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View Full Version : Baritone Action -String height at the body?



Ben_H
08-14-2012, 11:31 AM
Still getting used to the size of my baritone compared to my soprano ukes. I find it more difficult to hold down the strings to fret chords. I'm guessing this is partly because the strings are thicker and hence stiffer than on a soprano, possibly with greater tension.

I wonder though whether the action is a bit high for me? What height do people have the strings at above the 15th fret for example? I have a big difference between the 1st fret and the 15th in terms of height.

Thanks

Ben

WhenDogsSing
08-14-2012, 01:08 PM
How high is it at the 15th fret?

1931jim
08-14-2012, 01:38 PM
Perhaps you need 3 mm plus or minus off the saddle. I had to do that on a ukulele last week. 3mm at the 12th fret is too much, I aim for 2.5mm at the 12th.

Ben_H
08-15-2012, 12:31 AM
How high is it at the 15th fret?

Now I've found the tape measure I have about 5mm of air between fret fifteen and the strings. Only about 1mm or so at fret one.

WhenDogsSing
08-15-2012, 01:34 AM
1931jim is correct. I'd lower the saddle.

AndrewKuker
08-15-2012, 02:33 AM
Now I've found the tape measure I have about 5mm of air between fret fifteen and the strings. Only about 1mm or so at fret one.
That's crazy high even for the first fret to be 1. Are you measuring from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string. Having a lower tuning and wider vibration sometimes baritones need to be a touch higher but that would be ridiculous. If it is the Pono, press down at the 2nd fret and the 15th fret. If there is more space than just enough to slip a piece of paper through then the truss rod should be tightened. Maybe try that first because it will do no harm, just at some point would cause a buzz because it would back bow. So stick in the wrench and turn toward the treble side a quarter turn, check, and turn more if needed. No brute force and nothing will go wrong. Hope that made sense.

Ben_H
09-04-2012, 05:30 AM
1931jim is correct. I'd lower the saddle.

Job done!

I've sanded down the saddle so that I now have about 3mm between the 12th fret and the string.

Plays a lot easier already but not sure if I'm getting a buzz. One thing that worries me and it may have been a newbie error but does it matter if the string touches the wood of the bridge between the string hole and the saddle? I now have this on three of the four strings.

Teek
09-04-2012, 08:43 AM
Yes, I'm guessing on your G which if linear tuning would be thickest and also have more vibration. A saddle if compensated will be a little higher on that side, if not then you need to exercise care when adjusting height. The saddle should always be sanded from the bottom, taking care to keep the same angle if it isn't flat on the bottom, and to not change any tilt, and to make sure it goes back in in the same direction. I always replace the saddle in the bridge several times as I get closer to target, so the uke can be tuned all the way up and checked for spacing and buzz. Looks like you'll need a thin shim under the saddle now, usually something hard like a slice of an old credit card. You aren't the first to take a saddle too far or slot a nut too deep, it's inconvenient but not tragic.. if it's the Pono you can ask Andrew if he can sell you or recommend a replacement, meantime you can even slip a long thin piece of a plastic bottle (cut to exact fit) in as a shim.

1931jim
09-04-2012, 09:57 AM
Job done!

I've sanded down the saddle so that I now have about 3mm between the 12th fret and the string.

Plays a lot easier already but not sure if I'm getting a buzz. One thing that worries me and it may have been a newbie error but does it matter if the string touches the wood of the bridge between the string hole and the saddle? I now have this on three of the four strings.

Isn't it fun being your own man. The strings that are touching the wood of the bridge, that little workaround is to gently file a little clearance for each string so it is not touchung the wood. If your action is perfect then you have succeeded. On some older guitars that I have worked on they have a metal tailpiece and the bridge and the saddle are floating. The way to tweak the action on those is a juggling act between the saddle height and the bridge height, on the floating bridge you gently remove the material from the bridge bottom. Also a little eye balling as to how the saddle is behaving. I took it for granted that you would already figure the material always comes off the bottom of nut, saddle and bridge if it is a floating one.

Ben_H
09-04-2012, 10:19 AM
Yes, I'm guessing on your G which if linear tuning would be thickest and also have more vibration. A saddle if compensated will be a little higher on that side, if not then you need to exercise care when adjusting height. The saddle should always be sanded from the bottom, taking care to keep the same angle if it isn't flat on the bottom, and to not change any tilt, and to make sure it goes back in in the same direction. I always replace the saddle in the bridge several times as I get closer to target, so the uke can be tuned all the way up and checked for spacing and buzz. Looks like you'll need a thin shim under the saddle now, usually something hard like a slice of an old credit card. You aren't the first to take a saddle too far or slot a nut too deep, it's inconvenient but not tragic.. if it's the Pono you can ask Andrew if he can sell you or recommend a replacement, meantime you can even slip a long thin piece of a plastic bottle (cut to exact fit) in as a shim.

Strung with high D though it came linear low D. Was bought in the UK and not set up, hence the need to sort the action myself. I did 3 lots of filing, however it was the B string that I was using to check the height of the action and not putting all strings back on in between. Still, you live and learn. Had I not taken that last thou of an inch off the action would still be high.

Ben_H
09-04-2012, 10:22 AM
Isn't it fun being your own man. The strings that are touching the wood of the bridge, that little workaround is to gently file a little clearance for each string so it is not touchung the wood. If your action is perfect then you have succeeded. On some older guitars that I have worked on they have a metal tailpiece and the bridge and the saddle are floating. The way to tweak the action on those is a juggling act between the saddle height and the bridge height, on the floating bridge you gently remove the material from the bridge bottom. Also a little eye balling as to how the saddle is behaving. I took it for granted that you would already figure the material always comes off the bottom of nut, saddle and bridge if it is a floating one.


Not floating but seemed obvious that it should come off the bottom of the saddle anyway just for the sake of the finish. Despite this minor inconvenience it has saved me 30 which the local guitar tech wanted to lower the action. The buzz doesn't seem too bad. If I leave it for now will it cause any damage to the saddle or just leave a mark in the wood? What would you use to file a bit of clearance if necessary? some sort of round "pencil shaped" file?

1931jim
09-04-2012, 10:40 AM
Ben_H,
The files here in Canada are called rat tail files. Most jobbers will have them stocked. If you are really wanting to spend money then Stew Mac will have all the tools you will ever need. Teek mentioned earlier about the credit card shims. Most credit cards go from .014" all the way to .032". I like to really fine tune the action on my instruments.
Credit cards are fine but if you are fussy like me then they can be easily seen under the saddle.
An ordinary beer can can be cut with the scissors (after you have sampled the contents of course HaHa!!) You will find it is .004" and you can make the strip 5" long, to give your fingers room for holding it before final fitting for length under the saddle. I am not a cheapskate, I just have been retired for 27 years. Feel free to ask, regarding the setup of things with strings.
Jim

Teek
09-04-2012, 03:59 PM
I honestly would either buy a replacement saddle or just shim it and use it as is before I would file a slot on a wood bridge, even if you think you will never sell it; if one day you want to move it on I guarantee a buyer will say "What's that mark there on the bridge?" ;)

Edit: Just my personal preference unless it's a cheap bari.

Ben_H
09-04-2012, 08:12 PM
I honestly would either buy a replacement saddle or just shim it and use it as is before I would file a slot on a wood bridge, even if you think you will never sell it; if one day you want to move it on I guarantee a buyer will say "What's that mark there on the bridge?" ;)

Edit: Just my personal preference unless it's a cheap bari.

Having looked again this morning it has settled a bit and now all four strings are touching. It's a Pono and whatever anyone else thinks I'm not sure I could bring myself to mark it with a file.

However, if I shim the saddle it's going to raise the action again. I suppose I could then try the adjustable truss rod to see if that reduces it back down enough.

Back to a previous question though: If it is not buzzing, which seems to have stopped this morning, is it going to affect the instrument longer term if I leave the strings touching the bridge?

BTW 1931Jim, now you mention it, Ratstail file sounds familiar so guess that's what we call them too.

thanks all

AndrewKuker
09-04-2012, 08:36 PM
Ben,
1) If you peer from the nut down the neck, is it straight or curved?
2) Is it buzzing and if so what frets are buzzing?
3)what is your mm measurement from the top of the 12 fret to the bottom of the string?
4) don't file your bridge
5) call me if you want (808)781-9168 (normal hours) or email direct listed below

Ben_H
09-05-2012, 09:01 AM
Hi Andrew,


Ben,
1) If you peer from the nut down the neck, is it straight or curved?
2) Is it buzzing and if so what frets are buzzing?
3)what is your mm measurement from the top of the 12 fret to the bottom of the string?
4) don't file your bridge
5) call me if you want (808)781-9168 (normal hours) or email direct listed below

1. - looks pretty straight to me.

2. I can pick a note at every string and fret without a buzz as long as I hold the note properly. Can't try heavy strumming at the moment as just put the kids to bed. Unfortunately I'm not able to make my uke group meeting tonight to give it some wellie so it will have to wait till tomorrow for a full test.

3.Approx 3mm. I don't have an accurate way of measuring this, I'm trying to do it with a tape measure alongside the neck.

4. I won't :)

5. Thanks for the offer. I may drop you an email if things deteriorate.

Cheers

Ben

Ben_H
09-07-2012, 06:05 AM
I've put in a shim and all the strings are now clear of the bridge. :)

Action's a bit higher again and it's not as easy to play but it won't kill me. The truss rod seemed to adjust it in the wrong direction so I've left that as it is for now.

Thanks again for all the advice.

ben