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Old 12-24-2019, 10:50 AM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is offline
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Default Help me with this setup

So I'm fairly inexperienced with setups, but I understand neck relief, saddle height and nut slots. I've successfully adjusted all of them on other guitars and wound up with great feel and playability.

My Taylor 810 has about .003" relief and while I've not measured string height, the nut is filed really low and an F barre is super easy to play. String height is low and playable up at the 12th fret, though I don't play up there much. This guitar will only buzz if I really attack the strings hard, which I never do.

I just got a new D28. It's setup out of the box was really quite good but I'm looking to improve it so that it plays as sweet as my Taylor.

Neck relief was about .010, so I decreased to about .003". Personally I think it's about impossible to truly measure this exactly because so much feel is involved. But fretting at the 1st and 14th fret, and testing how much clearance there is between string and 7th fret - theres almost none now, just like my Taylor.

While the feel of the Martin was improved, it buzzes. I'm not a heavy strummer, but I'm still able to get it to buzz. Meanwhile, the string heights both at nut and 12th fret are higher than my Taylor, and it is definitely harder to fret an F barre than my Taylor.

To improve my first position playability I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to file the nut slots... But it's already buzzing!

Should I be increasing neck relief and only THEN filing the slots?

Any advice would be welcomed.
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  #2  
Old 12-24-2019, 11:22 AM
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bnjp bnjp is offline
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I set the neck relief, rough in the saddle, file the nut slots, then perfect the saddle. Some guys save a step because they file the nut slot differently, but I measure nut action off the 1st fret so I rough in the 12th fret action first. It's just the way I've always done it.
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Old 12-24-2019, 12:15 PM
Peepaw Peepaw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgdonExtreme View Post
So I'm fairly inexperienced with setups, but I understand neck relief, saddle height and nut slots. I've successfully adjusted all of them on other guitars and wound up with great feel and playability.

My Taylor 810 has about .003" relief and while I've not measured string height, the nut is filed really low and an F barre is super easy to play. String height is low and playable up at the 12th fret, though I don't play up there much. This guitar will only buzz if I really attack the strings hard, which I never do.

I just got a new D28. It's setup out of the box was really quite good but I'm looking to improve it so that it plays as sweet as my Taylor.

Neck relief was about .010, so I decreased to about .003". Personally I think it's about impossible to truly measure this exactly because so much feel is involved. But fretting at the 1st and 14th fret, and testing how much clearance there is between string and 7th fret - theres almost none now, just like my Taylor.

While the feel of the Martin was improved, it buzzes. I'm not a heavy strummer, but I'm still able to get it to buzz. Meanwhile, the string heights both at nut and 12th fret are higher than my Taylor, and it is definitely harder to fret an F barre than my Taylor.

To improve my first position playability I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to file the nut slots... But it's already buzzing!

Should I be increasing neck relief and only THEN filing the slots?

Any advice would be welcomed.

Did it buzz before you decreased the neck relief?
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Old 12-24-2019, 02:08 PM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is offline
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Originally Posted by Peepaw View Post
Did it buzz before you decreased the neck relief?
Ever so slightly, but only if I really attacked the strings.
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  #5  
Old 12-24-2019, 04:03 PM
Glen H Glen H is offline
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Get a fret rocker and determine which frets are buzzing and how straight is the neck?
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  #6  
Old 12-24-2019, 04:18 PM
Bill Sims Bill Sims is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen H View Post
Get a fret rocker and determine which frets are buzzing and how straight is the neck?
And site up the neck looking from above the headstock and see if there is a hump in the fretboard at the 14th fret (see if the fretboard and frets rise at that point).
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Old 12-24-2019, 10:31 PM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is offline
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Will do. Thanks for the ideas! I'll check it out and report back! Thanks again!
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Old 12-25-2019, 03:11 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgdonExtreme View Post
So I'm fairly inexperienced with setups, but I understand neck relief, saddle height and nut slots. I've successfully adjusted all of them on other guitars and wound up with great feel and playability.

My Taylor 810 has about .003" relief and while I've not measured string height, the nut is filed really low and an F barre is super easy to play. String height is low and playable up at the 12th fret, though I don't play up there much. This guitar will only buzz if I really attack the strings hard, which I never do.

I just got a new D28. It's setup out of the box was really quite good but I'm looking to improve it so that it plays as sweet as my Taylor.

Neck relief was about .010, so I decreased to about .003". Personally I think it's about impossible to truly measure this exactly because so much feel is involved. But fretting at the 1st and 14th fret, and testing how much clearance there is between string and 7th fret - theres almost none now, just like my Taylor.

While the feel of the Martin was improved, it buzzes. I'm not a heavy strummer, but I'm still able to get it to buzz. Meanwhile, the string heights both at nut and 12th fret are higher than my Taylor, and it is definitely harder to fret an F barre than my Taylor.

To improve my first position playability I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to file the nut slots... But it's already buzzing!

Should I be increasing neck relief and only THEN filing the slots?

Any advice would be welcomed.

Set the nut slots now. Ideally they should be set at the height of the fret plane; in practice one or two thousandths of an inch higher may be better because of longer string excursion on the open string, and sometimes because of back buzzes. But there is nothing to be gained now by raising relief before filing the nut (relief can be set accurately to within a thousandth of an inch using an accurate 12" straightedge instead of making the string your straightedge, and measuring with feeler gauges). An ideal action for someone who does not strum hard is with relief at about 3-5 thousandths, nut slots at fret height, and then saddle adjusted just high enough to avoid buzzing. Saddle comes last. I will sometimes come back to a very fine tuning of relief at the end, but most people don't.

High frets, if any (and not likely on a new Martin) are a separate issue and not a part of setup.
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Last edited by Howard Klepper; 12-25-2019 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 12-25-2019, 07:07 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Taylor necks are very straight and do not suffer from the 14th fret hump that most manufacturers guitars do (Martin included), so it is hard to match setups between different brands of guitars if your not experienced in the ways of guitar repairs.

Howards description above is spot on, recut the nut or check it, set the relief, lower the saddle, once that has been done any buzzing or nuances are not from the setup but from another issue that needs to be addressed, eg high frets, twisted neck, fallaway, etc.

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Old 01-04-2020, 06:26 PM
pick1 pick1 is offline
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I think Howard covered pretty much everything there is to say in this instance.

I would only add that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgdonExtreme View Post
Should I be increasing neck relief [...] ?
This has nothing to do with you HodgdonExtreme, but I've seen this advice being given very often on forums as a "cure" for fret buzzing because increasing the neck relief (lossening the truss rod) has the capability of masking the real underlying problem with a guitar. However, what many don't realize is that a side effect of this "panacea" is that the action towards the middle of the fretboard increases as a result. And significantly so. And that makes the guitar hard to play in that section (and on the extreme causes intonation problems). So players that apply this "quick fix" then wonder why it is so easy to play near the nut, but bloody difficult higher up the neck ... Well, yeah Now some of them get used to playing such a boat shaped fretboard and even claim to be the best feeling ever, and some ... don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HodgdonExtreme View Post
[...]Neck relief was about .010, so I decreased to about .003". Personally I think it's about impossible to truly measure this exactly because so much feel is involved. But fretting at the 1st and 14th fret, and testing how much clearance there is between string and 7th fret - theres almost none now, just like my Taylor.

While the feel of the Martin was improved, it buzzes.[...]

To improve my first position playability I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to file the nut slots... But it's already buzzing!
By reducing the relief you are "flattening" the neck (a good thing for better playbility). If you get buzzing when the neck is almost straight, then it means that either:
  1. your nut and saddle are already too low, and/or
  2. your frets are not level (most ofthen the culprit) and/or
  3. your neck is slightly warped (not visible with your naked eye, but a tool will tell)

Either way, filing down the nut slots now would only make things worse: even more buzzing (assuming you keep relief as low as possible, which you should). Furthermore, I expect that on a D-28 the nut be cut well and not much adjustments can be made (but, you never know).

Personally I would start with leveling the frets. That process will reveal if there is any warp in the neck (and leveling will compensate for that if it's not too much). Then do the rest of the process as others above pointed out: file down the nut slots if necessary, re-adjust the relief, file down the saddle if needed.

From my experience with leveling necks, not two are the same even from the same manufacturer. Each is a different piece of wood that reacts to time, moisture and string pressure in a different way, mostly invisible to the naked eye. Then you add the fretboard and the fretting process (sometimes good, sometimes not so good) to make the neck even more unique. I can see how good a guitar neck is after one run over it with my long radiused board (compound neck is a different animal). Some necks are so all over the place that in order to make them level you would need to take away too much fret material from a certain section - in such instances you have to accept a compromise. So anyway, what I was trying to say was that you may, or may not be able to make your D-28 neck play exactly like your Taylor neck

Good luck and hope this helps.
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  #11  
Old 01-04-2020, 11:21 PM
ChalkLitIScream ChalkLitIScream is offline
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Try paying with a capo on the first fret. If the problem persists, its not the nut, and more with the neck and saddle.
Compare with your taylor as well capoed. The F chord should be as easy to play with or without a capo.

And are scale length, tuning, string gauge the same?
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  #12  
Old 01-05-2020, 11:46 PM
HodgdonExtreme HodgdonExtreme is offline
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I made myself a fret rocker and couldn't find any high frets - not surprising, I guess, considering Martin PLEKs these guitars.

Action height is great at the 12th fret, so I decided not to mess with the saddle.

However, despite some buzz, I filed the nut slots a bit because the F barre chord was notably more difficult than an F#, which was more difficult than a G. Once up to the G, the ease of a barre chord remained consistent.

Anyway, I filed the nut slots but went a shade too deep on the G string - so I had to baking soda/superglue it back up a few .001s. Surprisingly (to me), filing the slots didn't seem to increase the buzz at all. So I added a couple .001s to the relief to avoid the buzz. Overall I'm pretty happy with the setup now. It's not *quite* as good as my Taylor, but it's close.

Do thicker strings vibrate with greater amplitude, requiring more clearance from the frets to avoid buzz? It occurred to me I use 12s on my Taylor and the Martin still has OEM strings which I'm pretty sure are 13s... So that could definitely explain why my Taylor is a bit easier to play, and can handle a lower action without the buzz...
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Old 01-06-2020, 08:31 PM
nikpearson nikpearson is offline
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Default Medium and light string gauges...

Medium gauge strings will usually feel considerably harder to play than light gauge. Martin dreadnoughts come with mediums (13-56) as standard so that will be a factor in playability.

That said you can achieve a lower buzz-free action with heavier gauge strings as their additional mass/tension reduces the amplitude or maximum displacement of the string for a given amount of force applied.
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Old 01-06-2020, 09:36 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Quote:
To improve my first position playability I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to file the nut slots... But it's already buzzing!
Noting where the buzzing occurs is crucial to diagnosing the remedy.
If the buzzing is worse on open strings, then the nut is too low. Note that nut height ONLY affects buzzing on open strings (back buzzing on the 6th string excluded).
If the buzzing is worse when fretting the first 4 or 5 frets, there is not enough relief.
If the buzzing is worse when fretting past the 5th fret, there is too much relief.
If the tendency to buzz is the same when fretting all the frets, then the relief is correct. On most of the guitars I set up, this is usually between 0.004" and 0.007".

Quote:
Personally I think it's about impossible to truly measure this exactly because so much feel is involved.
IMHO, the only accurate way to measure relief consistently is with a 12" straightedge and feeler gauges. This does not have to be expensive. I have done very well so far (35+ years) using a thick gauge 12" stainless steel ruler and a very cheap set of feeler gauges.

Quote:
Taylor necks are very straight and do not suffer from the 14th fret hump that most manufacturers guitars do (Martin included), so it is hard to match setups between different brands of guitars if your not experienced in the ways of guitar repairs.
Fretboard fallaway (incorrectly labeled a hump) starts at the body joint (14th fret, usually), and has no effect on the action measured at the 12th fret, or the action anywhere on the neck proper. If anything, it will reduce the tendency to buzz when playing past the 12th or 13th fret. It does increase the action past the body joint, but that is immaterial for most players.

I think this could very well be the case of the more responsive guitar causing more string excursion, and the resultant increase in buzzing. If that is the case, it may require higher action.
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2020, 10:19 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
Fretboard fallaway (incorrectly labeled a hump) starts at the body joint (14th fret, usually)
You can call it whatever you want, I call it a hump, sometimes followed with fallaway sometimes with a rise.

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