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Thread: Ultra low action

  1. #1
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Ultra low action

    I think this Gibson Doyle Lawson might be the best made instrument Iíve ever owned, at least as far as the neck and fretwork goes. I have the saddle bottomed out, way under 1.5mm on both sides at the 12th with 11.5-40 strings, and it plays on every fret with no buzzing. If I chop REALLY hard, it chokes a little, but has plenty of volume otherwise. Thereís no tone or sustain loss from the higher action, either. Itís virtually effortless to play across the entire neck.

    Anybody else running theirs silly low like this?
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Have for years, I even carry a gauge to watch for any changes from humidity or dryness and put it back to it's low action. Jethro couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't play with low action. My mandolin is loud, rich and plays great with a very low action. Why would i want to work harder?
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  5. #3
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    I like it really low. But it takes more effort tweaking to keep it there and I get lazy. Not as low as it used to be. Still my blue chip CT55 is a snug fit under strings at 12th fret.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

  6. #4
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Just for fun, I got out the feeler gauges and measured. .043” on the E, .050” on the G. The E could come down a little, but I broke a string earlier and had to replace one of them with a .011”, and brought it up a hair to keep from buzzing. The G side is all the way down. If I end up sticking with this setup, I’ll sand a little off the bottom of the saddle to free up a little room should I need to adjust it. I’d planned on replacing the stock Gibson bridge with a CA, but for now it’s too good to mess with.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Ultra low needs IMHO a little neck relief

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  9. #6
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    I haven’t adjusted the truss rod in this mandolin, but it’s almost straight. Fretted at the 1st and 15th, there’s a little breathing room between the string and frets. Unless it shifts on its own, I’m not touching it.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

  10. #7
    Registered User LastMohican's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bowsman View Post
    I think this Gibson Doyle Lawson might be the best made instrument Iíve ever owned, at least as far as the neck and fretwork goes. I have the saddle bottomed out, way under 1.5mm on both sides at the 12th with 11.5-40 strings, and it plays on every fret with no buzzing. If I chop REALLY hard, it chokes a little, but has plenty of volume otherwise. Thereís no tone or sustain loss from the higher action, either. Itís virtually effortless to play across the entire neck.

    Anybody else running theirs silly low like this?
    So, I've always wanted to try a super low action. But, I don't know the procedure to do it properly and I'm always afraid that if I start screwing with it, I won't be able to get it back like it was. Is it really just a question of lowering the adjustment at the bridge or is there more to it than that?
    "I actually wanted to be a drummer, but I didn't have any drums." - Stevie Ray Vaughn

    Northfield F5S "Blacktop", K&K Pickup

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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Quote Originally Posted by LastMohican View Post
    So, I've always wanted to try a super low action. But, I don't know the procedure to do it properly and I'm always afraid that if I start screwing with it, I won't be able to get it back like it was. Is it really just a question of lowering the adjustment at the bridge or is there more to it than that?
    You can measure your string height at the 12th fret, then lower the bridge and see if you like it. You can go back and forth till you find what works for you. Keep measuring with each adjustment and write down how you like it then you will know and can return to that height anytime. If all you do is change the bridge you shouldn't mess anything up. If it buzzes you went too far, bring it back up until it quits. That is as low as you can go. Fret level will determine how low you can get the action.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  12. #9
    Registered User LastMohican's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    You can measure your string height at the 12th fret, then lower the bridge and see if you like it. You can go back and forth till you find what works for you. Keep measuring with each adjustment and write down how you like it then you will know and can return to that height anytime. If all you do is change the bridge you shouldn't mess anything up. If it buzzes you went too far, bring it back up until it quits. That is as low as you can go. Fret level will determine how low you can get the action.
    And for the measurement...just a caliper, I suppose?
    "I actually wanted to be a drummer, but I didn't have any drums." - Stevie Ray Vaughn

    Northfield F5S "Blacktop", K&K Pickup

  13. #10
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    count the turns of the wheels. It helps to know the thread spacing. So, if the threads are 24 to the inch, then one turn raises the bridge by 1/24th of an inch. By laws, then you'd raise the action at the 12th fret by 1/48th.

    Or trial and error works too!

    f-d
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  15. #11
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Quote Originally Posted by LastMohican View Post
    And for the measurement...just a caliper, I suppose?
    I use a ruler setting on top of the fret and measure to the bottom of the string. Use a light so you can see. My ruler has lines on the side so I can lay it across the frets. If you balance a small 6" ruler on the fret be sure it is level or you will get a false reading and can vary each time. Try to set it on at least two frets.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  16. #12
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    I use a ruler on guitar and bass, but used a feeler gauge for this.

    The only other thing you may have to adjust is the truss rod. If you want to get it as low as possible, use a heavier string set like EJ-75. Thicker strings vibrate less, so they’re less likely to buzz.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

  17. #13
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    everything i own i set up like this. its just how i like my instruments to play. as pops mentioned, frets need to be as level as possible to get that low buzz free action. med gauge strings feel like light gauge, no effort or strain in fretting.

    congrats on having a great playing mandolin, makes a world of a difference imo.
    d

  18. #14
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultra low action

    Thanks, and I completely agree about having a great playing instrument.

    Another cool benefit I've noticed is how spot-on the intonation is now.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

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