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View Full Version : High action on a vintage Martin Style 0...how to correct it?



sbpark
05-26-2013, 02:59 PM
I recently acquired this Martin Style 0 soprano. It sounds fantastic, but the action is very high compared to my old Favilla soprano that feels amazing to play and has really low action. Here are some pictures comparing the action of the two ukes. I'd hate to try and remove the saddle from the bridge to lower the action in fear of cracking/damaging the bridge and/or top of the uke. Just wondering if this is the norm for these old Martins, or is mine way off? Thanks to everyone in advance for your feedback and input!

Here's the Martin:

Martin 1st fret:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3213_zps96f198e9.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3213_zps96f198e9.jpg.html)

Martin 12th fret:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3214_zps0082d94c.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3214_zps0082d94c.jpg.html)

Martin bridge:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3215_zps24d4ac92.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3215_zps24d4ac92.jpg.html)

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3217_zps49b5602e.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3217_zps49b5602e.jpg.html)

sbpark
05-26-2013, 03:00 PM
And for a comparison, here's the action on the Favilla:

Favilla 1st fret:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3222_zps297e9f3d.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3222_zps297e9f3d.jpg.html)

Favilla 12th Fret:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3220_zps516099e1.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3220_zps516099e1.jpg.html)

Favilla bridge:
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_3223_zpsfd79dd4f.jpg (http://s258.photobucket.com/user/sbparker01/media/IMG_3223_zpsfd79dd4f.jpg.html)

David Newton
05-26-2013, 03:38 PM
Correct me if I'm not seeing your measure straight-on, but you have 1/32" clearance at the 1st fret, and 1/8" at the 12th?
Nice clear macro pictures by the way.
You can lower the strings at the 1st fret by filing the nut slots, but I don't think there is enough saddle left to gain very much at the 12th. You would have to take 1/8" off the saddle to realize 1/16" clearance at the 12th fret.
If you wanted a much lower string height on the Martin, consider selling it and find one more suited to you, rather than having an expensive neck reset done.

sbpark
05-26-2013, 03:45 PM
Correct me if I'm not seeing your measure straight-on, but you have 1/32" clearance at the 1st fret, and 1/8" at the 12th?
Nice clear macro pictures by the way.
You can lower the strings at the 1st fret by filing the nut slots, but I don't think there is enough saddle left to gain very much at the 12th. You would have to take 1/8" off the saddle to realize 1/16" clearance at the 12th fret.
If you wanted a much lower string height on the Martin, consider selling it and find one more suited to you, rather than having an expensive neck reset done.

I should have clarified that the measurements are in 64th's, so your conversions are fairly close. I may just sell it since I do prefer the way the Favilla plays, but like the sound of the Martin though...decision, decisions.

I guess my question is this: is the action on the Martin within what is considered 'normal' and does the Favilla have really low action, or is the Martin way out of spec and the Favilla is considered 'normal'?

EDIT: after doing some searches it looks like the Martin is within the higher end of what people consider acceptable at the 12th fret and within accepted spec for the nut.

David Newton
05-26-2013, 06:23 PM
Thanks for the clarification sb.
Realize that you can lower it a bit on both ends, and maybe that will be the ticket.
Go slow at the nut for sure, it will be easy to go too deep, and then you are in trouble.
Take the saddle down half, but no more, of what is showing above the bridge.
To do the saddle, make a sandpaper popsicle stick tool, and mask off the surrounding wood so you don't scratch it. Ease the edges of the saddle like it is now.
Then again, leaving it original for someone who likes it like that, may be the best decision.

OldePhart
05-26-2013, 06:35 PM
If it pulls sharp when lightly fretted at the first fret then the action is too high at the nut. Period. End of story. It's nice if you can get the action lower than that, but not essential.

The bridge end is a lot more forgiving. This looks considerably higher than I would prefer, but it's not unplayable and some very expensive ukes ship with actions almost that high.

John