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Thread: How much can we lower the action on the first fret?

  1. #1
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    Default How much can we lower the action on the first fret?

    We can answer this question by ourselves with a ukulele and a capo. And if we don't have capo, we use our fingers instead.

    The left figure shows zero fret. There used be many guitars which have zero frets but now I think only Mosrite and some others have it. We can experience zero fret by our capo (see the figure centre). Now the 2nd fret on the centre figure is the zero fret on the left figure. And now we can see that zero fret produces the lowest nut hight. Actually zero fret guitars offer low actions. Put on your capo on 2nd fret same as the figure centre if you have. If you don't have a capo just push the 2nd fret with your left index finger. Then you push 5th fret with your right index finger. Then you can simulate right figure. Now you can see the clearance of the 3rd fret on your ukulele. It may be very small. This clearance is same on the 1st fret (see the arrow in the figure right). Some books or web sites say it is business card easy slide and some say two sheets of copy paper and others say very very small clearance. What we see on the 3rd fret on our ukulele is this clearance.



    We used to measure 1st fret clearance but now we only use the method on the right figure. We can check and understand this clearance by ourselves in this manner.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by zztush View Post
    We can answer this question by ourselves with a ukulele and a capo. And if we don't have capo, we use our fingers instead.

    The left figure shows zero fret. There used be many guitars which have zero frets but now I think only Mosrite and some others have it. We can experience zero fret by our capo (see the figure centre). Now the 2nd fret on the centre figure is the zero fret on the left figure. And now we can see that zero fret produces the lowest nut hight. Actually zero fret guitars offer low actions. Put on your capo on 2nd fret same as the figure centre if you have. If you don't have a capo just push the 2nd fret with your left index finger. Then you push 5th fret with your right index finger. Then you can simulate right figure. Now you can see the clearance of the 3rd fret on your ukulele. It may be very small. This clearance is same on the 1st fret (see the arrow in the figure right). Some books or web sites say it is business card easy slide and some say two sheets of copy paper and others say very very small clearance. What we see on the 3rd fret on our ukulele is this clearance.



    We used to measure 1st fret clearance but now we only use the method on the right figure. We can check and understand this clearance by ourselves in this manner.

    Well, that is not the proper way to get a reference and what you suggest propably is way too low.
    First all in that depends on the assumption that the 1st and second frets are properly placed in height. Also your capo on 2nd fret is based on the same assumption for the 3rd and 4th fret.
    When 3rd fret is pressed down there should be gap between 1st fret and string, that I agree with you and your rightmost picture is a good one.

    Slightly better reference is got by putting the capo on 1st fret and see what gap is left by pressing the finger in 12th fret. See what gap is on 2nd fret. I hope there is some and should be, but might not. Because of the 1st and second fret height placements/neck condition. So this is not good either as a reference.

    My idea is that the proper height is such that the gap to 1st string should be larger than the gap left to bring press down to second fret when the 1st fret is already pressed. Or gap in nearby successive frets.
    Much larger is my ideal, not of course then the minimum you seek. Nut wear has to be taken account at least when going to absolute minimum. That is more of concern with steel strings.

    So better to have some measurement tool for the first fret height. It is assumed that the saddle is not too high too. The credit/bank card is propably too thick, but it can be anyways used to measure if the nut action is too high for anyone checking an ukulele at store. Notice that this absolute measurement relies on first adjusting the saddle to optimum height if you really want to go down to really low action on nut.

    Thank you for the great pictures and an opportunity to give a critical response
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 12-22-2017 at 01:35 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    Well, that is not the proper way and what you suggest is way too low.
    Hi, Jarmo_S! Why zero fret is too low but capo is not?
    Kamaka HF-1 100

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    I was blundering and your post is right, so I'm sorry. I keep them above cause people like read ramblings. Merry Christmas too

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    Hi, Jamo! Thank you for your reply and happy Christmas! I add two more diagrams in order to explain for you.

    Once we can get the image of zero fret (nut), we can understand how much we need to shave saddle (see the first figure). String is located from zero fret (nut) to saddle. A half point is 12th fret. Normally we call action this 12th fret hight. And lately we don't use 1st fret hight. Because we use another method which I've previously shown in this thread. And we use business card, 2 sheets of paper, almost zero and so on. The first diagram shows that we need to shave two times of 12th fret. When we want to lower 0.5 mm, we need to shave 1mm on saddle bottom. Ok, then we move to second diagram.



    I show here two lines. Red one is Brenda line, blue one is Dave line. Clearance of the 1st fret is not direct clearance but the clearance made by the way of the 3rd figure in this thread. Brenda line has business card clearance on the 1st fret, and 2.8 mm action on the 12th fret. It leads to low action in high frets. I would like to set up this one for her classy solo. This one has bit high action on low frets but she is solo player. Dave line has only a bit of clearance on the first fret but it has high action (2.8 mm) on the 12th fret. This set gives him great playability for Cowboy chord (low chord) strumming, because very low action in low frets. It is bit hard to play on high frets. But we love his singing with low chords. I would like to set up this one for him.

    I usually set up in this manner and I usually take Dave line.
    Last edited by zztush; 12-23-2017 at 01:44 AM.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  6. #6
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    Pressing down on the 3rd fret, a good measure is a credit card on the first fret..
    Zero fret just means it takes the place of the nut height, therefore the nut becomes the guides lol
    The 12th fret should be between 2.7 and up depending on your playing style and comfort.
    Please may I ask, don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger... did you ask to use permission using others
    Forums members names. I'm just saying one or more contacted me and the person or persons was uncomfortable
    With it.. just saying it would be better forum etiquette to ask before using names in the future. Thank you, just passing it along for your knowledge ������
    Last edited by mm stan; 12-23-2017 at 04:53 PM.
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

  7. #7
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    Now I show how to shave the nut bottom.

    A: Remove nut by thumb. It is not difficult. We don't need hammer.
    B: We just need any cube or box which we can push our nuts in order to take vertical surface on sandpaper. And shave! I use Nintedo DS stand.
    C: I took the clearance of the 1st fret almost zero (this method is shown in the first post).
    D: The action (on the 12th fret) is 2mm. Australian 20c is in there.



    This time I made my friend's soprano for solo. Hence action is low and intonation is perfect. I teach him. I am strummer. But he likes solo. He likes Amazing grace and he is practicing Old Black Joe now.
    Last edited by zztush; 12-25-2017 at 12:52 AM.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  8. #8
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    Where do I find a Aussie 20C to do the job?
    Brenda

    Please participate in our Mike Lynch tribute thread :
    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...Tribute-Videos

  9. #9
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    Hi, Brenda! Good question. I use old German 10 Pfennig coin too.

    His solo of Amazing grace is amazing great and I always enjoy it. This set up is very low. There is almost zero clearance on the 1st fret (this method is shown in the first post) and 2mm action on the 12th fret. He likes this set up very much.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  10. #10
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    Personally, I prefer to set nut action with nut files, one string at a time, rather than taking material from the bottom of the nut. It gives more control and if you take off too much you've only screwed up one slot and can build it back up if you have to.
    And whether the blood be highland, lowland or no,
    And whether the skin be black or white as the snow,
    Of kith and of kin we are one, be it right, be it wrong,
    As long as our hearts beat true to the lilt of a song.

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