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nickcallear

Help wit Setting action

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nickcallear    5

Hi guy long time no post

I was doing some research on setting string action as i want to lower mine on my strat. I've read on a few sites that i need to set it at the 7th fret to follow the radius of the fretboard but then on other sites I've been on they are saying to set it to the 12th fret.

So I'm asking you guys for help on this as you have helped me out loads.

I've got all the right tools for the job i.e a 64th rule, 18 inch straight edge, correct Allen keys and a new set of string.

Which is the correct way to lower action?

thanks in advance

Nick

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karcey    42

G'day Nick,

You haven't had many replies yet so let's start the ball rolling.

You probably won't need that straightedge. A string held down on two frets is about as straight as you'll ever get.

I like to make sure there's enough clearance at the nut before I do anything else. By holding each string in turn down hard on the second fret, you can check that there's clearance between the string and the first fret. Too much clearance means that the groove is a bit shallow and needs to be filed down a bit. If the string touches the first fret then the groove is too deep. Put a drop of superglue or something in the bottom of that groove to make it a bit more shallow. I like to have just enough clearance that the string doesn't touch the first fret wire. If you get this right first, then the rest becomes easier.

The truss rod is the next step, and here's where you get so many different opinions. What I say now is just the way I do it. Hold the string down onto the first fret wire and the fourteenth fret wire. That becomes your straightedge. Now check how much gap there is between say the seventh fret and the string. I like a low action so a couple of business card thickness is OK for me. If you were to experience too much string buzz, you might go for a larger gap.

The last adjustment is the bridge, or the saddles to be precise. Use your Allen keys to adjust the saddles down or up so all the strings are about the same height above the last fret. That's the one near the sound hole. Play the guitar. If you want to go lower, then crank them all down by the same amount until you start to get string buzz. That means you've gone a bit too far. Wind them all up a bit until you get that ideal situation where they're easy to play but they don't buzz. If only one string buzzes, then only wind it up. There's no rule that says they all have to be the same.

If anyone says they all have to be a particular distance above the last fret, just smile and nod. That's garbage. The optimum distance is the one that suits you best. Guitars and playing styles vary so much that your settings are what are best for you and not what suits someone else.

The adjustment at the nut is generally done once. It doesn't change, well not for a long period of time anyway. Get it right now and then forget it. The truss rod may need adjustment from time to time, particularly if you live in a place where climatic changes really change the shape of your guitar. But if you adjust the truss rod, always do it according to the clearance you've decided is best for you, and then always check the saddles last.

I have to say Nick that this method is what I've found is best for me. It's logical and sequential, and always gets me a result. If someone else has an alternate method, it could suit you better. But one last word of advice. There are no short cuts to the set up, but once done properly you don't need to do it very often. I wish you well in your setting up.

Keep in touch.

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nickcallear    5

Thanks for your reply Karcey

I found it really useful.

I've now got a slight problem on my high E string, It might strange but frets 17 & 18 sound the same (the same note) but its only on the high E and at 17/18th frets. Could this be the results of going too low or could there be another problem.

It sounds like the fret has sprung but I've checked but i cant see or feel any movement in the fret.

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karcey    42

Thanks for your reply Karcey

I found it really useful.

I've now got a slight problem on my high E string, It might strange but frets 17 & 18 sound the same (the same note) but its only on the high E and at 17/18th frets. Could this be the results of going too low or could there be another problem.

It sounds like the fret has sprung but I've checked but i cant see or feel any movement in the fret.

G'day Nick,

Sorry to take so long to respond. I'm on holidays in New Zealand and the Internet has been way down my priority list.

Actually that last reply was a rush before I left, which is why the reference to sound holes crept in. I always think classical or acoustic. Anyway I'm sure no real damage has been done.

As far as the two frets sounding the same is concerned, I'd not worry too much unless there's a piece of music where this becomes an issue. You could check it with an electronic tuner to see if the difference is real. Otherwise just accept that at that pitch the differences may be challenging for your ears.

I've often said that getting a perfect guitar is an unrealistic quest, but one that keeps us trying anyway.

Keep in touch.

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