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hon

 

Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 3 2011
 

Action measurement 

Hi,

When we talk about action @ 12th fret, do we measure the distance from the bottom of the string to the fretboard or to the top of the fret?

Thanks.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2017 18:43:19
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 18 2005
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

Since nobody has answered, you measure from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string at the 12th fret.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2017 23:52:42
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

With the string pressed down at the first fret.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 2:05:21
 
hon

 

Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 3 2011
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to jshelton5040

Thank you John.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 2:20:47
 
hon

 

Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 3 2011
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to estebanana

Thank you Stephen. I always thought action is measured on open strings.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 2:23:37
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to estebanana

Woe--I disagree with Stephen. I measure with the string open.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 2:25:07
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2591
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

This is something that kills me when people talk about action - string pressed down at the first fret or not. I do NOT press it down when I measure. And whenever I see guitars for sale or people talking about the action on their guitar I never know which method they're using. People claim that they have 2mm action with "no buzz" and ask me to make them a guitar like that which disobeys the laws of physics if you're measuring the open string... we need standardization!

_____________________________

Andy Culpepper, guitar maker
Website: http://www.andyculpepper.com
YT channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/deteresaFlamenco
More photos of my work: https://luthier86.imgur.com/all/#1/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 3:00:16
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

I was taught string pressed to first fret by all my teachers. And when I worked in the shop that was an authorized Martin repair shop, the rule of the shop was check action with the string pressed to the fingerboard at the first fret. The guy who ran the shop was Matt Umaov's student in the early 1970's and Umanov's shop was set up on that principle.

Why? Because everyone in the shop is on the same page. And everyone is measuring action purely off the top of the first fret without the variance of the nut! If one person is doing neck resets on expensive guitars and then hands it the next person who will level and dress the frets and then cut a new saddle which sets the action, each person has to index off the first fret. In a set up situation the nut is the last consideration for adjustment.

After you install frets you project the customers action height request off the first fret to cut the saddle, because you don't have a nut yet. You cut the saddle, then fit the nut. Then sink the strings into the nut far enough to work up the neck relief and nut adjustments incrementally with saddle pretty much dialed in.

If you measure action from the nut it's cool, but in a shop that does action and truss rod adjustment you must mechanically use the first fret height as a baseline to understand action, saddle and neck relief as a system. So independents may measure action any way, but the industry measures with the string pressed down.

This is also one of those things I always look like pedantic jerk for pointing out, but I have had to work for other shop owners in the steel string end of the business and you have to do as you are told.

So I say qualify how you measure action. Do you press at the first fret or do you measure open? For the purpose of shop work the first fret is the baseline, if you want to advertise otherwise there's no rule for or against, you just have to specify for the customer which you do.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 6:20:06
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

I'm on my third cup of instant coffee today, so I'm not morally or ethically, legally liable to anything I say today.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 6:53:36
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5778
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

. People claim that they have 2mm action with "no buzz" and ask me to make them a guitar like that


Do as I do. tell them to look out for another luthier. And accept that being honest makes you poor.


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See the guitars I have for sale here:
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Blog: http://news-from-the-workshop.blogspot.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 7:12:05
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

quote:

. People claim that they have 2mm action with "no buzz" and ask me to make them a guitar like that


Do as I do. tell them to look out for another luthier. And accept that being honest makes you poor.


The bane of our existence. We need an anti- 2mm action support group.

"I have a two mm action on the bass side and it plays totally clean, why can't you do that?"

Someone must be selling them rulers with double wide millimeters.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 7:15:19
 
Echi

 

Posts: 453
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

My 2 cents are that the most of the classical guitar shops make reference to the action at the open E string. At least when they sell.
Last year I bought a guitar set with 2 mm action. Fast and quick, but with this setting it was impossible to modulate the note properly and could have been played just with a light touch.
The guitar gained considerably in power and gave her best just when I had the action raised up to normal standards and increased the string tension...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 8:05:28
 
Joan Maher

 

Posts: 170
Joined: Dec. 3 2013
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

Perhaps lets agree here on the forum - a standard - so when the next smart arse comes along... "Well actually on flamenco forum the standard approach is X"? It would be good to know also what people see as standard.

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Gracias!


Joan Josep Maher
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 10:34:32
 
Erik van Goch

 

Posts: 1735
Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Action measurement (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

I'm on my third cup of instant coffee today, so I'm not morally or ethically, legally liable to anything I say today.


One should frame that and put it on the wall :-).

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The smaller the object of your focus the bigger the result.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 13:32:36
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Echi

quote:

most of the classical guitar shops make reference to the action at the open E string. At least when they sell.


The same fellows that tell buyers that the tops with the most grain lines per inch are better guitars. I've stood in shops while salesmen are telling this to customers, wanting to tell the salesman he's a dope.

All you have to say is that the action is # in mm's high at an open string or #mm's high with a string stopped at fret 1.

Given that flamenco nut action is set very low anyway, there's not a lot of play between an open or a stopped string. I might get an action of 3.2 milli on the basses open and 3.0 stopped at fret one. Or 3.0 open and 2.8 stopped at fret one- ok fine, but the real deal is how is the saddle doing? Is the saddle correct? And how does neck relief work?

For me setting up nut action means stopping the string at fret 2 and getting the string as close down on fret one as possible without unacceptable buzzing for that particular player- some folks like the string riding on the first fret and some like a business card thickness of clearance between top of fret 1 and bottom of string.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 13:38:28
 
Erik van Goch

 

Posts: 1735
Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Joan Maher

quote:

ORIGINAL: Joan Maher

Perhaps lets agree here on the forum - a standard - so when the next smart arse comes along... "Well actually on flamenco forum the standard approach is X"? It would be good to know also what people see as standard.


Good question of the OP and good proposition by Joan Maher. Up to now if i had to measure action i would measure it without fretting and from string to fretboard but taking the 12th fret as measure point seems indeed more logical (taking the frets hight in account as well) and fretting the 1st fret wile doing so seems to be not such a bad idea as well.

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The smaller the object of your focus the bigger the result.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 13:41:44
 
Jim Kirby

 

Posts: 142
Joined: Jul. 14 2011
From: Newark, DE, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Erik van Goch

In a practical sense, is the difference in the 12th fret action for open string or string fretted at first fret = 1/2 the open string action at the first fret? (i.e., close enough for all practical purposes?)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 14:02:26
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 18 2005
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

I don't know about everyone else but my eyes aren't good enough to measure in tenths of a mm and I don't have a rule with those increments (I do have a thickness gauge). If I say it's 2.8mm at the twelfth it's an educated guess (in other words a little bit under 3). I realize I could buy a set of thickness shims to get an accurate measurement but what for? The guitar either plays properly or it doesn't.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 15:32:09
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

People claim that they have 2mm action with "no buzz" and ask me to make them a guitar like that which disobeys the laws of physics if you're measuring the open string...


I had a guy call me and ask if I could make a guitar with low action and no buzz AND NO FINGERBOARD (OR FRET) RELIEF and he was sure it could be done and very smug and really pissed me off.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 16:45:51
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to jshelton5040

Yeah, John, my ruler has 0.5-mm divisions and I guess whether it's 2.6, 2.75, 2.8, etc. I think it changes slightly with the weather anyway....

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2017 16:48:02
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to jshelton5040

quote:

I don't know about everyone else but my eyes aren't good enough to measure in tenths of a mm and I don't have a rule with those increments (I do have a thickness gauge). If I say it's 2.8mm at the twelfth it's an educated guess (in other words a little bit under 3). I realize I could buy a set of thickness shims to get an accurate measurement but what for? The guitar either plays properly or it doesn't.


Would it kill you to buy a pair of drug store magnificaiton readers @4X and a 6" rule marked off in 32nds?

I think we all do it by eyeball, but I measure it after because. When i worked for Stewart Port he gave me measurements in thousands of an inch and I had to write them down in work note book to keep track of all the measurements I had to hit on each guitar he handed over to my bench. No millimeters that shop and you had to have good vernier calipers and several steel rules of various sizes.

He would dump a mandolin, a Dread and a 0-18 on my bench and say what the customer is shooting for as saddle / action and I would fret it level it and set it up with new saddle, nut and work it all out. Then hand it to him the next day and he would look at the notes ans get out a ruler and measure it all. Then if everything checked out, he would say take it lower or redo relief or etc.

There was a style guide for shaping the nut for each type of instrument classicals/ Martin -Gibson, mandolins had different criteria- The saddles of different models had slightly different needs for compensating them.

You guys would have hated it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 1:14:53
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to estebanana

Stephen--

1/32 inch equals 0.79 mm. So where would that get us?

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 1:40:17
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2591
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

Do as I do. tell them to look out for another luthier. And accept that being honest makes you poor.


I'm slowly learning that that's the way to go...getting involved with those kind of people is a mine field. There will always be something they're unhappy with, no matter how nice the guitar. I would rather build a guitar on spec and wait for someone to buy it than to pour my heart out on a custom order for someone who can never be satisfied. Being poor is not so bad (up to a point of course). More money more problems

_____________________________

Andy Culpepper, guitar maker
Website: http://www.andyculpepper.com
YT channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/deteresaFlamenco
More photos of my work: https://luthier86.imgur.com/all/#1/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 1:46:28
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2591
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

I actually have a "high tech" action measuring tool: a tapered wedge made out of wood with marks at each .5 mm of thickness. I slide it under the string and tap the string down onto it until it stops making a sound and that's the string height. You can clearly estimate down to the tenth as the .5s are spaced pretty widely apart.
Possibly more accuracy than needed but easy to make and sometimes handy.

_____________________________

Andy Culpepper, guitar maker
Website: http://www.andyculpepper.com
YT channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/deteresaFlamenco
More photos of my work: https://luthier86.imgur.com/all/#1/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 1:51:51
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Andy Culpepper

I have a similar wedge and these shop-made ebony feeler gauges. But it's difficult to tell if the wedge or gauge is pressing the string up, or if there's a little space between it and the string.... It's so much easier to use a ruler and guess.



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_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 2:16:50
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

1/32 inch equals 0.79 mm. So where would that get us?


A normal mid line Martin action @12th fret under bass string is 4/32nds - ish -

See you just do the whole thing in inches or decimal inches. Scientists don't work in inches, but the American steel string industry was based on the inch system, and so was pattern making and machinist work, and still is. The decimal inch is a system you already use, fret sizes were until very recently measured in decimal inches.

Spanish guitar making is also based on the inch system, but it was lost in the probably the 1970's - The Ramirez shop up until at least 1960 was in part using an inch system. Metrication came later to Spain than it did to the Northern countries in about 1868 give or take a few years. However there were several industries that did not convert to metrication until well into Franco's era. There are some interesting social, political and industrial reasons for this. The guitar, the Spanish guitar anyway is conceived in the inch system it's base of measurement being a yard stick.

The guitar is laid out in ratios that work out in inches. Any you don't want me to get into all that, it's esoteric stuff that people don't care about, but just look at bridges. they lay out in ratio 2:3:2 - 2" of wing or arm. three inches of saddle width, and then 2" of wing for a total of 7". Fingerboards lay out on a ratio too, which is roughly workable in inches- Think Torres dimensions. 2" at the nut- String to string at saddle 2 1/4" to 2 3/8 " wide - then look at fingerboard width at 12th fret join it is the same 2 1/4" to 2 3/8" There's a layout which works in rounded off inch decimals. Different scale lengths have bases in inches ans in metric measurement, but that is too far out to analyze without losing a lot of people.

I got off the topic, but guitar ratios are grounded in inches, the metric system was overlayed on the guitar later when metrication became a trade standard. I did a lot of research on this and checked it out with a couple guitar historians and it's really a thing. Guitars are documented today in the French metric system, they were basically conceived of in inches. There is some history between Spain and France prior to Torres and others inventing the modern version of the guitar, there was the war between France and Spain, which deterred the rapid adoption of the metric system. The factions in Spain were roughly half nativist 'Majo- Maja' who sympathized with all things Spanish and the 'Afrancesados' who were politically inclined to to French Enlightenment revolution as a model. The metric system came with the French Revolution and there was push back in Spain because it was associated with France and the Lowlands, who were enemies.

By the time we get to the 1860's, there is still populist -nationalist social resentment of French culture and technology, but the metric system is nonetheless introduced. Tradesmen were slow to adopt metrication because it was not required to do their work, one could build a house just fine in the inch system which was in place. And the kicker is that the best tools were coming from Sheffield England and if a tradesman like Torres could get an English plane and saw, or English chisels he was going to get an English steel ruler marked off in inches. Maybe decimal inches. If not then in foot rulers and yard sticks. English tools were the gold standard of tools.

And Spain was largely feudal in rural areas until early to mid 20th century, and if a craftsman did not have access to coveted English tools how did they establish an accurate system of measurement? They were not really in the era of metrication yet, like say a medical doctor in a metro area would have been. They copied rulers that perhaps one established journeyman had and they made their own rulers by ticking off inches onto a piece of lath with an ink pen or pencil or knife. And they made wooden wedge stops and wood shim gauges which were calibrated to increments of whatever they wanted. 1/8 th's inches, 1/4"s, feet, yards, or even long cloth tapes or cords knotted or marked off in feet and half feet.

They used gauges and measuring tools they made themselves, eventually Spain metricated fully across the spectrum of trades, but guitar making was one of the last specialty trades to convert. And maker by maker that happened between the 1920's and 1950's, my best guess is more towards the 1950's.

So basically your eyeballs, feeler gauges and graduated wedge stops are muy tradicional for making the Spanish guitar. I use the rulers and inches because I worked in a shop ran by an iron fisted Jew who learned pattern making in high school from Yankee machinists who used decimal inches. Which is also tradition.

So everyone is correct, and the player says "Ahhh, just right." when the action suits them, and they really don't care about the actual numbers on our wedges or rulers.
---------------------------------------------------

Here's a page from one of my log books in the steel string shop:

On the left you see I worked out rough numbers for a neck reset in millimeters, and on the right making a new saddle and roughing out the goal fractions of an inch. I use both measuring systems at the same time depending on task. I think most American makers do that to some extent. I also use feeler gauges, blocks of wood, wedges, filed depth stop marks and any other rote or haptic measurement trick I can get my brain to understand.

The saddle chart was a notation on how the existing saddle was compensated I take notes on that one in a while to remember how a particular steel string saddle looked so there is a record and a goal to follow when compensating a new saddle. That is getting a bit picky, but in the beginning I did that and learned a lot from it.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 4:47:35
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2437
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to estebanana

This gadget

http://www.lmii.com/products/tools-services/measuring-tools/lmi-digital-string-height-gauge

costs forty bucks and is out of stock at LMI, but I have one. It produces repeatable string height measurements to the tenth of a millimeter.. I doubt that an experienced luthier needs one to build guitars, but it might settle the question in a discussion.

My excuse is that I am a gadget freak.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 5:55:35
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7429
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

This gadget

http://www.lmii.com/products/tools-services/measuring-tools/lmi-digital-string-height-gauge

costs forty bucks and is out of stock at LMI, but I have one. It produces repeatable string height measurements to the tenth of a millimeter.. I doubt that an experienced luthier needs one to build guitars, but it might settle the question in a discussion.

My excuse is that I am a gadget freak.

RNJ


Vernier calipers has the beam that comes out the handle end that does essentially the same thing; That is how we measure individual fret height.

The question of measuring open or with the string stopped at the first fret is still going to be asked.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 6:15:05
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1230
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Action measurement (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Only accurate to 0.001 mm?! Useless!

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 6:19:28
 
pundi64

Posts: 234
Joined: Jul. 29 2016
From: Thailand

RE: Action measurement (in reply to hon

Simple question in original post, like most times this topic was beaten to death, but I guess the question should be asked, " how many times does it take to beat a dead horse several million, by the answers in here.
So what is it guys, the answer to a simple question is it measured from bottom of the string to the top of the fret without touching any other strings, just a very easy measurement. Like if you really give a damn it is measured from bottom of string to p of the fret., ok we done here.
I sent two forms because someone is going to make a big deal of this and screw up the first one.




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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2017 9:38:19
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