Cordoba guitar technical question

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Dave92270

Cordoba guitar technical question

Post by Dave92270 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:54 am

Hello,

I'd like to ask a technical question about my newly purchased Cordoba guitar - is it OK to post it at this forum? I'm not sure if this is the correct forum; I extensively searched around the web (and this forum too) for long time and didn't find the desired info so I'd like to ask for advice here if possible? Please let me know, thanks, Dave

Trystramys

Post by Trystramys » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:37 am

Hello Dave,

I moved this into the Luthier section where most of the guitar specific questions are answered. Feel free to ask away! :D

Dave92270

Post by Dave92270 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:32 am

Thanks Trystramys!

OK, here is the deal. After not playing classical guitar for over 15 years or so, I decided to get back to it; I played a bit recently on borrowed old entry-level guitar and then decided to get my own one. After long web-only search for medium quality instrument I finally mail-ordered Cordoba 45R since we don't have any store that carries this type of guitars in town, nearest is about 80 miles away.

Here is the issue I'd like to ask about - I feel that the strings are set way too high; I measured some 5mm (bottom E) and 4mm (top E) on 12th fret. To play it requires quite an effort, and pretty much from 4th fret up I don't like the distance of the strings. I used to have 2 similar instruments back in my old days, and I don't recall such a high action on either of them. Problem is that I don't have any music store in the area so I could check out comparable model's string height/action. I understand that the action can be lowered by trimming the bottom of the saddle and/or lowering the openings in the nut, but I don't feel that I should do it - I paid over $800 for the guitar&case, and I'd sort of expect the guitar to be ready for comfortable play.... the guitar sounds great though, but to play it is not very pleasant. So, are most classical guitars shipped out with such a high action, or is this uncommon?

Also, maybe there are some owners of 45R’s around who could tell me how their instruments are factory-set? If that height is a default and in specs, maybe I should get a different model? I also considered Takamine 132S – if those would be easier to play, I probably wouldn’t mind to swap..

Thanks for advice.
Dave

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:35 am

Many guitars do seem to come from the "factory" set up with relatively high action, probably for the same reason that some trousers are still sold un-hemmed... :wink: Some people need/want higher action (they may play hard with low tension strings, or they may have strong hands and prefer the additional volume they get from having the action set high) It is much easier to run a saddle over a piece of sand paper to lower it than it is to make a new one for someone who complains of fret buzzing. (Sadly many beginners probably struggle unnecessarily because they don't realize that it can be adjusted) There are several discussions in the forum archives about how to do this yourself... If you like the guitar, see if you can find someone locally to make you a new saddle, and save that one for a rainy day when you are feeling bold :wink: If not, perhaps you can order a precut saddle from any luthier supply website (measure carefully) and make one yourself with a bit of patience and a sanding block.

Christopher Parkening mention an interesting idea in a masterclass, and it seemed so logical, that I just had to try it! :wink: For my Ramirez 1a, I made an extra wide tapered saddle that I can tap back and forth to accommodate different tension strings... (when I'm feeling wimpy, I can lower it, when I want a good work out, more volume and really audible ornamentation, I can raise it... )

Dave92270

Post by Dave92270 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:07 am

Thanks Azalais,

that is a decent explanation...yes, it would be more logical to set the higher action in factory and let the player decide whether he/she wants to lower it; would be nice if manufacturers would include and extra spare
saddle for this reason since they possibly could anticipate this "issue" - oh well...

So, basically you'd suggest to go ahead and lower the action? Maybe, instead of filing the original saddle, I'll then order a precut one such as those offered by Graph Tech; I checked the saddle and it seems like
3/32" is about what I have; I see they recommend 600 grit paper. I regret that Cordoba is not listed at GraphTech site, the selection would be easier, but I guess with some patience I can get it accomplished. i checked the archived threads, there is quite an excess of info there - well I'll go though it. Maybe someone who owns Cordoba will suggest the good aftermarket saddle to be used on r45; I may call the Graph Tech or even guitarcenter, and ask for suitable replacement saddle that fits r45.

Anyway, thanks for the info again!

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senunkan
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Post by senunkan » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:20 am

You can consider getting a bone saddle blank from e - b a y or LMII StewMac.

brassrat

Post by brassrat » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:28 pm

Dave92270 wrote:Thanks Azalais,

that is a decent explanation...yes, it would be more logical to set the higher action in factory and let the player decide whether he/she wants to lower it; would be nice if manufacturers would include and extra spare
saddle for this reason since they possibly could anticipate this "issue" - oh well...

So, basically you'd suggest to go ahead and lower the action? Maybe, instead of filing the original saddle, I'll then order a precut one such as those offered by Graph Tech; I checked the saddle and it seems like
3/32" is about what I have; I see they recommend 600 grit paper. I regret that Cordoba is not listed at GraphTech site, the selection would be easier, but I guess with some patience I can get it accomplished. i checked the archived threads, there is quite an excess of info there - well I'll go though it. Maybe someone who owns Cordoba will suggest the good aftermarket saddle to be used on r45; I may call the Graph Tech or even guitarcenter, and ask for suitable replacement saddle that fits r45.

Anyway, thanks for the info again!
Dave,

I'm a relative beginner and I just tackled my first saddle adjustment two days ago. I bought a used Cordoba Pro-R which had the opposite problem as you. The saddle on the bass side was too low so it was buzzing on the A and D strings when I tried to get some volume.

I purchased a Tusq compensated classic saddle on e - b a y, spent one evening sanding it down and now I have an action that's customized for me! The key is to take it slow and don't oversand since you'll then have to start over with a new saddle.

I didn't take the strings off. I just loosened them as much as possible, then slid the old saddle out (just takes some firm pressure) sideways. I used the old saddle as a base for the new saddle, and added some more height on the bass side.

I used a straight edge and a pencil to mark off how much I wanted to take off and used a combination of hand file and sand paper to remove the saddle material until the pencil mark was gone.

I made sure I erred on the side of caution and left more material on the saddle. I then checked the action by sliding the new saddle into place, checked the string heights, and figured out how much more to lower it.

This time, I only removed a little bit of the saddle material since I was just tweaking the height. I only used sand paper this time.

I would say this took me about an hour. I'm sure the experienced guys could have done it a lot faster. But now, I have had a hand in customizing the guitar for me so I like the guitar even more. :D

Let me know if you have any questions.

Please, if I'm pointing Dave in the wrong direction, anyone with more experience should step in with better instructions.

Eric

Post by Eric » Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:41 pm

Hi,
It’s not uncommon to have to make saddle adjustments on a new guitar. If you do the adjustment yourself make sure to sand a little off at a time. Eventually you’ll hit the sweet spot. There is a lot of information on the internet to help you to do this. I happen to own a Cordoba 55R which I love. Good luck with your new guitar.

Dave92270

Post by Dave92270 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:53 pm

thanks guys for your input and to brassrat particularly for the detailed instructions - I will either buy another saddle and try to adjust it to my desired (lower) string action, or I will file away the saddle that came with the guitar; I'd prefer to leave the original intact though. I'll look for the Tusq saddle, probably from guitarcenter.

If I'll have some more questions I'll probably stop by and ask, but I'll definitely come back to tell you how the customization turned out. I do like the nice rich sound of this Cordoba guitar, and the string height it the only drawback I see.

Thanks!
Regards
Dave

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Dave
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Post by Dave » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:59 pm

Hi Dave and welcome to Delcamp. :)

Sorry this is off topic but what are the numbers after your name? They happen to be my birthday, hehe :P
Dave

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KeMe
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Post by KeMe » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:02 pm

I have a Cardoba 20 that is only about 1 yr old. I am having a problem with the 3rd and 4th strings playing out of tune at the 4th and 5th fret. When it is tuned perfectly with the digital tuner, they play about 20 points (mgz?) sharp.
The frets appear to be straight and the fretboard looks straight.
What could cause this? Is there anything that can be done about it?
Music touches the heart, but playing classical guitar can lift your heart and enrich your life.

Rick-in-Annapolis
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Post by Rick-in-Annapolis » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:58 pm

KeMe-

Bad strings could be one possibility. Have you tried a new
set of strings (or at least the offending ones)?

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KeMe
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Post by KeMe » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:05 pm

rick-in-annapolis wrote:KeMe-

Bad strings could be one possibility. Have you tried a new
set of strings (or at least the offending ones)?
I have used D'Addario XP46 for the last few months, then I tried some Jose Ramirez med. tension about 3 weeks ago, now I have some Pro Arte med tension strings and it seems to be consistantly a problem with all of them.
Maybe I should take the guitar back to the Guitar Center and let them check it out.
Music touches the heart, but playing classical guitar can lift your heart and enrich your life.

Pepe Vergara

Post by Pepe Vergara » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:20 pm

I presume the nut on that guitar is made of plastic. The saddle may be bone, or plastic too. You can lower the action yourself very carefully. You may want to cut a piece of 2 or 3 inch pencil in half (you can do this by cutting with a blade and then sanding the expose face on sandpaper ona flat surface. The purpose is that you place the pencion over the last two frets and mark the height of the fret on the nut. The bottom of th strings should be a little bit over that mark. Some build the bottom at the same level. My higher E is lower than B, which is lower than G. Then the D is at the same hight as B (approximately), then A is a bit higher and then Lower E is the highest of all. The difference between the low E and hhigh E bottom should be about 1/3 of a mm.

You can chose to file the nuts (If plastic, I am sure there is only a little cut ), or chose to file the bottom. A properly adjusted nut is the best thing to make a guitar play smoothly and without stress in the left hand. There is not excuse for factories to leave it high, or the pretext to let the player chose the height of the nut. That could be acceptable for the saddle, not for the nut. The reason they do that is to avoid buzzing, which woudl interfere iwth the sale of the guitar. If you need more indications or help, email me directly and if possible take some pics. I will be glad to go in more details.

Dave92270

Post by Dave92270 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:06 pm

Dave wrote:Hi Dave and welcome to Delcamp. :)

Sorry this is off topic but what are the numbers after your name? They happen to be my birthday, hehe :P
numbers are my zipcode - yes I agree, that is a good coincidence though

I didn't get to the saddle thing yet, was too busy - but will order some over the weekend hopefully. We also have a music instrument store nearby, and although they carry mainly non-classical guitars, the could have a suitable saddle in stock .. I'll go check over the weekend

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