heck lol.
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  #20  
Old 01-18-2012, 07:23 AM
Tom West Tom West is offline
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The.ronin : After checking fretboard and relief the nut string height should be the next thing to check before doing any adjustment at the saddle.Also adjustment at the nut is generally done to the individual string grooves and not the bottom of the nut. Check out Bryan Kimsey on google . Some real good info.Good luck.
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  #21  
Old 01-18-2012, 08:09 AM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom West View Post
The.ronin : After checking fretboard and relief the nut string height should be the next thing to check before doing any adjustment at the saddle.Also adjustment at the nut is generally done to the individual string grooves and not the bottom of the nut. Check out Bryan Kimsey on google . Some real good info.Good luck.
Tom
Thanks Tom - I'm not sure how Bryan Kimsey's tutorials never came up in my searches - great great info there!

Yeah, I had always known it's best to take off from the slots of the nut rather than the bottom. In this case, a lot needed to be taken off and although I do have some stew mac gauged nut files, I thought it would be safer to just take off the bottom worrying about messing up the radius taking off from the top slot by slot. In shaving the nut or saddle, I use a small drill press vice with the sides wrapped with tennis racquet grip (no metal touching the nut or saddle being sanded). To sand, I use a block of marble with the sandpaper taped to it. Clearly even then I ended up off on the sanding.
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  #22  
Old 01-18-2012, 08:56 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
To sand, I use a block of marble with the sandpaper taped to it. Clearly even then I ended up off on the sanding.
Technique is more important than absolute flatness of the sanding surface.

Hand sanding has the tendency to round things - along the length and width of the thing being sanded. Technique needs to counter that.

Variations in how the object, such as a nut or saddle, is being moved across the sandpaper introduces the roundness. Rubbing back and forth will tend to round things. Pulling only, rather than alternating push/pull, will eliminate much of that tendency.

An aid I find very useful is to use a block - plastic, plywood, wood, etc. - that is placed on the sandpaper. The block has a flat face and an edge that is square to it. The flat face is placed on the sandpaper and the nut or saddle is held against the square edge. The nut or saddle is then pulled across the sandpaper, while firmly held against the edge of the block. This maintains the desired angle on the bottom of the nut or saddle. By applying uniform pressure in the center of the nut or saddle, while pulling across the sandpaper, it is fairly easy to achieve a square, flat-bottomed nut or saddle.

Quote:
if your nut slots are too high, your open position chords will be slightly out of tune from the added stretch it takes to press the strings down.
I believe what Jeff meant was that if the strings are too high at the nut, intonation is affected, rather than if the strings sit in slots that have an excess of nut material.

Quote:
...there are no glaring intonation issues (12th fret harmonic on the A is like 10 cent off or something).
A good ear can distinguish between pitches differing by about 2 cents. 10 cents is "way off" for a guitar - that's 1/10 of a semitone.
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  #23  
Old 01-18-2012, 09:13 AM
fishstick fishstick is offline
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Very interesting but confusing thread! Sounds like a lot of trial and error.

I don't feel so bad now having dropped off another guitar at my local luthier yesterday for setup, bone and nut installation!
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  #24  
Old 01-18-2012, 04:19 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Great points here, Charles. I kind of prided myself in my makeshift vice / nut & saddle holder but your use of a block guide sounds like an elegant alternative. I will give that a try the next time or if I decide to take more off the Martin’s nut and/or saddle. Never gave much thought to the “pulling only” as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
A good ear can distinguish between pitches differing by about 2 cents. 10 cents is "way off" for a guitar - that's 1/10 of a semitone.
2 cents??? WOW. I should say though that I’m not using a precision tuner by any measure. Just a Samson chromatic. Still, I get your point on this.

Thanks again everyone for such constructive feedback.
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  #25  
Old 01-18-2012, 04:34 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick View Post
Sounds like a lot of trial and error.
For those experienced at it, there is little trial and error. First one assesses what needs to be done - what adjustments affect that identified problem. There are a dozen or so specific things to look for/at. One then measures - qualitatively or quantitatively - how much change needs to be made and then one makes those specific changes by the amount indicated.

Experience assists in determining how the variables affect one another and one factors those into the magnitude of the adjustments one makes.

For example, knowing that the amount of bow in the neck will alter both the string height and the action at the nut, the bow in the neck is adjusted first. The amount depends upon the player and the instrument. Once set correctly, it generally isn't changed again during the setup.

The trial and error occurs mostly with those who are inexperienced and figure it is less likely to screw up if they repeatedly make small adjustments at a time and then check to see what effect the change had. Instead, measure twice, cut once, right to the line. Done. Work on developing the skills to be able to do that every time.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 01-18-2012 at 04:49 PM.
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  #26  
Old 01-18-2012, 05:15 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
The trial and error occurs mostly with those who are inexperienced and figure it is less likely to screw up if they repeatedly make small adjustments at a time and then check to see what effect the change had. Instead, measure twice, cut once, right to the line. Done. Work on developing the skills to be able to do that every time.
Again, very excellent advice, Charles.

However, this time I would like to clarify that the whole point of this thread is for non-luthier, non-experts like myself to get more familiarized with acoustic guitar setup – something that was nothing more than a black box to me before I decided to plunge head first into this rabbit hole. (And quite the rabbit hole it is!! lol)

Granted, my friends insist that I was born with a “tweaker” gene and that I’m never satisfied to leave well enough alone. This is true. But, personally, I am not aiming to be the perfect luthier. Sure, it would be great to have everything done perfectly right and spot on. But I know that’s not realistic and I’m ok with that.

I also know that all this trailing and erroring (which I suspect there will be much much more of lol) makes hardly any economic sense in that the $60 setup fee I can pay a professional is far less than the many $$$s and hours I’ve spent so far. But that’s not the point. What I am after is the satisfaction that I set my guitar up myself and that, to me, it sounds pretty darn good and plays pretty darn easy … for me.

Now with that said, and again, I so very very much appreciate all the comments coming from folks who are clearly professionals at what they do. I just wanted to level set the expectations of anyone reading this thread …
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  #27  
Old 01-18-2012, 05:27 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
I decided to plunge head first into this rabbit hole.
Kudos to you for doing so.

Quote:
What I am after is the satisfaction that I set my guitar up myself and that, to me, it sounds pretty darn good and plays pretty darn easy for me.
For me, that's really what it is all about, whether done as a hobby or professionally, that one is satisfied with what one has accomplished. Having other people like it and/or be willing to pay one to do it for them is a bonus.

Quote:
I just wanted to level set the expectations of anyone reading this thread
My mother always taught me to aim high. Perhaps you're right, that it may be too much detail.
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  #28  
Old 01-18-2012, 05:33 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
My mother always taught me to aim high. Perhaps you're right, that it may be too much detail.
NOOO!!!

In fact, that was my biggest fear in posting that reply. The fact that you make a point to mention that 2 cents is a flaw audible to a trained ear is exactly the sort of reminder I believe people like me need lest we get complacent. I’m not relying on this to put food on the table. Without that sense of urgency, there’s not much else to keep me honest.
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  #29  
Old 01-19-2012, 01:35 AM
kbroce kbroce is offline
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If you don't already, I would suggest tuning by ear using harmonics.

Some tutorials.

http://www.get-tuned.com/harmonics.php

http://www.ehow.com/video_4465609_ha...ng-method.html

You can use any old tuner to get a string tuned as a reference. I usually use a tuner app on my phone to get one string in tune, then tune the rest of the string by ear using harmonics. My strobe tuner would certainly be more accurate than a cell phone app, but to me the more important thing is that your guitar is in tune to itself.

I think you'll be amazed at how much more accurate this is than using a standard tuner on every string. Any condition guitar will benefit quite a bit from this, but a well intonated one will just sing.


I do have to say there is a lot more theory, and math, to tuning/pitch/harmonics etc, than I know, but use your ear and see what you think.


(On a related note, if your playing with a piano, you should always use the piano as a reference and tune to it. The piano might be in tune to itself, but it might not be in tune to A440, so you want you guitar to match. Same goes for anyone your playing with, you should be tuning to each-other. I'm kinda amazed at how many musicians overlook this...)
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  #30  
Old 01-19-2012, 08:35 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbroce View Post
If you don't already, I would suggest tuning by ear using harmonics... use your ear and see what you think.
Depending upon how well-trained are one's ears, tuning a guitar can be either very simple or not so simple. In the end, it does come down to what your ears tell you.

Without getting into it, although using the 5th fret harmonic on one string to tune the 7th fret harmonic on the next string is a popular method of tuning, it is one that I don't recommend. You are better off choosing from a variety of other methods.

The short answer is that the fretted notes produce pitches belong to a mathematical system called equal temperament while the harmonics produce pitches that do not. The only place where they are the same is octaves and unisons. This theoretically rules out comparing 5th fret harmonics with 7th fret harmonics. The harmonics may be in tune, but the fretted notes won't.

Tuning and intonation, now THAT is a deep, dark rabbit hole.
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