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Post subject: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:31 am
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I find that while Fender publishes guides on how to set up a Fender electric guitar and a bass guitar, no such guide exists for acoustics. Why is this so? I would like to set up my Fender Paramount acoustic but I'm wondering if the procedures are a little different for an acoustic over an electric.

I know for example that the fingerboard radius on my Paramount Triple-0 is 15.75". On an electric guitar, that means the target relief at fret #8 (with capo at fret #1 and pressing down the final fret with a fingertip) would be .008" or .2mm. Is that also true for an acoustic?

I also note that if I follow the guidelines for an electric guitar, the string height at fret #17 should be 4/64" (1.6mm) on the bass side (strings E and A) and 3/64" (1.2mm) on the treble side (strings D and G).

Am I on the right track here?


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:04 am
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Set-up are same for trust rod adjust and it is also a matter of taste and how you striging.
A neck is a neck...

0.008" look to close for me, electric guitar set up guide I have, show 0.010 to 0.013.
Anyway , it is a matter of taste.

How to guide for acoustic guitars should be easier to find with google. Any brand set-up will do the job.
No need paper guide with a new guitar.

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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:39 am
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I think the most common recommendation for acoustic guitar relief is 0.010"/0,25 mm.
On my own guitars, I'll start with a straight neck, then add as little relief as possible - and my acoustics need more relief than my electrics (different playing style etc.).

On the action; I'd recommend checking the nut before jumping to shave off the saddle bottom. A properly cut nut is a lot bigger factor for overall comfort in playability, and playing in tune on the first few frets, than the string height is.
On the how-to-DIY, this is the best guide I know: Ceri's instructions to fix a pre-cut nut

But on the action itself, on acoustic guitars the most common way is to measure at the 12th fret - some use a capo on the first fret so the nut doesn't affect the measures. I fix the nut first.
Anyways, those "4/64" (1.6mm) /bass, 3/64" (1.2mm) /treble @17th fret" string heights sound very low for an acoustic (and: they'd be even less on the 12th...).
A low action for an acoustic might be 2,5 mm /bass, 2 mm /treble side, and measured on the 12th. Add about 0,5 mm for medium, 1 mm for high action; player preferences you know...

On that basic question: maybe the FMIC thinks that most people buying their acoustics don't set them up at all, and the few who do use a pro. :lol:


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:54 pm
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It seems to me that (assuming the principle carries over from electric guitar) the longer the fretboard radius, the flatter the fingerboard and therefore the lower the action can conceivably be (and still not have an unreasonable amount of buzzing). Is that correct?


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:04 pm
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selowitch wrote:
It seems to me that (assuming the principle carries over from electric guitar) the longer the fretboard radius, the flatter the fingerboard and therefore the lower the action can conceivably be (and still not have an unreasonable amount of buzzing). Is that correct?

The only issue with the fretboard radius impacting string height is the "bendability" of the strings.
If you are not playing lead work, or any bends at all, then the action can be just as low on a 7.25" neck as on a 20" radius neck.

If you are regularly playing Gilmour style leads where you play the entire solo on one string and one fret (and I don't mean Cinnamon Girl), then you're going to need to have the action a little higher.

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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:40 pm
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Plus most acoustic guitars have a fretboard radius which is flat enough, so the choking-when-bending issues are avoided - 300 mm, 12", 400 mm, 16" etc. aren't prone to choke in the same way as fretboards below 10" radius.
And, if one aims for a low action, the frets must be absolutely perfect.
So, IMHO, the principle actually suits only a comparison between round (7.25" and 9.5") and flat (10" and above) fretboards.

One thing to note: low action is not always the better option. It all pours down to player style & preferences.


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:58 am
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I think it would be fair to say I like semi-low action: low enough to make it easy to depress the strings, high enough to avoid most buzzes.


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:15 am
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I may be wrong, but I get the feeling you'd like a set of numbers answer. But: there is no factory/other spec for what 'feels easy to depress' to you, and avoids most (?) buzzes on your guitar, with your playing style.
Shredders with a light touch get away with lower action than heavy strummers, that's just about all I can offer.

The trouble with setting up string height on an acoustic is, it has no height adjustable saddle where you (= generic term, not 'you' personally) can go back and forth, testing what's just right. You raise action with a new, higher saddle, you lower action by shaving the saddle bottom.
And that lowering takes some experience, and/or calculating, and/or doing the shave multiple times with constant reassembly for checking.

But repeating my previous: nut slots have a crucial part on how light a guitar feels to play - strings feel stiffer near the nut than in their middle. So, have you checked the nut (slot) heights?
On those Ceri's instructions, you can go even lower than the 'fret height + .020"/0,5 mm' - many zero fret guitars had all frets level. A set of proper nut files is of course recommended, but unofficially: for one guitar those 'Bluffer files' might do.

And one thing not yet mentioned: string choice. Some brands/product groups feel stiffer than others, and going down one gauge (e.g. from .012" set to .011") could make a difference.


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:04 am
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I was at the Martin guitar factory in Nazareth PA last week and one of the cool things they did there is perform a PLEK fret leveling on every instrument before it leaves the floor (I don't believe they do this for the Mexican-made line). That would be one way to make sure every fret is as level as possible!

I don't see any signs that my Fender Paramount Triple-0 needs a fret leveling but a luthier would know for sure.


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Post subject: Re: Why No Setup Guide for Acoustics?
Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 10:08 pm
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I agree, it just helps clear things up and relieves confusion.


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