This thread could fall into the Lutherie and Repairs section - I'll leave that to the good judgement of sumgai.
I thought I would put this out there to see if I could spur a little bit of discussion on tweaks people have done on their acoustic guitars.
A little over a year ago I bought a 1977 Yamaha FG-160 (acoustic) - it's a great guitar.
I tend to fingerpick most of the time and, for some reason, that got me thinking about what the ideal action of the guitar could be ... ideal for me, anyway.
The action was okay as it was - (quite) low near the headstock, becoming a little on the high side as you make your way up the fingerboard.
I thought to myself, "what if ... ?" and, honestly, I'm just not smart enough to know my own limitations. Heck, if I paid attention to those I wouldn't do anything!
There was one major constraint in adjusting the action: the truss rod is not doing much these days. It's not broken, but I had a luthier see if he could get any adjustment one way or another out of it, and he told me he did not feel comfortable tightening any more than it already is.
So, I decided to sand the saddle down (quite a bit) to lower the action. However, I found that the tone and sustain suffered a little bit because the strings were no longer bearing down on the saddle as much.
To fix that, I used a Dremel tool to carve grooves into the bridge, through which the strings could pass unimpeded - and therefore increase the angle and tension at which the strings bear down on the saddle.
While it was not terribly difficult to do, it obviously and permanently alters the appearance of the bridge. Nevertheless, it worked out very well (looks half decent, and sounds great).
The action is not perfect, but it is as good and low as I can get it - considering the truss rod. The downside is, of course, the guitar buzzes occasionally when I am strumming aggressively. Otherwise it is kinda like butta' brother.
Does anyone else have any tricks or tales to share on adjusting action - or whatever else you've done? ... I am just trying to open up a bit of discussion on acoustics, as there were only two threads here so far.
I've had really good luck with both my acoustics; Yamaha and Maderia(Guild). The action was wonderful from day one on both of them. The Maderia is over 30 years old and did require one truss rod tweak about 12 years ago (Happened when we moved). Both still have the original nut and bridge. I've popped in a couple saddles in for other peoples acoustics (I came across a neat acoustic compensated replacement at a local music shop, only problem was....it was plastic). I sanded down the bottom of the saddle for ballpark height (an advantage of putting in a new one) and used a Jewelers file to cut the slots to depth. Two I replaced were just pressed in, the other was glued, that was a little messy, but I was able to cut the old one out with an exacto knife. As far as how it looks....if it looks better than Willie Nelson's acoustic, you've done a decent job .
I've had really good luck with both my acoustics; Yamaha and Maderia(Guild).
As far as how it looks....if it looks better than Willie Nelson's acoustic, you've done a decent job .
I think you can't go too far wrong with Yamaha for the money. I paid about $200 for mine, and I have yet to come out of a guitar shop feeling that I just had to have that guitar I just played instead of the Yamaha.
Still, I wouldn't mind in the least if a Maderia or another higher end guitar wound up in my collection.
You had also mentioned nuts in your post - although I forgot to include it in the quote. I had made my own "wider" version of a nut. I bought a blank and cut the grooves so that the spacing between each string was a little more than it had been.
The idea was to gain a bit of wiggle room so that my lazy habits and fat fingers would not accidentally mute strings (note: I am not overweight - but each of my fingers apparently weighs 5000 kg.).
Keep in mind that I only gained an extra 4 mm.
The result? Not much of an improvement in spacing, and each of the E strings were prone to falling off the edge of the fret with the slightest bend.
The solution? I had to stop my lazy habits ... which is tough. Still working on that.
I don't know what makes acoustic guitars so hard to bend strings on...but it keeps me away from playing them more.
Anybody else experience this phenomenon?
I started on acoustics, I bought the Yamaha steel string, then a Yamaha classical (nylon strings) to try out, and then got the bug for an electric.
The steel string acoustic is, in my honest opinion, far more difficult to play than the electric. I was surprised to discover that I could bend strings like I couldn't believe on the electric - loads of fun. Same thing with vibrato. I also find barre chords much easier on the electric.
ux4884 once said: "If I can nail it on the acoustic, I can wail with it on the electric."
Even though I mostly play guitar now, I try to work out my lazy habits by playing bass at least once or twice a week, it really makes you concentrate on playing guitar when you switch back (and improves finger strength).
My only bit of non-electronic luthery was recently when I fixed up an old dreadnought for a friend.
It had been languishing for about 20 years, with five of the duffest strings I have ever thunked (the sixth was not represented). There was all kinds of cr@p inside (including rubber bands, dust bunnies and pieces of sandwich). However, body was fine, the neck was straight and frets good, so it had potential.
The most technical problem was sitar buzz on one string, even in the open position. It was still there with new strings. It turned out that the strings has eaten too much of a groove into the plastic bridge, and did not get enough down force to avoid the buzz. I built up the bridge locally with a drop of gel super-glue, and it fixed it fine.
It sounds good now. I polished it up and gave it back. Ill rescue it again in another 20 years.
I dont know how old most of you guys are ,but Martin said that there necks have to be reset every 8-10 years how hard you play ect Sanding down your bridge IS A NONO.Drill 2 small holes at the 14th fret and www.sew-mac.com has needles that shoot hot steam into it.Loosen up the hide glue If you only paid $2-$300.00 for the guitar,But it sounds good spend the money Pro fix $300..Hell a new cheap guiar now is $450.00 and not made as good
I use to live in a humid environment and had no problems with action or buzzing. However, now living in a dry environment the acoustics must be humidified. Also, with extreme seasonal changes (hot and cold), I must adjust the truss rod about 2x a year on my electrics and acoustics. After a few years of doing this I discovered an easier method.
Add or remove shims under the nut and saddle.
For the electrics I add shims under the nut at the beginning of winter and adjust the truss rod and saddles accordingly, and at the beginning of summer I remove them.
For acoustics I just add or remove the shims under the nut and the saddle. No truss rod adjustment needed.
The shims I make are from regular paper cut to fit under the saddle or nut.
It is a hassle, but once you get the hang of it it's not that bad.
Oh, one more thing, The super dry weather (-35% humidity) makes the tops (soundboard) of the acoustic flat or concave which lowers the action of the saddles dramatically.