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After Glenn Reither posted some tips on how he sets string action,
I wanted to follow his guidelines. With everything but nut and bridge complete, how was I going to hit the targets for string action? I thought if I could establish the line and actually mark the material it would be better than measuring or calculating.
I had some card stock material on my printer. Using a rule and sharp knife, I cut a bunch a small squares. I stacked the squares to a height of .5mm and 4mm. I put the squares on the first and 17th frets respectively. I laid a thin metal ruler on edge on top of these squares. I placed bridge material on scale length mark next to ruler and marked w/ mechanical pencil. Likewise for nut.
Well, the ruler marking method may be so obvious that everyone does it that way, but I was pleased as punch at how well cardstock made custom string height "shims." I tried one of those string height gauges but can't see the dang markings! (I eyeballed the shims against a ruler, but could have dug out a caliper - I just think it is overkill for my current (lack of) experience level!).
A dot of glue between each layer and I have started a shim collection. Just write thickness on each and store them.
Sounds like a good way to get the height determined. Do you make a solid shim later, or leave the card stock shims in place. I ask because I wonder if the softness of the card stock would isolate the vibration instead of transfering it to the box top.
I use the shims** temporarily on top of the frets. They hold the ruler in exact position of the string before I have placed nut or bridge. I can place the nut and bridge in place and mark where the "string" hits on each.... THEN I cut the bridge and nut material to height.
** uh... I guess they aren't shims so much as temporary spacers. Sorry I wasn't more clear.
NOTE: The glue dried and stiffened the cardstock somewhat. But you are right that it is soft. I guess if I crunch or otherwise deform the cardstock spacers, I'll just glue up a replacement.
Actually, I've thought of having several, possibly for trying out intentionally different string heights. Before using the spacers, I would try to measure with a ruler or just make them oversize and trim down a bit at a time. Both of those approaches meant "sneaking up" on the mark. (And I had a devil of a time measuring the string height! I couldn't see the stupid mark very well. <grr...>)
Sounds like a good way to do it. I have also heard some people use coins for there measuring devices. Anything that is the correct thickness should work.
Good idea. You should post a video so folks can see exactly what you are doing.
No video, but I finally snapped a couple of pics. Pics are of just the neck, but I mark bridge height with neck installed.
NOTE: Using the clamp as a third hand to hold the ruler sure makes marking easier!
Marking straight to the material ROCKS! I still leave a little margin to sneak up on final, but way less time sneaking!
Yep, I read in here about using a dime at the first fret and a quarter at the 12th fret and that seems to work pretty well for action that is low enough to fret but high enough to work well for slide playing as well. ( I know a good slide player can play on any action but that ain't me.) I tape the coins to the fretboard to keep them in place.