Guitar action too high!!

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Guitar action too high!!

Post by neo » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:39 pm

My guitar action is too high. My teacher has inspected the guitar and confirmed its not warped. We have discover the nut is too high making the action high. He said the nut has to be removed, filed, and placed back.

He said I can try it myself or take it to a luthier. Since I dont have the money to visit a luthier, I decided to attempt it myself. But I cant get the nut off! Its tooo tightly glued. And Im scared I might break it in two!

Please give my a definite guide to go about this. Also wud I need to file down the bridge also? BTW, I know what height I should get to, my sir has marked that.

Also I recently used abro tabe and steel wool and cleaned my frets, and I wish to oil my fretboard with lemon oil. Since I cannot locate that anywhere, some told me use coconut oil. Is that fine?


Post by mrcold » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:42 pm

it shouldn't be glued in at all...
I would just pull harder, but i don't want to tell you to break your guitar, so if you think it is glued in there and wont come out,take it to your local music shop.


Post by arby » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:08 pm

There are articles at that show how to check the action and remove the nut.
I've lowered mine by simply sanding off the bottom of the nut using sandpaper glued to a piece of glass.
You can also lower the action with the nut in place by filing each groove, but that may be best left to a luthier with the proper tools.
I could be wrong, but there are no lemons in lemon oil. It is just mineral oil with a lemon scent. ... wnut1.html
Last edited by arby on Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post by Sasquatch51 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:09 pm

I've never seen a Classical guitar with the nut glued in. I guess it happens..I'm not a luthier, so I haven't seen everything, but I think that's unusual.

I've also never heard of anyone using coconut oil on their fretboard.

I would advise you to find a luthier and the money to pay for it. You really sort of need to know what you are doing when you set up the nut and bridge will probably be cheaper to go ahead and pay someone to set it up correctly than it will be to pay someone to correct your mistakes.


Before you mess with the nut!

Post by MarkJ » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:38 pm

The nut height is rarely the cause of too-high action. The usuall cause is the saddle is too high or the neck is pulling up. I would take off all the strings and put a straight edge on the instrument from 1st fret to saddle. You should be able to tell if the neck is pulling up or warping up. Small (I mean really small, like 0.1mm at a time) adjustments to the underside of the saddle would be the first thing to try if the neck is reasonably true - note that there is some neck angle relief built in - maybe 1 or 2 mm and most builders put in a small amount of relief by planing the freyboard from 7th fret or so up to the 19th, but we are talking 0,5mm or so and a warping neck will be much more pronounced and hard to fix (seems to happen on instruments that are left strung-up to pitch, put in the case, and not played for years.)

If its not the saddle, take it to a qualified luthier for an assessment.

Pepe Vergara

Post by Pepe Vergara » Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:40 pm

A good classical guitar should NOT have the nut glued to the wood. Gluing the nut is common in cheap guitars. Usually, I recommend NOT to touch the nut. In most cases (it may not be the case of a cheap guitar) the action can be handled by modifying the SADDLE. Try the saddle first. Sand it down on top of a leveled hard surface (such a the kitchen granite, or a thick glass) where you have placed a piece of sand paper. To check the height of the nut, press the string in the middle of fret 3 (that is between fret 2 and 3) and notice the distance between the string and the top of fret 1. This distance should be about 3 tenths of on millimeter (almost nothing). If it is more than that, the nut could be adjusted without need to remove it. Get a file similar to the metal files used for filing the nails, but with filing edge (nut files), or if you do not mind and can do it carefully, you can get a credit card and wrap a piece of sandpaper (100 or 150 grit) to act as a nut file. Place yourself behind the head, separate the string out of the notch and file a little bit. Check again by pressing the 3th fret. FIle again if needed, until satisfied. Do this for every string. If you have a good eye or good measurement devices, you will notice that the bottom of the notches in a nut are not aligned or forming a line parallel to the fretboard surface. Instead, the go from lowest to highest from high E to G, and then from low to high again from D to low E. I hope this works.



Post by neo » Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:29 pm

Ok pepe what do i file? Once I get My credt car hat do I file?

My guitar is cheap, $45. The nut is ivory in color and is made of something that seems like high density plastic. It cud be some other material. nd Im not able to dislodge it. I intend to file it from the bottom like some of yuou mention, but it should come off first.

The reason I dont want to touch the saddle cos it wud be useless doing anything oer her until and unless the problem is not tackled at the nut. Any untrained eye can recognize the skycraper height of the nut. If i lowered the saddle by filing, the string wud go down ion a decline angle and stil be high as the first few frets.

A guide to remove the nut should help.


Post by arby » Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:36 pm

neo wrote:A guide to remove the nut should help.
The link I posted to shows how to remove a glued-in nut.

Pepe Vergara

Post by Pepe Vergara » Sat Dec 09, 2006 4:31 pm

The credit card if to replace a nut file, which is like a little knife to cut the notches in the nut. Just make sure you do not over do it, because if you do, you will have buzzing coming from the nut. Although the nut must be plastic (which probably muffers the sound a lot), and you could always go back and fill in with epoxy glue any over cut you do in that nut. Again, make sure the high action is due to the nut after you have done the test I and others have mentioned earlier.

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Post by AO » Sun Dec 10, 2006 4:28 am

Pepe, if your guitar cost you $45. get a capo and clamp it on the first fret.

Your problem will be solved. And by the way most nuts are glued in with a

bit of white glue to prevent them from slipping, cheaper guitars use too much

glue and the material breaks too easily when you try to remove it.

Pepe Vergara

Re: action

Post by Pepe Vergara » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:08 am

AO wrote:... Pepe, if your guitar cost you $45 ...
Are you talking to me or to Neo? :D
My Harmony guitar cost me $50 and sounds great! I have no problem with the action. :roll:

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Post by AO » Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:03 am

I guess I meant Neo.


Post by neo » Tue Dec 12, 2006 12:39 pm

I find the credit filing a very risky method as I cud file notches at various heights. I rather remove the nut, put the sand paper on a flat surface and file the bottom in a shure shot flat way.

Pepe Vergara

Post by Pepe Vergara » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:30 pm

That is wise!!

El Cabong

Post by El Cabong » Tue Dec 12, 2006 5:03 pm


For $45 I would not touch the guitar. Take it back to the store and tell them the problem. Let them fix it or get you another guitar. If you did not get it from a store, then go to en expert who has the tools and know how to fix it for another $20 and you shoud end up with a $65 guitar. :D

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