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Shaving down the neck side of the bridge to lower the action?!   You are logged in as Guest
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avimuno

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Feb. 9 2007
From: Paris, France

Shaving down the neck side of the br... 

Hola everyone,

Apologies if this question has already been asked in the past... the action on my Conde (which I bought second hand) has always been slightly higher than I would wish it to be.
So far this has not really bothered me since it's pretty good and even, and it definitely helped a lot with the volume at the dance studio.
I do not however accompany at the studio anymore and I find myself wanting to lower it a bit to make it easier for solo guitar. Volume is not really an issue anymore as I now play with a PA system.

The problem is that there is not a lot of room to play around with the saddle itself as it is already pretty close to the bridge. I'm guessing that the neck angle has changed a bit over the years which would explain the action being slightly higher than it should be.

Anyways... here's my question... would any luthiers here recommend shaving the neck side of the bridge in order to be able to lower the saddle? I am looking to take 1 mm off it.

My feeling is that it should be ok as there is enough room on the bridge to hold the saddle properly even after shaving it a bit... I am however not a luthier so I do not know the consequences of doing that.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Saludos,


Avi
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 13:26:41
 
Steve Wright

Posts: 120
Joined: May 11 2011
From: Scotland Fife UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

quote:

would any luthiers here recommend shaving the neck side of the bridge in order to be able to lower the saddle? I am looking to take 1 mm off it.
Firstly I'll say I'm not a luthier, but I think it worth you taking a straight edge ruler and checking the neck of the guitar. See if the neck is straight, convex or concave. When you have done this, slide the ruler down towards the bridge. By this, you can check whether the sound top is distorting (pulling up) which would influence the action. If you bring the saddle down 1mm it will result in the action at the 12th fret coming down by 0.5mm. I think you could take the shoulders of the bridge (that holds the saddle) down to accommodate a lower saddle, but you should route out the saddle slot to make it deeper so that the saddle is properly supported. I'm in a similar situation to you and my main thought is to tackle the neck as mine is concave. I want to fit a rod to keep it straight - then I want to sort the bridge arrangement out to suit the refurbished neck. If you leave the saddle with little support, I think it will show in the intonation. No doubt a generous Luthier may correct any mistaken views I have.

_____________________________

Rhythm, grace & passion. El ritmo, gracia & la pasión
Be the change you want to see in this world - Gandhi

http://www.youtube.com/user/FusionMusic1000
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 14:21:34
 
Sean

Posts: 672
Joined: Jan. 20 2011
From: Canada

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Conde's are expensive guitars, I would not recommend a non luthier undertake such an operation as the chances of keeping its original like appearance will be much lower. I would at least have a luthier look at it so you could get an expert opinion on wether or not it's a good or bad idea. You could sell it or keep it and buy another guitar, all depends how attached you are to it, its value and collectibility.
If your Conde is made in China saw the neck off and run it through a large planer then just nail the neck back on with a railway spike jkd
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 14:33:51
 
avimuno

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Feb. 9 2007
From: Paris, France

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

quote:

Firstly I'll say I'm not a luthier, but I think it worth you taking a straight edge ruler and checking the neck of the guitar. See if the neck is straight, convex or concave. When you have done this, slide the ruler down towards the bridge. By this, you can check whether the sound top is distorting (pulling up) which would influence the action. If you bring the saddle down 1mm it will result in the action at the 12th fret coming down by 0.5mm. I think you could take the shoulders of the bridge (that holds the saddle) down to accommodate a lower saddle, but you should route out the saddle slot to make it deeper so that the saddle is properly supported. I'm in a similar situation to you and my main thought is to tackle the neck as mine is concave. I want to fit a rod to keep it straight - then I want to sort the bridge arrangement out to suit the refurbished neck. If you leave the saddle with little support, I think it will show in the intonation. No doubt a generous Luthier may correct any mistaken views I have.


Hola Steve

I'll definitely check the neck with a ruler... from my bare eyes I can definitely tell that the neck is slightly concave (which apparently is normal for flamenco guitars)... also the top is definitely slightly pulled up behind the bridge (here again, apparently, this is perfectly normal - but I really don't know much about this).
What you are saying makes total sense... it does however seem like a sensitive job that has to be done by a luthier.

Sean... my Conde is from Atocha... so in terms of resale value, it's not the best. However, this is the best Conde I've ever played. I used to own a Felipe blanca which was very far from this one in my opinion. I have also tried a few others (from Gravina, Atocha and Felipe) and for some reason, I always preferred mine. It might have been because I am used to it... at the end of the day I love the sound (it has those crisp basses, sparkly trebles an a thick mid-range, packed in a dry, powerful package!) and the way it reacts to subtle left hand techniques (the pulsation and the way the strings 'bounce' - don't know how else to describe it - are simply amazing!). According to Tino Van Der Sman, that Conde is as good as the one that Gerardo Nunez gigs with.
The only thing I would rather have different on it is the action.

Right now, I have no plans of selling that guitar as I really love it... which is why I would consider getting some work done to the bridge in order to get the setup the way I want it.
But you make a very good point... alteration will lower its value. And I might have to sell it one day.

I am currently in Seville... and from what I have gathered it is possible to do it but both Postigo and Francisco Barba, who were nice enough to have a look at it, have advised against it for the same reasons you give. One cannot denie that Senor Barba knows a thing or two about building a great guitar but I still wonder...

Maybe I'm just being too fussy about the action... it is not so high, and the guitar plays really well right now... but 0.5 mm at the 12th fret will make a world of difference of think... it would go from playing like margarine to playing like butter!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 15:16:56
 
avimuno

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Feb. 9 2007
From: Paris, France

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

quote:

If your Conde is made in China saw the neck off and run it through a large planer then just nail the neck back on with a railway spike jkd


Hahaha... a 'bolt-on' neck Conde?!?!?! Why not... worked great for Fender!!!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 15:38:11
 
Sean

Posts: 672
Joined: Jan. 20 2011
From: Canada

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

If Postigo and Barba both said no then you really have your answer.
If you lower it you will also change the break angle and not for the better, this can have a negative impact on the qualities you love about this guitar now.
There will be a day when the Conde mystique fades a little and the guitars value will be judged more by its individual qualities, not by its label. Good Condes were made in all the shops, same as the less then stellar ones.
You have a good one keep it enjoy it
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2011 16:45:01
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Whilst two luthiers have said no, that may not be the right answer for you.
before deciding on a course of action I would firstly check and measure the following.
-are the nut slots optimized
-what is the height from fret to string at low E and High e
- what is the height of the strings above the soundboard at the moment (underside of string)
Knowing these more guidance can be given even if it is just WHY the answer is no
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2011 3:01:51
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

I'm with Jeff on this. Why did they say no? Was is a no it can't be done or No they don't want to do it. Lots of guitar builders out there either don't do repairs full stop or won't repair certain guitars our of principle.

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Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2011 9:19:19
 
Gimar Yestra

 

Posts: 298
Joined: Jan. 19 2011
From: The Netherlands

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

I always prefer to see the guitar before discussing how to do a repair or setup or what to do... thats probally why the fellow luthiers say no, they haven'd had the chance to properly inspect the guitar and decide what would be the best way to fix it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2011 15:06:08
 
Steve Wright

Posts: 120
Joined: May 11 2011
From: Scotland Fife UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Gimar Yestra

quote:

I always prefer to see the guitar before discussing how to do a repair


Yes, very wise. It's like being asked how long a piece of string is. The job can end up with arms and legs (that would be a strange guitar). Probably not a wise thing. Guitars play much better when legless.

_____________________________

Rhythm, grace & passion. El ritmo, gracia & la pasión
Be the change you want to see in this world - Gandhi

http://www.youtube.com/user/FusionMusic1000
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2011 19:29:48
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

I always do jobs I have not seen or touched.

I just add it on the bill:

Clairvoyance @ $500.00 per hour.

Three hours of clairvoyant analysis..............$1500.00
Tap plate, new strings..................................$75.00
_________________________________________________
total $1575.00

Thank you!

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2011 20:10:50
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Meh any thing on a guitar be repaired. Just is it worth the money at the end of the day.

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 15:52:06
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

eh any thing on a guitar be repaired. Just is it worth the money at the end of the day.


yes I say just throw it away a buy new one......like using a paper plate.

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https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 16:01:26
 
Sean

Posts: 672
Joined: Jan. 20 2011
From: Canada

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Two luthiers looked it over and both came to the same conclusion, I think their opinion has more merit then random babbling in la la land.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 16:17:22
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Sean

Yes, but some repairers will shave a bridge saddle mound down and some won't. For various reasons. To some folks it would seem as a mutilation of a guitar and there are some makers who don't want to be associated with that kind of minor repair/modification if they have bigger better things to do. Some turn down certain repair work because they would rather focus on building.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 16:36:54
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

How is trying to give practicle advice babbling in lala land. Perhaps just the Idea of shaving the bridge down was rejected by those two makers because of string break issues but there could still be other fixes. If it bothered me that much and valued the guitar that much I would do what ever I could to get the guitar comfortable to play. The worlds not flat any more!

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 18:15:07
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

How is trying to give practicle advice babbling in lala land.


Eden I realize it must be late on your side of the pond, have you been nipping the sauce down at the pub? ? You're usually pretty quiet. I think you had a happy hour.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 18:29:54
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Hehe usually my spelling isn't that bad. I have had a long one in the workshop today. It's not late enough to be back from the pub if I had been, but no not been on the sauce today.

I do go on a forum rampage every now n then.

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 18 2011 20:53:58
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

Well I've been the shop since 8 am this and it's now 6:28pm so I am outta here an going to have drink with a cute chick.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 19 2011 1:29:18
 
avimuno

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Feb. 9 2007
From: Paris, France

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Hi everyone!

Thanks for the replies... and sorry for the delay in getting back to this thread. I have spent the entire week changing planes and transiting in random places in order to get myself from Sevilla to Mauritius for the least amount of money possible.

Anyways... on my way out of Sevilla, I made a pit stop in Madrid, where I visited Felipe Conde. I found him to be a very nice and helpful person. I was able to try quite a few instruments and after a while he even started to open his 'personal stash' of guitars for me to try. Guitars there went from fairly average to the best negra I've ever held in my hands... but for € 8,500, I wouldn't expect any less than that! Even though, I thought that it was overpriced considering that a Pedro de Miguel negra goes for € 4,500 and that Marvi charges € 5,000... to name only those two.

He was also really nice to show and explain to me his work as he was in the process of glueing the fingerboards of a few guitars together... all negras!

Anyways... one things all those guitars had in common was that their action was pretty high. According to Felipe he builds them like that in order to allow the owner to lower it to his/her wish... made sense of course, but some of them however were similar to my Conde, in the sense that the saddle wouldn't go lower unless the bridge was shaven down a bit.
I asked him whether it was possible to still lower the action and without a second's hesitation, he said that it was both easy and common place to do so.

At that point I busted out my guitar to show him and see what he thought about it... same answer... pretty easy and a common job for any luthier... he would have done it himself (for a very decent amount of money) if I could have left my guitar with him for 2 days, but as I was leaving the next morning I couldn't do so.

From what I have gathered, the best thing would be to remove the actual bridge and put another thinner one in there... the reason is because the break angle of the strings would not be sufficient if i was to shave that bridge a little.

I am guessing that this is the reason why both Barba and Postigo advised against it... Felipe Conde's English was much better than their's so he was able to explain to me why (or rather, my Spanish was too poor to understand Barba and Postigo properly).

I'll get that job done the next time I am visiting a country where I can easily find a good luthier.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 5:40:34
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

There are also ways of doing it without having to change the bridge. Just depends on your nerves I guess. It would basically involve recarving the bridge in place. Filling the old holes and making some new ones lower down. all pretty simple if you have the right gear to do so.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 10:46:45
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

ORIGINAL: SEden

There are also ways of doing it without having to change the bridge. Just depends on your nerves I guess. It would basically involve recarving the bridge in place. Filling the old holes and making some new ones lower down. all pretty simple if you have the right gear to do so.

Removing the back and resetting the deflection is the best solution but also the most expensive. You can also back taper the fingerboard which is a little easier than recarving the bridge (in my opinion).

_____________________________

John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 14:12:37
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 900
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Yeah doing a refret is also a good option, although depending on what you have to take off could make the neck on the slim side. taking the back off would be my last suggestion though. you would end having to replace the the fingerboard or refret anyway wouldnt you.

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 16:31:52
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

What is easiest is to mask off the area around the bridge with either cardboard or plastic and just use a plane to plane the saddle mound down to the right height. Then you reshape its profile and French polish it. It's not difficult, but it requires that you've probably made a bridge or three from scratch to really have an eye for it.

The only reason I would not do that modification is if the guitar had some historical significance, in which case you would want to leave the original instrument intact as much as possible. It's a judgment call and on some guitars it's easy to make the judgment an on others more difficult. If making the call is difficult then it's usually better to take another route like fret work.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 18:23:19
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

you would end having to replace the the fingerboard or refret anyway wouldnt you.


One way of doing that is to remove the 12th fret and cut the fingerboard through at the 12th fret slot. Then remove the fingerboard over the body and leave the rest on the neck. Saves time and less wear and tear on the neck finish etc. Then you can remove the back. When you reassemble later you slip the body section of the fingerboard back in place a glue it on. Then if you can get away with not refretting you're doing pretty good. But if you still have to refret you just saved the old board and you can then pull the frets and plane the original board.

But slipping the heel down the back is not the end of the story, in some cases you may have to take the neck out and recut the slots making them taper from the back side to the front side. It depends on how much the box has "folded" up on itself and whether moving the neck with the ribs engaged will correct the fold.

One more thing is that the neck could be too flexible or "whippy", then you can start with two ideas. First compression fretting the neck to get it to be more stiff and second putting a carbon graphite rod under the fingerboard. So checking for too much relief in the neck helps diagnose these things.

The way to check neck relief, ( for those who are players because the builders already know this) is to press the string at the first fret with your left index finger and press the string at the 12th fret with your right pinky. Then reach your right index finger up towards the nut and tap the string. You can hear it hit the frets and then eyeball it from the side. BTW you check string height at the 12th fret by pressing the string at the first fret, not by leaving the string open.

But this guitar in question won't likely need all that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 18:31:08
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

ORIGINAL: SEden

Yeah doing a refret is also a good option, although depending on what you have to take off could make the neck on the slim side. taking the back off would be my last suggestion though. you would end having to replace the the fingerboard or refret anyway wouldnt you.

I've done it several times without removing the fingerboard or frets. I made an appliance several years ago for just that job and still have it. It does however require some very precise measuring before removing the back to know exactly how much to deflect the neck.

_____________________________

John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 20 2011 18:50:27

stephen hill

 

Posts: 300
Joined: Feb. 16 2004
From: La Herradura, Granada, Spain

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

If the neck concavity is actually visable then the chances are it has too much relief, my simple answer would be to heat treat the neck with my various tricks to straighten it thus lowering the action. I have sorted out so many guitars like this that other makers declined to touch.... other options are lowering the tie block (as snr Eden says) and redrilling holes or converting to a 12 hole bridge. I did 2 of Juan Martins condes that had the same problem by removing and lowering the tieblocks and redrilling, as there was plenty of of height to do so. Seems that the great Conde makers have simply got their neck angle wrong on their molds!! (perhaps sometime in the 90's !!)

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stephen hill - granada spain
http://www.spanishguitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 24 2011 8:19:11

stephen hill

 

Posts: 300
Joined: Feb. 16 2004
From: La Herradura, Granada, Spain

RE: Shaving down the neck side of th... (in reply to avimuno

Its a pity you didnt make it over to Granada way to let me sort it out (in my humble opinion!)

_____________________________

stephen hill - granada spain
http://www.spanishguitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 24 2011 8:20:59
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