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High Action Intonation Problems

motis1953

Member
Messages
1,546
I play with what I've been told is extremely high action on all my guitars and a problem I've had for years is not having enough adjustment on the bridge to get the intonation correct on the low "E" and "G" strings. They need to go back about another 1/16 to 3/32 to be perfect. I've turned the saddles around on Tuneamatic bridges and pulled out the tensioning springs on strat bridges. The only guitar that has enough adjustment is the Telecaster bridge (and that has it's own drama due to the three saddle bridge even using compensated saddles). In the 70's I bought a replacement tuneamatic bridge with a longer throw that corrected the problem but is no longer available. In the 80's I actually doweled and redrilled my ESP Strat so it was right. Is there any thing I can do besides lowering my action or relocating the bridge to get this right? Perhaps cheating at the nut a bit like the Feiten system? I hate to dowel the guitars but would REALLY like to get the saddles to where I need them to be. Any suggestions? My action is set up so it is a hair over 1/8" at the the 12th fret. I bend UNDER the adjacent strings rather than into them and get an extremely clear, clean tone this way.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,722
I play with what I've been told is extremely high action on all my guitars and a problem I've had for years is not having enough adjustment on the bridge to get the intonation correct on the low "E" and "G" strings. They need to go back about another 1/16 to 3/32 to be perfect. I've turned the saddles around on Tuneamatic bridges and pulled out the tensioning springs on strat bridges. The only guitar that has enough adjustment is the Telecaster bridge (and that has it's own drama due to the three saddle bridge even using compensated saddles). In the 70's I bought a replacement tuneamatic bridge with a longer throw that corrected the problem but is no longer available. In the 80's I actually doweled and redrilled my ESP Strat so it was right. Is there any thing I can do besides lowering my action or relocating the bridge to get this right? Perhaps cheating at the nut a bit like the Feiten system? I hate to dowel the guitars but would REALLY like to get the saddles to where I need them to be. Any suggestions? My action is set up so it is a hair over 1/8" at the the 12th fret. I bend UNDER the adjacent strings rather than into them and get an extremely clear, clean tone this way.
FWIW I had a similar problem on a strat where I had to remove the spring on the low E - which already has a shorter saddle anyway. Even then it was barely where it needed to be.

I too bent "under" the adjacent strings.

I think, without a specially designed instrument, you're going to have to modify the instrument, or your preferences.

I simply went down a string gauge. The decreased thickness meant that less tension was being added as the string was fretted, meaning the saddles had enough space - I even put the spring back on the low E.

I've also lowered that action since then, but that's through a different set of events - I still want it back to where it was before but for now I'm going with where it is (which is closer to factory spec). At least I have plenty of room for intonation adjustment, and I don't feel like my playing has suffered any.

Good Luck.

Steve
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,522
I play with what I've been told is extremely high action on all my guitars and a problem I've had for years is not having enough adjustment on the bridge to get the intonation correct on the low "E" and "G" strings. They need to go back about another 1/16 to 3/32 to be perfect. I've turned the saddles around on Tuneamatic bridges and pulled out the tensioning springs on strat bridges. The only guitar that has enough adjustment is the Telecaster bridge (and that has it's own drama due to the three saddle bridge even using compensated saddles). In the 70's I bought a replacement tuneamatic bridge with a longer throw that corrected the problem but is no longer available. In the 80's I actually doweled and redrilled my ESP Strat so it was right. Is there any thing I can do besides lowering my action or relocating the bridge to get this right? Perhaps cheating at the nut a bit like the Feiten system? I hate to dowel the guitars but would REALLY like to get the saddles to where I need them to be. Any suggestions? My action is set up so it is a hair over 1/8" at the the 12th fret. I bend UNDER the adjacent strings rather than into them and get an extremely clear, clean tone this way.
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nii.net/~obie1/deadcd/images/rosebuddet.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nii.net/~obie1/deadcd/garcia_guitars.htm&usg=__vsbAj92VfZlr9z5b2iQ7OycaqAE=&h=413&w=600&sz=28&hl=en&start=4&tbnid=Dd-tjQgQChGjUM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dirwin%2Bguitar%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial%26sa%3DG


Scroll down a little past halfway, and there's a close up of the tiger inlay that shows the wide Schaller tune-o-matic that was most likely your '70's bridge that got away.
If that's the bridge that works for you, you can still find those around, you just have to dig a little. I found one with the posts in NY a year or two ago cheap in a repairmans' junk drawer at a music store. You just have to ask.

There's about 5/16ths between post center and the end of that slot.
You lose a 16th to the top of the saddle, but that's still pretty generous.
If you need more than that you could cut the slot all the way open and run that saddle back almost a half an inch if you needed to.
Most auto repair places have saws that will cut that hardware, and those guys usually delight in "ruining a perfectly good piece of hardware". I've never been charged by my local guy to cut something. It takes two minutes.

A fat spring or some tubing to tension the adjustment screw and you're good to go.
Anyway, you're not going to get what you need without doing a little digging and/or maybe a little cutting or filing.
I've been a stupid high action/big string fan since the '70's myself, and while I don't do it on all my guitars, I'm down with your attraction to that set-up. Good for you.
You should probably just post a "want to buy hardware" plea somewhere around here, maybe right here, and see who has one of those Schallers with posts laying around. I'll bet somebody does.

There's always a way to get a little more travel on a saddle if you need to.
You'll find it.:BEER

peace
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,440
Scroll down a little past halfway, and there's a close up of the tiger inlay that shows the wide Schaller tune-o-matic that was most likely your '70's bridge that got away.
If that's the bridge that works for you, you can still find those around, you just have to dig a little. I found one with the posts in NY a year or two ago cheap in a repairmans' junk drawer at a music store. You just have to ask.
oh, you mean one of these?

allparts has 'em.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,522
oh, you mean one of these?

allparts has 'em.
No, not one of those, those saddles are twice the width of the old Schaller steel saddles. The slot is about the same, but the range of adjustment is less. Smaller heads on those screws too. It's a poor quality cosmetic semi-copy of the bridge I linked to, but the bitch is that even though that looks like it would be a whole lot easier to cut than the Schaller, the allparts bridge has the saddles sitting below the bridge surface.

The old style has the saddles on top of the bridge so if you needed more travel you could just open the slot, and the saddle rode back on the top of the bridge. This thing has less travel, and I'm not seeing any easy way to extend the little rails those saddles are running on.

If the OP wasn't using all the travel on the "bridge that got away", this could do the trick, but the allparts saddles look like two of the Schaller saddles placed face to face. 1/8th less travel, with no easy way to get it back imho.

Look at that close up pic again and you'll see what I mean.
The design of that old Schaller was ideal for this kind of mod and application, odd though it may be.

peace
 

motis1953

Member
Messages
1,546
I appreciate all the suggestions but I thinks I'll probably end up just doweling the holes someday and moving the bridge back. What I don't get is: if the guitars I play were designed in the 50's and everybody used (what would now be considered) gigantic strings with high action in those days, have the companies altered the bridge location with the advent of "slinky" strings? I would think that a well designed instrument should be adjustable for a guy with my preferences as well as a kid using extremely low action with a set of .008's.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,522
I appreciate all the suggestions but I thinks I'll probably end up just doweling the holes someday and moving the bridge back. What I don't get is: if the guitars I play were designed in the 50's and everybody used (what would now be considered) gigantic strings with high action in those days, have the companies altered the bridge location with the advent of "slinky" strings? I would think that a well designed instrument should be adjustable for a guy with my preferences as well as a kid using extremely low action with a set of .008's.
Sure, move it back as much as necessary, as little as possible so you can still set it up "normal" if you ever need to or want to get off that axe.

As far as the big strings high action thing goes, your deal is that your action is really really high, high enough that most folks would be completely unable to play that guitar.
There's plenty of compensation available to cope with any reasonable string gauge and action height on a vintage Fender bridge, my '60 Strat is strung 14 18 28w 38 49 62, and the action is fairly tall. I had to lose the B string spring from that saddle to get it straight, but that's all it needed.

The problem that I had with the really high action idea was that every time I raised it, I liked it better. Eventually I was shimming up Fender bridges and hacking up hardware to adjust, and by that point the height of the action caused the guitar to play too sharp in the lower positions even when it was right at the 12th fret. I liked how much extra english it took to bring the now flatter high notes into tune, but at the end of the day, it was just too high play in tune in first position.

If I want it high now, I just back the biggest plain string up as far as it will go and raise the action till the intonation's good at the12th fret and start from there.

peace
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,440
What I don't get is: if the guitars I play were designed in the 50's and everybody used (what would now be considered) gigantic strings with high action in those days,...
sure they used "gigantic" strings (with wound Gs), but what makes you think they used crazy high action?

judging by how proud gibson was of their "fretless wonder" pauls, and by the sharp radius of fender electrics, i don't think string-bending was even a design consideration in those days. it was likely all about how low and easy they could make the guitars for chording and straight fretting.
 




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