Think, could I go up a string gauge? Slip the end of this precisely machined bit of wire between the string and the fret whilst fretting at the 1st and 13th frets. When you are happy that the neck relief is set properly, measure the action (the distance between the crown of the fret and the bottom of the string), at the 12th fret, without fretting the string. If you play very clean-sounding guitar, with the emphasis on rhythm work, you may consider that sacrificing some playability in order to achieve a loud, buzz-free tone is a worthwhile compromise - so you might be willing to consider a higher than average action. You will be able to see the screw holes where the pickup rests on the parallel bracing, either side of the pickup cavity - to raise the pickup, all you need to do is pack something (i.e. You can’t easily return it for servicing, and if you don’t have a good luthier or set-up guy in your neighbourhood, who do you turn to? SOLUTION: Check neck relief and action. Pickups adjustments are incredibly personal, and depend largely on what sort of music you play. Just remember, there is always a compromise necessary with these pickups, you just have to find the best compromise for your playing style. 3. For electric guitars, in our opinion, a good default string height at the 12th fret is typically about 6/64th of an inch (2.38mm) on the bass side and 4/64th of an inch (1.59mm) on the treble side. In Part 1 of the Guitar Setup Series, we adjusted the truss rod to set the neck relief. Lowering the pole pieces will ‘mellow’ the tone of the pickup, and reduce magnetic interference with the strings which can create ‘wolf-tones’, ‘stratitis’, or other strange overtones. As a rule, the higher the action, the greater the clarity, sustain and dynamic range. It makes sense to want to know after all it has the potential to have an impact on the output of your new guitar and since you have built this guitar yourself you don’t have the benefit of having this taken care of for you. Neck relief, or a forward ‘bow’ in the neck, simply allows the strings to vibrate freely without too much interference from the frets, which may cause buzzing. I want to get it back to a playable state. a ‘flutter’ of about a semitone up and down. So, with most pickup types there are potentially two different adjustments you can make: So, for the moment, let us just imagine a ‘pickup for all seasons’ – a pickup that magically combines the properties of all the main pickup types – and look very generally at some of the principles of adjustment: PROBLEM: weak-sounding pickups, with poor bass response. don’t force it. In keyboard instruments, the action is the mechanism that translates the motion of the keys into the creation of sound (by plucking or striking the strings). Imagine a clock-face and adjust it 1 hour at a time. Very informative article. Tightening the truss rod bends the neck backwards, lowering the action—and loosening the rod lets the neck bow forward, raising the action. BUT, like it probably says on your medication: ‘If symptoms persist, consult a Doctor’. - and indeed they stay in tune much better with heavier strings. Lowering the pickup is more tricky, and involves carving into the bracing - so unless you have some experience in this area, it’s probably best left to a professional. But it will at least give you a rough idea of whether you have too much, or not enough neck relief. How high should my steel stringed acoustic's action be? How you want them to sound will depend on what amp you use, what effects you use, and what style of music you play. Action determines how much pressure and distance is required for the string to make full contact with each fret. From the top of the pickup cover to the bottom of the low E, 3/16”, and 7/32” on the high E side…. I messed around with my guitar and moved the saddles of my individual strings up and down in different amounts. Lowering the action could help remedy dgaldeusâs issue, and that can be accomplished by adjusting the saddles and the bridge until the preferred action (low, medium, high) is reached. On other instruments, changing the action is more difficult, involving the removal of entire pieces from the instrument. Tune-o-matics have a screw for each saddle, usually in the front of the bridge (some versions have them in the back…), which moves the saddle as you turn it - Melitas have a small grub screw for each saddle, which you loosen to move the saddle, then re-tighten when the intonation is set. It may be an issue to take up with the shop you bought it from. If you don’t understand what I’m trying to explain, check it out! For example, Jeff Beck prefers low action (3/64ths) whereas Stevie Ray Vaughn prefers a higher action (7/64ths) to accommodate his more aggressive technique. For full description and diagrams, see Harpsichord. How much neck relief should there be? Couldn’t be simpler… on all guitars, the action is adjusted at the BRIDGE. Finding spacers for these pickups is sometimes difficult, but not impossible. First of all you need to plan what you are going to do - it is no good charging at the guitar with a screwdriver waving in your wildly flailing hand, randomly tweaking stuff. Dynasonic spacer sets are a bit more specialised, but Blackrider Guitars (one of the board sponsors) usually stocks them. Action or string height plays an important role in the playability and comfort of the guitar. If they are genuinely broken, it is usually obvious. Setting up a guitar really well takes a lot of experience, so it is not necessarily something you will be able to get right first time. Again thank you for giving us the proper guiding with that article.  Adjustment to the action should be done using all the aforementioned truss adjustments, in addition to modifying or adjusting any elements on the bridge of the guitar. You may need to accept a compromise if, for example, you switch between very clean and very distorted sounds - it is difficult to set up a pickup for both equally: for very distorted sounds raising the pickup for maximum output may be desirable; for sweet clean sounds, lowering the pickup for a smoother, more natural tone may be preferable. Lowering the whole body of the pickup will lower the output and ‘clean up’ the dynamic response. If the truss-rod seems too tight, or too loose, take it to a luthier for advice and counseling. Raising or lowering the pole pieces. Some have. Intonation is adjusted at the bridge — more specifically, the bridge saddles (on those bridges that have ‘em) — but may also be affected by: string height, because the further you have to push the strings to fret them, the more you will bend them sharp; neck relief, for much the same reasons; pickup height, because if the magnets are set too close to the strings they may pull them sharp; the freshness of the strings, because strings gradually lose accurate intonation over the course of their life; and your playing technique, because if you hit the strings particularly hard, you may be pulling them sharp. Piano actions, even in the original version invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori, tend to be quite complex and have been subject of ingenious inventions and refinements throughout their history. Does it play in tune all the way up the neck? The consensus is that raising just one set of pole pieces per pickup and leaving the other set low will give you a much clearer tone, you just have to decide which half to raise. Turn it Counter-Clockwise to loosen - which has the effect of adding more forward bow (more relief) by allowing the string tension to pull the neck forward more. More definition and treble response? What a class act! Still, having the strings further away from the fretboard means they must travel farther to the fret, making the player bend the string more, which can lead to intonation issues. Hopefully you are now fully prepared to proceed: PROBLEM: Fret buzz Too high? Adjusting the Pickups The action on a guitar refers to how high the strings sit above the frets on the fretboard. Electric guitars can achieve lower action than acoustic guitars. If you play very distorted guitar, with the emphasis on shredding solo work, you may feel that a small amount of fret buzz is an acceptable compromise in order to achieve maximum playability - and go for a lower than average action. The truss-rod on these guitars only affects the neck between the nut and the body joint, not the fingerboard extension. This varies enormously with pickup type - so for the sake of economy, I have grouped them according to adjustment methodology, rather than by manufacturer or any other categorisation. Understanding the physics of intonation requires a good knowledge of Pythagoras’s theories on the harmonic series, compromises involved in the tempered scale, and how harmonics originate from the mathematical ability through fourier decomposition of any periodic signal into sine waves with frequencies integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. The information in this article is provided free of charge, in good faith, and on the condition that it will only be used responsibly and entirely at your own risk. Action on a guitar is usually measured at the 12th fret. "The lower the action, you may have to adjust your pickups because your strings will be closer to the polepieces.
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