Gibson Master Luthier Jim DeCola has made a brilliant, simple tool to help set up an acoustic guitar – and you can make one too

Gibson's Jim DeCola
(Image credit: Gibson / YouTube)

Today we found out that  Jim DeCola isn't just a Master Luthier at Gibson – he's a secret inventor too. Well, not so secret anymore, thanks to the fine folks over at the new Gibson Gazette site (a great place for your daily Gibson news fix) alerting us to this excellent video.  DeCola has only gone and made a tool for the feared art of lowering your acoustic guitar's action. And we can all make one too. 

Acoustic guitars and high action are unfortunately common partners, but it doesn't have to be this way and Jim doesn't just show us the steps of measuring our string action but how we actually lower it. And with an acoustic that means lowering the bridge saddle by sanding. 

A lot of players get nervous here but Jim helps talk us through the calculations required ("it's best to work a little at a time" he advises early on), measuring with a caliper (something I've found to be a really useful investment for guitar work) and how to use a capo so you don't have to keep changing strings between adjustments.


(Image credit: Future)

When lowering the guitar bridge it's vital you don it evenly on a flat surface. And here, DeCola he has an extra ally…

The expert luthier has made his own failsafe sanding station with a piece of glass, adhesive-backed sandpaper and a thin piece of board. It keeps everything flat and straight for an accurate bridge adjustment – you just need to work slowly and with even pressure.

Of course, DeCola also has us covered if our acoustic action is too low – and as you'll see in the video above, that's even simpler. 

Check out the full video above and look out for more Gibson content at the Gibson Gazette

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.