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I have a little Taylor that its strings are too high for me. I tried to remove the nut and sand it, but it's glued. How can I do it? Thanks,

  • I'd recommend looking to see if there is a Truss Rod. If you're not familiar, it is a length of metal rod that is hidden in the neck that can be adjusted to change the bow of the neck, which will adjust the height of the strings. It is generally recommended that you don't try to make truss rod adjustments yourself unless you are experienced but if you do, make very small changes and test them out. If you make adjustments too drastically, you can ruin your guitar. – Basstickler May 16 '17 at 21:33
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I have several Taylor Guitars including a Baby Taylor (their smallest scale guitar) and a GS Mini (their next to smallest "travel guitar"). Martin calls their short scale travel guitars "Little Martin".

Several things you should be aware of. Taylor does an excellent job setting up all of their guitars (including the Baby Taylor model produced in their Mexico plant) from the factory with comparatively low action. So it would be highly unlikely that the nut itself would need any adjustments.

While on the subject of the nut (slotted part at the headstock end of the neck) On every acoustic guitar I have ever seen, the nut is glued on. If it wasn't glued on it would fall off whenever you removed the strings. You can remove the nut because the glue is not designed to create a permanent bond, but if you do remove the nut from a guitar, you will need to use the proper glue to reattach it so that it will stay in place during normal use but can be detached in the future should it ever need to be replaced.

The saddle is what the strings rest on at the other end of the guitar. The saddle is not usually glued but sits in a slot in the bridge which is attached to the top of the body (aka soundboard). In some guitars the fit could be tight and may require pliers to remove - but it is probably not glued.

Filing the bottom of the saddle down is one way to lower the action on an acoustic guitar. But again, the original factory set up on your Baby Taylor most likely provided for a low saddle height.

The Baby Taylor and the Big Baby both have a heelless neck that is removable. It is attached by two phillips head screws through the fingerboard at the 16th fret. The screws penetrate the soundboard and go into a block inside the body of the guitar.

One thing you should check is to be sure these screws have not worked their way loose which would allow the string tension to pull the neck forward in a way that would create a very high string relief near the body (high action). If you remove all the strings you should not have any wiggle in the neck. If the neck has any wiggle with the strings removed, you need to tighten the screws.

If you tighten these neck set screws yourself, be sure to use a case hardened, high quality phillips head screwdriver that is the correct size to fit snugly in the screw holes with no slack. You don't want to strip these screws. The screws should be tight enough to remove any wiggle in the neck but be careful not to over tighten the screws or you could damage the fingerboard or the neck. Do not use a screw gun or drill under any circumstances.

Another thing you should know about Taylor Guitars is that the necks are designed to be adjustable (for proper angle) but it's not necessarily a do it yourself adjustment. The guitar comes from the factory with the proper neck adjustment but sometimes environmental conditions exerted upon the wooden neck will change the neck angle and a neck re-set will be indicated.

A neck re-set on a Taylor guitar is accomplished by removing the neck and changing the shims that are in the neck pocket. If you remove the neck from your Baby Taylor, you will find a wooden shim under the tailblock of the neck with a number on it. An authorized Taylor repair technician will usually have an assortment of these shims at varying angles (each angle has a different number). To re-set the neck angle, the technician would calculate (or determine through trial and error) the correct shim to put the angle of the neck back to factory specs.

The Baby Taylor has a truss rod which can be adjusted to change the amount of relief between the strings and frets in the middle of the fretboard. Often a truss rod adjustment is all that is needed to restore a guitar to a comfortable level of playability. The truss rod can be adjusted to allow a slight curve in the neck so you don't get any fret buzz and can be tightened to cause a neck with too much of a bow - to straighten out. If you tighten the truss rod too much, your neck might have a back bow resulting in bad fret buzz.

The Truss Rod on the Baby Taylor requires a deep well 1/4' nut driver with a thin wall. Taylor makes a truss rod wrench for their guitars but don't include it because they prefer you take the guitar to an authorized Taylor Tech to have any adjustments made. You can also buy a Taylor truss rod wrench from Sweetwater Music online for $4.00 US. Taylor Truss Rod Wrench

Finally, Taylor recommends light strings for the Baby Taylor. If you have medium strings on yours, the extra tension could cause more of a bow in the neck and contribute to higher string relief closer to the body. As Dr. Mayhem suggested, it might be worth trying a set of lighter strings than what you are presently using.

For a detailed explanation on how string gauge can affect the action of your guitar and also how to adjust the truss rod to get the proper amount of relief between strings and frets read this on Stack Exchange: Guitar set up - string gauge and truss rod adjustment

And one more thing, if you are the original owner of the Taylor Guitar, you have a lifetime warranty so you just need to find out where the nearest Authorized Tech is and take it in for an adjustment under warranty. If there is not one near you - you will have to pay for shipping to send it to Taylor's repair shop.

Good luck.

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  • Good answer; lots of good information. Bonus points for tool tips! BTW, what is the right glue for nuts? A hide glue-- fish glue, perhaps? – ex nihilo May 18 '17 at 23:14
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    @DavidBowling Thanks. The nut does not require a very tight bond at all because the string pressure will hold it in place. So you only need enough to keep it from falling off when you remove the strings. The least amount to do the job makes it easier to remove the nut should the need arise. I have heard folks say elmer's white glue works fine. Hide glue would probably work as would basic wood glue. If you used super glue you would only use a tiny drop on each end so you could break it loose easily. I will check with my luthier friends who build guitars and ask what they use. – Rockin Cowboy May 18 '17 at 23:26
  • @DavidBowling Stand by on the nut glue question. It seems there is an ongoing debate among guitar forums with some claiming glues that dry to a rubbery texture may have a damping (muting) effect on sound transfer. I have reached out to two luthiers I know who build guitars to get their thoughts. Check back. – Rockin Cowboy May 18 '17 at 23:39
  • Much appreciated, @Rockin Cowboy! – ex nihilo May 18 '17 at 23:40
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    Master Luthier Mike Hasty (owner of Hasty Guitars) says he uses 3 or 4 drops of Tite Bond and emphasizes that you want to put the glue on the bottom of the nut only - being careful not to get any on the side. This makes it easier to tap it loose if you need to. He says he strings the guitar up immediately after setting the nut to hold it in place while the glue dries. My other Luthier friend also uses titebond but says Super Glue will work also. – Rockin Cowboy May 20 '17 at 0:49
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There are a number of options here:

  • You can lower the nut by sanding. This is ideally done by removing it first, but you can sand the nut in situ (carefully) to make the strings closer to the fretboard down at the bottom of the neck.
  • You can lower the bridge - usually by sanding as well - to lower the distance to the fretboard higher up the neck.
  • Or as Basstickler commented, if the guitar has a truss rod you can use that to bring the neck closer to the strings, but it does this by changing the curve of the neck so it's not as obvious or as easy as you might want. It also can damage the neck if you get things wrong!

You could also try putting on lighter gauge strings, this will have a double effect - it will allow the neck to straighten a little, which should lower the string height, but also lighter strings are easier to press onto the frets so this may be all you need.

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  • Thank you. I did the sanding with my another guitar. But not this little Taylor because it's glued. Really frustrated. I will try other methods. – Xi Zhang May 18 '17 at 0:00
  • Xi - you can change your acceptance to Rockin Cowboy's answer if you like. He has a much more comprehensive answer. – Doktor Mayhem May 19 '17 at 6:45

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