My name is Pim Boerdijk, 21 years old from The Netherlands. I've been setting-up guitars and doing small repairs in my own minimalistic workshop for a bit over a year now. I've had some sleepness nights, because of all the interesting discussions on this forum. A lot of interesting stuff that is completely new for me.
I also read quite a bit about neck angles, neck resets and conversions to a bolt-on neck.
So leading up to my question: I've had this martin 000-15 for a bit over a year now and just after I got it I set it up with a luthier that taught me the basics of the trade.
Lowering the saddle was one of the things we did and since the set-up it's been playing perfectly smooth, in my opinion. The action at this moment (tuned open G, half-step down) is 8/64 on the bass side, 6/64 on the treble side (which, correct me if I'm wrong, is a bit on the high side but I doesn't feel like it).
After reading about neck angles, I thought: let's check the angle on my 000-15 with a straight-edge.
It's not clearing the bridge, but bumps into the bridge. As you can see on the picture, it's not a lot but does this mean there's something wrong anyways?
Ps. I took the tension off the strings. Weirdly enough the height difference looks smaller than it actually is. Couldn't get a better picture.
Thanks in advance and I'm looking forward to reading more on this forum.
Your action is indeed high. You are measuring unfretted strings at the 12th fret between the top of the fret to the bottom of the string, right? If it feels OK it's because you have tuned down. Your straightedge test looks OK; maybe not ideal, but typical. How much relief is in the neck [with string tension, of course]. My guess is too much.
Martin spec for an OOOish guitar is 4/64" high e at the 12th and 6/64th" for the low e at the 12th. This is when tuned to standard tuning EADGBE.
Nut sot depth is key here too and if they are still factory high... this needs to be addressed first before taking more measurments in that everything else is a function of the nut slot depth so-to-speak.
And.......................Welcome to frets.net!!! ;)
Thanks, Greg and Hesh!
@ Greg: Yes, I measured it the way you described. The relief on the 7th fret is 0.01 inch.
@ Hesh: I am aware of the importance of the right nut slot depths, we made a new bone nut when we were setting up the guitar.
Hello Pim, (zal het in het Engels houden)
A few quick thoughts that come to mind:
- The string height you described is pretty stiff in my opinion.
- The low saddle is an indication something is off (with the neck angle). But like mentioned previously, neck relief, nut slot depth, straightness of the fingerboard (rising tongue, drop off etc) Could affect your reading.
Also keep in mind that you're playing in an open tuning/ took the tension off the strings. Heavy strings + flex in the top could also give you a different reading
- If you are ever planning to correct the neck angle, maybe do it in a future refret?
I don't have any experience with refretting yet, would love to learn it though. I was hoping to find some sort of apprenticeship in The Netherlands, but so far: no cigars.
I too see a problem with not enough of a break angle over the saddle. Ramps or a saddle shave (ONLY if the saddle will still be within spec) [Hesh?...as a Martin Warranty guy] could help.
Also, depending on string gauge, 1/8th on the bass side may not be too high. It's not factory spec but neither is the tuning. The bass E string should be a .054 minimum in that tuning. Anything slinkier will rattle like the devil.
Now for my own edification based on many current and/or current posts: What happened to the lowest common denominator thing that they pounded into me in grade school? Doesn't 8/64" = 1/8"? Isn't 6/64" = to 3/32"? OR... do we use 64th" designations because we're used to it? Just curious. Me thinks they wasted my time in grade school. No...WAIT... I did that all by myself :)
I also add my "WELCOME", Pim. Good questions. You're going to enjoy it here :) :)
Haha, you're absolutely right about the fraction part Paul. For some reason 1/8" just sounds weird to me when talking about action.
The strings that I use are Elixir Nanoweb 0.11 - 0.52, and the weird thing is that there is absolutely NO rattle.
This is going to sound stupid, but the luthier that taught me how to set-up guitars lowered the saddle. This luthier was a member of the Guild of American Luthiers and the association of stringed instrument artisans, worked in America for 12 years (mostly in the Old Time Pickin' Parlor in Nashville), his shop in Florida was an official Gibson/Fender/Ovation warranty center and he has more than 35 years of experience.
I'm not trying to defend him in any way, but I just think it's really weird that he lowered the saddle by that much and told me that was fine. I'm starting to doubt more thing that he taught me now...
Anyways, thanks for all the replies so far!
Well, you're using the exact same brand & gauge strings as me. :) I too have no problem with rattles when using a double drop-D tuning.
There are many opinions on "correct" break angle at the saddle. I like around a 30 degree angle as I feel it puts enough pressure on the saddle to drive the top into producing optimum tone without causing other unwanted wear & tear. Also, my mind is still open after 40 years of bench work and I continue to replace my own methods and opinions with "a better way of doing things" as given to me by folks with other experiences. I'm a perpetual student of the craft.
What your 'guy' showed you isn't wrong, but just one way of addressing the issue. Hold on to the info he taught you if it works for you. If it doesn't, well, you're on the best forum available for diagnosing causes and coming up with professional solutions. All of our members are GREAT folks and you'll get the best advice available. btw: check the archives for discussion about saddle/string break angles. Opinions vary greatly.:)
In hearing from Greg, Hesh & Jelle, you've heard from industry heavyweights. I'm sure you'll hear from other heavy hitters too. You're in good hands :)
Have a GREAT week, man :)
The comment about the fractions was just me thinking out loud...I do that. :)
I did the same thing with the fractions, Paul. Didn't type it but I did talk to the screen... but then I do that a lot anyway.
Do you think it might be the plastic cover on the Elixir strings that keeps down the buzzing? I know it's thin because I've used them in the past (just got tired of paying for them) and wouldn't have much effect if it was that but I'm just curious.
Hi Pim, welcome!
Is there a gap between the heel of the neck and the sides of the guitar?
The straightedge test is a good way to help someone visualize the concept of the fret tops and bridge top as being in the same plane. In practice, it's not the best way to check the ante because some tongue rise can throw off the measurement. Instead, I adjust a neck straight (from nut to 12th fret) then compare the action at 12th to the amount of saddle protrusion.
A reset is a fun and rewarding project although it is a challenging repair, especially for a beginner. The mortise and tenon joint is more straightforward than a dovetail so it would be a good first Martin to reset.
Here is my martin mortise and tenon routine:
This article goes into the details of the math:
There is no gap between the neck and te side of the guitar. On one side of the heel (on the fb side) there seems to be a REALLY small gap, but I can't even get my thinnest feeler gage in there. If it is a gap, it's no wider than 1/16".
How do I compare the action at the 12th fret to the amount of saddle protrusion? I don't get the saddle protrusion part. The saddle protrusion is 2mm (0.0787") at the 6th string.
The routine and article look interesting, thanks for that. I really hope I'll be able to find somebody in The Netherlands who can "walk me through" the more serious repairs.
By saddle protrusion, I'm referring to how much saddle is sticking up above the bridge at the 6th string.
For example: if your saddle protrusion is 1/32, your action is 4/32" and you want your action to be 3/32" then you need to cut down the saddle by 1/16" which is twice the desired change at the 12th fret. That is not possible in this scenario because the saddle is already as low as it can go so you would therefore need a neck reset (or maybe plane down the bridge to allow for more saddle protrusion on a cheap guitar) in order to lower the action.
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