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Improving/Lowering the Action


bille6
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Hiho-

      I'm new to the forums and pretty new to building guitars.   The first one, about a year ago, is a Gibson 1275 (double neck) clone that plays ok but could be better.  The latest

one is a strat clone that's playable (I am NO authority except for possibly creating a line in front of the  local ear doctor's office) but needs to have the action lowered.

So far, the frets have been leveled, verified truss rod adjustment and made sure the nut slots are pretty close to right.  Those adjustments helped quite a bit but it still has a long way to

go to get the strings down anywhere near their height on my LP.   Almost feel like actually lowering the frets by more sanding but am hesitating.

Any tips would be appreciated!!

 

thanks!

b

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17 minutes ago, bille6 said:

Almost feel like actually lowering the frets by more sanding but am hesitating.

Lowering the frets would actually make action higher since it would increase the distance between the frets and the strings. Once you have done everything you listed, the next step is to lower the saddles on the bridge. Bring them down to their lowest position and then gradually raise them until there is no more fret buzz. You'll have to reset the intonation slightly once that is done.

SR

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The (low) action is a sum of several elements.

  • Level frets on a straight fretboard is the base, any single high fret will buzz. You've done that.
  • Low enough nut slots. On a dead straight neck there should be a tiny clearance on the first fret if you press on the third. Another method is to slide a 0.7 - 1 mm pick between each string and the first fret wire. A snug fit is at the ballpark.
  • Some relief in the neck by adjusting the truss rod would allow for lower action as it will give space for the strings to vibrate as an eight pattern. The eight pattern is for the first harmonic, on free strings between the nut and the 12th fret.
  • Lowering the bridge saddles as @ScottR said. Yet there should be more clearance below the strings at the higher frets but not much. Again a pick or two can be used. If a 2 mm pick doesn't fall off at the 12th fret the action is pretty low. Even 3 mm is acceptable there.
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Thanks SR-  I should have included included that once the mods and adjustments were completed, the saddles were lowered till there was string buzz then raised again.

My experience so far has been If  the string buzz occurs somewhere in mid neck- the truss rod probably needs to be loosened to make a little more bow.  If buzz occurs

at the first  or 2nd fret, the slots have probably been filed too deep.  Sometimes you can fix that using a mixture of super glue and baking soda (or something equivalent)

but if you do this on the high "E" or "B" string, the string will eventually wear it's way back down toward the frets.  If the buzz occurs above the 10th fret, the bridge or

saddles need to be raised or there is a high fret (if they haven't been leveled) .  So at this point, mine buzzes at a random place once the saddles have been lowered

past a certain point.  But the action is still too high.   I guess it should be noted that string buzz just about anywhere on the neck can be alleviated by raising the bridge.

Hope that helped.

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3 hours ago, bille6 said:

f buzz occurs

at the first  or 2nd fret, the slots have probably been filed too deep.  Sometimes you can fix that using a mixture of super glue and baking soda (or something equivalent)

Often a better option is knocking the nut out and putting a shim under it (or making a new nut). then you can cut the slots a bit deeper if you shimmed too high. But you are correct in that making a slot shallower and expecting it to last is a losing proposition.

I think you are correct in needing to add a bit of relief with the truss rod. If that doesn't get you where you want to be, go back through all the steps again and see if anything was missed or can be improved.

SR

 

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1 hour ago, ScottR said:

Often a better option is knocking the nut out and putting a shim under it (or making a new nut). then you can cut the slots a bit deeper if you shimmed too high. But you are correct in that making a slot shallower and expecting it to last is a losing proposition.

I think you are correct in needing to add a bit of relief with the truss rod. If that doesn't get you where you want to be, go back through all the steps again and see if anything was missed or can be improved.

SR

 

Thanks SR.  As a side note  I thought I'd try picking up an adjustable nut to get rid of the slot issue once and or all.  I ordered two of them.  One more or less resembled a typical nut with 2 set screws for height adjustment- one set screw between the two top string slots and one between the bottom 2 string slots.  The assembly sat on a thin

metal plate that acted as a protective base for each adjusting set screw as well as protecting the bottom of the nut slot.   Unfortunately, it was the smallest amount

wider than the nut slot which I did not want to widen, and the set screws were almost as wide as the nut so sanding the nut exposed the threads and the assembly

became pretty flimsy.    The other design used 6 individually adjusted screws with a string slot on each.  Probably a better design but there was no protective strip for

the bottom of the slot.  I ended up ordering a new bone nut...

 

I'll try adding loosening the rod a little more but lots of the buzzing is coming from the area above the 12th fret.  Maybe time to pull out the sanding block again...

 

Hope the rest of your week goes well!

b

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