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question about the action on my new resonator


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I wanted to start learning slide so I got a resonator. Had it set up. I told him I wanted to be able to fret it as well as use a slide (open G tuning). When I picked it up, he said he left the action a 'bit high', to play it for a few days and see if it's OK or not, and he'd lower it if I needed.

Using a slide, it sounds and plays fantastic. It's fine fretting in the first four frets, but beyond there it's quite a workout. Is that normal, or should I expect to be able to have it play well for slide as well as fret it like a normal acoustic?

I just want it to play as well as possible, but don't want to sacrifice the great slide tone I'm getting, by lowering the action so I can make it easier on my left hand, especially when I have other guitars for that.

Any thoughts?

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Cozmic, it's always going to be a compromise; you need a higher action to avoid fret rattle with the slide and for a good tone. Given time, though, your hands will strengthen and it will feel easier to play.

I owned a Regal RD45 Dobro-style and I used a non-invasive nut extender which just slipped under the strings when loosened and fitted over the nut; this gave me plenty of room to dig in when played lap-style and, when removed, the guitar was comfortable enough for conventional playing.

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Cozmic, In my opinion that is a little high, but others would find it acceptable. There was a recent question about setting up a tricone on the reso forum and one poster said he runs his at 3.5-4 mm. I have two resos - a very old spider bridge that is 90 percent slide (the intonation is so bad that I almost never fret it). On that guitar I run mediums at about 8/64 on the 6th and 7/64 1st. That guitar has a wide flat fretboard (20 inch radius).

 

I also have a 14 fretter with 16 inch radius (the same as most normal acoustics). I run very close to the same setup as my acoustics - about 0.010 relief, normal nut height (see my Sick Guitar Sticky) and about 7/64 on the 6th and 6/64 1st. I play with mediums, and always tune down (open D, G or C, and down two steps for standard). I can play fairly clean slide as well as fretting with this action - it is an acceptable compromise. Intonation is never good on a reso, but it is acceptable on this one.

 

I also play slide on most of my acoustics, with 6/64 low and 5/64 high, and usually with lights. You have to develop a good light touch with the slide (I like a heavy wine bottle neck) and I use my first finger behind the slide to not only dampen, but also as a guage of how much pressure to apply. However, I do fret out a fair amount, and that is just one of the compromises. That is also one of the reasons I personally prefer twelve fretters - they usually have flatter fretboards which means you can more easily barre all the strings with your slide, and you can do some setup tricks to make the tops of the strings flatter to help here too.

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I should have added the measurement of the action in my original post. At the 12th fret, this is what I'm getting:


9/64 or 3.5MM


Did that make any sense?

 

Makes perfect sense.

 

For the record, I'd personally go around 4mm at the 12th Fret, so 3.5mm sounds fine to me. Yes, it will take effort, but it's worthwhile - a higher action makes slide playing infinitely easier, as you know. I find that if I go below 3mm, I get rattle from the frets, no matter how gently I play.

 

My 2 cents would be to get yourself used to it, It should be fine. Realistically, how often will you be fretting on the higher frets when playing blues?

 

Btw, Freeman, I believe I have seen your work on the musical instrument makers forum - very impressive. :thu:

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