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Thread: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

  1. #1

    Default Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I bought the Recording King ROST-7-TS tenor guitar from Sun Valley
    Guitars after seeing their name as forum sponsor. I am a beginner,
    and after shopping around for a mid-century cheap guitar I decided to
    purchase the Recording King. I may tell the story of how I came to
    that decision, but first about this guitar.

    The appearance is neat and clean. The guitar looks like the finish was
    applied prior to assembly, and it was assembled from a kit of parts.
    The entire back, sides, and neck have some kind of black plastic finish.
    The top looks laminated with a printed wood grain finish. It is realistic
    enough that I can't be certain the pattern is printed, but it looks like
    a laminated furniture top. The trim around the top lines up everywhere.
    This guitar looks fine for the price. I have seen a couple $200 imported
    mandolins that don't look as good.

    One disappointment is the frets are as cut. They have sharp burrs on the
    ends. All of them. While I have not hurt my fingers on them, I think
    if labor was cheap they should have filed the ends. It would have been
    easier I think if they had done that before finishing.

    The neck is straight up to fret 14 where it joins the body. Then there
    is a little angle difference with the frets over the top. The angle of
    the neck is slightly back which lowers the action a bit. The string
    height at fret 12 is about 0.085". If this were a mandolin I would want
    the strings a bit lower, but this feels all right to me. The tuners look
    all right and work smoothly.

    Though the top looks flat it arches out to a maximum of about 1/4 inch
    just south of the bridge.

    The guitar comes in a cardboard box. It was double boxed as I received it.
    It does not come with any instructions or papers from Recording King, but
    it does comes with a 4mm Allen wrench which fits in a fitting inside the
    sound hole. there is no plate next to the nut for adjusting a tension rod.
    This is is suggestive, but I don't know.

    When I received the guitar and tuned it up, starting with the low strings,
    the A string broke. I sent the seller a message. They quickly responded
    by calling me. They said this is not uncommon and volunteered to send
    me a set of strings right away.

    I tried playing with 3 strings just to see. I don't know many songs that
    use all 4 strings or courses. One thing I noticed is a sharp corner at
    edge of the fret board. It is not sharp enough to cut, but it digs into
    my index finger. That might be due to using sub optimal technique, but
    my mandolin has a slight bevel on the edge of the fret board. Looking
    at the construction I can see why they did that, but I consider this to
    be a design flaw.

    I will try to attach some photos here. The photos were taken without the
    A string. Let me know if there is something I missed.

    I will report about the sound later.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thanks for the unboxing review! I look forward to your sound/playing report! I, too, am looking for a relatively inexpensive tenor. While I like the idea of the old Martins and Gibsons, I am not sure I want to deal with neck resetting, etc..

  4. #3

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 2

    How did I decide to get a tenor guitar? I will tell the story.

    Some of the tunes I want to learn feel like they sound better when played
    lower. The mandola scale would be about right. My mandolin teacher told
    me it would be like a viola. They are not popular because the melody line
    is usually written for violin, and the violas get to play rhythm or harmony.
    Even so I should feel free to play in the range I like.

    The mandola market seems pretty small, and I am a beginner. It is difficult
    to justify spending a lot on an instrument I don't know. I listen instruments
    on line, and still have the dream. I started searching for mandolas.

    Meanwhile I want to start learning the tunes. As you know the tenor guitar
    has, or can have, the same tuning as the mandola, CGDA.

    This post inspired me to look at tenor guitars. Check it out.
    Used my tenor in a school project

    There are the mid century cheap guitars. Currently the asking price for
    a 1960s Harmony tenor guitar is about $300. At that price they don't
    appear to sell quickly. I found one on craigslist, and went to try it.
    The Harmony I tried was straight and the action was pretty good for a
    beginner. The sound was all right. The seller was friendly and let me
    pick on it until I was satisfied. The thing about the Harmony is it was
    not as resonant as my mandolin. I need it to resonate to motivate
    practicing. It did not motivate me. I thanked the seller, but I decided
    to pass on the Harmony.

    Then in a couple weeks the Recording King tenor guitars announced
    availability. I prefer to listen prior to purchase, but I decided to try it.
    As I mentioned earlier the A string broke when tuning up the first time.
    Sun Valley guitars, a forum sponsor, sent me new strings right away.
    I read up on how to put on a new string, and did not have trouble.
    Useful Tip For Changing Strings (sblock)

    The Recording King is a cheap guitar, which is what the Harmony was
    in its era. I am a beginner, but I have heard a lot of guitars played by
    professional musicians. What I hear is pretty good. The Recording King
    is way more resonant than the Harmony. I can feel the vibrations. It
    sounds live, but is not "boomy". The A string sounds live when picked,
    but is not as responsive as the others. Overall the A sounds good, but
    it does not ring like the Gibson in the post I linked above. I suppose the
    body is tuned differently. Of course, I did not pay for a vintage Gibson.

    One thing I noticed is the G string has a twang when picked open. It
    doesn't buzz, but it is not a pure note like the other strings. I got out
    my flashlight. To me it looks like the string lightly touches the 1st and
    2nd frets when picked, exciting those notes.
    The guitar came with these strings:
    A4 = 440 Hz - 0.010
    D4 = 293 Hz - 0.014
    G3 = 196 Hz - 0.022w
    C3 = 131 Hz - 0.032w

    I think I will get a 0.024w, and see if the extra tension clears up that
    note. It isn't bad, but it isn't right.

    Over all, I am satisfied with the Recording King. I like the sound
    more than the Harmony. It is noticeably better. The action is good
    for a beginner, though one negative is the sharp corner on the neck.
    I would make this purchase again.

    Right now I am not set up to make a recording, but I will try to do that.
    I am also a beginner. I need to practice a tune to show the tone of the
    guitar. I also need to keep practicing on the mandolin.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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  6. #4
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thank you for the review!

    One note: the allen nut in the soundhole is the truss rod adjustment. It's available in the sound hole rather than behind the nut. When I first read your post about the string height, I thought it was a tad high for a tenor. I was going to suggest you check for excessive relief and adjust the truss rod. I usually shoot for 1/16" (.625") at the 12th fret on a tenor. But .8ish is still playable! But it also sounds like your G is slightly low. I'd be hesitant to adjust the truss rod if you've never done it before, and I think adjusting the rod to reduce relief (which will lower the action slightly) would make your G string buzz worse.

    It's possible that the G string nut slot is cut too deep. I have used the "baking soda and super glue" trick many times to solve this problem on instruments. You basically fill the nut slot with baking soda, and then drop in liquid super glue. After it dries, you can recut the nut slot (not so deep this time!) That *should* fix the not-quite-buzz you're having. You can probably test this by putting a thin piece of paper under the string in the nut slot. Make sure the paper doesn't touch the string on the fretboard side of the nut, though. If that fixes the buzzing then the nut slot is probably too low. (I have found more than one guitar in my day with the paper used as a permanent solution, at least until you have to restring!)

    You can also address the sharp fret ends with a file. There are specialty files for frets, but you can also tape off the neck to protect the wood and then lightly use a file held straight to fix those sharp ends. It won't take more than a few swipes, usually.

    (Lots of information on YouTube I am sure about these different setup techniques.)

    Besides an increase in quality of materials and craftmanship, one additional thing a more expensive instrument gets you (especially if you purchase it from a music shop with actual humans interacting with the instruments) is a good setup. If you take to the tenor, it might be worth spending $50-75 to have someone do a setup for you down the road!

    I had really been eyeing one of these as a "knock-around" tenor, and that might still be something for down the road (I already have a knock around tenor, but it's a 12 fret tuned GDAE, so when I capo at 5 to be in CGDA I really miss the access to those two extra frets a 14 fret model would give!) Your review confirms that this would probably be a good fit! I've liked the tone I heard in a few videos I've seen, and your description helps confirm that. (I've also liked the tone of the RK Dirty 30s parlor guitars, too.) For me, picking one of these up will have to wait since I just drained my instrument fund for an archtop tenor. (More on that in another post soon.)

    Thanks again!

  7. #5

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thank you for the suggestions.

    I looked like the slot was maybe too deep on G. The top of the string
    was below the level of nut. I tried putting paper in the slot. Thin paper
    seemed too compressible. I used a piece of card stock. Now the string
    sticks above the nut a little bit. I think that has cleared up the open G,
    no more twang. That was helpful.

    I do wonder about filling and filing the string slot. When tightening
    the string the paper gets pulled back by the windings on the string.
    I wonder if that would abrasively remove the filler material. Maybe
    someone could provide a detailed description of that operation,
    especially finding and cutting the slot.

    After practicing with all 4 strings I think the notes on A do not resonate
    much, at least not like a real guitar. Otherwise it sounds all right.
    I can feel the lower lower two strings when I am trying to play a tune.

    What do you think would be the effect if the 0.010 A string were
    replaced with a 0.095 ?
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I also purchased the recording king tenor recently. The shop i bought from in Salt Lake City indicated that while the fret ends were not sharp when I bought it that they expected them to be sharp shortly as Utah is a dry climate and the fretboard will shrink and the frets will not. This is very common for instruments in dry climates. I have a fret end file and can fix this, but the shop (shout out to Guitar Czar) recommended I bring it back in once it got bad.

    Otherwise I'm loving the guitar, although mine came tuned GDAE - but the strings seem slack enough that I may try tuning up to CGDA.
    Addicted to 4-string instruments - Ukulele was the gateway drug, followed by bass and now onto the hard stuff - tenor guitars and banjos (plus a little mandolin on the side)

  9. #7
    Registered User MarkusSpiel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I got mine today. Pretty good for 189 Euro and I will post a video in the next few days.
    Gibson F2 1916
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  11. #8
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by sounds_good View Post
    What do you think would be the effect if the 0.010 A string were
    replaced with a 0.095 ?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Checking it on my favorite string tension calculator, a .009 would be just fine. A .0095 might not break as often (my .009s historically break because of mechanical issues like 6 year olds with vigorous strumming action, rather than string tension.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    FWIW, here it is with a .010 for the A and a .024 for the G - that tension might be too much for the G. I usually try to keep things at around 20lbs/string. Your .010 is currently at 23lbs, so I personally think it'll feel better if you drop it to a .009.

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by PTOEguy View Post
    I also purchased the recording king tenor recently. The shop i bought from in Salt Lake City indicated that while the fret ends were not sharp when I bought it that they expected them to be sharp shortly as Utah is a dry climate and the fretboard will shrink and the frets will not. This is very common for instruments in dry climates. I have a fret end file and can fix this, but the shop (shout out to Guitar Czar) recommended I bring it back in once it got bad.

    Otherwise I'm loving the guitar, although mine came tuned GDAE - but the strings seem slack enough that I may try tuning up to CGDA.
    Took my tenor into the local shop because the fret ends were getting sharp - they fixed them up in about 5 minutes. Still plays great
    Addicted to 4-string instruments - Ukulele was the gateway drug, followed by bass and now onto the hard stuff - tenor guitars and banjos (plus a little mandolin on the side)

  13. #10
    Registered User MarkusSpiel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1



    Here is a short video of the guitar- a little sloppy and the wrong key
    I still like it very much.
    Gibson F2 1916
    Hartmann A Oval 2017
    Hartmann Two Pointer 2018
    Kimble J 2020

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  15. #11

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Sounds great for a cheapo.

    Thanks for your review sounds_good. All the things you mention are to be expected at this price point. These days makers are using PLEK equipment more and more for fret dressing but that would be overkill on something like this. Frustrating for those expecting a good setup out of the box, but par for the course.
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  16. #12
    Registered User john bange's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    had mine for 4 days now. I adjusted the truss rod and hung the guitar on a hook overnight. the fret board flattened out at the 14th fret. it took a huge (more than I've ever done before) adjustment on the supplied truss rod wrench. It plays great now.
    I replaced the tuners with 18 to 1 Grovers and added some bone bridge pins...might even have a pick guard made.
    It's wasn't so hot right out of the box but it's good now. It sounds like a $200 guitar and I expected it to. My fret ends were in need of a file...no big deal, I've got the file out on more expensive guitars.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by john bange; Nov-10-2020 at 9:35am.
    Jerry Samples custom 0-28hrt tenor guitar
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  18. #13
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I got one yesterday from Elderly - for the price I'm very impressed. I got it as a cheap tenor that I could leave at my folks' house without having to worry much about humidification and other maintenance, so for both the purpose and the price I didn't have high expectations. But it sounds a lot better than I thought it would. It has a bit of a "thin" tone but the 000 size compensates with some body and volume, so it winds up being a nice balance. It reminds me of my all-birch Stella, though not as woody. Fit & finish weren't perfect - some spots on the top & back where either glue reside or incomplete finishing show, but not a big deal to me. I really like the styling, especially the headstock. Came with a good set up (Elderly's doing I assume) - all I need to do is slot the nut for heavier GDAE strings.

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  20. #14

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Seonachan View Post
    I got one yesterday from Elderly - for the price I'm very impressed. I got it as a cheap tenor that I could leave at my folks' house without having to worry much about humidification and other maintenance, so for both the purpose and the price I didn't have high expectations. But it sounds a lot better than I thought it would. It has a bit of a "thin" tone but the 000 size compensates with some body and volume, so it winds up being a nice balance. It reminds me of my all-birch Stella, though not as woody. Fit & finish weren't perfect - some spots on the top & back where either glue reside or incomplete finishing show, but not a big deal to me. I really like the styling, especially the headstock. Came with a good set up (Elderly's doing I assume) - all I need to do is slot the nut for heavier GDAE strings.
    Expecting mine today and I will definitely be tuning GDAE. What string gauges would anyone suggest, please? Or string set if that makes more sense. My buddy down the road - an excellent luthier - will set it up for good playability but I wonder about strings. I love a low bass string for droning....
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
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    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

  21. #15
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Check this thread for lots of advice on gauges. I used a John Pearse set, and it sounds and feels very good.

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  23. #16

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Seonachan View Post
    Check this thread for lots of advice on gauges. I used a John Pearse set, and it sounds and feels very good.
    Thanks a lot. Wow, that RK tenor just arrived and someone had cranked the truss rod all the way to the right to the point that the high and low strings were touching the neck from about 2nd through 9th frets. Sheesh! I backed off the tension a LOT and it's better so going to let it sit overnight and then see where things are. It's a nice size instrument but at the moment, not playable.
    Girouard A5
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    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

  24. #17

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by john bange View Post
    had mine for 4 days now. I adjusted the truss rod and hung the guitar on a hook overnight. the fret board flattened out at the 14th fret. it took a huge (more than I've ever done before) adjustment on the supplied truss rod wrench. It plays great now.
    I replaced the tuners with 18 to 1 Grovers and added some bone bridge pins...might even have a pick guard made.
    It's wasn't so hot right out of the box but it's good now. It sounds like a $200 guitar and I expected it to. My fret ends were in need of a file...no big deal, I've got the file out on more expensive guitars.Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm having a similar experience. I just did 4-5 big turns to the left and it's better but not perfect. Will let it sit overnight then see.
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
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    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
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    Recording King Tenor Guitar

  25. #18
    Registered User john bange's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    if anyone is interested...the Lowden guitar Greven tortise pick guard that Guitar Gallery has in stock fits perfectlyClick image for larger version. 

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    Jerry Samples custom 0-28hrt tenor guitar
    Republic Hwy 49 tenor resonator guitar
    Gold Tone TG-18 tenor guitar
    Kinnard baritone uke
    Oceana baritone uke
    Kamaka HF-3L long neck tenor uke
    Mya Moe 6 string myrtlewood baritone uke
    Outdoor tenor uke
    Hoyt custom baritone banjo/ukulele

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  27. #19

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by sounds_good View Post
    I bought the Recording King ROST-7-TS tenor guitar
    Well this has been a good learning experience for me. I got the ROST-7-TS yesterday and as I said elsewhere, the truss rod was cranked all the way to the right. All 4 strings were hitting most of the fretboard (the seller told me that shipment had been delayed a day so that they could set it up, really?). So I backed it off with the supplied wrench 5 good 1/4 turns to the left. Let it sit for a while. Definitely better on the bass side but there seemed to be a hump on the treble side of the fretboard from frets 1 to 5. Fret ends sticking out on both sides. The intonation was lousy overall. I was all set to send it back and then thought I'd try an experiment. @Baron Collins-Hill had suggested in another recent post that on a 23" scale like this, he uses D'Addario EJ80 strings. I poked through my closet and got pretty close to that setup - 12, 22, 32 and 45 (EJ80 has a 46). I put the G string on first and wow, immediate improvement in intonation. The D bridge pin would not stay seated so I swapped it with the A and that worked. Anyway, this feels like a LOT more tension but it also feels much better. The intonation is very good now and the resonance is much better. With the added tension, I could see that now there was actually a bow in the neck (slight) so I cranked the truss rod once to the right and will check in the A.M. But big improvement overall. Now the only issue is the fret ends, so I ordered a Fret End file from Stew Mac ($15) and that should help a lot, too. I guess the obvious learning here is that a $189 instrument is going to have cheap parts throughout and in this case, especially the very light strings. From a marketing perspective, I'm sure they had to pull out all the stops to break the $200 barrier, but I for one, would have willingly paid another $50 to have the "out of box" experience improved. I do like the neck shape a lot and at the end of all this, if my after market outlay is $15 and no real need for a professional setup, well, it's pretty hard to be negative about that. If anything dramatic changes, I'll report back. I don't see an immediate need to change tuners or anything, they seem OK. Possibly some better bridge pins. Maybe I can actually be playing this tomorrow!
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

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  29. #20
    Registered User john bange's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    after the mentioned cranks on the truss rod, the overnight hang on a hook seemed to do the trick for me...new strings and a set of pins. if you ever change out the tuners, you will find the originals are undersized and a reamer is needed. the finish on the peg head is very fragile. I agree...it's a pretty good buy for the price.
    Jerry Samples custom 0-28hrt tenor guitar
    Republic Hwy 49 tenor resonator guitar
    Gold Tone TG-18 tenor guitar
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    Oceana baritone uke
    Kamaka HF-3L long neck tenor uke
    Mya Moe 6 string myrtlewood baritone uke
    Outdoor tenor uke
    Hoyt custom baritone banjo/ukulele

  30. #21

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mreidsma View Post
    Thank you for the review!

    I usually shoot for 1/16" (.625") at the 12th fret on a tenor. But .8ish is still playable! But it also sounds like your G is slightly low.
    If the nut seems good and the 12th fret is high (1.100), then it seems like the direction would be to sand roughly .500 off the bottom off the saddle. I've done stuff like this before, so no big worry but I've never fully understood the interrelationship between the saddle and the nut. If I work conservatively and start with a removal of say, .400 and check, is it as simple as that (in other words no nut adjustment required)? As is, it plays pretty well and I normally like low action but of course if I can lower this a bit, less stress on fretting hand. Thanks for any suggestions!
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

  31. #22
    Registered User john bange's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    We could be looking at 2 different issues. The last thing mine would need is lowering of the saddle.

  32. #23
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I would adjust the nut first, independently of the saddle (e.g. holding each string at the 3rd fret and checking the action at the 1st fret). If you still need to adjust the saddle after that, it shouldn't interfere with anything at the nut end.

  33. #24

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thanks for these replies, interesting. Rob Meldrum's free ebook on mandolin set up describes reducing saddle height after other things are set up and I've done that successfully with two mandolins. I sent him an email about the process and will be curious to hear what he says. I can live with the action as it is because the intonation is very good but as I said, if I can drop that action without blowing up the intonation, it would be a win.
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

  34. #25

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Response from Rob, just now:

    Hi Shaun,

    You are definitely on the right track. I'm assuming you can remove the saddle, sand it down, and put it back in place. Don't be too aggressive - take a little off, then check for height and make sure you have no buzzing (check each string at each fret). You may find, as you lower the action, that you discover the occasional "high fret."

    You can buy an inexpensive kit to level the frets if needed. I have used this kit to good effect: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    which does confirm what I was thinking as my experience in general is that I would much rather mess with the saddle than the nut. Worst case? Get a new saddle and sand it to right proportions. The nut removal replacement and cutting strings slots correctly is just a lot of I don't wanna go there." So, off to the sand bar.
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

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