BYO (Build Your Own): I'm stumped. My bridge is too low. What do I do?
Background.....I have just finished a guitar built to the Francios Charle Selmer #807 plan. I stuck to the plan pretty carefully. Strung it up with the prescribed 18mm bridge and my action at the 12th fret was at least 5mm(!!!). To get it down to 3mm, I took 4mm off the bridge resulting in very wimpy looking 14mm bridge. NOT what I had in mind.
Figured I screwed up, but after measuring and checking, it is exactly like the plan in this regard. The guitar top in the plan is a straight line from the head block to the pliage as is mine. The fingerboard with frets is 8.5mm thick in both. The plan does not show the strings, but a straight edge from the zero fret to the notched depth of the bridge top show a gap of 5mm between the line and top of the fret. Likewise, that's what I have. BTW, neck is straight when strung up and frets dressed in a jig that simulates string loads ala the Stewmac jig.
5mm, however, is beyond what I can play and though the guitar is now playable with the lowered bridge, the break angle of the strings over the bridge is now considerably less than plans show (9.5 degrees vs. 12 degrees). Conventional wisdom is break angle effects tone and volume and I was hoping it would be more in the 18mm - 20mm.
Another relatively minor problem is with the bridge lowered, the tailpiece is only a hair from touching the top. Not touching now, but could easily some day. I could raise the tailpiece but this also lessens the string break angle over the bridge.
So now what...... First, this is not a criticism of the FC plan which is a wonderful piece of work for which I am very grateful. The plan shows a high degree of accuracy throughout and I have no reason to doubt that it is accurate in this regard as well. I should have done the math on the bridge height myself before finalizing the neck fit.
But what do I do about it? I could leave it. The guitar is playable now, not half bad sounding, but would always wonder what it could have been with the proper break angle.
Could take the neck back off and reset the neck angle, but this seems extreme and a wedge of 3-4mm would be needed under the fingerboard. That would look pretty funky though it would solve the problem.
Could be a man and learn to play with 5mm action. :?
So far, those are the only options I can think of. Anyone have an idea? Assuming the FC plan is accurate and Selmers were built with 5mm action, what does Stochelo do when he buys a 60-70 year old Selmer which because age may now have even higher action. Bet he's not playing 5-6mm.
And what does one do next time short of more neck angle and a wedged fingerboard? Are wedges of 3-5mm common under fingerboard extensions? Never noticed one like that, think it would be obvious. Of course this is all less of a problem without the pliage as the top at the bridge location is lower (5mm doncha know) without the pliage. Is this why so few builders use a pliage?
Well, if you made it this far in this overly long post, thanks for reading and considering. If you have ideas on this, I'd sure like to hear them.