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Electric Guitars/Acoustic guitar neck adjustment


Greetings Ross!

This time I actually have a question.  A few weeks ago a friend of mine gave me an acoustic guitar she does not use.  It is an old Hondo (must have been built in early 1980) small (short scaled: the 12th fret meets the body)acoustic guitar.  It sounds surprisingly good, but the action of the guitar is way too high for someone who is so accustomed to electric guitars.  On electrics, I can adjust string action etc., but on acoustics, other than adjusting the neck with a hex wrench, what can I do to lower the action? (the saddle is pretty much low and can not go any lower).  Any thought or advice?   Thank you in advance.  Yuzo

Hi, Yuzo - always great to hear from you!  Your problem isn't unique; it's common for acoustic guitars - particularly older ones - to have an uncomfortably high action.  

You already are on the right track with the neck adjustment; properly adjusting the neck can correct some action problems and make the guitar play better.  Unfortunately, you also already know that this doesn't always go far enough.  This is made especially hard with acoustics since the saddles are rarely adjustable.

One option available that can really go far is to have the nut and saddle shaved down to a smaller height so that the strings lie closer to the fretboard.  This is definitely not something I'd suggest doing on your own, as it has to be very precisely done.  It's more effective to have the nut and bridge removed completely and then have the material be removed from underneath these areas so that the slots and bridge slants don't have to be redone.  

This may or may not be something you'd like to have done to your instrument.  Depending upon the charge you incur for having this done where you are, it may actually be cheaper to find a different guitar entirely.  If you really like the tone of your instrument, though, or can get the job done at an affordable price, it's worth looking up someone to do the job.

Shoot me an email and let me know how it turns out!

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J Ross Smith


Find at! Over 20 years of guitar playing, teaching, building, and modifying; have worked as a touring musician, studio session guitarist, engineer, guitar tech, and guitar teacher. Registered member of ASCAP. Registered member of Freelancers Union. I have a working knowledge of music theory and styles, and a taste for all types of music and instruments. If you have a favorite guitar player or style, chances are I share it! If you have a question I can't answer, I'll rely on experienced and knowledgeable people I know to get the correct information for you, and I hope I can help inspire your playing style and tone. Promo photography by Sebastian Castillo at Castillo Photography, San Diego, CA.


I hope that by answering questions thoroughly and giving insightful answers, I can have a positive impact on someone's playing style and tone - help them get their perfect sound.

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