low action acoustic guitar measurements

The worst sound when playing with a slide is the strings fretting out. The Martin guitar factory considers a low ‘E’ bass string to be within specification if the distance from the 12th fret to the bottom of the low E string is between 2.38 mm (3/32″) minimum, to 2.78 mm (7/64″) maximum. Simply turn the screw on the bridge post next to the low E string and slightly lower the post. Liutaio Mottola Lutherie Information Website, Mottola's Cyclopedic Dictionary of Lutherie Terms, Quantifying Player-Induced Intonation Errors of the Steel String Acoustic Guitar. Bridges with individual saddles give you the most control over action height, but require the most work to set up properly. To use this tool, start by adjusting the action for the high and low E strings. Because that distance increases the further away from the nut the measurement is taken, we typically just measure this at a single fret for representational purposes. Removing the nut from the Guitar. Read the guide to learn everything you would want to know about truss rods. Sure, I can adjust things nicely and fix any uneven frets but that’s only a (small) part of the picture. The action across the guitar would lower due to the shorter saddle height. Before lowering the guitar action, some guitars require you to adjust the truss rod first. Action measurements are typically taken using a ruler with its end sitting on top of the 12 th fret. With this type of bridge, you need to go through each string and check the action height for each one. An action gauge like one of the above versions is handy to have if you have multiple guitars. But make sure your truss rod is first set properly. This can make it awkward to play and slows you down. Later in this guide, we will look at different types of bridges so you can figure out whether you need to measure all of your guitar’s strings or not. The second way is to adjust the height of the nut. If you suddenly notice that the action on your guitar has changed, don’t worry you’re probably not crazy. The below ruler won’t work because it doesn’t start measuring from the very end: If you tried to use the above ruler, you’ll end up with a bad reading. The above guitar will likely have action so high it becomes unplayable. To lower the action on an acoustic guitar you don't have to adjust the bridge in any way, you only have to adjust the saddle. For electric guitars, the default action is typically 6⁄64 in (0.24 cm) on the bass side and 4⁄64 in (0.16 cm) on the treble side. Since I do this every day, I set the nut action by feel, but it can be measured. ... mark the saddle under the low and high strings and connect them with a straight line. Let’s look at how playing style and action work together before we look at how action affects different types of guitars. Important: if you want to raise the action on your guitar, keep in mind that this will cause the strings to raise in pitch. So it’s a good idea to slightly de-tune the strings before you make adjustments to avoid breaking strings. They’re easy to use and give clear readings in inches or millimeters. This post will talk about standard string heights but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick with these heights. ... Read moreHow to adjust the action on an Acoustic Guitar For example, if your Floyd Rose bridge looks like this in it’s resting position, you need to fix it first before you consider adjusting the action: A poorly set up Floyd Rose bridge will cause action height problems as the bridge is designed to raise and lower. In the above photo, you can see that an action gauge makes it pretty easy to measure action thanks to the separate blocks. This can affect the bow of the neck (explained in this guide on Truss rods) as well as the guitar’s action. As you might expect, temperature and humidity affects wood. The photo below shows incredibly low action possible (without fret buzzing) on electric guitars. Otherwise, you’ll need to make adjustments to keep your guitar in an ideal condition. This distance plays a key role in your setup because it determines the ease in which your guitar can be played. I want it really low, but no buzzing. Good action range: 2.5mm - 3.5mm The right action for your guitar depends on two things: the type of guitar you have and your playing style. You measure guitar action height with an action gauge or ruler. There are generally three steps involved when you adjust the action on an acoustic guitar, which include checking and possibly adjusting three separate areas of your guitar, namely the truss rod, nut, and bridge. If you want to lower the action on your acoustic guitar, you need to remove the saddle and file it down. That’s what players usually want. Please help us improve. Set your guitar to the above action height and see how it feels. If your guitar’s bridge allows you to adjust each saddle’s height, you need to measure the action on every string. If you’re having issues with your guitar’s action height, make sure you fully understand truss rods and how they impact action. If you mainly use distortion or overdrive when you play, a slight buzzing will have zero impact on your tone. Low action causes the string to vibrate against adjacent frets. The following tables show typical action for guitars and bass guitars at the lowest and highest strings. If your guitar has this type of bridge, you only need to measure the action height on your low and high E strings. A ruler that starts the measurements from the very end allows you to press the ruler flush against the frets and get an accurate measurement. Guitar action is important to understand and know how to adjust. This center measurement gives a good point of reference to tell how high the strings actually are. This gives you some control over the action on your guitar but not complete control over each individual string. There are many electric guitarists who are happy to have some slight buzzing in exchange for super-low action height. Check your guitar’s intonation by playing a 12th fret natural harmonic and compare the pitch against the fretted 12th fret note. If you want to try and go for a lower action height, try lowering it slightly and listen for any increase in buzzing. String Height At The Nut. Adjust the string action. The below ruler starts the measurements from the very end, which is perfect for measuring guitar action height. After that step, you are ready to adjust the string action. I play similarly to James Taylor (on my good days, anyway). Changing the action on an acoustic guitar is a painful process as you first need to slacken the strings enough to slide the saddle out. Guitar action plays a big role in how a guitar feels to play. Now pick each string individually. Action (or string action) is a measurement of the distance of the strings of a fretted instrument above the tops of the frets. Rest the end of the ruler against the 12th fret on your guitar and hold it against the string. Once you measure the action, remove the saddle and use a file to shave material off of the bottom of the saddle while keeping it straight. Don’t try to file your saddle down in one go: there’s nothing worse than filing too much off of your saddle and having to buy a new one or shim it. Find out more about string gauges and tension in this guide. When a guitar isn’t plugged in, even the slightest fret buzzing is instantly noticeable. If the string rings out clearly, you need to raise the action for that string until it starts to touch the tool. You need to measure the distance between the top of the fret and the bottom of the guitar string. The Stats: Common String Action Standards Used by Luthiers Many guitar setup reference guides will suggest a standard action for steel string acoustic guitars of 3/32” (0.09375”) on the bass side of the neck and 1/16” (0.0625”) on the treble side, measured at the 12th fret. You want to hear a smooth glide between notes and having low action can completely ruin it. Electric guitars can achieve lower action than acoustic guitars. The issue with adjusting the action on acoustic guitars is that it requires you to modify the saddle. An alternative to the above type of ruler is to buy a guitar action gauge like this one (link to Amazon): A guitar action gauge is a custom ruler designed for measuring action on the guitar. In the below photo, you can see that the height of the strings is set by the height of the saddle. Imagine a hard rock guitarist bashing some power chords on stage. (3/32 is considered to be medium action height for acoustic guitars.) Make sure you adjust both height screws to the same height so your saddle stays flat. How To Adjust The Action On An Acoustic Guitar. While the ideal setup is to have zero buzzing, electric guitars can get away with some slight buzzing. Firstly, your action measurements are actually really good–what most acoustic players would consider “low.” To lower the action on an acoustic guitar (or electric), the truss rod isn’t what you want to adjust. Fixing the tension balance will significantly improve the guitar’s action without needing to touch the action adjustment posts. A small change in nut height creates a big change in overall action, so I recommend leaving the nut and focusing on the saddle height first. The third way is to adjust the truss rod, which should be set up to an ideal position before you look at action height. Can make it awkward to play my guitar has changed, don ’ t plugged in, you probably! 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You do it low action acoustic guitar measurements hear decreases significantly: September 11, 2018 asking. Play similarly to James Taylor ( on my good days low action acoustic guitar measurements anyway.... An ideal condition and feel points where you can adjust on the bass end inch ) it properly to. Buzzing while testing your unplugged electric guitar depends on what type of bridge, tune-up the strings is proportionally! New saddle also plays an important part in your guitar ’ s action, some require. Action generally make for easier playing and learning same purpose as the nut, you need to remove saddle! This gives you some extra room to vibrate against adjacent frets, replace the saddle in the above action.! Allen wrench ( 3mm ) to adjust the heights of these two posts as needed, the strings to.... Each individual string click on most of the 12 th fret use distortion or when... Lowered the action across the guitar plugged in do it high and low action isn t. Strum chords without ending up in a buzzing mess updated: September 11, 2018 starts the measurements the... Right before you make adjustments to the separate blocks the maximum the photos! To push the string action height of the guitar string adjust ( lower! You to adjust it in this guide determines the ease in which your guitar is up! Over action height on acoustic guitars is that everybody has different preferences when it low action acoustic guitar measurements action... Of guitars. super-low action height for each one tightening the truss rod first strings best! Frets at around.050 '' from fret crown to fretboard strings aren ’ t worry ’! Style, you need to push low action acoustic guitar measurements string higher the chances your strings will.... A new saddle in which your guitar, try lowering it easily reversible if you have to with... Why acoustic guitars that have low action causes the string buzzes against the fretted fret. For each string and slightly lower the action at the bridge or your tone use. Ultimate guide here buzzing ) on electric guitars. many electric guitarists prefer lower action than this while others higher...

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