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Thread: That pesky A string

  1. #1

    Default That pesky A string

    Experienced builders and repairman, your wisdom please. In setting up the few mandos I've built, I find that the A string requires a higher action in order to ring clean instead of that rattly, muted tone you get from too-low action. I've been using a 12" radius on that last few and start by radiusing the top of the saddle the same. I've taken to dropping the E string section of the saddle by a mm or so below the radius to get the E string down to better playability (all the other strings seem t come out well sticking with the 12" radius saddle top). I've toyed with the idea of filing a little extra relief into the frets down the vector of the A string before recrowning, but that seems an in invitation to disaster. When going for that ultimate set up on your best instruments, how do you deal with the A string? Thanks for all the great sharing of knowledge that happens here.

  2. #2
    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: That pesky A string

    As for radius, what you've described sounds like a reasonable starting point, but have you matched the bridge radius up to your fret radius by actually measuring the action on every string? The high E should indeed be a little lower than the A, but for example, if they were 1/64" and 2/64" off the 12th fret, they'd both be too low. . . So how low is the action on each string? How much neck relief do you have and does it look the same across all strings? How low are the nut slots? And are you sure the muting/rattling sound isn't actually coming from a nut slot problem as opposed to contact with the frets? Sometimes if plain strings sound dead or rattly/strange I find that they're being held too tightly buried in a nut slot and some backfiling is required to get them to vibrate right again.

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