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carol m

Action Height on a Classical Nylon String

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carol m    64

I changed the bridge on my cheapy classical nylon string guitar and I think I didn't file it down enough so the action is quite high. Can someone with a good action height measure their string heights so I can know how much more to file it down?

I know Skinny put his measurements up on his renovating an old favourite thread, but I couldn't really translate that into a simple :rolleyes: answer.

I would like to know the height from the guitar body surface itself to the underside of the strings (6 and 1).

I think the most useful place to measure would be

just in front of the bridge (not from the top of the bridge, or the height that the saddle sticks out above the bridge) but the height from the body top itself to the underside of the strings.

and maybe where the neck meets the body, although you can't get the measuring ruler flush with the strings there because the edge of the neck is in the way.

I realise that the height/thickness of the neck and the height of the frets is still a variable, but the other measurement is easiest to measure accurately, and the biggest and easiest height to see, and I can fine tune it to this particular guitar as I go.

I can always file down another one if I find i've gone too far with this one. Thanks in advance.:)

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karcey    42

Carol, can I disagree with you? Please?

In my opinion, it doesn't matter a damn how high the bridge is, or how far it is from the deck to the strings near the sound hole. The only thing that happens there is that you hit the strings. And the distance the strings sit above the deck doesn't really come into the equation.

I reckon the only distance that matters is the distance from the frets to the strings. That's the bit you have to push; that's the bit that's easy or hard.

Now before you get stroppy with me, I did measure my Admira for you. The distance between the fret closest to the sound hole and the bottom of the strings is 4.0 mm. At the bridge the strings are 10.5 mm above the deck, and the upper bout is 282 mm wide (you probably don't need that one!)

Where the neck meets the body the strings are 10.5 mm above the deck.

No, I didn't measure any of the other classicals, but I will if you want me to.

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carol m    64

Would I get stroppy with you?? Of course not! I realise that it's the distance between the frets and the strings that matters, but that's hard to measure. Probably because all my rulers have a gap between zero and the end which makes it impossible to use them. My metal tape has that metal staple thing at the end which itself takes up space, and also obscures the mm's below 6.

Thanks for those measurements. Are they on the low E or high E side of the neck? I compared your measurements with mine and I think the low strings are about 1-2mm too high, and the high strings are about 2mm too high.

It's a bit like spear fishing playing up the neck. I tried to check them by looking at the classicals in the local store, and they all looked lower action than mine, but now I'm convinced I have to do some more filing down.

The original saddle was definitely too high, so I filed the new one lower than the original but only by visual guesswork. At the next string change I'll attack it again. Thanks for your help, Karcey, it's appreciated. ;)

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starsailor    20

Check the string height from the 12th fret Carol that's a good guideline, mine is roughly (It's a bit tricky with a plastic ruler lol) 3.3 mm on the low E and 2.5 mm on the high e which I think is in the right ball park sometimes it's a personal preference, at the saddle mine is 10 mm at the highest point of the saddle, you could if you want to make a spacer with your desired heights, just cut a little bit of wood to the heights you want and that might make it easier for you it's just an idea though.

All The Best

Chris

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karcey    42

There you go. Chris has the answer. Get a bit of wood or plastic, say a piece of plastic clothes peg, and file it down til it's exactly 3.5 mm or 4.0 mm thick (whatever you decide.) Then use it as a guide when you work on your saddle. Or take it with you when you check out other guitars to see if they're higher or lower. I might make one myself just for future reference.

By the way, my saddle is flat, as is my fretboard. All the strings are the same distance from the frets.

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carol m    64

Brilliant Chris! I'm gonna make one from layers of cardboard, and then paper if necessary for the fine tuning - probably easier to stick things together than cutting and filing wood. Then I can check it against guitars in the store more easlily.

Karcey: even if the saddle is flat (mine isn't it slopes away to the low side) the low strings are fatter than the thin strings. This matters for me because I have a righty nut but switched the guitar around to lefty so the thin strings now sit lower in the nut notch, and the thick strings sit higher in the notch so there's quite a bit of guesswork.

When I bought the new saddle - a righty but I could easily file/adapt it to lefty - I couldn't find a lefty nut.

Also I couldn't get the original nut out despite applying quite a lot of force (moderate hammering on a thin piece of wood wrapped in cloth placed on the side of the nut) so I couldn't just reverse the nut back to front. Also I didn't want to have a dig at the notches in case I ever wanted to go back to righty.

Thanks for your ideas and info, guys. :)

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karcey    42

the low strings are fatter than the thin strings.

Well yes, but no. The thickness of the string doesn't alter its height from the fret. The bottoms of the strings are all level, only the tops vary.

The nut will have no real bearing on the height of the strings at the other end of the fretboard. It's too far away. Even if you sat the string on top of the nut you couldn't measure the variation at the saddle end.

I think you're doing the right thing filing the saddle to get a good action. As for the nut, well leave it for next time.

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starsailor    20

I checked online for the correct height of strings, I was quite pleased to see mine were ok but it's always been easy to fret, the strings on my Yamaha are incredibly low but that was filed down when I got it to make it really easy to fret, Jim who gave it to me wanted to make the experience as painless as possible for me, I think a lot of Luthiers measure from the 12th fret, my idea was just a cheaper version of what they do, there are variables depending on your neck and it is also worth running a straight edge along the neck to see if it's level I suppose you could do this with a spirit level too don't know, your nuts not really a problem Carol unless the thinner strings rattle in the wider bass string spacings just see how it goes and good on you for doing it got me thinking (again) that I should switch my lefty to a righty, glad I could help a little, think I'll make a spacer up too, not too sure how much Luthier stuff costs but it is worth having some of the tools for little jobs, the only thing I've had to do recently is fix the tuners on my Ukeleles as they were a bit loose, I do have to do the tuners on my twelve string but a couple need replacing so I might get the local guiter doctor to do that.

All The Best Carol and Karcey, hope you're both well.

Cheers

Chris

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nicksdad12    0

2.5 mm on the high e and 3.2 mm on the bass E are low action heights, measured between the fret and the strings, at the 12th fret. 3.0 and 4.0 would be high. Up to you.

Figure how much you want to lower the action, double it , and take that much off the bottom of the saddle. For example to lower the string .5mm at the 12th, sand off 1mm from the bottom of the saddle.

I use 100 grit sandpaper on a flat surface. Mark a pencil line on the saddle and sand down to it. Use a square block of wood to keep the saddle upright so the bottom will be flat and square.

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carol m    64

I just made a string height measurer! I used the side part of a cereal box - the side with the glued box-join where the cardboard has a thick part and a thin part. I cut 4 pieces about 1 1/2in long and the width of the box side. Stacked them with all the thick bits on the same side. Taped them very tightly together using ordinary sticky tape at both ends.

Result: 3.2 - 3.3 on the thick side, and a touch over 2mm on the thin side.

So I cut another piece and trimmed off the thick part, so the thin part fitted onto the thin part of the stack and taped that tightly on top of the others.

Now the thick side = 3.2 - 3.3 (same as before of course) and .........(drum roll please Gladys)....2.5mm on the thin side.! :yeahhh:

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carol m    64

And, I now realise, I can slide the whole thing under my strings right across the fretboard, and it measures the low and the high e strings, and the others - all at the same time with the one bit of cardboard.

It's also really handy to use because you can press down really hard on the cardboard onto the 12 th fret, and clearly see how much clearance there is on all the strings.

I probably need to lower all of them 2mm, at least - which means about 3-4mm off the saddle (thanks for the that, Nick, I never would have thought of doubling it to compensate for distance) - but I'll go carefully because it's hard to correct if I get too enthusiuatic in my filing.

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carol m    64

Update: I took my 3 cardboard templates to the local store to check them against nylon string guitars there. I ended up making differint sizes - 2,3 and 4 bits of cardboard sticky taped tightly together.

The average of what I found was the 2 bit template was touching the strings at the 3rd fret. I don't know what the measurement equiv at the 12th fret would be but I sanded the bridge down to approx that height.

Result: much improved! I could maybe go even lower but I'll stick with this for a while and see how it goes. I tested the intonation and it's the best of any of my 4 acoustics. I didn't expect that.

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Daktari    0

Hi there,

Good luck Carol with your changes but do be careful. I bought myself a fairly basic classical guitar and did the same as you are doing. I filed the bridge down a little too much and found that I had a vibration from my A string. It's ok now, I had to compensate by packing it slightly but try not to overdo like I did.

It is great now and I can play solos on it just like on a solid electric guitar. Might also be worth bearing in mind that as far as I know, most classical guitars don't have any neck adjustment so it just means extra care has to be taken if playing around with the bridge and/or nut.

Hope it works well for you, Gordon.:smilinguitar:

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carol m    64

Thanks for the advice Gordon. I still have the one I took out before putting in this new one, and as far as I remember the blank saddle cost around $5 so if I overdo it, I'll just do it again.

As a side issue, as I was testing the string height in the store, the salesman came over to see what I was up to! After I reassured him I wasn't damaging his stock he said my templates were a good idea and called the techy set-up man over to have a look. After some tech talk (I was mostly bluffing), the techy guy offered to fix it up without charge if I screwed up with the sanding. It just goes to show that guitar nuts stick together if the going gets rough. I was impressed.

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karcey    42
.... the techy guy offered to fix it up without charge if I screwed up with the sanding. It just goes to show that guitar nuts stick together if the going gets rough.

Probably has more to do with your smile!

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