how to use string action gauge
String gauge refers to the thickness of the guitar string. When describing gauges, guitarists typically omit the decimal, and speak only of the number (they will say an "eight" when referring to a string gauge of .008). For my Takamine TC132SC classical guitar, I bought once a couple of compensated tusq saddles from the GraphTech company and was fully satisfied with the results. Understanding some of the factors that influence the pros’ preferences can help you zero in on the right string action for your playing style. It may need to be adjusted again after raising or lowering the action. Verify proper scale by measuring the one inch calibration bar (at right.) These days, there are plenty of options for buying guitar saddles. Bob Colosi is a well-known person in guitar world. Adjusting the bow of the neck, and hence the relief, can be done by tightening or loosening a guitar’s adjustable truss rod. The String action Gauge is primaused to measure the action of a guitar, that is the height of the strings off the frets. Add Jazzy Chords and Progressions to Your Tunes. The following is a list of the standard string gauges included with each set of acoustic guitar strings. Very few accomplished players, however, have their guitars set up with “factory default” string action. Laminate (optional) and cut out gauges with an X-acto knife or sharp scissors, being sure to closely follow contours. These string action gauges work well, but I found that my eyes are not so good anymore for finding tiny lines under the strings anymore. Many guitar setup reference guides will suggest a standard action for steel string acoustic guitars of 3/32” (0.09375”) on the bass side of the neck and 1/16” (0.0625”) on the treble side, measured at the 12th fret. Homemade string action gauge for guitar setup. The string height markings are at increments of .010" (ten thousandths of an inch). Action on my steel string Taylor 416CE-LTD (2011) is approximately two times lower than the one from StewMac. The “third dimension” influencing playability is string action, the height at which a guitar’s open strings float above the frets. Nickel-plated steel strings are probably the most common choice for use on electric guitars, because of their volume and resistance to corrosion. amzn_assoc_placement="adunit0";amzn_assoc_search_bar="false";amzn_assoc_tracking_id="vbt5-20";amzn_assoc_ad_mode="manual";amzn_assoc_ad_type="smart";amzn_assoc_marketplace="amazon";amzn_assoc_region="US";amzn_assoc_title="String Action Measurement Tools";amzn_assoc_linkid="9319296ac84bb8207721de68008b96ef";amzn_assoc_asins="B01HUCS3YA,B00HG29EYI,B000BYGIR4,B06Y6FD6CY"; Your email address will not be published. To understand relief, imagine holding a straightedge along the length of the fretboard. In order to measure the height of your guitar’s strings, you should have either a ruler, a feeler gauge, or a specialized string action gauge. Therefore, unlike the neck of a violin or cello, the neck of a guitar must be slightly bowed when the strings are tightened to pitch. By learning about the different string options available for your guitar, you can find the strings which strike the best balance between great tone and playability. Unless you are an experienced guitarist looking to find new ways to impact your tone, stick to buying round wound strings. Therefore, most slide players set their action quite high, as will be immediately evident if you ever try out a National or Dobro steel guitar at your local guitar shop. Verify proper scale by measuring the one inch calibration bar (at right.) The following are other types of common string materials for the electric guitar: Bronze is the most popular string type amongst acoustic guitarists, although they tend to have a short lifespan. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using lighter/heavier gauge strings. StewMac.com, a reference site for guitar makers and technicians, suggests these action measurements: Bass E (sixth): 0.090” at 12th fret (slightly below 3/32”); 0.023” at first fret, Treble E (first): 0.070” at 12th fret (slightly above 1/16”); 0.013” at first fret, Bass E (sixth): 0.156” at 12th fret (very slightly below 5/32”); 0.030” at first fret, Treble E (first): 0.125” at 12th fret (exactly 1/8”); 0.024” at first fret. It's conventional to measure at the 12th fret and measure from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string. On the most basic level, displacing a string by a greater distance (be it horizontal or vertically) requires more sustained force, so higher action will be inherently more challenging for beginning players who have not built up much finger strength. Developed here at Stewart-MacDonald by Dan Erlewine and Don MacRostie, the gauge features a progressive string height scale: simply slide it across the frets and read the measurement under the string. If you have a vintage instrument without a truss rod, neck adjustments should be left to the most skilled of luthiers. Most of the issues addressed in the above table would be of little interest to a steel-string player using a slide (“bottleneck”). The larger the gauge, the heavier the string. Bass E (sixth): 0.12″ at 12th fret; 0.02″ at first fret, Treble E (first): 0.12″ at 12th fret; 0.02″ at first fret. Bone saddles are preferred, but there are other materials (such as tuck) that work well too. Make sure you also check your intonation and for string buzzing after you set the correct height. The type of guitar strings you choose, and how often you change them will not only dramatically affect your tone, but also impact the playability of your guitar. They also make compensated saddles for Taylor, Martin and other popular steel string guitars, so you might pick one and use it with minimal tweaking & sanding. It will be higher because the heavier bass strings naturally bow the neck more than the thin treble strings. Even with that, it’s considered relatively low for classical guitar, mainly because I don’t play pure classical music and non-plugged acoustic concerts where it’s necessary to project clear loud sound without any kind of amplification. Use it to adjust string action, measure string height, make truss rod adjustments, measure pickup height for killer tone and to minimize magnetic string drag, and more.
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