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  #46  
Old 01-29-2012, 09:31 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Had the chance to upgrade the tuners on the Cordoba C5. The "Cordoba Gold Tuning Machines" it came with was just fine but I just wasn't too into the lyra style back plate and pearloid buttons ...



So I went with a set of Gotoh Classic Guitar tuners with ebony buttons ...



Much cleaner in my eyes and totally appreciating the smoothness. I was also glad the lyra back plate did not leave an etch mark into the gloss coat. The screw holes lined up just fine and just had to drill the ones closest to the head. However, the existing holes were a tad big so the 3 lower screws on each side are not catching well. I plan to refill with toothpick and wood glue and redrill the holes.

Next I want to see how much I can bring this action down without these nylon strings buzzing. Also got my eye on a saddle / nut upgrade to ivory mostly for looks but hopefully help out with the tone and volume.
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  #47  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:49 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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While I’m waiting for my new nut and saddle for the Cordoba C5, been giving a lot of thought to how much leeway I have with nylon strings to lower the action.

Thinking aloud here, but it seems to me the bottom line on action lowering is to prevent fret buzz. To prevent fret buzz, you need to make sure that there’s enough space between the string and the tops of the frets so when the string is struck, it doesn’t rub against the frets when it waves around.

So the question that came to mind was whether there was a way measure the amplitude of the strings when they are struck.

Then I came across this trippy video of some guy placing his iphone into his guitar and recording video while he struck the strings …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKF6nFzpHBU

Granted, this is no professional amplitude measuring device but WOW those strings wave around like crazy. Then it struck me that the amplitude I was seeing was perpendicular to the plane of the strings – I was seeing the side to side movement. I wonder what the amplitude would look like if the video were taken parallel to the plane of the strings (from the side of the guitar) so I can see the up and down movement.

But the more important take-away here I think is that aside from the type or gauge of strings, the player’s typical attack angle plays a huge part in how low one can go on action. But then again, I presume that a player with a sharper attack angle (increasing the amplitude that risks fret buzz) would probably want a higher action anyway since that, at least as I understand it, creates more volume. I’m thinking folk / bluegrass style music with the strong strum patterns.

Anyway just thinking aloud here on what it is at its basic level should I be thinking about when it comes to lowering action.
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  #48  
Old 02-04-2012, 03:06 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Finally got around to setting up the Cordoba C5 ... been too busy wanting to just play it lol. Got some WAI saddle and nut from Bob over at Custom Saddles. I'm pretty proud of how this one turned out because I was a bit more methodical and patient. In particular, I was sketched out about shaving slots into the nut. Bob had insisted it best to be done with the strings on the guitar.

The way I did it was just using the old nut as a guide. Once I had ensured they were the same width and contour, I placed them back to back and marked off where the nut slots met just on that side. Then I placed them front to front and did the same. What I was hoping for here was to capture any angle on the slots. Of course this assumes that the old nut was slotted properly - lol maybe that's why I've never come across this approach on the internet. Anyway, it seems to have worked fine. I used some gauged Stew Mac files and they were very helpful.

I might have gotten a little medieval on the action though. I'm a beginner so the lower the action, the better I feel. Well, this could possibly be the lowest action classical out there LOL! I know under certain playing styles, this will buzz like crazy but that's ok cos not under my playing style - at least so far. And wow it feels really good for me.

I just used some feeler gauges to leave just enough above the frets to shave down the nut slots. This time I didn't lazy out and also shaved down the top of the nut to expose the bass strings.

So all and all, took the relief down a but (approx .007 to .004). Took about 3/32 off the saddle. Problem I'm seeing though is my low E are about the same height off the frets as my high E. Bah. I guess there's always something. Other than that though I'm pretty stoked by the results ...





I ended up taking a lot off the saddle. (Dig the nylon management lol ...)

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  #49  
Old 02-22-2012, 02:35 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Just wanted to check back in on my adventures in luthiering. I ran out of guitars to set up so I went back to the Taylor Big Baby and decided some vintage dyed bone nut, saddle, and bridge pins would really add some character. I was hesitant because I really loved the setup on it but ultimately decided the action may have been just a smudge too low.

I’ll post some photos later but I think all in all it went very well.

My relief check process is ok …

I’m becoming more comfortable with the neck relief measurement and adjustment process I’m using. I simply use the 6th string as my straight edge with a capo at the 1st and if possible at the 12th (otherwise I just use my finger to push down on the 12th). I use feeler gauges to measure the relief at the 6th. I’m also getting comfortable turning that truss rod using minor increments (go ahead and laugh, but this scared the dickens out of me at first). I was pleasantly surprised to see the relief still holding at 0.005 I had adjusted it to last time! But then again, I didn’t change the strings much less string gauge so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

My nut adjustment process sucks …

Since I was starting out with what was basically a blank nut, I decided to adjust the action at the 1st fret before adjusting the saddle – which itself seemed to be only very slightly high anyway.

I still have a LOT to learn as far as nut shaping and slotting. But ever since the Martin setup, I’ve very much learned my lesson to SHAVE FROM THE TOP. So I learned that lesson at least.

My process of marking out the slots is very questionable. I essentially just eyeball it against the original nut and mark both sides with a pencil. The pencil markings serve as guides for when I actually start to shave down the slots. I do the shaving while the nut is rested into the headstock and strings are put aside.

The Stew Mac gauged files work really well for shaving the slots but I have some trouble properly enlarging some of the treble strings like a 0.012 slot with just a 0.010 as an example. I’ve tried leaning the file side to side but it’s very obvious that my 1st string is not moving freely in that slot right now. It tunes just fine though.

But worse, I can’t seem to get the bottom of the slots aligned correctly even using feeler gauges. Specifically, I determine the height of the 1st fret and add whatever action I want above and beyond that 1st fret height using feeler gauges. So on this setup, I used 0.025 as my fret height and added 0.019 – 0.022 from the 1st to the 6th. But the slots just don’t appear to line up right.

Lastly, there’s shaving the top of the nut to expose some of the bass strings. My problem is simply that I get too scared to sand too far down fearing that, especially with my low action targets, I might end up with a botched nut (i.e., I would need to bring the slot deeper and end up buzzing that string). So for now, my 6th looks oddly high on the nut slot and my trebles are buried a little deep. So annoying LOL.

This overall nut process is one which I need to study and re-evaluate.

My saddle adjustment process is ok but needs improvement …

I’m somewhat comfortable with my saddle action measurement (at the 12th) and adjustment. Rather than feeler gauges, I’m using the little Stew Mac ruler to measure by the 64ths at the low and high e. I double the amount I want taken off and try to arrive at a single number. So if I want 1/64th off at the 1st string and 1/32th off at the 6th string, I might just go with a 3/64 adjustment to the saddle (rather than 1/32 at the 1st and 1/16 at the 6th). This is more so I can draw a straight line end to end and not complicate things with a graduated line. As I get more comfortable shaving off a perfectly straight line, I plan to be more precise on these measurements.

So it’s the shaving part that I think needs some improvement. I’m still using the drill press vice with tennis racquet rubber around the clamps to hold the saddle upside-down. I’m using a small marble block with sandpaper taped to it to sand it down. So far it has worked but I need to go very slowly and very carefully. While the marble block definitely helps keeps things on an even plane, nothing in this process helps make sure that plane itself is level.

So anyway, that’s where I am with this. I will say that I am getting more comfortable handling parts of an acoustic guitar. I also notice myself relying less on the sheer measurements … but I fear this is more out of laziness than improvements in my luthiery instincts LOL.
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  #50  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:04 PM
kbroce kbroce is offline
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Default Any Android phone users, strobe tuner

https://market.android.com/details?i...ZC5zdHJvYmUiXQ..

Seems more accurate than most simple chromatic tuners, I haven't tested it against my actual strobe tuner.

Pretty please with it for a free app. I turned down the aperture size in the settings, made it a little easier to user.

I imagine iOS has something similar.
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  #51  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:24 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbroce View Post
Thanks kbroce but I think you may have responded to a different thread.

Notwithstanding, this brings up another point in my luthiery quest … checking intonation.

My intonation check process may be very limited …

Nevermind fixing intonation – I have no experience in that at all. But as far as checking intonation, I rely entirely on the 12th fret harmonic using a chromatic tuner. The Samson CT20 I use is nice since it shows lines by cent. But other than that, this is the only way I check for intonation issues. Of course I play the guitar as well to see if it sounds great but I don’t know many songs that cover the length of the fretboard to really rely on that to check intonation.
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  #52  
Old 02-23-2012, 10:53 AM
sleepyEDB sleepyEDB is offline
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Thumbs up

This is an awesome thread as I definitely want to learn how to set up my own guitars at some point. I understand about 0.001% of what's going on in here at the moment, but I have subscribed for future reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
I ran out of guitars to set up
Isn't that what the Classified section is for?


sleepy
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  #53  
Old 02-23-2012, 11:45 AM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyEDB View Post
This is an awesome thread as I definitely want to learn how to set up my own guitars at some point. I understand about 0.001% of what's going on in here at the moment, but I have subscribed for future reference.


Isn't that what the Classified section is for?


sleepy
LOL have you seen the prices in the classifieds??? Id be lucky if I can afford a single string off any one of those guitars.

I worked more on the nut last night and I think Im generally satisfied with it. One thing I overlooked (so dumb) was the relief between the 1st fret and the nut itself. It was by accident that I slid the feeler gauges from the 1st fret to the nut while the strings were on and tuned that the distance between string and fretboard changed. Duh! So that whole time I was over-estimating my nut slot depths (i.e., they were too high). I spent a lot of time compensating for this oversight and really bringing those slots aligned. Now I see why Bob insists you need strings on to properly slot a nut. Its hard to tell uneven slots just by looking at the slots. It becomes glaringly apparent once you put strings on.

I also went to work on the saddle taking off just barely 1/32. My calcs suggested 1/16 but that would have brought the high e side of the saddle basically flush with the bridge LOL.

Right now Im super happy with the action. Intonation seems fine and I do not hear too much buzzing. Yes, there is some slight buzzing on the 3rd and 4th strings but I really have to strike hard Im ok with that because I really like this low action.

She Who Must Be Obeyed started getting pissed at my luthiery adventures so I couldnt take photos last night and had to watch TV with her. So I will try to take photos tonight.
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  #54  
Old 02-23-2012, 01:46 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
One thing I overlooked (so dumb) was the relief between the 1st fret and the nut itself.
You're making this much more difficult than it needs to be. I suggest reviewing the relevant section of Basic Guitar Set-up 101 or similar reference. It's a simple procedure. Really.
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  #55  
Old 02-23-2012, 10:26 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You're making this much more difficult than it needs to be. I suggest reviewing the relevant section of Basic Guitar Set-up 101 or similar reference. It's a simple procedure. Really.
I have been known to overanalyze things ... ok then I'll revisit the 101. Thanks, Charles.

In the meantime, here are some shots of the work I did on the Taylor Big Baby. Vintage dyed bone saddle, nut, and bridge pins from Bob ...



The infamous nut job ...



Action at the first ...



And at the twelfth ...



Obligatory money shot ...



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  #56  
Old 02-24-2012, 12:15 PM
slinco slinco is offline
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..............

Last edited by slinco; 08-02-2012 at 11:52 AM.
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  #57  
Old 02-24-2012, 05:17 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You're making this much more difficult than it needs to be. I suggest reviewing the relevant section of Basic Guitar Set-up 101 or similar reference. It's a simple procedure. Really.
Ok so I went back and reread secion 2 and I completely forgot about setting a straight edge on the 1st and 2nd fret to properly gauge the height of the 1st. Im embarrassed to admit I was just eyeballing it. I have been using your method of using the gauges as a guide for how deep to file the slots.

As mentioned, Ive run out of guitars to set up but the awful nut job I did on the Martin has been gnawing away at me. I may bight the bullet and get another nut for it and try again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slinco View Post
You mentioned a few posts ago you were not to confident with your nut slot layout procedure. One of the tools I bought is Stew Mac's String Spacing Rule. I haven't pressed it into service yet, but it's a very nicely designed tool - you might want to look into it. Another tool I got is their Nut Slotting Gauge. It's probably overkill, but it works great and it's way cool (I love cool tools).
Thanks, slinco its always nice to see that Im not alone. I think Erlewines is pretty awesome but so much of it is geared towards electric that I use it more as a reference than anything else. If you have time, I would love to see photos of the work you did on your Recording King. And Im also waiting on a set of 18:1 Sta Tites to replace the Grover Rotomatics on my Big Baby great minds think alike LOL!!

I actually checked out those very same tools. One thing Ive noticed with the learned luthiers we are fortunate to have on this forum is that they really know how to improvise and/or save money on tools. So when I first embarked on this, I told myself to try to get as inexpensive a tools as possible. The gauged Stew Mac files are the only things I did not skimp on. But yes, it is awfully tempting to get at least some of the goodies theyve got that seem to make life a whole heck of a lot easier.

I did have a question on the string spacer ruler tool

The reason I go back to the original nut to mark off my string spacing is to try and capture any angle on the nut itself. To recap, I take the old and new nut and hold them together front to front and mark off where the slot is on the front side. I then hold them back to back and do the same.

I had read that you dont want string slots to be perfectly straight. Ideally I guess youre supposed split the difference of the angle from the nut to the string peg head presumably to allow smoother movement of the string. Is this really that critical? It would appear that the Stew Mac ruler would do straight lines without any angle.

Of course, its not as if my method is really that accurate. Given the shape of a nut, Im often having to just eyeball where the string slot should be on each side. With the classical guitar nut, it was a lot easier since those nuts are almost entirely squared off and dont have the curvature of steel string nuts at least on my Cordoba C5.
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  #58  
Old 02-24-2012, 05:37 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
I'm actually going to take a stab at setting up my Taylor Big Baby which for whatever reason now has ridiculously high action for my playing style (read: beginner). I attribute some of that to a new Martin D-1 I got which I had set up professionally for me and now the action on the BBT is just more evident.
LOL so now that Im totally happy with the action on the Big Baby, I now think that the action on the Martin needs to come down. Just as well a bit on the Cordoba. I just hope this doesnt turn into a death spiral of how-low-can-I-go.
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  #59  
Old 02-24-2012, 07:15 PM
the.ronin the.ronin is offline
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Sorry me again. So when I got home I ran into my neighbor who is a pretty accomplished guitar player specializing in jazz and now spends his time teaching. I asked him to play my Big Baby generally asking what he thought of the playability. Holy crap he made that guitar sing LOL. He said he thought it played wonderfully. So I asked him specifically about the action and he thought it was perfect (granted, he almost exclusively plays electric and keeps egging me on to put electric strings on my acoustics so I can bend them easier ... lol I'll be lucky if I can hold a barre chord much less bend strings). Ultimately I told him that I had set that guitar up myself starting from basically a blank nut and high saddle. I was so stoked to hear his feedback!!
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  #60  
Old 02-24-2012, 08:33 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
I did have a question on the string spacer ruler tool


I had read that you dont want string slots to be perfectly straight. Is this really that critical?
1. In my opinion, their string spacer tool is a waste of money. It also equally spaces the distance between strings, rather than center to center. Opinions vary on which is better. I prefer center to center. (I'm also not really thrilled with them. I tried to interest them in a new tool that is accurate and easy to use. Basically, they wouldn't give me the time of day. They sell some great tools, but they also sell some real junk designed to separate fools from their money.)

2. Viewed from above, the angle the string slots are cut in the nut is not critical. You can make them straight (i.e. perpendicular to the face of the nut) or angle them to point at the post of the tuning peg, or whatever you like in between.
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