? on your setup and action on a National

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? on your setup and action on a National

Postby darylcrisp » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:09 am

Hey folks

Just getting around to doing a check/setup on my 12 fret light steel NRP. coming from an acoustic fingerstyle background where i love a real flat fretboard and real low action so i'm slowly getting used to the higher action on my National. The fretting in the first couple positions feels stiff(since its much higher than my normal setup-and i'm not used to this type instrument).

checked the first fret space and here is what i found:
E .033"
A .027"
D .024"
G .030"
B .040"
e .035"
adjusted the relief and the fretboard is a real nice flat environment, action at the 12th fret is right at 4/32" on the Low E and 3/32" on the high e.

I am learning bottleneck slide(glass slide) and fretting with songs from Keb Mo, Fruteland Jackson, Scott Ainslie and Mike Dowling. I assume you want a little higher action on the B and e for slide.
My plans are to adjust the nut slots so the first fret measures are about .030/.025/.023/.023/.028/.028 (going from Low E to high e). I have 2 extra biscuits and plan to drop the action at the 12th a tad to about a 3/32" on the low E and 2/32" on the high e. Have some Daddario Ej24 string sets for DADGAD (13-56) where the A/D/G strings are dropped a gauge and i may put a 15 on the high e.

Plan to primarily use Open D and some Open G tunings. I would not say i play really hard with the right hand and i'm trying to learn to be smooth with the bottleneck(think Mike Dowling). So does all that sound pretty decent-do some of you go lower with your action and string depth at the first?

any opinions, thoughts appreciated
thanks
daryl
Last edited by darylcrisp on Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby Neal » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:42 am

Man, I'm sooo outta touch. I couldn't tell you the action height of any of my instruments. If it's too high, I take it to the tech, if it's oddly unplayable, I take it to the tech. Both my Nationals I haven't touched. Perfect for me. Or are they.....?

I'm such an unskilled worker.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby Disciple » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:36 pm

I can't relate all my measurements as clearly as you have but I can tell you my Republic is set up very similarly to what you are describing. Professionally done by a luthier who specializes in resonator guitars as well as plays them. Without accurate measure my low E appears to be about 5/32" and the high E closer to 4/32". I measure fine stuff for a living, those numbers aren't from a micrometer just from a very well trained eye. Using a crude ruler I get 4mm low E and 3mm at the high E if either of those "estimates" are informative. :blink:

My request was to give me an action height that suited finger picking and traditional playing but was capable of slide. I told him I would prefer to have an emphasis on the fretting / picking rather than the slide as I figured I'd develop an ability to slide quietly more readily than I would learn to fret and chord properly on an action more suited to sliding. We never discussed measurements just my ideas lead by his experienced questions.

So after several months of playing this setup I think I called it right and my guy nailed it based on my description and this is what the pros and cons are as I see them.

Sliding only this string height is fine, there is no need for me anyway to be higher than this.

Combined sliding with incidental fretting can be a challenge especially if moving a little quicker. There is a tendency to thump the neck or click a fret or two with the slide that may be avoided with slightly higher action. I believe I'll overcome this as I practice more but it can be discouraging.

Regardless of string height the heavier strings are hell on your fingers if finger picking and fretting a lot.

My advice would be to play with the current set up for a few months at least. Getting much lower and trying to develop your slide technique at the same time will definitely be a greater challenge. Of course it also sounds as if you have far more playing experience than I so the challenge may be exactly right for you.

Maybe just as important and I could stand to take my own advice here...don't over think it!!...just let er go :D
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby allanlummox » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:18 pm

The factory string heights - as pulled by the string gauges I use - is pretty good for what I do - enough so that my Delphi is on a second neck - along with a second factory setup by our friends at National.

The first neck lasted about 8 years, with one repair to the heel and some SERIOUS fretwear.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby bottleneck » Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:06 pm

mine's had the same neck since 1938,haha

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby allanlummox » Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:55 pm

I've always been kinda rough on my toys.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby darylcrisp » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:10 pm

i should have added a real important note on my post-i have to have pretty low action due to a permanent injury on my left hand-its pretty much left no use of my left thumb-i can't "clamp" using the thumb much at all when fretting. A guitar teacher i had told me once that was a good thing since i should only use the thumb as a rudder-but i really can't use it much at all when fretting-so its taken me the long road to learn to play and adjust to this. Thats also why i ended up learning to set my own guitars up-i have to really dial them in. Not worried about projection or loudness and i don't gig or play out, so its just for me.

thanks for the answers/opinions so far

daryl
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby allanlummox » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Ah. My setups tend to be about getting as much volume out of the guitar as possible.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby Neal » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:49 pm

My two have had the same neck since '09! My martin has had the same neck since 1937 though. Dude, what do you do to your guitars?!?!

While I have no clue, and haven't measured since my first post.. I tend to like the action medium on the Nationals, which allows for fingerstyle and slide, and on the Martin... oh heck, it's lower, but I can still use a bottleneck.

It all depends on your touch Daryl. I feel that it's very do-able to play slide on a low action guitar, it's just the choice of bottlenecks and your own control. I use to have a Bourgeois set up very low, and while it wasn't my favorite guitar to play slide on, it was manageable, but not desirable. But volume suffered with the low action. I had an M-1 soundhole pickup in it, but still, too low and volume and control do suffer.

Just got a Tribotone bottleneck today. Very light and great control for those looking for something a bit lighter with some mass, or whatever that is, to play on a lower action guitar. A little pricey, but really very nice.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby allanlummox » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:15 pm

The guitar was dropped, resulting in a crack across the heel - which was repaired at the time by a chimp. That combined with the aforementioned fretwear made a new neck a sensible approach.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby allanlummox » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:17 pm

"I feel that it's very do-able to play slide on a low action guitar"

Absolutely.
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Re: ? on your setup and action on a National

Postby darylcrisp » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:20 am

Neal

thanks for the mention of the Tribotone-did you get a tube slide for lap playing or a slide for spanish style?

I have a Diamond Glass slide i like since its light in weight but has mass to it and sounds good-i also purchased a real nice Acoustislide from LatchLake and its killer but thick and heavy and results in pull on that bad left thumb-these TriboTone slides sound like they might work very well for me-i play a little weissenborn too so i'm interested in one of the lap slides as well.

thanks
d
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