String height


#1

Could someone please tell me what the string height at the 12th fret of their guitar is. I play mandolin so I have no idea what a guitar string height should be at. My wife is picking up the guitar but is having a hard time picking and I felt like the strings were so high. Was wondering what you all had yours set up as.Thanks for the help.


#2

Yep, a mando ends up quite a bit lower at mid point because the scale length and string tension are quite different. I have had guitars that range from 5/64" to 7/64" measured to the bottom of the low E string at the 12th fret. 5/64s is pretty low for a heavy picker. I would say 6/64 (or 3/32) is what I would suggest for someone if I knew nothing about them. 7/64 is starting to feel a bit high on some guitars, and sometimes intonation starts getting problematic. It kind of varies with the guitar and the player’s style, but my original range (5/64 to 7/64) pretty well covers where I like them.


#3

I agree with Mike, about 3/32 on the top and 2/32 on the bottom E for me is about right, I try for as low as I can go without creating problems. Also you need to make sure you have a couple thousands relief in the neck so you don’t buzz. If I try to play with a high action I fatigue faster and get more hand problems as I play about 4 hrs. or more a day. When she feels any kind of pain or discomfort in her hands put it down for an hour and come back, easy to injure yourself and hard to come back from it. JMO, Jerry


#4

Back in the sixties I remember going to a cheap music store and looking at the guitars Dixon was one of them and the strings were so high you could have used a Dobro capo on them . I used to call them brutal machines . You would have to have a strong grip to play them .


#5

If a quarter fits under thelow E with room to spare, the strings are too high.


#6

That’s a good point about the quarter, I use one all the time to check, lay it on the 12th fret flat and there should be enough tension to hold it in place, that’s about right for me. I remember those old learner guitars Welder, used to sell them to new students probably discouraged a lot of kids from playing guitar, they usually gave up after a short time due to their hands hurting. Jerry


#7

It sent me directly to an electric and I sure have enjoyed playing those . but I am enamored with flat tops and have a good one actually two good ones . I have not played my good fender but twice since I have been playing the acoustic .


#8

I guess mine is to high , 113 one thousandths about two quarters high .57 would be about 7/64. Over double but I am not having the slightest bit of trouble playing it the neck is straight also no bow , I do notice a very slight buzz with the b string if fretted at the first fret , don’t fret the frets huh? I would prefer it to be at .57 instead and a slight concave bow, so I might attempt that my self I have a mill and can cut the bridge piece down very accurately . I am in no hurry to do that though any thoughts on that out there. What would you do.


#9

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Yep, a mando ends up quite a bit lower at mid point because the scale length and string tension are quite different. I have had guitars that range from 5/64" to 7/64" measured to the bottom of the low E string at the 12th fret. 5/64s is pretty low for a heavy picker. I would say 6/64 (or 3/32) is what I would suggest for someone if I knew nothing about them. 7/64 is starting to feel a bit high on some guitars, and sometimes intonation starts getting problematic. It kind of varies with the guitar and the player’s style, but my original range (5/64 to 7/64) pretty well covers where I like them.

— End quote

Dang wrong info , the 7/64 is about 110 thousandths or .110 so martin has it close at .113 , but a quarter will have all kinds of room there about double the width of a quarter . oops . I guess I could cut a tad off the bottom of the bridge rest and slightly bow the neck or like I did say I have no problem playing the guitar , except if I go up the neck it gets to where you have to push the strings to far ,


#10

Hey Welder,
I looked at a quarter… mine came out to 0.067". That’s a hair over 4/64 (or 2/32), which is quite a bit lower than how I set mine measuring the low E at the 12th fret (back to the original post, my mandolin is actually a bit lower than a quarter on the low G string 12th fret). The way I play, if everything on a guitar (frets, nut, saddle, relief) is dead perfect, the lowest I get (for my playing style) is approaching 5/64" (0.078"). There are a couple factors that go into the question of “what should I do with it.” One is how you play. Some people who play lightly like a very low action (like electric action). I have found I don’t like electric-like action due to the fact that my attack is too strong for that and I like the tone I can pull out of a slightly higher action. The other thing to consider is that the numbers we are talking about measuring are very small… one person might say their guitar measures 5/64" and someone else might say it’s 4/64" or 6/64". My point is, without measurements in a known way or knowing how you play, it’s hard to say “yep, it’s too high” or vice-versa.

As far as what you describe with your guitar here’s a few thoughts:
Light buzzing at the first fret - it could be a an issue with the fret, but most likely a tad more relief would eliminate it.
High action up the neck - Action is set with the nut, the saddle and the relief. I would set the action at the nut first… that is almost totally independent of the other 2 items. Most guitars I have seen come with the nut action set too high. If you don’t have nut files, a trip to a good local luthier may be the easiest way (and it’s less expensive than buying the nut files). Setting the relief is straight forward… I try to get my action set with as little relief as I can get away with. The last item is the saddle. I am guessing you have a drop-in saddle and if so, they are easy to modify (and you can keep your original untouched as a backup). Frets.com and other places on the web have great information on doing setup.
Nut action:
frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/Ge … ction.html
Saddle action:
frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/Gu … ion01.html


#11

Thank you for all the information I may contact Martin and ask them if they set it that way on all of their guitars and see if they also leave the neck almost flat . their is no relief in the neck it is flat . I tend to think I need a slight bow concave bow and that way if we are a bit to close on the saddle that should take care of the buzz . I know there is a measurement some use at the nut note book paper and press down on the second fret and it should just be snug at the first fret. That is under the string . I guess people find what works for them but I tend to let the set up go to an expert, to much money in the instrument to be playing around. The action may be a tad high I don’t really notice it that much and it is very playable. The sound is really good also and I would hate to detract from that . Usually if the nut is to blame for a buzz it is set to low . I fail to see where the c note would buzz if the nut were at fault maybe my physics is wrong but the string fretted at the first fret is past the nut ,open yes I could see the nut doing that . probably 3/32 would be a good space to start at the 12th fret . I am wrong most of the time they call it old age LOL . The upper frets there is a lot of travel to touch the fret but the intonation is correct and that makes me not want to lower the saddle . rock and a hard place .


#12

using the method shown in the first link I have .002 under all the strings I think that is about what a note book paper is so that is OK now if you do this, capo lightly at the first fret and then hold the string down on the last fret and measure at the 7th I have .010 which is in line with most have I heard on that measurement. I may get by by lowering the saddle and putting a slight bow in the neck. I will have an expert do that unless I opt to buy a bone one and do it and save the old one back as you suggested . I would never have thought of leaving the old one for a back up.The saddles are relatively cheap about 8 bucks for a bone one. May go all out and get real ivory as they can sell grandfathered ivory . Thanks for the links it is an invaluable knowledge base for dummies as my sef. LOL sef is spelled that way on porpoise :smiley: :smiley: :bulb:


#13

0.010 is a pretty good area for relief. The flattest I can generally get it with reasonably low action is about 0.005" That sounds like a big difference, but it’s not very much. It’s hard to see that with my eyes.

Btw, you mentioned getting old ivory. Odd as it may sound, I actually prefer bone. I had an ivory saddle on my D-18 and I replaced it with bone. That’s not to say that many others might prefer ivory… just for me, I’d spend the money elsewhere. Bone is a little snappier to my ear.


#14

I will take that advice and go with bone, it is so much cheaper and I have someone who has experienced ivory so bone it is. Thanks Mike I appreciate your input .