Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Why is my action so high?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default Why is my action so high?

    Hello all! I am new to the mandolin and recently bought a secondhand Ashbury AM-50. I changed the strings as they were quite corroded, but the action seems really high at the 12th fret. I'm not sure what is considered normal, but coming from guitar it doesn't seem right. I've set the bridge as low as possible, but reluctant to mess with the truss rod.

    Here are some pictures:

    https://imgur.com/a/ymE5Xwv

  2. #2
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    3,092
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    To me it looks like your neck is straight from the photos-you need to sand your bridge base down more-you have the room by the looks of your bridge-thats what I would do-if your not handy find a shop that knows mandolins!

  3. #3
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,864

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    The truss rod does not directly affect the string height, but rather sets the neck relief (the amount of bow in the neck to allow the strings to vibrate without hitting the fretboard), so no need to try adjusting that until you have tried bridge height adjustments. By the looks of the bridge in your pictures it is already adjusted to its lowest height on the adjusting wheels, so sanding the foot of the bridge might be a possible solution. If you are doing this you need to avoid rocking the bridge as you sand - keep the bridge foot as even as you can.
    From one of the photos I am wondering if the top has developed a slight dip just above the soundhole? If this has happened then your string height would be affected and be higher than it should be.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,270

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Unless the fit of the foot of the bridge is not good, I would not try to remove material there. It is slow and if there is no need, I would remove it elsewhere. You could take material off the top of the foot, remove the post and adjusting wheels an take some off there, you have plenty. You can also take some off the bottom of the saddle, top part of the bridge, as you also have plenty of wood there.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Web search mandolin action height; yours does seem high. The ‘why’ might be that the instrument is beginning to fold from the string tension, not so much from only the neck bowing. Agree that contouring the bottom of a bridge is a delicate business, especially as the top changes shape without string downforce, so take material as just suggested above. If you want a really quick experiment with no woodwork, you might just remove the adjustment wheels, leaving the screws in place. Lowering the action will also reduce the stress on the top, and you may be ok thereafter. There are also light gauge strings that might be good insurance.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Web search mandolin action height; yours does seem high. The ‘why’ might be that the instrument is beginning to fold from the string tension, not so much from only the neck bowing. Agree that contouring the bottom of a bridge is a delicate business, especially as the top changes shape without string downforce, so take material as just suggested above. If you want a really quick experiment with no woodwork, you might just remove the adjustment wheels, leaving the screws in place. Lowering the action will also reduce the stress on the top, and you may be ok thereafter. There are also light gauge strings that might be good insurance.
    This sounds like a good starting point, before I risk irreversible changes! What is the best way to remove the wheels - should I take off all the strings or can I just loosen them?

  7. #7
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,594

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    The truss rod does not directly affect the string height, but rather sets the neck relief ...
    True, but looking at the side views of the neck, I suspect that there's more relief than necessary (especially as some consider that NO relief is okay on a mandolin). And that indirectly affects string height.

    - From fret 1 to 5, the string clearance over frets rises quickly.
    - From fret 8 to 12, clearance increases barely at all.
    - Past fret 15, the fretboard appears to drop away, a not-uncommon trait of economy instruments (at least MY economy instruments!).

    OP: You may gauge relief yourself by fretting at 1 & 12, and observe the clearance over frets 5-6. More than a business card thickness is way too much, piece of notepad paper is good, straight seems most unlikely.

    Considering that a trussrod tightening costs little in time & effort, is totally reversible, and could have a major effect, that would be my first step.

    Check Frets.com for how to tighten a truss rod (and to do most other maintanence tasks):
    http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician...Adj/tradj.html

    A few personal hints:
    - Mark the nut so you'll know where it was before you started.
    - Loosen strings before tightening the trussrod nut; it isn't designed to do THAT much work!
    - Loosen the nut before you tighten it; the nut MAY be bottomed out on the screw threads -or the threads may be gunked up with glue or finish- and you'll only know that if you have room to feel the difference.
    - Only tighten 1/8 turn at a time - it may have a fairly large effect.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Aug-17-2021 at 11:37am.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,270

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    You can loosen them and flip the bridge over and slip it out. I would mark it first so putting it back in position is easier. The lighter strings I think would be a really good idea for this mandolin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    3,306

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    If it were mine, I’d be seriously thinking of taking it to a luthier for a complete set up.

    My bet would be that the nut is also too high - they are on most new mandolins; assuming this mandolin has never previously been set up properly. The bottom of the bridge foot may well need reducing but, if it’s a good fit to the top, there are other ways of reducing the height which a luthier would consider first.

    As for neck relief, I’me one of those who prefer a flat fretboard but neck relief needs to be adjusted under string tension so you will need to sort bridge and nut height first.

  10. #10
    Registered User Doug Edwards's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Kerrville, Texas
    Posts
    1,923

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    I’ve seen this many times. Get help and a full setup. You’ll like it!

  11. #11
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,591

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Of course the possibility the neck was fitted solidly but at the wrong angle, is there esp, @ that price point ..

    so cutting down the bridge height, is as others have said , where you should seek adjustment ..

    the base can be cut & the bottom of the top piece thinned down some.. in height, ..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Thank you for all the advice! I looked into getting a setup done, but as I only paid £100 for this mandolin it didn't seem worth the cost.

    I've made a couple of changes - I removed the thumbscrews from the bridge and sanded down the base of the saddle. I also tightened the truss rod. Here are the "after" pics:

    https://imgur.com/a/Yg5rgIp

  13. The following members say thank you to cloudsofice for this post:

    lenf12 

  14. #13

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    That looks much better. How do you like playing it now?

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  15. #14

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    I agree with Ed's advice. It appears there's still more relief than and mandolin needs. Another 1/4 on the truss rod night have you in ideal action territory. If you're happy with how it plays, no need to spend the same amount again for a set-up. Maybe start saving up for a better instrument down the road if you've been bitten by the bug?

  16. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Unless the fit of the foot of the bridge is not good, I would not try to remove material there. It is slow and if there is no need, I would remove it elsewhere. You could take material off the top of the foot, remove the post and adjusting wheels an take some off there, you have plenty. You can also take some off the bottom of the saddle, top part of the bridge, as you also have plenty of wood there.
    Pops1, I have a similar issue and wondered about removing material from saddle bottom. Excuse my ignorance, would this have any negative impact on volume or tone quality?
    Girouard A
    Silverangel A
    Eastman 615

  17. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,270

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Quote Originally Posted by A-board View Post
    Pops1, I have a similar issue and wondered about removing material from saddle bottom. Excuse my ignorance, would this have any negative impact on volume or tone quality?
    I don't feel it does. Some like a higher action for more volume, but I prefer a lower action and I have plenty of volume. It will of course depend on how high above the top your saddle is. You want to be careful to not remove too much and make the saddle weak. Sometimes I remove the posts and take a slight bit off the post area on the bridge foot, and the bottom of the saddle, depending on how much I need to remove. If your saddle and bridge foot is slim then you may have a neck angle problem, but here with the humidity so high this summer one my mandolins is slightly higher on the treble side than I would like, with the saddle bottomed out. Summer will be over soon, and it has just become that way, so i will wait for drier weather on that one as the bridge is not all that big to begin with.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  18. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Edmonds, WA
    Posts
    444

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Get my free ebook on how to set up a mandolin. Email rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.

  19. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Rob Meldrum For This Useful Post:


  20. #18
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SD
    Posts
    3,378

    Default Re: Why is my action so high?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Meldrum View Post
    Get my free ebook on how to set up a mandolin. Email rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.
    Do it everyone it is a great resource! He put a lot of work into this!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •