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Unread 11-17-2007, 01:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Measure string height

what do you use to measure strings height when setting up your les paul..is thier a really good tool out thier..i use a guage that is kinda hard to read, is thier a really good ruler that you would recommend where i can read the adjusment intervals in 64th's..??
thanks
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Unread 11-17-2007, 01:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I use a nickel under the 12th fret. Then I go from there, usually higher. I like my strings off the board some.
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Unread 11-17-2007, 01:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

...Measure?...I don't bother...I set them up for string height by feel...
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Unread 11-17-2007, 09:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
what do you use to measure strings height when setting up your les paul..is thier a really good tool out thier..i use a guage that is kinda hard to read, is thier a really good ruler that you would recommend where i can read the adjusment intervals in 64th's..??
thanks
I use the Mk one Mod 0 Calibrated eyeball and test for bends,
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Unread 11-18-2007, 05:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I usually adjust Gibsons by feel and playablility since the bridge already has a 12" arc. Just adjust the thumbwheel on each side. I usually adjust the bridge higher on the low E side so the wound strings ring out clearer. If string bends choke out, or you have excessive buzzing, raise the action. Of course before you start messing with the action, make sure to adjust the truss rod properly.

On guitars like Fender with the individual adjustable saddles, I'll use a machinist ruler.
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Unread 11-21-2007, 08:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

There are actually manufacturer suggested Numbers,
But, I've yet to see anyone satisfied with those.

It's your feel and playing style that matters.
What you're comfortable with. If someones likes low action lower away without
causing a fret buzz that you can hear through your amp . You'll be ok

If you like High action, you may like a higher number than Gibson suggests.
Lots of variables .

For Slide , should be set high.
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Unread 11-21-2007, 08:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by lexluthier View Post
I usually adjust Gibsons by feel and playablility since the bridge already has a 12" arc. Just adjust the thumbwheel on each side. I usually adjust the bridge higher on the low E side so the wound strings ring out clearer. If string bends choke out, or you have excessive buzzing, raise the action. Of course before you start messing with the action, make sure to adjust the truss rod properly.

On guitars like Fender with the individual adjustable saddles, I'll use a machinist ruler.
Lex makes good sense.

Lex~ on fenders I always set the saddles to follow the neck radius.
That means that the screws on each side of the saddles are never the same hight as the other .If you haven't tried it. Check it out. When I apprenticed a zillion years ago, I was taught this . It works out nicely . The bridge will actually look and feel like the radius of the board .Not steps as many do. ( You may notice the bass side is obviously higher)
This will give you some extra fine tunning points .

Lex you probably know this.

For the others, I've shot some picts to illustrate the correct way to set up fender saddles.

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Unread 11-21-2007, 11:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Just above buzz level!
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Unread 11-21-2007, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

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Originally Posted by hedzeppelin View Post
Just above buzz level!
What HZ said !

Damn HZ,
I wish I could have said it that easy !
I wrote all of that crap and you come in and say it with 4 words !
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Unread 11-21-2007, 01:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
what do you use to measure strings height when setting up your les paul..is thier a really good tool out thier..i use a guage that is kinda hard to read, is thier a really good ruler that you would recommend where i can read the adjusment intervals in 64th's..??
thanks
I use feeler gauges because I have customers who insist on specific measurement.I need to keep records of these to repeat they're reqired set up. some need 0.9mm[.036''] at 12thfret treble E and 1.1mm[.044'''] at 12th
fret bottom E. It's just easier for me than using a rule.I then check strings with an appropriate radius guage and adjust saddle heights with files to conform to that radius.
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Unread 11-21-2007, 05:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

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Originally Posted by HolyGrail View Post
I was taught to keep the saddles level so the string doesn't slip around on the top of the saddle. Heights are adjusted to follow the radius of the fretboard, but the saddles themselves are level.

Do you experience any string movement like this? Any advantage over keeping the saddle level?
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Unread 11-21-2007, 08:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

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Originally Posted by Minneapolis Slim View Post
I was taught to keep the saddles level so the string doesn't slip around on the top of the saddle. Heights are adjusted to follow the radius of the fretboard, but the saddles themselves are level.

Do you experience any string movement like this? Any advantage over keeping the saddle level?
No Slippage , more control over adjusting and the radius
makes it nicer to play. Especially using your pick with chords.
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Unread 11-22-2007, 11:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

i've always used a string guage, but it's hard to read accurately..so i was looking for maybe a good ruler of some sort that is very accurate in small intervals..i like to set my guitar to Gibsons specs, then adjust from their..usually i lower it a little..but i like to have a set base line to start with when adjusting my guitars for season changes..anyone know of a good ruler with small increments..??
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Unread 11-22-2007, 11:41 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
i've always used a string guage, but it's hard to read accurately..so i was looking for maybe a good ruler of some sort that is very accurate in small intervals..i like to set my guitar to Gibsons specs, then adjust from their..usually i lower it a little..but i like to have a set base line to start with when adjusting my guitars for season changes..anyone know of a good ruler with small increments..??
Yes, StewMac catalogue, page 11 Item #0670 Price $18.95[string action gauge]
This is just what you want Bryan .Other than that, a quality 6'' engineers steel rule with 64th increments.
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Unread 11-22-2007, 11:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

thanks..thats exactly what i was lookin for..

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Unread 11-24-2007, 08:35 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

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Originally Posted by HolyGrail View Post
No Slippage , more control over adjusting and the radius
makes it nicer to play. Especially using your pick with chords.
So, I had to change strings on my Strat yesterday and I used the bridge setup you showed here. So far I like it! No string slippage that others warned me about, plays real nice. So far, so good!
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Unread 11-24-2007, 05:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I was talkin to my luthier buddy John bout neck straightness and set ups, and I told em I like my neck on Miss Honey Dead ass straight , and he said they ( Les Pauls ) rarely ever stay straight for too long without tweakin, I told em I did occaisonally tweak and always made sure it was straight when changing or adjusting string gauges ,He wanted to test Miss Honeys neck , the shop owner also had a hard time believing it was so straight so John dropped his Stu Mac neck gauge on it, and declared it laser straight
If you dont have a decent amount of clearence, if you do get a minor bowing goin on , you might wind up with some dead spots and or some funky tones in various neck spots
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Unread 11-25-2007, 06:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by lp59aholicDon View Post
I was talkin to my luthier buddy John bout neck straightness and set ups, and I told em I like my neck on Miss Honey Dead ass straight , and he said they ( Les Pauls ) rarely ever stay straight for too long without tweakin, I told em I did occaisonally tweak and always made sure it was straight when changing or adjusting string gauges ,He wanted to test Miss Honeys neck , the shop owner also had a hard time believing it was so straight so John dropped his Stu Mac neck gauge on it, and declared it laser straight
If you dont have a decent amount of clearence, if you do get a minor bowing goin on , you might wind up with some dead spots and or some funky tones in various neck spots
I agree, if you go too near the limit of straightness of neck, action height and
nut height, you'll be altering your setup every time the wind changes,or visiting your 'tech.Some folks just want to sail close to the wind.
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Unread 11-25-2007, 04:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by single cut 54 View Post
I agree, if you go too near the limit of straightness of neck, action height and
nut height, you'll be altering your setup every time the wind changes,or visiting your 'tech.Some folks just want to sail close to the wind.
Havin sailed a lil bit in my time, with real sails. I can tell ya that can get you in both bad straits and fustration too darn often
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Unread 11-26-2007, 02:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Here's a nice link to setting action. It's not the best but gives an idea on the 4 most popular bridges.

Project Guitar :: String Height and Bridge Adjustment
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Unread 10-20-2008, 09:15 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

YOU CAN BUY A FEELER GUAGE - THIS IS A SET OF THIN BLADES WHICH YOU ADD TOGETHER TO GET A CERTAIN LIKE 2MM. ITS REALLY USED TO BY MECHANICS TO MEASURE SPARK PLUGS. BORROW ONE. BUY ONE!
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Unread 10-20-2008, 01:19 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I use feeler gauges to set the pickup height. No need for them setting the string height.

1. Make neck flat. If necessary to turn truss rod do so only 1/8 or 1/4 turn at a time. Then retune and give the neck a while to settle. I don't like messing with the truss rod and I would never move it more than 1/2 turn in a day.
2. tune guitar and lower action until it buzzes when depressed at 12th fret
3. raise bridge 1/4 turn on both sides, retune and check for buzz
4. repeat step 3 until no buzz. If one side is buzzing and the other not then only raise the side that buzzes. Usually the lower strings will need to be raised a bit higher to provide room for their extra mass to vibrate.
5. Raise height an extra little bit if you want. This will help keep it from buzzing with every little change in temperature and humidity. Don't be surprised if you do need to tweak the setup in the fall when you turn on the furnace and again in the spring when you turn it off.
6. Look at string height over the first fret, depress string on first fret and check height over second fret. They should be nearly identical. If the space over the first fret is much higher then you may need to lower the nut by sanding some off the back of it. The height of the nut is only important for clearing the first fret but if the nut is too high you will never get the action to be decent. Don't mess with the nut unless you are really sure what you are doing. If you take too much off then you need to get brass shims and shim it to the correct height or a new nut.
7. Set the intonation. With guitar tuned, play a harmonic at the 12th fret and then play the fretted note at the 12th fret. If the pitch of the fretted note is higher than the harmonic then you need to lengthen the string by moving the saddle toward the tailpiece. If it is lower than the harmonic you need to shorten the string by moving the saddle toward the neck.
8. Play it and tweak it a little here and there to really get it dialed in. If you notice some buzz, raise the bridge a little, if it seems like you could go just a bit lower without buzz then drop it down a little. Don't be afraid to give the bridge height a little tweak up or down. Just be sure to check intonation afterwards and adjust as necessary. Small changes in height won't change the intonation enough to worry about immediately. Once you get it dialed in to the perfect height (you'll know it when you hit it) then spend 10 minutes and get the intonation perfect.
8. Set the pickup height. Once the action is set you need to set the pickup height. The settings recommended by Gibson are a good place to start. Again, tweak as necessary.
9. Set the pickup pole height. If you don't your pickups will overemphasis the bass and treble and you'll have no mids. You can always scoop the mids out with an EQ pedal or on the amp but you can't put them back if they aren't getting picked up to begin with. To set the pole height: with your strings off the guitar place an index card at the end of the neck, flat against the body of the guitar. With a pencil trace the radius of the top of the neck from one side of the fretboard to the other. Then trim off the bottom of the card straight across from one side to the other in line with the edges of the fretboard. Place the card on top of the pickup and adjust the pole pieces so they follow the curve.

Once your string and pickup heights are dialed in you might want to use a feeler gauge to measure them and record it so you have it to reference for future setups.
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Unread 10-21-2008, 03:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooliokid2009 View Post
YOU CAN BUY A FEELER GUAGE - THIS IS A SET OF THIN BLADES WHICH YOU ADD TOGETHER TO GET A CERTAIN LIKE 2MM. ITS REALLY USED TO BY MECHANICS TO MEASURE SPARK PLUGS. BORROW ONE. BUY ONE!
That's what I use, works great.
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Unread 10-30-2008, 08:47 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I use a Feeler Gauge I got from AutoZone.
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Unread 11-04-2008, 01:59 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

As mentioned above, you can get feeler guages OR a 6" machinist's scale at Autozone for about $8 each. I find both to be useful when doing setups.

That Stewmac gauge looks nice though.
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Unread 04-30-2009, 03:59 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I use a stainless steel caliper (see below). The little "dipstick" that slides out the back end of the caliper when you open it is ideal for measuring the action height. All you have to do is place the tip of the "dipstick" on the fret right next to the string and then adjust the caliper so its body just touches the top of the string without depressing it. Take the measurement, subtract the thickness of the string, and voila! This works just as well for measuring pickup height.



For setting neck relief, as well as checking clearances on the first fret, I use an automotive feeler guage (the kind meant for valve clearance adjustment, not spark plugs).

Last edited by ogrfnkl; 04-30-2009 at 04:04 AM. Reason: The embedded image didn't appear
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Unread 04-30-2009, 06:00 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Feeler gauges or caliper as above. Any other way and you are still eyeballin'. If you do this regularly, then your eyeballs adapt to become accurate gauges. No buzz and the right feel is the goal, therefore if you are familiar with the nuts and bolts of your guitar, then the certified eyeball described above works with your "caliper fingertips." The benefit of hardware measuring is the ability to return to what the player likes. Don't forget that a string gauge change can make a real difference.Ole'Lefty ( I have the S-Mc gauge- it is nifty but has the same drawbacks as the ruler-it is one)
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Unread 04-30-2009, 06:58 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
what do you use to measure strings height when setting up your les paul..is thier a really good tool out thier..i use a guage that is kinda hard to read, is thier a really good ruler that you would recommend where i can read the adjusment intervals in 64th's..??
thanks
Feeler gauge from AutoZone.
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Unread 04-30-2009, 10:33 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Measure string height

I've been using Snarling Dog picks for this for years:



The only guitar I've ever bought that was already setup perfectly (for me) was my Tele. Holding the pick as it's pictured against the fingerboard at the 12th fret, without depressing the low E string, I was able to clearly see the dots in the 6th row from the bottom. This is the standard I use for each guitar - if I can get it that low without any buzz I'm happy.

Of course the Stew Mac tool would be much easier
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