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From the September/October 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Martin Keith
Q: I recently bought a used guitar and took it to my tech for a setup (the action was too low). He put a ruler on the frets, took one measurement, and told me that it would be at least $400 to get it to play right. What’s going on? The guitar looks brand-new. —Amy Wilson, via email
A: Funny you should ask—I’ve had nearly the same situation come through my shop twice in the last month. It’s a reminder of the potential pitfalls of buying any guitar without a warranty. Sometimes, even expensive name-brand guitars can suffer from errors of geometry that make them almost impossible to set up correctly. It sounds like your guitar is suffering from the same unfortunate issue that my clients’ guitars exhibited: an “over-set” neck angle. Let’s discuss what that is, how it can happen, and why it’s such a problematic issue.
Nearly all flattop acoustic guitars have their necks attached at a slight angle. A quick look at the guitar illustrates why this is necessary—the fretboard is only about 1/4-inch thick where it joins the body, but the bridge is usually 3/8-inch or so above the top. Additionally, many guitars have domed tops, which further elevate the bridge. To keep the string action reasonable, the neck must be pitched back a little, so the strings get gradually higher above the top as they travel towards the bridge.
Neck angle is probably the single most crucial variable for the playability of a flattop guitar. If it is too shallow, the action will never be low enough to be comfortable, unless the bridge gets shaved down to a fraction of its ideal thickness. This was a common approach in years past, as a way of avoiding the cost of a full neck reset. However, lowering the bridge causes problems of its own: It reduces the torque/twisting pressure of the strings on the top, which robs the instrument of responsiveness and volume. It also reduces the bridge’s structural contribution to the top, which makes future failures more likely.
Shallow neck angles like this are very common and have been accepted as a fact of life for vintage guitars. The process of resetting the neck angle by removing the neck and recutting the joint has become widely accepted, and when done well, it can be invisible, stable, and as beneficial to a guitar’s market value as it is to its playability. Less common is the situation we’re faced with here—an instrument where the factory neck angle is too steep. In these cases, the bridge and saddle must be comically high to get the action in a reasonable range. In the worst case I’ve seen, the bridge/saddle would have needed to be almost as tall as an archtop bridge in order to play properly—about 3/4-inch!
So what is to be done with such instruments? Can you simply put extra-tall bridge saddles on them? This can work as a short-term solution, but you should expect contrasting side effects to those caused by bridges that are too low: The torque/twist on the top will be dramatically increased by overly high bridges, and this can easily result in excessive top distortion, loose braces, cracked bridge plates, and bridges becoming cracked or unglued. Most guitar bracing patterns are designed for a certain amount of stress and will fail quickly if subjected to excessive tension. Even if the guitar manages to hold together, most luthiers agree that an overloaded top will sound choked, compressed, and unmusical. In cases where I’ve simply had to get such an instrument playing without a big investment, I’ve suggested that the player use extra light (.010 or .011 gauge) strings to give the guitar half a chance of surviving the extra load.
How about a neck reset—can a luthier just lower the neck angle? Unfortunately, this is not as simple as it may sound. In a typical reset, the luthier will carefully shave away wood from the heel of the neck, and usually add a thin, tapered shim under the fretboard extension to keep it in plane with the rest of the neck. However, correcting an overset neck would require the opposite: adding wood at the base of the heel, and planing away wood from under the fretboard extension. Though technically possible, this would be vastly more complicated to touch up cosmetically, and the resulting tapered fretboard extension would be nearly impossible to detail in a way that looked normal.
My usual approach in these cases is to do the least invasive thing possible to make the guitar play adequately, inform the client fully about the reasons underlying the issues, and refer them to warranty support if it is an option. I usually also need to run them through a quick primer on how to spot some of the structural issues that may arise from keeping an overset guitar under tension. And though I don’t usually prefer bridge support systems, I might consider adding one in an extreme case where the overly tall bridge presented an existential threat to the top.
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All of this serves to remind that neck angle should be on everyone’s checklist when evaluating a guitar for purchase, whether new or used. Both of the cases that came through my shop were overset at the factory, and both were made by well-regarded companies.
If buying in person, a simple glance down the neck can sometimes be enough, but better still is to bring a 24-inch ruler and lay it on the frets (making sure to avoid the nut). The plane of the fret tops should line up quite closely with the top of the bridge (not the saddle, but the wooden bridge itself). If it is much lower, the guitar likely needs a reset. If it’s much higher, it might be difficult to get the action into a playable range without some real heroics.
Buying online, I’d consider it both reasonable and advisable to request photos from the seller which show this ruler-and-bridge measurement, and many of the better online dealers of vintage guitars have already begun to include such photos in their listings. This can go a long way toward avoiding some big disappointments down the road.
Got a Question?
Uncertain about guitar care and maintenance? The ins-and-outs of guitar building? Or another topic related to your gear? Ask Acoustic Guitar’s repair expert Martin Keith by sending an email titled “Repair Expert” to Editors.AG@stringletter.com and we’ll forward it to Keith. If your question is selected for publication, you’ll receive a complimentary copy of AG’s Acoustic Guitar Owner’s Manual.
How long do Valorant’s Acts last? Answered
Image via Riot Acts in Valorant are akin to seasons in games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or Destiny 2. Every Act introduces new content to the game, such as agents or maps, alongside an Act-exclusive battle pass featuring 55 tiers of cosmetics to unlock. However, you’ll need to ensure you finish your battle pass before…
Image via Riot
Acts in Valorant are akin to seasons in games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or Destiny 2. Every Act introduces new content to the game, such as agents or maps, alongside an Act-exclusive battle pass featuring 55 tiers of cosmetics to unlock. However, you’ll need to ensure you finish your battle pass before an Act ends if you want to reap all of its rewards. But how long do Acts last?
How long are Valorant’s Acts?
Valorant’s Acts tend to last around two months each, give or take a few weeks. Looking at Valorant’s past Acts, most have typically ended roughly two months after launch, with some clocking in at just under two months. Additionally, some Acts — such as Ignition Act 3 — have lasted for about three months, so there’s always a possibility that an Act might be a bit longer than expected.
Related: All Valorant Episode 5 Act 1 Battle Pass content: skins, tiers, and rewards
Like most other popular online games, you will not be able to redeem battle pass rewards for a particular Act after the Act ends. If you’re considering purchasing Valorant’s battle pass, it’s always worth checking how long an Act has been out to evaluate if you’ll have enough time to unlock the current Act’s rewards before it comes to an end. However, other content introduced in an Act, like agents and maps, will carry over into the next Act.
You’ll work through battle pass tiers by leveling up. If you’re looking to level up quickly, we recommend you pay close attention to your daily and weekly missions, which both reward you with a good deal of XP.
Some of the cosmetics you’ll unlock from an Act’s battle pass can be quite stylish. If you’re looking to flaunt your fashion on the battlefield, check out our coverage on the best Operator and Spectre skins.
Man gets early morning shock as car crashes into his house
GEORGE TOWN: A homeowner in Penang got a shock on Saturday (June 25) morning when a car rammed into his home at about 7am. “I heard a bang outside and rushed out. I saw that a car had crashed into the front of my house and the empty house next door that had been used…
GEORGE TOWN: A homeowner in Penang got a shock on Saturday (June 25) morning when a car rammed into his home at about 7am.
“I heard a bang outside and rushed out. I saw that a car had crashed into the front of my house and the empty house next door that had been used as a welding workshop,” said 52-year-old Hasbullah Mohd Khalid.
News portal Berita Harian Online reported that Hasbullah was boiling water while his three children were in another room when the incident happened.
“I was confused for a moment when I saw the damage to the front of the house as it was just a few meters from the place where I was boiling water. It was only separated by a wooden wall,” he said to the portal.
Hasbullah said the damage to his house was estimated at RM50,000.
He did not have time to meet the man who was driving the vehicle because he was taken away by his friend.
It is understood that the case has been handed over to the police for further action.
Norway terror alert raised after deadly mass shooting
OSLO: The Norwegian security service PST has raised its terror alert to the highest level after a mass shooting left two people dead and many wounded during Pride week in Oslo. Acting PST chief Roger Berg called the shootings an “extreme Islamist terror act.” He said the gunman, who was arrested shortly after the shootings,…
OSLO: The Norwegian security service PST has raised its terror alert to the highest level after a mass shooting left two people dead and many wounded during Pride week in Oslo.
Acting PST chief Roger Berg called the shootings an “extreme Islamist terror act.”
He said the gunman, who was arrested shortly after the shootings, had a “long history of violence and threats.”
Early on Saturday (June 25), the gunman opened fire in Oslo’s night-life district, killing two people and leaving 10 seriously wounded in what police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack during the Norwegian capital’s annual Pride festival.
Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.
While the motive was unclear, organizers of Oslo Pride cancelled a parade that was set for Saturday as the highlight of a weeklong festival. One of the shootings happened outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, just hours before the parade was set to begin.
Police attorney Christian Hatlo said the suspect was being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, based on the number of people targeted at multiple locations.
“Our overall assessment is that there are grounds to believe that he wanted to cause grave fear in the population,” Hatlo said.
Hatlo said the suspect’s mental health was also being investigated.
“We need to go through his medical history, if he has any. It’s not something that we’re aware of now,” he said.
The shootings happened around 1am local time, sending panicked revellers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman.
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.
“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK.
“First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”
Another witness, Marcus Nybakken, 46, said he was alerted to the incident by a commotion in the area.
“When I walked into Cesar’s bar there were a lot of people starting to run and there was a lot of screaming. I thought it was a fight out there, so I pulled out. But then I heard that it was a shooting and that there was someone shooting with a submachine gun,” Nybakken told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.
Police inspector Tore Soldal said two of the shooting victims died and 10 people were being treated for serious injuries, but none of them was believed to be life-threatening.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.”
He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBTQ community.
“We all stand by you,” Gahr Stoere wrote.
King Harald V also offered condolences and said he and Norway’s royal family were “horrified by the night’s shooting tragedy.”
“We sympathize with all relatives and affected and send warm thoughts to all who are now scared, restless and in grief,” the Norwegian monarch said in a statement.
“We must stand together to defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for each other. We must continue to stand up for all people to feel safe.”
Christian Bredeli, who was at the bar, told Norwegian newspaper VG that he hid on the fourth floor with a group of about 10 people until he was told it was safe to come out.
“Many were fearing for their lives,” he said.
“On our way out we saw several injured people, so we understood that something serious had happened.”
Norwegian broadcaster TV2 showed footage of people running down Oslo streets in panic as shots rang out in the background.
Investigators said the suspect was known to police, as well as to Norway’s security police, but not for any major violent crimes. His criminal record included a narcotics offence and a weapons offense for carrying a knife, Hatlo said.
Hatlo said police seized two weapons after the attack: a handgun and an automatic weapon, both of which he described as “not modern” without giving details.
He said the suspect had not made any statement to the police and was in contact with a defence lawyer.
Hatlo said it was too early to say whether the gunman specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community.
“We have to look closer at that, we don’t know yet,” he said.
Still, police advised organizers of the Pride festival to cancel the parade Saturday.
“Oslo Pride therefore urges everyone who planned to participate or watch the parade to not show up. All events in connection with Oslo Prides are cancelled,” organizers said on the official Facebook page of the event.
Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI, the Norwegian organisation for sexual and gender diversity, said the shooting has shaken the Nordic country’s gay community.
“It’s tough for the queer movement to experience this,” he was quoted by TV2 as saying.
“We encourage everyone to stand together, take care of each other. We’ll be back later, proud, visible but right now it’s not the time for that.”
Norway has a relatively low crime rate but has experienced violent attacks by right-wing extremists, including one of the worst mass shootings in Europe in 2011, when a gunman killed 69 people on the island of Utoya after setting off a bomb in Oslo that left eight dead.
In 2019, another right-wing extremist killed his stepsister and then opened fire in a mosque but was overpowered before anyone there was injured. – AP
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