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Keys to Tone Part 2... String Height

Guitar Setup

Keys to Tone Part 2... String Height

In part one of our series on Setup found HERE, we talked about setting neck relief. The next step especially on a guitar that just needs a little tweaking, is string height. There are few different methods and tools that are used to do this, but the basic idea is to adjust the saddle height at the bridge to be as low as reasonably possible to give you the desired playing feel.IMG_0567 One important factor in this is matching the string height of each string to the radius of the fret board. This will give you a uniform playing feel over the entire length of the fret board and allow for a lower overall height of each string. This can be done by using a few different types of gauges. We have included a couple of them for download. Make sure that your printer is scaled properly and double check before you use them. The video below explains in further detail how to use these tools to set string height.  

How High... or Low?

There are many "standards" for how high your strings should be and where to measure. The most common is measuring from the top of the 17th fret and adjusting to 2mm to the bottom of the string. Check the setup specs for your guitar for measurements specific to your model. If you can't find them, use these for a baseline and then adjust to your preference. If you play very hard, you may want to leave it at 2mm.IMG_0566 If you want, try lowering it until it buzzes a bit and then raise it slightly. Remember to adjust each string to follow the fret board. If you want to experiment, just take measurements before you start. If you don't like your results, you can return to where you started. I like to adjust my higher (G,B, and E) lower than my lower (D,A, and E) strings, while still maintaining the overall curve of the fretboard radius. This gives me lower action on the higher strings and a bit of room to play hard on the lower strings without fret buzz. Of course, all of these measurements are very subjective so just play around and see what you like. The video below will give you some more tips. Downloadable Radius Gauges

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  • on

    Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article and the one on Friday. I will touch on this question. Thank you for the input!!

  • Jeff on

    These tutorials are excellent, by the way. Thanks for doing this. One request: Could you do a tips/tricks tutorial for guitarists who want to tune their guitar to E flat?

    It’s a necessary thing for my vocal range, and I keep coming across techs who just kinda shake their head. They have a suggestion one way or the other, but they really don’t know what exactly must be done to get a guitar to perform in E flat.

    What’s the key to doing this?

    thanks in advance…

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