I was wondering what measurement in mm do the members of this forum, who use fretting and slide combined, set their resonators up at the 12th fret. Also what is the measurement at 12th fret of Michael Messer resos and Nationals when bought new?
Hey, You can generally specify what action you'd like if you're buying new from someone decent like MM or NRP etc. For a combo of slide and fingerpicking, the general consensus seems to be 3mm at the 12th, but it varies for different tastes of course. I probably wouldn't want mine any lower than 2.5mm at the 12th fret, or higher than 3.5mm...but that's only my preference 👍
No I'm not in the market, I installed a new biscuit bridge and saddle and recalled seeing that 3mm measurement on this forum and thought it was rather high for fretting with slide. I usually am at 1.75 mm but with the new bridge I went to 2.25mm with 13-56 strings and was going to lower it a little but am waiting to hear what some of you players use.
No I am definitely not new to slide, Im just wondering how high one can go and still use fingers and slide. For example in G tuning when going to the IV chord C, Index finger bars the 5th fret and reaching to the 8th fret to play those notes connected to C, depending what finger you wear the slide on, is very difficult to do with high action. I usually just use the slide for those moves if the action is too high. This was something Son House did with just fingers. My question originated because of seeing a post where someone mentioned 3mm at 12th fret.
Think you've answered your own question piro. If you're used to 1.75mm then why change? You have obviously developed a nice 'soft' touch to play at what many would consider a low action for sliding. Don't fix what ain't broken say I! 😊🎸🎸👍
Best wishes to you all, John
Ps Don't forget, the lower the action the less the break angle. Got to keep a good amount of pressure on the cone to make it sing! Pps. Should maybe said bridge height rather than action which is a combination of many factors. 😊👍🎸
Post by Michael Messer on Mar 27, 2021 10:04:59 GMT
You have had some good information and advice from everyone.
When we set up MM guitars they are 2.5mm to 3mm at the 12th fret. This is a standard set up as used by National Reso-Phonic Guitars, MM Guitars and others. Almost all my customers want to be able to slide and fret and MM guitars have been going to customers with that set up for the past thirteen years. We do occasionally get requests to go lower for non-slide players, but lower than 2mm and you start to lose tone. In fact lower than 2.25 gets risky.
Having said all that, there are no rules, only guidelines and what works for you is the correct set up.
Sometimes it can be a matter of string gauges or neck relief and not string height.
My personal preference is to go a little higher - my guitars are 3mm to 3.5 and I can fret all over the fretboard. I have played that way for decades and am very used to it.
I have a very soft touch and can play on much lower set ups, but I like it that way and that means it is the right set up for me.
You can have 3 guitars, all with the same gauge of strings, and all at 3mm height at the 12th fret - and all other things being equal (same scale length, same length of string behind the bridge, from the tailpiece etc etc), they can still feel quite different for fretting chords BECAUSE the nut slot height on each guitar could be different.
So, you should measure the action at the 1st fret, as well as at the 12th fret.
If the action is at 3mm at the 12th fret BUT fretting chords seems difficult, then PERHAPS you could reduce the nut slots a LITTLE - that makes a world of difference to fretting. I recommend a luthier doing this though - someone with the correct measuring tools AND with appropriately sized nut slot files.
It would REALLY help if you could measure accurately the action at the 1st fret and 12th fret of a guitar you find it really easy to slide AND fret on, and thus know what you are aiming for. Without that, any changes will be sheer guesswork !
Measuring tiny amounts of gap under the 1st strings is not as easy as at the 12th fret - as tiny changes to the height makes big differences to feel/playability. Yes, you can use "feeler" gauges, but I've had variable results with them
Years back, I bought a set of nut files and measuring guages - worth doing if you have several guitars AND friends who could do with theirs adjusted too.
This is obviously more than you were asking about, BUT if anyone is interested, THESE are the tools that I've found that enable you to do simple guitar maintenance jobs, expertly :
These tools make easy work of measuring and adjusting. Yes, a lot of money in one go but I bought these things bit by bit : These are mostly from Stewmac in the USA but you can occasional find v similar tools available elsewhere :
Don’t forget string gauge, you might be able to fret a IV chord with an 012 top string, but an 015 could be a challenge with the same action. Pete
I usually play an electric with 011s ( in G) with the action at about 1.75mm to 2mm ( I think this is the first time I have measured the action on one of my guitars, though I have when asked on guitars I was selling), this is lighter than I would like for slide, and heavier than I want for finger style. Life is a compromise sometimes.
For me an optimal set up for National style guitars is 3mm to 3.5mm at the 12th fret with 14 to 56 strings gauge, and as low as possible at 1st fret. This will make for easy fretting chords and a clean sliding. All untouched vintage Nationals I've seen had quite low action at 1st fret. A little relief in the neck is also needed.
I want to thank everybody for your informed advice, I really appreciate it. I usually work on my own guitars and recently installed a new biscuit on my single cone and it was close to 3mm actually it was 2.75 mm. I used a Replogle maple biscuit and saddle. I really like this system because the saddle is removable compared to the National one which as you all know is glued and nailed in. It's so much easier having the flexibility of a removal saddle. I'm reporting that this guitar sounds so much better with higher action and is still very playable with the style that I play in. I never knew that there was an optimal height which of course creates a specific break angle to bring the most out of a reso. A few years ago I sent my Delphi to National for a neck reset and unfortunately I requested my own specs which I now have learnt were not high enough. Needless to say the guitar did not sound right and I sold it which I know regret. So thanks again, really appreciate all of your knowledge.
Good day, folks ... hope all are doing well as can be expected.
I am newer to slide and reso playing, having previously stuck to flat tops .... hobby player. I set up my recent and only reso for finger style with some slide, and agree with 3 mm at the 12th fret with a tiny bit of relief in the neck. Also raised the nut a little as it was extremely low. The whole action setup is a little higher than I was used to and barring takes more concentration ... but slide is easier until I get a lighter touch. I agree this is a very good action setting for all around finger work and slide. The only issue I have is that the strings match the curved radius off the frets ... makes slide a little tricky .. so I made a shorter slide which is helpful. Nice that's it's all somewhat adjustable. It's a spider bridge, so I may make up a flat bridge at some point to try it out.
The break angle seems a little flat, but even so, it drives the cone pretty well.