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Clarence Playablity Action
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freddairy



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:04 pm    Post subject: Clarence Playablity Action Reply with quote

I've been going through the threads here and couldn't find an answer. Maybe I missed it and if I did I'm sorry to drag up a previously discussed topic.

Anyone have any idea on how Clarence had his D-18 set up during the Kentucky Colonel days? If his D-28 was set up for rhythm I'm assuming his D-18 had lower action. But I've been listening to his playing on Alabama Jubilee on Living in the Past and he's really digging in to those bass strings with little buzz.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1360
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fred...Typically a guitar set up for bluegrass (D-18 or D-18 etc) will have high action and medium gauge strings..

The lower the action the less volume you will get and the goes for the string gauge...The lighter gauge suffers tone and volume loss. Compared to players used to electric guitars, playing a bluegrass acoustic takes quite some getting used to....but it's worth it.
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Steve-o



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm.....not sure about that "typical" part Brian. I play with a lot of Bluegrassers, and don't know anyone who can actually handle high action. And of course, a guitar that is good enough doesn't really lose a bunch of tone with lower action, unless it's ridiculously low. I remember all the time when Roger would say, "Clarence has to get his other guitar for this one" it meant the D-18, which was set much lower for playing lead. Fiddle tunes, etc. would be virtually un-doable on a truly high action guitar. My D-28 has low action and medium strings, and it booms through all the other instruments without much effort, and with super tone.
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Dogbear



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 275
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I'm not much of a bluegrass picker, nearly all my friends are and I regularly play their instruments when I go up in the Virginia Mountains. Since years of abusing my thumbs have taken its toll, I can't play instruments that are strung with heavy strings and have a relatively high action for very long. The fact that I use 11's with a low action on my acoustics gets me some grief among those players, however since my light pick style gets around any buzzing, it works for me with enough volume for what I do.

I find two basic setups on the blue grass guitars that I have had the pleasure of playing and I've had the pleasure of playing some very exotic stuff. The medium to high setups with heavy gauge strings on those players that regularly accompany other solo instruments and need all the volume they can get and the low to medium actions with medium strings for the fast flat or finger style pickers. Keep in mind that the volume that a guitar produces is based more on its bracing and overall construction than how hard you pick it. I've seen many a low action guitar that is such a boomer, it will cut through anything and still sound great. It's all relative to the individual instrument.........
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1360
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve-o wrote:
Hmmmm.....not sure about that "typical" part Brian. .


I should restate then..typical for me and for what I've encountered / observed so far... any guitar strung with Medium as opposed to Lights is going to have some difference ins tone and volume for sure...
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freddairy



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 66

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too don't think just because he was a bluegrass picker means he had "high" action. I saw on the UMGF someone who had done some setups for some fairly famous pickers and Tony Rice had the lowest action out of the whole group. Low to the point where some people would have trouble getting a clean sound.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1360
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony has said that when he got that D-28 the action was so high that he couldn't play it. It is well known that lowering the saddle and switching to light gauge strings, tone and volume will suffer... try it!
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Steve-o



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry Brian- I thought you were talking about action, not string gauge. Major differences in tone with string gauge.... not so much with action. BTW, low action doesn't equate to low saddle height if your neck is set right.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1360
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep... Every time I play with players that use light gauge strings... their expensive Martin D-28 / D-18's get lost immediately in the mix of all the other instruments. I never have that problem with the heavy gauge strings and use a heavy pick for maximum effect Cool
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Muttcaster



Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 130
Location: New Mexico

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to Roland, Clarence would hit the top 1/2 of the string. A lot of players "dig in" and when you do that, the string snaps up and down, thereby requiring a higher action. But when you skip off the top of the string, you can hit it hard, get good tone, and still have a pretty low action.

By "low", I'm talking 3/32" or .094" clearance between the bottom of the low E and top of the 12th fret. I measured bunches of BG player's actions about 10-12 years ago when I was getting serious about setups and the vast majority of flatpickers are right around .105" low E.

Now, when I watch CW on "I'm a Pilgrim" I note that he's not playing all that hard and secondly, his finger picked notes are right up there with his flatpicked notes, again indicating that he's not playing really hard. Really good players have this strange ability to project w/out beating the snot out of their guitars. They also tend to play with other players who know how to back down so that the guitar can be heard.

I don't know where CW had his action, but I've played Roland's mandolin and it's extremely playable. It's pretty much exactly where I'd set mine.
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Steve-o



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whooof- anybody who puts light gauge strings on a Dreadnought deserves to be drowned out. What are they thinking?
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Dogbear



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 275
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Action height, string gauge....all this doesn't mean all that much when you use one of these patched through a mixer with EQ .........



Any microphone used will color the sound and effect the heard tone. Except in small room jams (where the banjo always wins the volume contest), nearly everyone I know uses microphones to perform. Therefore your ability to play means far more than your setup or volume output. As I watch this video I am in awe of how smoothly his picking hand works the strings. It is almost effortless. Almost gentle........ Check out the position of the microphones in this video. It might give you an idea of how much volume each musician is producing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMQuuZNvwLU&feature=related
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Dogbear



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 275
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
By "low", I'm talking 3/32" or .094" clearance between the bottom of the low E and top of the 12th fret. I measured bunches of BG player's actions about 10-12 years ago when I was getting serious about setups and the vast majority of flatpickers are right around .105" low E.


Muttcaster, this is interesting. I measured my teles and they all come in about .090 - 094 for the low E at the 12th. My three acoustics (2/6 string and 1/12 string) come in at .110 - 115. I thought I set my actions low! So if I read you right, Clarence was playing his D-18 at almost electric set up levels.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1360
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread has been interesting but isn't going to arrive at any conclusion. None of us have definitive information. Roland and Bob Warford 'might' ...maybe?.

The setup and string gauge affect tone but the bottom line is Clarence was the key...

He could have made $25 trading-stamp acoustic guitar sound like a million bucks.
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Dogbear



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 275
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Clarence was the key...


There was never a doubt...........

The rest is just academic.
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