Acoustic guitars are wonderful things. They are pleasant sounding and very portable. However, desirable playing action is not always easy to maintain on acoustic guitars. Changes in temperature and humidity cause wood to move around. Spruce tops “belly up” with time under string tension. These factors result in undesirable playing action, and changes in intonation due to the increased pressure necessary to fret the guitar as one plays up the neck. This has always been the Achilles’ heel of the acoustic guitar.
For well over 100 years, luthiers have been devising various ways to adjust the height of the strings above the frets on their acoustic guitars. Today, the most common method for adjusting this playing action on acoustic guitars is the neck reset. Neck resets are costly, must be done by skilled professionals, and, even when done by the best luthiers, can result in damage to a guitar’s neck and finish. Taylor guitars all have adjustable playing action. This method works well, but requires disassembly of the guitar by a certified technician who must maintain a stock of shims of different thicknesses, to make the correct adjustment. The guitar must be reassembled, restrung,and tuned, to know if the action is correct. If it is not, the procedure must be repeated.
Our goal was to devise a method that was fairly simple to build with readily available components, and allowed the player to adjust playing action easily at any time. We came up with a system, that works well, and is easy for the player to use anywhere. The captioned photos below demonstrate the system.