Acoustic guitar string height/action

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by OmegaSlayer, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    This is a pic taken from my Ovation.
    Sorry for it being really bad.

    [​IMG]

    I think the action of the strings is pretty high, more than half an inch.
    It makes playing the instrument rather difficult.
    It's equipped with 0.12-0.52 strings.
    Is it normal?
    Is there something I can do to fix it/lower it?
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    What's the relief of the neck look like?
    What's the nut height?
    Is the top bulging out around the bridge at all?
    What's the action at the 1st, 5th, and 12th frets?
    Any defects at the heel?
     
  3. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    The neck seems straight, or to have just a minimal upbow.
    The string at the nut is high around 3 mm, and 2 mm at 1st fret, 3,5 mm at 5th fret, 5mm at 12th fret.
    Top is totally flat.
    The heel seems to be ok.

    Dunno if it helps, but the tuning fretting the 12th fret is flat/lower but the harmonics are in tune
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Any way you can actually get some relief measurements for the neck? I highly doubt the neck is straight with action like that.

    Seems like the nut is rather high as well, but not bad. How high is the saddle on the bridge? Any full pics of the guitar?

    How's the neck angle?
     
  5. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Ok, I put a 60 cm ruler against the fretboard and there's a little upbow relief.
    It's too dark now to take good pics, I will take them tomorrow. :)
    Thanks Max
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Without knowing real numbers with the neck, I really can't do much more to help you. :shrug:

    Is there any buzzing or problem frets?

    If the neck isn't out of whack (which isn't known for sure) the first thing I'd do is look into either modifying or replacing the saddle to lower the action. Start by removing the saddle and shaving about .25mm to .5mm at a time from the bottom and reinserting it until the action is low enough without buzz.
     
  7. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Many thanks so far Max.
    Anyway you seem to agree that it's not a normal action.
     
  8. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Yeah, that looks like some crazy high action, even for an acoustic.

    Has it always been this way? Did you get the guitar recently? What tuning are you using?

    Also, seems silly asking now, but what model is that?
     
  9. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    The string height has always been quite crazy but as much as that since I recall.
    It has been maybe a year since I last played it, so my mind can trick me.
    I changed the strings and don't remember what gauge was on it, but maybe thinner, but not below a 0.10-0.46.

    I purchased the guitar a couple of years ago, it was a real good deal, it's an ugly DJA34 Ashba :lol: that a guy won from a Guitar magazine contest and never used it, but I was able to snatch it for € 250 instead of the MSRP of € 600+ at the time, so I didn't cared about how POS it looked, and it's way uglier than the pics in real life :lol:
     
  10. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Given all the info I have, I'm going to say the neck has likely got more up-bow than it should. So a simple truss rod adjustment is in order.
     
  11. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    I suppose I have to remove the round back plate to reach the truss rod screw.
    I'll keep you updated.
    Thanks again.
     
  12. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    A good guide to neck relief I think is to fret the 2nd and 12th frets at the same time. Then look for a small gap between the string and the 7th fret.
    If the gap is much more than only slightly visible, the truss needs adjusting. You want a tiny gap.
    After that's done, if the action is too high further up the board then you know it's the bridge saddle height.
     
  13. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    I put a capo on the 2nd fret and fretted the 12th.
    There's no gap at all.

    Unfortunately I hadn't got the time to work on the guitar setup today as I had been very busy :( just the time to do this quick test
     
  14. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    No gap at all? Damn, then your bridge must be really high! No gap means the neck is actually bending the wrong way too - creating too low action and fret buzz, under normal circumstances. Seeing that action so high would usually indicate the truss being the other extreme, creating too big a gap. Must all be on your bridge.
    Adjust the truss for that gap, let it set for a day and then sort out the bridge.
     
  15. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Honestly, do you think it's something I can do with average setup skills or do you recommend to go to a guitar tech?
     
  16. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    So...it was the truss rod.
    I just set it up correctly, more or less.
    Actually I didn't wanted to turn it more even if the action would have needed it because I already had to turn it a lot and the screw was becoming really hard to turn.
    Eventually I'll just wait a couple of days and try again.

    Said that, it was a nightmare.
    First of all the truss rod is in the most absurd place on a guitar.
    You must remove the "trapdoor" behind the body of the guitar and get into the dark ovation lair to find this screw and put your allen in it almost blindly.
    Said that, it's not an hexagonal allen, but it's a torx T30 that I had to borrow from my friend who is a car mechanic.
    Now the guitar is playable, but still not optimal.
    On a side note, I found a couple of youtube videos made by ovation talking about adjusting the truss rod and about the bridge heigth.
    The bridge should have 3 shims of different sizes under the pickup, but mine didn't had any, which I found very strange.
     

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