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Thread: Setup/bridge adjustment

  1. #1

    Question Setup/bridge adjustment

    Hi there, hopefully this is the right place to post this,

    Even though I've been playing for an hour a day for a few months, it still hurts to play. Specifically, I have to put in a lot of pressure to get sound out of some of the strings, (especially higher pitched strings) to the point where the skin under my fingernails blanch when I'm playing and it's still not getting the sound I need. It limits the time I can play because I get really gnarly cramps in my pinkie.

    Anyway, I did some looking and I found out that part of the problem could be that I need to adjust my action. The problem is that I've never done this before, and I'm scared I'll break my mandolin. Should I go to a music shop or should I do it myself? If I go to a music shop, how much will it cost?

    I also have read stuff about neck adjustment, which I don't understand at all and am terrified by.

    If it matters, my mandolin is a Rogue RM-100A A-Style.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Setup/bridge adjustment

    First of all, Rob Meldrum, a cafe member, has a free e book he will send you. Just do a search, send him an e mail, and you will have a lot of knowledge. With a feeler gauge set and a ruler, you will be able to see where you are. If you don't feel up to the task, you will likely pay as much for a setup as you did for the mandolin.

    It is a fact of life that generally the cheapest mandolins need the most help. Your nut slots are likely not cut deep enough, your bridge probably is not setting solidly on the mandolin top, nor set to the proper height. Rob's book will give you a lot of information and you can plan to move forward. Jerry Rosa has a YouTube channel, Rosa String Works, and has a video setting up a Rogue. You might check that out.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Setup/bridge adjustment

    Yeah, good setup, lower action, lighter strings, those are the first steps, and enough for most.
    I also put on taller frets, since I started on a low-fret instrument, and my hands are old and weak.

    Until you get better at fiddling with your instrument it's best to let someone else do it the first time or so.
    They likely won't make it as low as you could though.

    If you go too low on a nut, you need a new nut, less than $100 including labor, so not catastrophic.
    It was years before I learned to cut my own nuts, and I'm lazy, I don't like to do it that often.

    Bridge height is adjustable with a screw (hopefully on your mandolin), so you can't ruin that.

    I switched to GHS A240's (strings) right at the beginning, they helped some.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Setup/bridge adjustment

    It's easy to lower your action at the bridge. If you get buzzing just raise it back to where it was. You will probably have to slacken the strings to do this. It is good to have some extra e strings as they tend to break after a few times.

    But the crux of the matter is you probably do not want to spend more having it set up that you paid for the mandolin, so the DIY route makes sense. But not all of us are handy. Money will solve most issues, but then I'd be recommending a better mandolin.

    It is likely your bridge suffers from poor contact with the top, and may not be intonated correctly. The nut slots are probably too high too. All this needs to be right. The main difference between an inexpensive mandolin and one costing multiple thousands, in terms of playability, is several hours of setup. I'm a huge believer in fret leveling too, but that is another matter altogether.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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