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  • MarkAMitch 5:47PM

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raising bridge. How much is too much?

Recently my Gitane D500 has been getting some fret buzz, at the 10th and 11th fret. There was always i little hump at the 12th. The bridge was raised to compensate back in summertime. Action was about 2.5mm.

Now with the winter weather, it seems the buzz has come back. I raised it yet again with some pop sickle sticks to experiment. Now my action is slightly less 3.5mm.

I find it more difficult to play with this action but I can see myself getting used to it. But more noticeable is the string tension. How much is too much? Using Argentine 11s.


  • Check the set and the curve in the neck.

    If you don't like a high action then those two things need to be really well set up.

    Both my Dun. And my DuPont go through a fall and spring readjustment that gives me a few buzzy bits for a few weeks but then they stabilize and the buzzes go away without me doing anything. if we get a prolonged sub zero bit in winter they may go through another adjustment period, but otherwise the relative humidity is pretty much the same.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • @Petrov are you humidifying your guitar? Sometimes when they get a bit dry they'll buzz. I would run into buzzing some on my Gitane 250m and figured it was sometimes when string were changed, like @Jazzaferri it usually went away.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,111
    You may need to check your humidity or lack thereof.
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited January 2015 Posts: 476
    Ditto on the seasons having a big effect, and ditto on everything else.
    I'm in Minnesota which means fierce dry - hot air heating. I humidify and check every day but its hard to keep up.
    My guitars sound so much better when the frets are level. I've done my own leveling for a long time now. I like doing it less than I like taking out the garbage, but there's no other way to have the best action and sound. Even a little uneveness muddles things. The notes on the headstock side of a hump change character as you approach the hump, then become clear as a bell as you mount the hump and the strings can swing clear of frets. Ugh!
    The other sad truth is that I like tall frets, but Minnesotans with level frets have had to shorten them (on the hump and #'s 1,,2,3, etc to level them! Ugh!
    If you learn to level your own frets you get the side benefit of potentially buying great guitars that sellers didn't like the sound of. Most people just "put up with it" without even knowing what that guitar could sound like. I do to, but not for long and only to a certain point. Even a million dollar guitar will sound pretty bad with hilly frets.
    Once the fretboard changes from level, it never goes back all the way level in my experience.
    The only "good news", is that you or $ can bring the neck back to perfect. Ugh!
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    Posts: 125
    Just realized I haven't replied back to this thread.

    I just couldn't play with the raised bridge and higher tension. It just felt wrong.

    I put it back to the way it was and put a new set of 11s on. It was time for new strings anyways. It seemed to help. The buzz can vary from day to day, but it seems to have gotten better and it's not bothering me that much.

    I'm just in love with this style and since starting in August 2014, this is the first time I feel really committed to really learn the guitar. I've been playing practically everyday and my progress has been great and I just want to learn more.

    That said...I think I will outgrow my Gitane quickly ;) and this is maybe the reason I'm not terribly bothered with it anymore.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 794
    Petrov, Keep in mind the difference between 2.5mm and 3.5mm is huge when we are talking about guitar action. 2.8mm or 3.0mm might clear up your buzzing problem up without being overly high. 2.8mm is a nice height. Most players I encounter object to action much over 3.0mm and most want 2.5mm or less if they can get it. Playing a guitar with action less than 2.5mm takes either great technique, stiff strings or a guitar which is not very lively. The last one is something often overlooked. A lively guitar simply needs higher action than one that is not lively.

    We can debate tenths of mm but you get the idea. Try some thinner shims. For every 0.1mm you want to change the action at the 12th fret, you have to adjust the shims by 0.2mm, Sliced veneers are typically 0.6mm so a pair of these would be a 0.3mm adjustment in action. Plastic credit card stock is about 0.8mm for a 0.4mm action adjustment, maybe just what you need. Gluing two layes of sliced veneer gives you a 1.2mm shim, and so on. Better to use on shim of the right thickness than multiple shims, but gluing shims together pretty much makes them act as one.

    The main thing with shims is you want to use some thing that has parallel surfaces so you don't throw the fit of the bridge to the top off. Also, always use the same thickness shim on both sides or again, you will throw the fit off.

    Oh, and +1 on the humidity thing.
  • rimmrimm Ireland✭✭✭✭ Paul doyle D hole, washburn washington
    Posts: 605
    If the Gitane has a truss rod a good luthier can sometimes heat and straighten it , would save a lot of hassle in the long run
    I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 794
    And/or, have the luthier dress the frets at the hump as Jeff describes. This is usually not a big deal time/cost wise as long as it can be dealt with by knocking the tops off the frets and recrowning. If it is really bad, you might get a suggestion of taking the frets off, leveling the fingerboard and refretting. Probably not worth the cost unless you love the guitar. But even removing some of the hump via the frets is better than nothing.
  • Agree with fret dress. If you buy Gitanes outta the box, it's totally hit of miss with frets. Most need dressing. If you didn't get that with purchase or don't know if it's been done, that's likely the problem.
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited January 2015 Posts: 349
    I raised the action on my Delll Arte Hommage using popsicle sticks and it plays much better. Seen people use everything from guitar picks to Metro tickets (Django) and cut up credit cards (probably a better use for them). Seems like GJ players and luthiers obsess about having low action, but I started preferring higher action after reading an interview with Roy Buchanen explaining how with slightly higher action, you can dig into the note from the side and almost under it to get more effective vibrato, or controlled bends. Plus the notes ring more clearly and don't buzz or fret out. I'm not a shredder so I'm a little biased and Roy was not a GJ player....but 'cest la vie.
    Swang on,
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