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Unread 03-11-2012, 09:14 PM   #1
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Guitar Set Up! (Frustrated!)

So as some of you are aware, I recently got a Carvin DC800 in the mail. It's craftsmanship is impeccable, and I love the thing to death, minus one thing...

The action wont lower from about 3-4mm....

And I'm a low action whore.

I've tried setting it up numerous times, but she wont budge, and I promise everyone on my grave, I'm not retarded.

I really would like someone to give me a magical answer that will make this thing lower down. It's a godly guitar, but it's not playing like a god would . HELP!!!!
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Unread 03-11-2012, 09:59 PM   #2
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Did you get a hipshot bridge on yours? The site shows a hipshot bridge, but only calls it hardtail. Anyway, the reason I ask, is because a few years ago I bought one of the first run LTD FM-408's. Its Hipshot bridge was mounted as normal on top of the body, but the hipshot saddles couldn't be lowered to where I wanted them. The treble strings were lying flat on the bridge plate. It was as if the whole bridge had been mounted too high, or not enough neck angle had been created. I kinda got a bit closer with a double truss rod adjustment, but the action never really got comfortable for me. In the end I chose to sell it instead of modify it.
It's probably more of an issue with the treble strings. If this is indeed what's happening for you, you should be able to talk to someone at Carvin, describe the issue and send it back. If that's not an option there are a number of ways to mod your guitar and/or bridge to accommodate the action you're after, but some of these methods are questionable at best.

1) Recess the bridge by 4-5mm.
2) Grind down the saddle height.
3) Grind down the bridge base plate height.

Recessing the bridge would be the neatest, could be done at home (if you have a router or a drill press) AND it wouldn't compromise the integrity of the bridge in any way. If you can't return it and get them to fix it, I'd lean towards the recessed bridge.

"If you really believe that death leads to eternal bliss, then why are you wearing a seatbelt?" - Doug Stanhope.
Stop killing man. Start killing god.
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Unread 03-11-2012, 11:25 PM   #3
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I should clarify, I can lower the saddles and do everything necessary to adjust string height and neck relief and ect; I just can't get it remotely low without there being buzz in the neck.
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Unread 03-11-2012, 11:35 PM   #4
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I assume you know how to check for fretboard relief and adjust a truss rod.

I don't know how low you're trying to go, but all but one of my carvin 7-strings have had fret level issues (they weren't bad, but the rocker showed problems). So a fret rocker might be useful




Also where is the buzz? Every fret with every string?
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Unread 03-11-2012, 11:38 PM   #5
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What guage of strings are on the guitar? Have you made sure the neck is dead flat or set with just a tiny bit of relief? Where on the fretboard does it buzz when you bring the action down to low?

If you're an aggressive player you might want to think about running a heavier guage string. Lets you bring the action down lower without getting buzz from aggressive playing. Seeing as though it's a brand new Carvin I can only assume the frets are good and flat???
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Unread 03-12-2012, 01:36 AM   #6
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Yeah, I'm going to assume you don't know how to properly set this up. I don't mean that in a bad way, but I think a lot of people get ahead of themselves when setting action. So I will just list the steps here, but not flesh them out unless you need it.
1) Make sure the nut isn't too high.
2) Adjust the truss rod so the neck is level. If this isn't done as the first step nothing else will work.
2) Adjust the saddles.

Remember that the truss rod is NOT used to set action. It greatly affects action, but you don't use it to set the action. So just set it to the correct relief. I love low action myself, and a decent number of my guitars come with too much relief, so I straighten them right away.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 02:34 AM   #7
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I had to find this video cassette (VHS... it's OLD), digitize it, and then edit the video down to this few seconds.... I hope all this work is appreciated.

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Unread 03-12-2012, 10:39 AM   #8
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While I certainly appreciate the effort to do this yourself (and try to do as much set-up work myself as possible on my own instruments) it sounds like the next step is taking this to a good tech who knows about extended range instruments. I wouldn't try doing anything you can't undo to the hardware, for example, before taking it to a professional and letting them check it out. It could be simply that the environmental conditions at the Carvin factory are sufficiently different from the conditions where you are that things have moved/shifted/gone out of alignment as the guitar has acclimated to its new home. And as others have suggested, it could just need a fret dress. Check this out: So what’s in a ‘Fret Dress’ ? | AVH Guitar Repair -- here's a great example of a brand-new guitar that nonetheless needed a fair amount of work before it was perfectly set-up. It sounds like this one is almost there for you, and a good tech can probably get it the rest of the way.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 10:55 AM   #9
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If you run out of adjustment "bandwidth" on your bridge; take off the neck and add a shim to raise the height of the neck. This will make the neck higher in relation to the body and give you more range for adjustment on the bridge. You can use any material for the shim, to give the job some credibility use a tone wood.

In the past, on cheapo guitars, I've used credit cards, cigarette packets and other household junk. It always gives me a laugh to think about the facial expression if someone finds it in years to come.

Plek setup is the ultimate way to get your guitar fret dressed. Look it up and see if there's a machine near you.

I was watching some bass setup videos the other day and kept the links. It's the same stuff for guitar, only difference is you get some extra slap bass music in the background of the video.








@silent_k; That's a really great article you posted! Best fret dress information I've ever seen. Many thanks.

... Really interesting site actually! Here is an article that might be just what the OP needs. Turns out he's Meshugga's guitar tech... Sometimes I'm a little slow to catch on.

http://avhguitarrepair.com/?page_id=116
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Unread 03-12-2012, 12:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan-ZenGtr- View Post
If you run out of adjustment "bandwidth" on your bridge; take off the neck and add a shim to raise the height of the neck. This will make the neck higher in relation to the body and give you more range for adjustment on the bridge. You can use any material for the shim, to give the job some credibility use a tone wood.
This was my first thought, too, but unless I'm mistaken, the DC800 is a neck-through design, so shimming won't be possible. This, among other things, is why I'm inclined towards using bolt-on configurations for my guitars. But I can't imagine Carvin would design a guitar that couldn't have both a straight neck and low action.

Glad the article was useful! I hope the OP thinks so, too. I bookmarked it when Allen posted it a couple of months back and have reposted a few times when fret-related questions have come up. His repair articles are great -- tons of pictures and very useful info.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 10:18 PM   #11
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thanks everyone who has contributed! I will let you know what happens when I have time to apply this knowledge to my guitar!
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Unread 03-16-2012, 12:14 PM   #12
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So, I've decided that it would make the most sense to bring it to a qualified tech to look at the frets. I can do everything that I want as far as truss rod/saddles go, but if there are some wanky frets, then that'll be something that I can't do myself.
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