The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 11-30-2017, 10:30 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Idaho
Posts: 5,565
Default setting up a twelve string

I would like to tap the collective wisdom here. I recently received my carbon fiber Emerald X20-12. Of course, the guitar to beat is my Taylor 354-LTD, which was purchased years ago because it plays so easily -- more like a six string than a twelve.

Emerald sounds better (mellower) to my ear and is a keeper based on tone, but Taylor definitely plays better and cleaner. So it needs some set up work.

I usually set up my own six strings, so I understand the process, but I could use some advice on getting the best playability (bare nails finger style) with a twelve string. When I switch back and forth between them, I notice that the Emerald has some extra string buzz or muffled octave strings. Since I am A-B testing them side by side, we can remove the daily variation in how I'm playing them. Thanks in advance!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12-01-2017, 07:02 AM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Dartmouth, NS
Posts: 3,118
Default

Okay.... here we go...

12 string guitars require precision setup of nut slots to ensure best playability. Nut slots are simple to cut.... Simple to screw up... Hard to get ideal.

The neck bow (truss) needs to be adjusted ideal.

The saddle needs to be ideal.

I set up a 12 string lower than the standard 6 string, because of the extra string tension. So, usually about 1.75mm (.070") on high E and about 2.15 (.085" aprx). Slightly flatter bow than a 6 string...

Now, if you are having muffled notes, it could be: nut slots poorly cut, saddle peak poorly cut, fret problems (loose/high-low/hump, etc).

A setup alone will not correct problems with the fret-work.

MOST guitars do not have the nuts cut deeply enough from the factory.

MOST guitars come with a saddle that is higher than necessary from the factory.

MOST guitars end up with too much neck bow (even if adjusted correctly at factory), as the tension loads and bow grows. Once the wood/truss have stabilized, there will be less movement.

Hope this helps.
__________________
----

Ned Milburn
NSDCC Master Artisan
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Last edited by Ned Milburn; 12-01-2017 at 07:08 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-01-2017, 10:07 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Idaho
Posts: 5,565
Default

Thank you, Ned. This gives me a staring point. My goal is to do some research before launching into making a whole new nut. I always leave the original nut and saddle untouched ans start fresh. I have done set-ups on most of my six string guitars, and even made entirely new six string nuts to convert a twelve into a wide-necked six temporarily, but a set-up from scratch on a twelver is new territory for me.

My comparison is a brand new carbon fiber Emerald to one of the best playing Taylor twelve's I have ever encountered (and bought on the spot). Emerald is very close, but not quite as good for fingerstyle. (It is fine for moderate strumming). I'm talking about really tiny adjustments, as the guitar is close right now.

The neck has a truss rod, but does not seem to change relief whether there is heavy or no tension at all. I don't think it is binding nut slots, because the guitar came wearing heavy EJ-37's (336 pounds total) and I replaced them with light gauge EJ-38's (245 pounds). The slots should be wide enough, but as to the depth?

I need to make a couple of measurements. My first thought is to pop the nut off the Taylor and put it on the Emerald (temporarily) and see if the better playability follows the nut. At least I have a "known good" prototype to work from.

I am also pondering a couple of things:
Do I set the octave strings up into the same plane as the wound strings? This would allow them to be pressed down well by the fretting finger, but might bend the octave string out of tune. I believe that Taylor does this on their T5-12, but that is basically an electric guitar set-up. (I have their spec sheet for set-ups. They list heights for the wound strings, but not for the octaves).

The other thing I am considering is to put the wound strings up high, with the octaves closer to the floor, as Rickenbacker does it.

Pondering and research continues.......
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-02-2017, 09:51 AM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Dartmouth, NS
Posts: 3,118
Default

I cut the nut and saddle such that the bottoms of the strings match.

Trying a different guitar's nut in this one is dubious. Width of neck, width of saddle slot (if any), string spacing, nut height... If all of these match perfectly, you are good to go... But the odds of that is slim...
__________________
----

Ned Milburn
NSDCC Master Artisan
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-02-2017, 10:27 AM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Eastern Shore MD
Posts: 222
Default

A way to cut nut slots evenly that is hard to screw up:

Press down on a string between frets 2 and 3 then measure the gap between the string and the fret top at 1. I go for 3 or 4 thou. If it is too high, flip the string out of the slot and SLOWLY file it down, being sure to make it a little wider than the string so it won't get hung up. Try the string in the slot, Repeat. When you hit the target, move on.

MY daughter is a repair tech with her own shop (brooklnlutherie.com) and she just uses a finger to fret between 2 and 3, then does a quick tap at 1 and listens for the "ping". She can tell from the sound when she gets there - but I can't do that yet.

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-02-2017, 10:52 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Idaho
Posts: 5,565
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Milburn View Post
I cut the nut and saddle such that the bottoms of the strings match. Trying a different guitar's nut in this one is dubious. Width of neck, width of saddle slot (if any), string spacing, nut height... If all of these match perfectly, you are good to go... But the odds of that is slim...
I agree. The nuts are the same width within 1/64", but the likelihood of Emerald and Taylor using the same fret board radius and nut slot width is pretty low.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby50 View Post
My daughter is a repair tech with her own shop (brooklnlutherie.com) and she just uses a finger to fret between 2 and 3, then does a quick tap at 1 and listens for the "ping". She can tell from the sound when she gets there - but I can't do that yet.
That is exactly how I do nut slot depths on a six string, plus I sometimes use some stacked feeler gauges under string to prevent going too deep as I very slowly file the slots. I am pretty confident about setting up the primary strings, just am not sure about how best to handle the octaves. Ned's post gives me some clues. I just don't have much real experience with twelve string set-ups.

I am thinking about buying this gauge from Stew Mac to make really accurate measurements of nut slot depths on my Taylor, then duplicating each slot depth on the Emerald on a brand new nut. http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools...ing_Gauge.html
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-02-2017, 11:40 AM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Granby, CT
Posts: 472
Default Comment from a Taylor rep at a Road Show

I heard the presenter at a Taylor road show last year mention that Taylor cut the nut slots so that the tops of the strings were at the same height.

Last edited by phavriluk; 12-02-2017 at 01:58 PM. Reason: clarity
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-02-2017, 12:21 PM
murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edinburgh, bonny Scotland
Posts: 4,888
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby50 View Post
A way to cut nut slots evenly that is hard to screw up:

Press down on a string between frets 2 and 3 then measure the gap between the string and the fret top at 1. I go for 3 or 4 thou. If it is too high, flip the string out of the slot and SLOWLY file it down, being sure to make it a little wider than the string so it won't get hung up. Try the string in the slot, Repeat. When you hit the target, move on.

MY daughter is a repair tech with her own shop (brooklnlutherie.com) and she just uses a finger to fret between 2 and 3, then does a quick tap at 1 and listens for the "ping". She can tell from the sound when she gets there - but I can't do that yet.

Ed
That works, for sure.

For those who haven't yet developed that skill, this is an efficient and foolproof alternative.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-02-2017, 02:08 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Idaho
Posts: 5,565
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by phavriluk View Post
I heard the presenter at a Taylor road show last year mention that Taylor cut the nut slots so that the tops of the strings were at the same height. Meaning, for example that each pair of main/octave strings had a different nut slot depth for each of its two strings.
I've heard that said too, at Road Shows. The lack of separate string height numbers for the octave strings listed on the Taylor spec sheet would support that too -- they list just one height for each string. This is why I'm asking. Better to gather the information and do this once or twice, instead of reinventing the wheel myself.

Murrmac, the Techno Fret Nut Rocker is a very interesting tool and the "click" technique makes sense to me. I already have a fret rocker tool with a good straight edge, so I will use that first. I'm focused on the wound strings and their adjoining octaves. The unwound first (e) and second (b) course is "normal" and therefore easy.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-02-2017, 04:59 PM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Dartmouth, NS
Posts: 3,118
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl49 View Post
I agree. The nuts are the same width within 1/64", but the likelihood of Emerald and Taylor using the same fret board radius and nut slot width is pretty low.



That is exactly how I do nut slot depths on a six string, plus I sometimes use some stacked feeler gauges under string to prevent going too deep as I very slowly file the slots. I am pretty confident about setting up the primary strings, just am not sure about how best to handle the octaves. Ned's post gives me some clues. I just don't have much real experience with twelve string set-ups.

I am thinking about buying this gauge from Stew Mac to make really accurate measurements of nut slot depths on my Taylor, then duplicating each slot depth on the Emerald on a brand new nut. http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools...ing_Gauge.html
Save your money and don't buy the tool. Most top builders I know, have met, have learned from do NOT use such a tool, but use the same technique suggested above in this thread.

Also, just cut the slots individually to the correct depth for each string. Other than slight compensations (ie: I leave thicker strings a BIT higher than thinner strings), the string bottoms should be pretty darn close...
__________________
----

Ned Milburn
NSDCC Master Artisan
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-02-2017, 05:49 PM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Eastern Shore MD
Posts: 222
Default

Rather than spend money on a nut rocker, you can get a set of feeler gauges that are very long - they turn up a lot at garage sales and fleas. Does the same thing. Use a gauge (or couple of them) that fits the slot you are working on and span fret 1 and 2and slide it towards the nut. Theoretically it should just slide into the nut, but I have found it best to have a tiny step up into the nut slot.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-02-2017, 07:32 PM
rdmiller rdmiller is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 6
Default

As Ruby 50 said. Press each string down between 2nd and third frets. Lightly tap the string over the first fret. On the low e, a and d you are listening and looking for the slightest gap. G b and high e should just be touching the first fret. To visualize this capo the first fret. Now observe the strings passing over the second fret. How much gap do you see? The strings coming off the nut should be at a height that is the same as any other fret with the fret behind it capoed.
All this providing proper fretwork, neck bow, saddle height. Think of the string height of the nut as a zero fret.
Good set up is nut height, saddle height, good fret work.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-02-2017, 08:46 PM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Dartmouth, NS
Posts: 3,118
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby50 View Post
Rather than spend money on a nut rocker, you can get a set of feeler gauges that are very long - they turn up a lot at garage sales and fleas. Does the same thing. Use a gauge (or couple of them) that fits the slot you are working on and span fret 1 and 2and slide it towards the nut. Theoretically it should just slide into the nut, but I have found it best to have a tiny step up into the nut slot.
Some people say that the nut slots should match the plane of the fret surface... (even some of our wizened members of this forum for whom I have great respect).

But, here's the thing...

An open string WILL vibrate more freely than a fretted note. The open string ringing sets the nut sort of as a fulcrum for a "see-saw", and there is nothing extra inhibiting the string vibrating on the headstock side of the nut.

A fretted note, on the other hand, has the string on the other side of the fulcrum (non-vibrating side of the fret) being pressed down by one's finger. This finger absorbs vibrational energy. So it slows the vibrating portion of the string ever so slightly just as the "other" side of a see saw will slow if you inhibit "this" side of the see-saw. Hence, open notes often tend to ring a bit brighter than fretted notes, no matter how good one's technique is.

So, with the string vibrating more freely, a bit more action (height) is often a good thing. A BIT more... not much...

Sure, we'll here some people arguing about this... But that's okay...
__________________
----

Ned Milburn
NSDCC Master Artisan
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Last edited by Ned Milburn; 12-02-2017 at 08:54 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-03-2017, 07:25 AM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 7,618
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Milburn View Post
Sure, we'll here some people arguing about this... But that's okay...
Not me. I disagree, but I'm not going to argue.

Seriously though, I suspect the way you setup a nut is so close to the way I would do it that there is little or no practical difference. If we both end up slightly above fret height, say 0.002"-0.003", the guitar will play far better than nearly any factory setup. I've seen those pretty commonly at 0.010" above fret height and many even more.
__________________
Or you can call me Buck.....
My Klepper SSD thread
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-03-2017, 11:12 AM
murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edinburgh, bonny Scotland
Posts: 4,888
Default

I'm not going to argue with Ned either ...but I would point out that if the player is concerned about the excess length behind the nut causing the open string to ring brighter, then a simple solution is to interweave a strip of damping material ...thick rubber ...cardboard ...whatever .... between the strings behind the nut.

My view is that every possible step should be taken to make the action at the nut as low as effectively possible in order to facilitate barre chords at the lower frets.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Tags
set up specs, twelve string

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=