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Thread: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret above

  1. #1
    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret above

    Thanks for looking at this. I purchased a Kentucky oval KM272 from a reputable shop and it was set up (as far as I can tell) well. (Perhaps the action was a little low, but I could still fret each string at an octave. I knew enough about a proper setup to try that .)

    It seems like all of a sudden the E strings are both 'hitting' a fret when I play A#. Really, nothing seemed to change.

    I live on Long Island, so it hasn't been too dry yet.

    I have the various tools to measure the action (I know where to measure on the guitar just not on the mandolin).

    I have on GHS mediums and they're on for about 2-3 months.

    If I just need to raise the bridge, can I get away losening the strings so the bridge doesn't change position? Are their other measurements or pics that I could take that would help you to help me? If I had a place nearby that I'd really trust with a mandolin, I'd bring it in.
    ó
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    You can thru the setup pdf that Rob M offers https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...by-Rob-Meldrum

    Take measurements of relief fret 7 and string height at 1 and 12, then look at reflections of strings off frets, you should be able to see a smooth curve that reflects relief but if you have high frets, hump over neck joint etc you'll be able to see those too. What this guy is doing but he doesn't really explain it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBzirIfsQPo
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Just get some low tack masking tape (green or blue) and tape right up to the sides of the bridge base and the ends too. If your bridge gets moved by any adjustments, you will know exactly where it was.
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    If tou raise the bridge much it will need to be moved. I always check intonation if I raisevor lower bridge.

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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    If tou raise the bridge much it will need to be moved. I always check intonation if I raisevor lower bridge.
    If your bridge lowered because of dry winter weather, even tho it is not extremely cold yet, and you raise it to where it was you won't have to move the bridge. You have a furnace running so I am guessing you need to raise the saddle. You may also need to set relief, and you can check that. Fret at the first and 12th fret and look around fret 7 to see how much space is between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string. This is easier using the G strings to see, but any chorus of strings work.
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  9. #6

    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenzin View Post
    It seems like all of a sudden the E strings are both 'hitting' a fret when I play A#. Really, nothing seemed to change.

    I live on Long Island, so it hasn't been too dry yet.
    It's winter and your central heating is on, almost certainly reducing the humidity indoors. The wood will shrink across the grain, which means the top will be a little lower than before. So if you had low action to start with, you probably have *really* low action now.

    Measure the action at the 12th fret, and if it's low then just raise the bridge.

    From the problem description either your A# fret is a fraction low, or the fret above a fraction high. You'll need to get this corrected if you want to keep the action as low as it currently is.

    Alternatively, the neck has bowed forwards a little, increasing the relief too much, in which case when you fret on the A# the string will be hitting a fret much higher (somewhere near the neck/body join). Again, the slight sinking of the top is what will have made this suddenly apparent.

    So, check the relief at around the 7th fret and the action at the 12th. Adjust the relief if needed (assuming you have a truss rod), then set the 12th fret action. If it played before (with low action) it should now play again. And when humidity rises later in the year, your top will rise too and you'll need to lower the bridge.

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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    1. Do not adjust the truss rod unless the neck has a significant curve or bow in it.
    2. Measure the distance between the 12th fret and the bottom of the string. The distance should be 4/64".
    3. If the bridge needs to be raised, you can loosen all but the outside E string and outside G string, and with care it will stay in place. Or, as has been mentioned before, you can use a piece of masking tape to mark its position.
    4. If the instrument still buzzes after you have adjusted the action to 4/64", you should have it checked for an over-adjusted truss rod or a high fret.

    The purpose of a truss rod is to straighten the neck, not to raise or lower the action. If you use it to adjust the action, you might only complicate your problem.

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    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    You can thru the setup pdf that Rob M offers https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...by-Rob-Meldrum

    Take measurements of relief fret 7 and string height at 1 and 12, then look at reflections of strings off frets, you should be able to see a smooth curve that reflects relief but if you have high frets, hump over neck joint etc you'll be able to see those too. What this guy is doing but he doesn't really explain it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBzirIfsQPo
    I have Bob's book. I'll take a look at the youtube video. What should the measurement be? (I know this will be a range.)
    ó
    And once the storm is over, you wonít remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You wonít even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you wonít be the same person who walked in. Thatís what this stormís all about.

  14. #9
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    I have no intention of fooling with the truss rod. I know enough about truss rods in guitars not to use that as a first thing to try.
    ó
    And once the storm is over, you wonít remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You wonít even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you wonít be the same person who walked in. Thatís what this stormís all about.

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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    You will get different opinions on neck relief. 0.010" is reasonable. 0.020" is too much. There has been some debate over whether a mandolin needs any relief at all. Stew-mac recommends 0.005".
    I lean towards less rather than more.

    When you tighten your strings up, the bridge may start to lean forward. I tighten the strings gradually and stop to tilt it back into position a couple of times before I reach full tension.

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  17. #11

    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Whenever action is discussed people mention the common hump where the neck meets the body. I feel duty bound to point out this can be eliminated with a fret level, and dead level frets will enable less relief and lower action.

    I recently went to heavier strings. Because my frets are level I could lower action to the point the playability is roughly the same. And once again I point out this is usually a bigger issue on cheaper instruments because they just don't receive the attention a pricier instrument receives.

    At any rate, everyone should know how to set intonation and basic action, which is why Rob's Book is such an asset. But you won't believe the difference a fret level and crown can make. This is most of the difference between the feel of a Kentucky KM 150 and a Collings MT.
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  18. #12
    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Thanks to everyone. I was able to raise the bridge after measuring and removing the string tension. I knew what I needed to do. I've just never really worked on a mandolin other than changing the strings once. Thanks!
    ó
    And once the storm is over, you wonít remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You wonít even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you wonít be the same person who walked in. Thatís what this stormís all about.

  19. #13

    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Such is the conundrum when contemplating doing anything for the first time. It seems scarier that it really is. This was the primary reason my kit build took so long. Too much worry over the next step. It took me months to get up the nerve to cut the binding channels. Of course I screwed it up and had to fix things, but once I accepted that, doing it was easier.

    Everyone ought to do their own setups, because you might do a better job that a guitar tech. Cut your nut slots and learn how to fill them with bone dust when you go too far. No big deal, and eventually you will learn when to stop.
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  20. #14
    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky E strings suddenly not able to play B hitting fret a

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Everyone ought to do their own setups, because you might do a better job that a guitar tech. Cut your nut slots and learn how to fill them with bone dust when you go too far. No big deal, and eventually you will learn when to stop.
    The problem (as I see it) is Guitar 'techs' that are too foolish, or careless with someone else's equipment, to have a little bit of fear. I have the big 3 guitar store chains within 15 miles and a few smaller stores. I know times are tight, but if you don't pay your staff so you have a culture of musicians, there's no reason for me to go in. In my youth, I used to go to Sam Ash about once a week just to hang out and talk with the acoustic people. (I'd go when it wasn't so busy, so they didn't mind.) I'd always purchase some magazines or plectrums or something else. When I did have the money to purchase a guitar, I was never rushed nor pushed towards anything that didn't interest me. I purchased a 1969 Gibson Hummingbird used that way. I think it took me a year to pay it off.

    Last year when after recovering from a broken wrist I decided to treat myself to a new guitar. Age has it's financial advantages. I was willing to pay between $5k and probably $7,500. Twice I visited each of the big three and a couple of local places ready to make my purchase. No one could be bothered helping me. If i asked, they'd get a guitar down / unlock one, but they'd quickly find something better to do. Well, I don't beg people to take my money. I'm not looking for the absolute best price and I'm not comparing them with Amazon or anything like that.

    I ended up purchasing from Elderly after doing a lot of research and I spent almost an hour on the phone before making my final decision. Sach's, Nieman Marcus, and Bloomingdale's all expanded in 2018. Have you been in Woolworth's? Yes. There is a time and a place to save money but I believe that people will pay for service. When I decided to buy a mandolin, I wouldn't think about going to one of the stores that ignored me. C'est la vie!

    Thanks to everyone!
    ó
    And once the storm is over, you wonít remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You wonít even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you wonít be the same person who walked in. Thatís what this stormís all about.

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