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Question about setup
Author
Post
bille

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 2
I recently build a Martin Kit using Bill Cory's guidebook. Mostly things came out pretty well. However, there is a sort of dull sound on the high e string when plucked with a pick. Not a buzz really, a sort of muted sound. I have tried setting the action high, but still get it. Can anyone help with a suggestion. I have about .024 clearance at the first fret. If I capo the guitar, the dull sound clears up

Jan 13, 10 | 4:18 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I do my nut clearance at the 1st fret to .014. The thud you are hearing is coming from the nut as it clears once you fret it . I think you have 1 of 2 things happening . Either you nut slot is too wide or your angle is off. You want that slot to lean back so the string is contacted clean at the front of the nut at the fretboard.
If you get this wrong you can get an odd buzz , also is your intonation ok or off a bit at the 1st fret?

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Jan 13, 10 | 5:16 pm
bille

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 2
The intonation is actually OK. I'll try your suggestion about the nut. I got the string spacing a little off on this one, so I'll probably just make another one and give it a whirl. Thanks so much for your help.

Jan 14, 10 | 1:14 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Bille -- I wouldn't chime in here, except you mentioned my book. Glad it worked for you.

If you want to experiment with nut slotting before you make a new nut, you can use baking soda and CA glue to build that high E slot back up and re-slot it. Just pack some baking soda (soda, not powder) into the nut slot and drip a tiny amount of thin CA onto it. It will harden instantly and can be filed just like the original bone. It's a quick fix used all the time.

Those odd sounds usuall come from the nut slot, as John said, being either too wide so the string vibrates against the sides, or not ramped correctly so the string vibrates against the base of the slot. . I've gotten those sounds from Taylor guitars fresh from the factory as well as my own. A super small error can make them happen. And, if the string's final contact isn't at the exact front edge of the nut, then you've effectively lengthened the string, which will affect intonation

Also, string height above the first fret on my guitars is between .006" and.009"; it makes intonation more accurate in the first three frets.

And -- Welcome to the forum!

Bill Cory

Jan 14, 10 | 4:18 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Bill, .006-.009 seems really low. Is that similar to the zero fret method Ken Cierp recommends or is it even lower? Do you set your action at 3/32nds at the 12th fret for the low E as well, or do you use another measurement?
I feel like I can go lower than 3/32nds on the low E and not get any buzz as long as I dont beat on the guitar too hard.

Jan 14, 10 | 4:59 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Tony
As a matter of fact if everything falls in place the ZZ fret system leaves you with the 1st E at .007 above the first fret. Each guitar will vary a bit so the mesurement are not necessarily dead on.

Its possible based on playing style to get the action very, very low -- but that is personal. To that end I really like the CA and baking soda slot repair method for over filing --- works great and I have yet to have failure even over many years the stuff stays hard and in place.

Although I preach "do it right right from the start" string height at the nut can be a very personal "feel" thing. As a rule what I suggest is that you capo at the first fret --- with proper nut slots the action should "feel" about the same with or without the capo.

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Jan 14, 10 | 5:53 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
I normally follow the action setup of Mike Doolin; I've found that i get best results with his procedures. His recommendation is to measre the first fret's height above the fretboard, matching it with a stack of auto feeler gauges or similar metal gauges, then add a .006" gauge, put it next to the face of the nut, and file the nut until you are beginning to brush the feeler gauge. I add a little bit on the bass strings.

When I get too wild on the playing side, the strings bang the frets occasionally, an effect I actually like if not overdone. It adds some percussion to the sound. Normally, though, I play with a light touch and the low action is just right for me. Like Ken said and everyone agrees -- action is a personal thing that has to match your playing style.

Bill

Jan 14, 10 | 6:10 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Ken,
Thanks for clearing that up for me. I did not know the measurments. I do know it feels good though! I am a strummer, but I never beat on my guitars. Well...not usually. ;-)
I can probably get away with filing my nut a bit more. I left it a touch high. I ah very happy with the action I have now and as Ken knows, I used the Stew Mac bridge bolts to string it up since I can not apply the finish until April/May. I just could not wait that long to hear my guitar.
Anyway, I know why this hobby is so addicting. Kit number 2 has already been ordered from KMG!
Thanks again Ken and Bill for your info on action.

Jan 14, 10 | 8:49 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Bill,
I like that method to set up the nut slot depths. I did not use it, but I will next time. I had a little difficulty using the "stylus" as a marker when I did the last two, I couldn't seem to get a good mark. I'm sure I was doing something wrong, plus, one of the nuts was black water buffalo horn.
Nut blanks are cheap, so I may redo the one on my guitar, I think I got it a little to low as I do strum pretty hard sometimes. I also may have gotten the action a little to low at at the 12th fret.....at the saddle, but it sure is a nice action for fingerstyle, which I am just really starting to learn to play.

Kevin

Jan 14, 10 | 9:25 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Thanks Kevin -- Yeah, it works for me. I need to make clear something I said ... I said "I add a little bit for the bass strings." What I meant was, I make the bass strings (E & A) one or two thousandths higher off the fretboard because of their larger vibration arc.

Bill

Jan 14, 10 | 9:45 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Lots of ways to do setups - I like to draw the "zero fret" pencil line on the nut and work my way down towards that. A few years ago I had the great Martin repair tech Bryan Kimsey do neck resets on both my Martins - they returned with the best setups I have ever experienced and I've tried to emulate the way he does his work. Here are his basic setup theory

http://www.bryankimsey.com/setup/index.htm

and I highly recommend his little discussion on neck relief

http://www.bryankimsey.com/setup/neck_relief_1.htm

Jan 15, 10 | 6:14 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ditto on Bryan Kimsey's info. Excellent for all pro and novice builders.

Jan 15, 10 | 8:13 am
bille

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 2
First of all, thanks for the many to my post. John Hall suggestion on the Nut was dead on correct, the slot was not leaning enough. Simply filing the back of the nut slot deeper resolved the troubles. As to the action, I actually have that set higher than I normally like right now, about .024" above the first fret on the 1st string and a bit higher on the others. It's playable, but a bit painful. However, in his DVD on Guitar kit making, Dan Erlewine suggests starting a bit high, then filing the nut slot lower as the neck breaks in. This makes sense to me, but I wonder if it is really necessary? I'd love to go lower right away.

I'm so please to have recieved this help. The guitar really sounds good now, maybe it's my imagination but it seems to be improving with time. I have a few things to finish up, like lowering the action, but soon I'll be on my 2nd kit which my wife bought me for Christmas.

One other question, Martin ships light guage strings with their kits, but on my Production made guitars, I have always preferred the sound I get with medium strings. Is it necessary to use light guage until the neck breaks in, or can I switch to medium guage right away? While medium is harder to bend, I feel the sound is fuller.

Jan 19, 10 | 2:48 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Glad it worked out. One of the facinating things to me is first hand watching the new guitar change and open up. Being the anal engineer that I am, I recorded my first one the day it was strung up, then a month later, six months and a year. It is now (oh my gawd!) four years old and it has become my "go to" guitar - my martins and taylor sit in the closet.

I've also learned to do my initial setups a little high, gradually bringing it down over a period of time. Martin intentionally ships theirs high - it is much easier to come down than to go up. Thing may "settle in" a bit after it is built - it will stabilize to the new humidity, string tension and the finish will continue to gas off for quite a long time. What I would suggest is each time you restring it, measure the setup at that time and give a tweak if needed.

I don't recall what you built, but for [i]most/i] folks, mediums are about right on a dread or jumbo, and many like lights on smaller bodied guitars. Lots depends on how you play (flat pick, strum, finger pick) - for example I play fingerstyle with lights even on my dreads. One guage difference is about 10 percent more or less tension - normally that won't change the setup unless it is really critical and easily fits the nut slots. Put the mediums on it, check the relief and action and play away!

Now, lets see it

Jan 20, 10 | 5:51 am



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