Guitar Action Guide: How to Measure and Adjust Action


guitar action guide how to adjust the guitar action

When it comes to playing the guitar, one important factor that affects playability and sound is the guitar action or the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Having the right action can make a big difference in the feel and playability of your instrument.

The action of a guitar refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Proper action is essential for good playability and sound.

In this guitar action guide, we’ll discuss how to measure and adjust the action on your guitar, so you can achieve the best possible playing experience.

Table Of Contents show

What is Guitar Action?

Guitar action refers to the distance between the strings and the frets on a guitar. It is an important factor in determining the playability of a guitar and affects the tone, intonation, and overall feel of the instrument.

A guitar with low action will have strings that are closer to the frets, making it easier to play, while a guitar with high action will have strings that are further away from the frets, making it harder to play.

How to Measure Guitar Action (Acoustic, Electric): Step-by-Step Guide

Measuring guitar action is an important part of maintaining your instrument’s playability. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to measure guitar action on both acoustic and electric guitars:

  1. Get the right tools: To measure guitar action, you’ll need a ruler or feeler gauge and a capo.
  2. Capo the first fret: Use the capo to press down on the first fret of the guitar.
  3. Measure the action at the 12th fret: With the capo in place, use the ruler or feeler gauge to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th fret. This measurement is your guitar’s action.
  4. Repeat for all strings: Measure the action for each individual string.
  5. Check manufacturer recommendations: Check your guitar’s manufacturer recommendations for the ideal action height. This can vary depending on the type of guitar and playing style.
  6. Adjust the action: If the action is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adjusting the truss rod, bridge height, or saddle height. It’s recommended to have a professional do this if you’re not experienced.

Remember, the ideal action height is subjective and can vary based on personal preference and playing style. It’s important to find a comfortable action height for your playing style to avoid discomfort or injury.

How To Measure Guitar Action with a Ruler

Measuring guitar action with a ruler can be a quick and easy way to determine the height of the strings above the fretboard. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Place your guitar on a flat surface, such as a table or workbench.
  2. Use a ruler to measure the distance between the bottom of the strings and the top of the 12th fret.
  3. The ideal distance between the bottom of the strings and the top of the 12th fret will depend on your personal preference and playing style. As a general rule of thumb, a distance of around 2mm to 2.5mm on the treble side and 2.5mm to 3mm on the bass side is a good starting point.
  4. If the action is too high, you may need to adjust the saddle height or truss rod. If the action is too low, you may need to raise the saddle height or adjust the neck relief.
  5. Repeat the process for each string and adjust as necessary to achieve your desired action height.

It’s important to note that while using a ruler can be a helpful tool for measuring action, it may not be the most accurate method.

How To Measure Guitar Action without a Ruler

To measure guitar action without a ruler, you can use a piece of paper or a business card. Simply slide the paper or card between the strings and the frets at the 12th fret and see if there is any space between the string and the paper.

If there is, the action is too high. If the paper gets stuck or can barely move, the action is too low. You can adjust the action accordingly.

How To Measure Guitar Action with an Action Gauge

To measure guitar action with an action gauge, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain an action gauge: You can purchase an action gauge here.
  2. Rest your guitar on a flat surface: Place your guitar on a flat surface such as a workbench or table.
  3. Place the gauge on the 12th fret: Place the action gauge on the 12th fret of your guitar’s fretboard.
  4. Adjust the gauge: Adjust the gauge until it’s in contact with the bottom of the strings.
  5. Measure the distance: Look at the gauge and read the measurement. This measurement is your guitar’s action.
  6. Repeat on other frets: For a more accurate measurement, repeat this process on other frets such as the 7th and 19th frets.
  7. Make adjustments: Depending on the measurement, you may need to adjust your guitar’s truss rod, bridge, or saddle to achieve the desired action.

Remember that measuring the action of your guitar with an action gauge can be more accurate than using a ruler or eyeballing it, but it may also require a bit of practice to get the hang of it.

Guitar Action Measurement Tool

A guitar action measurement tool, also known as an action gauge or string action ruler, is a specialized tool used to measure the distance between the strings and the fretboard of a guitar, known as the action.

It typically features a flat base that rests on the fretboard and a raised ruler-like edge that measures the height of the strings above the frets. Some models may also include additional features such as nut slot depth gauges or radius gauges. These tools are essential for accurately and efficiently measuring guitar action during a setup or adjustment.

How to Lower Action On A Guitar (Acoustic, Electric): Step-by-Step Guide

Lowering the action on a guitar can be a daunting task, but it’s essential for improving playability and ensuring a comfortable playing experience. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to lower the action on both acoustic and electric guitars:

Tools Needed:

  • Allen wrench (for truss rod adjustment)
  • Screwdriver (for bridge saddle adjustment)
  • Sandpaper (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Measure the current action: Use a ruler or action gauge to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th fret. Take note of the measurement for reference later.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: Use an Allen wrench to adjust the truss rod in the neck of the guitar. If the action is too high, tighten the truss rod by turning it clockwise. If the action is too low, loosen the truss rod by turning it counterclockwise. Be sure to make small adjustments and test the action frequently.
  3. Adjust the bridge saddle: Use a screwdriver to adjust the height of the bridge saddle. If the action is too high, lower the saddle by turning the screw counterclockwise. If the action is too low, raise the saddle by turning the screw clockwise. Again, make small adjustments and test the action frequently.
  4. Recheck the action: Once you have made your adjustments, use a ruler or action gauge to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th fret. Compare this measurement to your previous measurement to ensure that the action has been lowered to your desired level.
  5. Sand the saddle (optional): If the action is still too high, you can sand the bottom of the saddle to lower it further. Use fine-grit sandpaper and make small, even strokes. Test the action frequently to ensure you don’t sand too much.
  6. Repeat as necessary: Lowering the action on a guitar is a gradual process. It’s important to make small adjustments and test the action frequently to avoid causing damage to the instrument.

Overall, lowering the action on a guitar requires patience and attention to detail. By following these steps, you can achieve a comfortable and playable action on your acoustic or electric guitar.

How to reduce action on a guitar

To reduce action on a guitar, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, it’s important to loosen the strings to avoid damage to the guitar or injury to yourself.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: The truss rod is located inside the neck of the guitar, and can be adjusted using an Allen wrench. To reduce the action, turn the truss rod clockwise.
  3. Adjust the saddle: The saddle is located on the bridge of the guitar, and can be adjusted by sanding down the bottom. Sanding should be done evenly and slowly to avoid over-correcting.
  4. Check the nut: The nut is located at the top of the neck, and can also be adjusted by sanding down the bottom. Again, sand slowly and evenly to avoid over-correcting.
  5. Re-tune and test: Once you’ve made the adjustments, re-tune the guitar and test the action. If it’s still too high, repeat the process until you achieve the desired action.

Note: It’s important to be careful when making adjustments to your guitar, as over-correcting can cause irreparable damage. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to take your guitar to a professional for adjustment.

How to Lower Action On An Acoustic Guitar

Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar can be a bit more challenging than on an electric guitar. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before you start adjusting the action, you need to loosen the strings to prevent any damage to them or the guitar.
  2. Remove the saddle: Remove the saddle by gently prying it out with a thin and flat tool like a screwdriver. Make sure you don’t scratch the guitar or the saddle.
  3. Sand down the saddle: Use a piece of sandpaper to sand down the bottom of the saddle. Make sure you sand it evenly and gently so that it stays level. Check the action periodically to ensure that you’re not taking off too much material.
  4. Reinstall the saddle: Once you’ve sanded down the saddle to the desired height, you can reinsert it into the bridge slot. Gently push it down into place, making sure it is seated properly and not tilted.
  5. Re-tune and test the action: Re-tune the strings and test the action by playing up and down the neck. If the action is too low or too high, you may need to repeat steps 2-4 until you achieve the desired action.

Note: If you’re not comfortable adjusting the action yourself, it’s always best to take your guitar to a professional luthier for setup and maintenance.

How to Lower Action On An Electric Guitar

Lowering the action on an electric guitar can improve playability and make it easier to play. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before starting any adjustment on your guitar, it is important to loosen the strings to relieve tension on the neck.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: The truss rod is a metal rod inside the neck that controls the curvature of the neck. Use an appropriate tool, such as an Allen wrench, to turn the truss rod nut counter-clockwise to loosen it, and clockwise to tighten it. Keep in mind that small adjustments are recommended to avoid damaging the neck.
  3. Check the string height: Once the truss rod has been adjusted, check the string height at the 12th fret using a ruler or action gauge. The ideal action for an electric guitar is typically between 1/16” to 3/32” (1.6mm to 2.4mm) on the bass side and 3/64” to 1/16” (1.2mm to 1.6mm) on the treble side.
  4. Adjust the bridge: If the string height is still too high after adjusting the truss rod, you may need to adjust the bridge. Use the appropriate tool, such as a screwdriver, to raise or lower the bridge saddles to achieve the desired string height.
  5. Check for fret buzz: After making any adjustments, check for fret buzz by playing each string at every fret. If there is still fret buzz, you may need to raise the action slightly.
  6. Tune the guitar: Once you have achieved the desired string height and eliminated any fret buzz, tune your guitar and play to test the playability.

It is recommended to make small adjustments and check the playability after each adjustment to avoid causing damage to the guitar. If you are not comfortable making adjustments yourself, it is always best to seek the help of a professional guitar technician.

How to Lower Action On A Classical Guitar

Lowering the action on a classical guitar involves making adjustments to the saddle and nut. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, it’s important to loosen the strings to avoid damaging them or the guitar.
  2. Remove the saddle: The saddle is the piece of bone or plastic that sits in the bridge of the guitar. Use pliers or a screwdriver to gently remove it.
  3. Sand the bottom of the saddle: Using sandpaper, sand the bottom of the saddle evenly until you achieve the desired height.
  4. Replace the saddle: Once you have sanded the saddle to the right height, replace it in the bridge of the guitar.
  5. Adjust the nut: The nut is the piece of bone or plastic that sits at the top of the guitar neck. Use a nut file or sandpaper to file the slots in the nut to achieve the desired height.
  6. Tune the guitar: Once you have made the necessary adjustments, tune the guitar back up to pitch and test the action.

It’s important to note that making adjustments to the saddle and nut can be tricky and may require some trial and error to get the action just right. If you are not confident in your ability to make these adjustments, it’s best to take your guitar to a professional luthier for help.

How to Lower Action On A Martin Guitar

Lowering the action on a Martin guitar is similar to lowering the action on any other acoustic guitar. The process involves adjusting the truss rod, sanding down the saddle, and adjusting the nut slots.

It’s important to make small adjustments and check the playability of the guitar after each adjustment to avoid going too low and causing buzzing or other issues.

It’s recommended to have a professional luthier make these adjustments, especially for expensive instruments like Martin guitars.

How to Lower Action On A Taylor Guitar

To lower the action on a Taylor guitar, you will need to adjust the saddle height. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Remove the strings from the guitar.
  2. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the strings on the saddle.
  3. Remove the saddle from the bridge.
  4. Use a flat sanding block to sand down the bottom of the saddle. Only sand the bottom to avoid altering the intonation.
  5. Reinstall the saddle into the bridge.
  6. Restring the guitar.

It’s important to note that altering the saddle height will affect the intonation of the guitar, so it’s important to check and adjust the intonation after lowering the action. If you’re not confident in adjusting the action on your guitar, it’s best to take it to a professional guitar technician.

How to Lower Action On Guitar with Floyd Rose

Lowering the action on a guitar with a Floyd Rose can be more complicated than on other types of guitars due to the floating tremolo system. Here are the steps to lower the action on a guitar with a Floyd Rose:

  1. Loosen the strings: Use an Allen wrench to loosen the locking nut on the headstock and then loosen the strings using the tuning pegs. This will help you access the bridge and adjust the action.
  2. Remove the tremolo springs: Use a screwdriver to remove the backplate and then remove the tremolo springs. This will allow you to adjust the height of the bridge.
  3. Adjust the bridge: Use the two screws located on either side of the bridge to lower the height of the bridge. Make sure to lower both sides evenly to maintain the balance of the tremolo system.
  4. Reinstall the tremolo springs: Once you have adjusted the bridge, reinstall the tremolo springs and the backplate.
  5. Tune the guitar: Use the tuning pegs to bring the guitar back up to pitch and then use the fine tuners on the bridge to fine-tune the tuning.
  6. Check the action: Check the action of the guitar at the 12th fret to make sure it is at the desired height. If it is still too high, repeat steps 2-5 until you achieve the desired action.

Note: If you are not comfortable making adjustments to a Floyd Rose system, it is recommended to take your guitar to a professional guitar technician for setup and adjustments.

How to Lower Action On A Steel String Guitar

Lowering the action on a steel-string guitar involves adjusting the nut, saddle, and truss rod to achieve the desired height. Here are the steps to lower action on a steel-string guitar:

  1. Loosen the strings: Loosen the strings by turning the tuning pegs until they are slack.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: Locate the truss rod adjustment nut on the guitar neck, usually near the headstock. Tightening the truss rod will increase the relief and raise the action, while loosening the truss rod will decrease the relief and lower the action. Use a truss rod wrench to make adjustments in small increments and avoid over-tightening.
  3. Adjust the saddle: The saddle is located on the bridge of the guitar. Use a saddle-height adjustment tool to adjust the height of the saddle. Lowering the saddle will lower the action, while raising the saddle will increase the action. Make small adjustments until the desired action is achieved.
  4. Adjust the nut: The nut is located at the top of the guitar neck. Use a nut-height adjustment tool to adjust the height of the nut slots. Lowering the nut will lower the action, while raising the nut will increase the action. Again, make small adjustments until the desired action is achieved.
  5. Re-tune the guitar: Once the adjustments are made, re-tune the guitar and test the action by playing each string at different positions along the fretboard.
  6. Repeat the process: If necessary, repeat the above steps until the desired action is achieved. It’s important to make small adjustments and test the action often to avoid over-adjusting and causing damage to the guitar.

Is Your Guitar Action too High?

If your guitar action is too high, you may experience difficulty playing, discomfort, and poor tone. Symptoms of high action include difficulty pressing down the strings, excessive buzzing, and a general feeling of tension in your fingers while playing.

To determine if your guitar action is too high, you can measure it using a ruler or an action gauge.

The optimal action height varies based on personal preference and playing style, but generally, a good starting point for acoustic guitars is around 2.5 mm at the 12th fret, and for electric guitars, around 1.5 mm at the 12th fret.

If you find that your action is too high, you can adjust it by lowering the saddle or bridge, adjusting the truss rod, or filing the nut. It’s important to make these adjustments gradually and carefully, as incorrect adjustments can cause permanent damage to your guitar.

What Is The Best Guitar Action?

The best guitar action for the string height at the 12th fret is:

Low ActionMedium ActionHigh Action
Low E: 2.0mm (0.079”) High E: 1.5mm (0.059”)Low E: 2.5mm (0.098”) High E: 1.8mm (0.071”)Low E: 3.8mm+ (0.149”) High E: 3.2mm+ (0.126”)

The ideal guitar action depends on personal preferences and playing style. Generally, electric guitars have lower action compared to acoustic guitars, and it’s recommended to aim for an action height between 1.5-2.5mm on the bass side and 1-2mm on the treble side for most playing styles.

Acoustic guitars may require slightly higher action due to the higher string tension, but it should still be comfortable to play without causing undue hand fatigue or difficulty fretting notes. It’s always best to experiment and find the action height that feels comfortable and allows for optimal playability.

Guitar Action Height In mm

Guitar action height is typically measured in millimeters (mm). The optimal height of the action depends on various factors such as playing style, guitar type, and personal preference.

However, a general rule of thumb for a comfortable action height is between 1.5mm to 2.5mm for the low E string at the 12th fret on an electric guitar, and between 2.0mm to 2.7mm for the low E string at the 12th fret on an acoustic guitar.

It’s important to note that this is just a guideline and that the actual action height can vary based on individual playing style and guitar setup.

How many mm is high action?

High action on a guitar can vary, but generally, action above 2.5mm at the 12th fret on the bass side and above 2.0mm on the treble side can be considered high.

How many mm is low action?

Low action on a guitar typically ranges from 1.5-2.5mm on the bass side and 1-2mm on the treble side. However, the ideal action height may vary depending on the player’s preference and playing style.

Is 5mm action too high?

5mm action can be considered too high for a guitar, as it may cause difficulties in playing and affect the tone. The ideal action for a guitar varies depending on personal preference and playing style, but a common range for electric guitars is around 1.5mm-2.5mm for the low E string at the 12th fret, while acoustic guitars may have a slightly higher action.

How high should strings be at 12th fret?

The height of the strings at the 12th fret, also known as the “12th fret action,” should be around 2.0-2.5mm for electric guitars and 2.5-3.0mm for acoustic guitars. This measurement is typically taken from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret.

Is 4 mm of string height good on my electric guitar?

4mm of string height on an electric guitar is generally considered too high. The ideal range for most players is between 1.5mm and 2.5mm, with some players preferring even lower action. However, the best action height for you will depend on your personal preference and playing style.

Acoustic Guitar Action Height

Acoustic guitar action height is the distance between the strings and the fretboard, measured at the 12th fret. It is typically measured in millimeters, and can range from around 2mm to 4mm for low action, up to 5mm or more for high action.

The ideal height for acoustic guitar action can vary depending on playing style and personal preference, but a common range for acoustic guitars is around 2.5mm to 3.5mm for low action.

How high should my action be acoustic guitar?

The ideal action height for an acoustic guitar varies depending on the player’s preference and playing style. However, a general rule of thumb is that the action height should be around 2.5mm on the low E string at the 12th fret, and around 2.0mm on the high E string at the 12th fret. It’s best to experiment with different action heights to find the one that works best for you.

How high should the action be on an acoustic guitar at the 12th fret?

The ideal action height on an acoustic guitar at the 12th fret can vary depending on personal preference and playing style. However, a general guideline is that the string height at the 12th fret should be around 2.5mm to 3.0mm on the bass side and around 2.0mm to 2.5mm on the treble side. This allows for comfortable playing without sacrificing tone and sustain. It’s best to consult a professional luthier or guitar technician if you’re unsure about making adjustments to your guitar’s action.

What is considered low action on an acoustic guitar?

Low action on an acoustic guitar is typically considered to be between 2-2.5mm on the bass side and 1.5-2mm on the treble side at the 12th fret. However, the ideal action height can vary depending on the player’s preferences and playing style.

How do I know if my acoustic guitar action is too high?

You can tell if your acoustic guitar action is too high if the strings feel difficult to press down, resulting in a strain on your fingers and hands. You may also notice buzzing sounds or a lack of sustain when playing notes or chords. Additionally, you can measure the action height at the 12th fret using a ruler or action gauge and compare it to recommended measurements. If it is significantly higher, then it may be too high.

Electric Guitar Action Height

Electric guitar action height refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard, which can affect playability and sound. It is generally measured in millimeters or inches, and can be adjusted by manipulating the truss rod, bridge, or nut. The ideal action height for an electric guitar can vary depending on the player’s preference, playing style, and the type of music being played.

How high should action be on electric guitar?

The optimal action height for an electric guitar depends on the individual’s playing style and preference. However, a typical range for electric guitar action height is between 1.5mm and 2.5mm for the low E string at the 12th fret. It’s important to note that the action height will vary slightly between the different strings, and some players may prefer a slightly higher or lower action.

How high should the action be at the 12th fret electric guitar?

The height of the action at the 12th fret on an electric guitar can vary depending on the player’s preference, but a general range is between 1.5mm to 2.0mm for the low E string and between 1.0mm to 1.5mm for the high E string. However, some players prefer even lower action, while others prefer higher action for specific playing styles. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and comfort.

What is considered low action on electric guitar?

Low action on an electric guitar is typically considered to be around 1.5-2.0 mm on the high E string at the 12th fret, and 2.0-2.5 mm on the low E string at the 12th fret. However, what is considered “low” can vary depending on the player’s preferences and playing style.

High vs Low Action for Guitar: Which is Better?

When it comes to action on a guitar, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as it depends on personal preference and playing style. However, here are some pros and cons to consider for both high and low action:

High Action: Pros:

  • Less fret buzz
  • Better sustain and resonance
  • Can help prevent string bending and accidentally muting adjacent strings

Cons:

  • Harder to play, especially for beginners
  • Can cause hand fatigue and strain
  • Intonation may suffer if action is too high

Low Action: Pros:

  • Easier to play and less hand fatigue
  • Allows for faster playing and more fluid movements
  • Better intonation if set up correctly

Cons:

  • More susceptible to fret buzz
  • Sustain and resonance may suffer
  • Can lead to unintentional string bending and muting of adjacent strings

Ultimately, the best action for you depends on your playing style, comfort, and the sound you want to achieve. It’s important to find the right balance between playability and tone. A professional guitar setup can help achieve the optimal action for your guitar.

Is it harder to play guitar with high action?

Yes, it can be harder to play guitar with high action. High action can make it more difficult to press down the strings, causing finger fatigue and making it harder to play faster or more complex pieces.

Is it easier to play guitar with low action?

Generally, it is easier to play guitar with low action as the strings are closer to the fretboard, making it easier to press down on them. However, it ultimately depends on the player’s preferences and playing style. Some players may prefer higher action for a certain tone or playing style.

How high should your guitar action be?

The ideal height for guitar action varies depending on the player’s preference and playing style. Generally, electric guitars have lower action than acoustic guitars, and some players prefer very low action while others prefer higher action for more resistance. As a general guideline, the action at the 12th fret should be around 1.6-2.0 mm for electric guitars and 2.0-2.5 mm for acoustic guitars. Ultimately, the best action height is one that feels comfortable and allows for clean playing without excessive buzzing.

How do you know if your action is too high on guitar?

You can tell if your action is too high on a guitar by checking if the strings are difficult to press down, causing fatigue or discomfort in your fingers while playing. Additionally, you may notice a higher level of string buzz or an overall reduction in the guitar’s playability. If you are experiencing these issues, it may be time to adjust your guitar’s action.

How to Adjust Action On Guitar

To adjust the action on a guitar, you will need to make some changes to the bridge, nut, and truss rod. Here are the steps to adjust action on a guitar:

  1. Check the current action: Use a ruler or action gauge to measure the distance between the strings and the frets at the 12th fret. This will give you an idea of the current action on your guitar.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: If the action is too high or low, you may need to adjust the truss rod. This is a metal rod that runs down the center of the guitar neck. Use an appropriate tool, such as an Allen wrench, to make the adjustment.
  3. Adjust the bridge: To adjust the action on an acoustic guitar, you may need to sand down the bottom of the saddle, which sits in the bridge. On an electric guitar, you can adjust the individual string heights using the screws on the bridge.
  4. Adjust the nut: The nut, which sits at the top of the guitar neck, may need to be adjusted if the strings are too high at the first fret. Use a nut file to carefully remove material from the nut until the strings sit at the correct height.
  5. Check the intonation: Once you’ve made any necessary adjustments, check the intonation of your guitar to make sure it plays in tune across the entire fretboard.

It’s important to make adjustments gradually and carefully, as it can be easy to accidentally damage the guitar or make the action too low, causing fret buzz or other problems. If you’re unsure about making adjustments yourself, it may be best to take your guitar to a professional luthier or guitar technician.

How to Adjust Action On Electric Guitar

To adjust the action on an electric guitar, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Use a string winder to loosen the strings until they are slack enough to remove from the guitar.
  2. Remove the truss rod cover: Using a Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the truss rod cover on the headstock of the guitar.
  3. Make adjustments to the truss rod: Use an Allen wrench to turn the truss rod nut in the direction that will loosen the rod. If the action is too high, loosen the rod by turning it counterclockwise. If the action is too low, tighten the rod by turning it clockwise.
  4. Recheck the action: Once you have made the truss rod adjustment, recheck the action of the guitar by measuring the distance between the string and the fretboard at various points on the neck.
  5. Adjust the bridge height: If the action is still too high, adjust the height of the bridge. On most electric guitars, the bridge height can be adjusted by turning screws located on the bridge itself.
  6. Reinstall the truss rod cover: Once you are satisfied with the action of the guitar, reinstall the truss rod cover.
  7. Tune the guitar: Use a tuner to tune the guitar back to standard tuning, and you’re done!

How to Adjust Action On Acoustic Guitar

To adjust the action on an acoustic guitar, you can follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Use a string winder to loosen the strings on your guitar until they are completely slack.
  2. Remove the saddle: Use a thin object such as a small screwdriver or the edge of a business card to pry out the saddle from its slot in the bridge.
  3. Sand the saddle: Use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand the bottom of the saddle down evenly. Check the height with a ruler or action gauge and repeat until the desired height is achieved.
  4. Replace the saddle: Once the saddle has been sanded down to the appropriate height, gently push it back into the slot in the bridge.
  5. Re-tune the guitar: Use your electronic tuner to bring the guitar back to standard tuning.
  6. Check the action: Measure the action at the 12th fret with a ruler or action gauge. If the action is still too high, repeat the process until the desired height is achieved.

It is important to note that adjusting the action on an acoustic guitar can be more difficult than on an electric guitar due to the fixed bridge and lack of adjustable saddles. If you are unsure about adjusting the action yourself, it is recommended to take your guitar to a professional luthier for adjustment.

How to Adjust Action On Bass Guitar

To adjust the action on a bass guitar, you can follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, it’s important to loosen the strings to reduce tension on the neck.
  2. Adjust the truss rod: The truss rod is a metal rod that runs through the neck of the bass guitar. To adjust the action, you can use an Allen wrench to turn the truss rod either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the direction you want to adjust the neck.
  3. Check the action: Once you’ve made adjustments to the truss rod, you can check the action by measuring the distance between the strings and the frets at various points along the neck. The action should be lower at the lower frets and gradually increase as you move towards the higher frets.
  4. Adjust the saddle height: If the action is still too high, you can adjust the height of the saddles by using a screwdriver to raise or lower them. Make small adjustments and recheck the action until you achieve the desired height.
  5. Check intonation: Finally, you should check the intonation of the bass guitar by comparing the pitch of the fretted notes at the 12th fret to the open string. If the pitch is sharp or flat, you can adjust the saddle position to correct the intonation.

It’s important to note that adjusting the action on a bass guitar can be more complex than on a regular guitar due to the thicker strings and longer neck.

How to Adjust Action On Les Paul

To adjust the action on a Les Paul, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: To make any adjustments to the action, you need to loosen the strings first. You can do this by turning the tuning keys to lower the tension on the strings until they are completely loose.
  2. Adjust the bridge: The Les Paul has a Tune-O-Matic bridge that allows you to adjust the action for each string individually. Use a small screwdriver to adjust the screws on the side of the bridge to raise or lower the action for each string.
  3. Check the action: After making adjustments, tune the guitar back up to pitch and check the action. You can use a ruler or action gauge to measure the height of the strings at the 12th fret. Adjust as needed until you achieve the desired action.
  4. Repeat: Repeat the process until you achieve the desired action for all the strings.
  5. Check intonation: After adjusting the action, check the intonation by playing the guitar at the 12th fret and comparing it to the pitch of the same note played at the open string. If the pitch is off, you may need to adjust the saddle position on the bridge.
  6. Repeat: Repeat the process until you achieve the desired intonation for all the strings.

How to Adjust Action On Strat

To adjust the action on a Strat, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: To make adjustments to the action, you will need to loosen the strings on your Strat. You can do this by using a string winder to unwind each string until it is slack.
  2. Remove the tremolo cover: On the back of the guitar, there should be a tremolo cover held in place with several screws. Use a screwdriver to remove the cover.
  3. Adjust the bridge saddles: The bridge saddles are located on the bridge of the guitar, and they hold the strings in place. Each saddle has two small screws that can be adjusted to change the height of the string. Use an Allen wrench to make adjustments to the height of each saddle until you achieve your desired action.
  4. Re-tune the guitar: Once you have made your adjustments, re-tune the guitar using a tuner.
  5. Check the action: Play each string on each fret to make sure that the action is even across the entire fretboard. Make any additional adjustments as necessary.
  6. Replace the tremolo cover: Once you are satisfied with the action, replace the tremolo cover and screw it back into place.
  7. Stretch the strings: After making any adjustments to the action, it’s important to stretch the strings to ensure that they stay in tune. You can do this by pulling up on each string gently while tuning until they no longer go out of tune when you play them.

How to Adjust Action On Telecaster

To adjust the action on a Telecaster, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: To adjust the action, you need to release the tension on the strings. Start by loosening them to avoid damaging the neck or bridge.
  2. Adjust the bridge: The bridge is where the strings rest on the body. You can raise or lower the action by adjusting the screws on the bridge. Use a screwdriver to turn the screws clockwise to lower the action or counterclockwise to raise the action.
  3. Check the height: After making adjustments to the bridge, use a ruler or action gauge to measure the height of the strings at the 12th fret. The recommended action for a Telecaster is around 1.6mm on the treble side and 2mm on the bass side.
  4. Test the playability: Once you have adjusted the action, re-tune the guitar and play it to see how it feels. Make further adjustments as necessary until you achieve the desired playability.
  5. Repeat as needed: Adjusting the action is an iterative process, so be prepared to make multiple adjustments until you achieve the ideal playability for your playing style.
  6. Tighten the strings: Once you are happy with the action, tighten the strings to the desired tension.

Remember that adjusting the action on your Telecaster can affect the intonation, so you may need to make additional adjustments to ensure that the guitar is in tune across the entire fretboard.

How to Adjust Action On Epiphone SG

To adjust the action on an Epiphone SG, you can follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, loosen the strings by turning the tuning pegs until they are no longer under tension.
  2. Adjust the bridge height: The Epiphone SG has a Tune-O-Matic bridge, which can be raised or lowered with the two screws on either side of the bridge. Use a screwdriver to adjust the height of the bridge to achieve the desired action.
  3. Check the nut height: The nut can also affect the action of the guitar. Use a set of feeler gauges to check the height of the strings at the nut. If the strings are too high, you may need to file the slots in the nut to lower the action.
  4. Re-tune the guitar: Once you have made the necessary adjustments, re-tune the guitar and check the action again. Repeat the process until you achieve the desired action.

How to Adjust Action for Fender Bridges

To adjust the action for Fender bridges, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings to reduce tension on the bridge.
  2. Use an Allen wrench to adjust the height screws on the bridge saddles. Clockwise turns will raise the saddle, while counterclockwise turns will lower it.
  3. Use a ruler or action gauge to measure the string height at the 12th fret.
  4. Adjust the height screws until the desired action is achieved.
  5. Tune the guitar and test the action by playing each string at different frets to ensure there is no fret buzz or string slippage.
  6. Repeat the process until the desired action is achieved.

How to Adjust Action for Tune-O-Matic Bridges

To adjust the action for a Tune-O-Matic bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, it’s important to loosen the strings to reduce tension on the bridge.
  2. Adjust the height of the bridge: Use a screwdriver to turn the thumbwheels on either side of the bridge to adjust the height of the bridge. Turning the thumbwheel clockwise will raise the height of the bridge, while turning it counterclockwise will lower it.
  3. Check the action: After making adjustments to the bridge, tune the guitar back up to pitch and check the action at the 12th fret. Repeat the process until you achieve the desired action.
  4. Adjust the intonation: If you’ve made significant changes to the action of your guitar, you may need to adjust the intonation as well. Use a chromatic tuner and a screwdriver to adjust the length of the strings between the bridge and the nut until the open string and the 12th fret harmonic are in tune.
  5. Retune and test: Once you’ve made all your adjustments, tune the guitar back up to pitch and play it to ensure the action feels comfortable and the intonation is accurate.

How to Adjust Action on Floyd Rose Bridges

To adjust the action on a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the locking nut at the top of the neck. This will allow you to adjust the string height at the bridge without affecting the tuning stability.
  2. Use an Allen wrench to adjust the height of the individual saddle on each string. The saddles are located on the bridge and are typically held in place by small screws.
  3. Use a ruler or action gauge to measure the string height at the 12th fret. The distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret should be around 1.6mm to 2.4mm for comfortable playing.
  4. Make adjustments as needed to each individual saddle until the desired action is achieved.
  5. Once the action is set to the desired height, re-tune the guitar and tighten the locking nut at the top of the neck.
  6. Check the action again to make sure it is still at the desired height.

Why Has Your Guitar Action Changed?

There are a few reasons why your guitar action may have changed, including changes in temperature and humidity, wear and tear on the instrument, or adjustments made to the guitar’s setup.

For example, if the neck has warped due to changes in humidity or temperature, it may cause the action to become higher. Additionally, if the strings have been worn down or the frets have been worn unevenly, it may also cause changes in action. Finally, if adjustments have been made to the truss rod or saddle, this can also affect the guitar’s action.

String Gauge Affect on Guitar Action

String gauge refers to the thickness of the strings on your guitar, and it can have an impact on your guitar action. Thicker strings require more tension to tune to pitch, and this can cause the neck to bend forward, resulting in higher action.

Conversely, lighter strings require less tension, which can cause the neck to bow backward, resulting in lower action.

Changing string gauges can also cause changes in the nut and saddle, which can affect action. It’s important to note that changing string gauge can also affect your overall sound, so it’s important to choose a gauge that fits your playing style and tonal preferences.

Humidity Affect on Guitar Action

Humidity can have a significant effect on guitar action. High humidity can cause the wood to swell, which can result in higher action, while low humidity can cause the wood to shrink, resulting in lower action.

It is important to keep your guitar in a stable environment with moderate humidity levels to prevent these changes. Using a humidifier or dehumidifier can also help regulate humidity levels and prevent damage to your guitar.

Guitar Action and Playability

Guitar action, or the distance between the strings and the fretboard, plays a significant role in the playability of the instrument. Action that is too high can make it difficult to press down the strings, causing fatigue and intonation issues, while action that is too low can cause buzzing and fretting out. Finding the right balance of action for your playing style and guitar setup is crucial for achieving optimal playability and tone.

Does Higher Action Give you a Better Tone?

There is no direct correlation between higher action and better tone. While some guitarists may prefer a higher action for specific playing styles, such as fingerpicking, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. A guitar’s tone is affected by a combination of factors, including the type of wood used in construction, pickups, and other hardware. It’s essential to find the right balance between action and tone that works for you.

Is Lower Action Easier to Play On Guitar?

Yes, generally lower action is easier to play on guitar because it requires less pressure to fret the strings and allows for faster and more comfortable playing. However, there is a trade-off between lower action and potential fret buzz or intonation issues, so it’s important to find a balance that works for your playing style and instrument.

Can you Play Fast with High Action On Guitar?

Playing fast on guitar can be more challenging with high action as it requires more force to press down the strings, making it harder to play with precision and speed. Lower action can make it easier to play fast by reducing the distance between the strings and the fretboard, allowing for faster and more accurate finger movements. However, the ideal action for playing fast depends on personal preference and playing style, as some guitarists prefer higher action for certain techniques such as bending and vibrato.

Does Lower Action Make Bending Easier On Guitar?

Yes, lower action can make bending easier on guitar. With lower action, the strings are closer to the frets, making it easier to press down and bend the strings. This can be especially beneficial for players who frequently use bending techniques in their playing. However, it’s important to find the right balance of action for your playing style and technique, as excessively low action can cause fret buzz and intonation issues.

Do you Need Low Action to Play Fast On Guitar?

No, low action is not necessarily required to play fast on guitar. While low action can make playing fast easier and more comfortable for some guitarists, many skilled players have been able to play at high speeds with higher action settings. Ultimately, the most important factor in playing fast is developing the proper technique and practicing regularly.

Does Lower Action Help with Tapping for Guitar?

Lower action can make tapping easier and more comfortable, as there is less distance between the strings and the fretboard. However, tapping technique also relies on other factors such as hand positioning and finger strength. So while lower action may help, it’s not the only factor to consider for successful tapping on guitar.

Does Higher Action Give you a Better Tone?

There is a common belief that higher action on a guitar can result in a better tone, but this is not necessarily true. While higher action may allow for greater string resonance, it can also lead to a loss of sustain and make it more difficult to play. Ultimately, the best tone will depend on a variety of factors, including the guitar’s construction, the player’s technique, and personal preferences.

Guitar Action: The Complete Guide Conclusion

In conclusion, guitar action is an important factor in determining the playability and tone of a guitar.

While personal preference plays a role in deciding the ideal action height, it is generally recommended to have low to medium action for ease of playing and less strain on the fingers.

However, higher action can provide better tone and is sometimes preferred by certain guitarists.

It is important to regularly check and adjust the action of your guitar to ensure optimal performance. With the proper tools and knowledge, adjusting the action of your guitar can be done easily at home.

Guitar Action: The Complete Guide FAQs

What should my guitar action be?

The ideal guitar action depends on personal preference, playing style, and the type of guitar. Generally, a good range for guitar action is between 1/16 inch (1.5mm) and 3/32 inch (2.4mm) for electric guitars, and between 3/32 inch (2.4mm) and 7/64 inch (2.8mm) for acoustic guitars.

Is my guitar action too high?

If the strings are too far from the fretboard, it can be difficult to play and may cause hand fatigue. If you have to press down too hard on the strings to play a note, your guitar action may be too high.

Is low action good on guitar?

Low action can make it easier to play fast and complex passages, but it can also cause string buzz and affect tone. It ultimately depends on personal preference and playing style.

Why do cheap guitars have high action?

Cheap guitars may have high action due to poor manufacturing and lack of proper setup. This can make it harder to play and affect overall playability.

Does higher action give better tone?

Higher action can give a guitar a fuller and more resonant tone, but it can also make it harder to play.

Is it harder to play guitar with high action?

High action can make it harder to play as it requires more pressure to press down the strings and play notes.

How do you know if your action is too low?

If your strings are too close to the fretboard, they may buzz or produce unwanted noise when played. This is a sign that your action may be too low.

Do expensive guitars have low action?

Expensive guitars may have lower action due to higher quality materials and construction, but it ultimately depends on personal preference and playing style.

Why do people want high action on guitar?

Some people prefer higher action as it can produce a fuller and more resonant tone, and it can also make it easier to play certain techniques such as bending.

Is Higher action better for strumming?

Higher action may be better for strumming as it can produce a fuller sound, but it can also make it harder to play and cause hand fatigue.

How low should my action be?

The ideal action depends on personal preference and playing style, but a good range for electric guitars is between 1/16 inch (1.5mm) and 3/32 inch (2.4mm), and between 3/32 inch (2.4mm) and 7/64 inch (2.8mm) for acoustic guitars.

What should string height be at 12th fret?

The ideal string height at the 12th fret is between 3/64 inch (1.2mm) and 5/64 inch (2mm) for electric guitars, and between 5/64 inch (2mm) and 7/64 inch (2.8mm) for acoustic guitars.

Will to high of action cause fret buzz?

No, high action should not cause fret buzz. Fret buzz is usually caused by strings that are too close to the fretboard.

What does lowering the action on a guitar do?

Lowering the action on a guitar can make it easier to play and reduce hand fatigue. It can also affect tone and sustain.

Which way do I turn truss rod to lower action?

To lower the action on a guitar, you may need to loosen the truss rod by turning it counterclockwise. However, it is recommended to seek professional help when adjusting the truss rod.

What should the action be on a 7 string guitar?

The action on a 7 string guitar should be similar to a regular 6 string guitar, with a typical range of 1.5mm – 2.5mm for the low E string and 1mm – 2mm for the high E string.

How do you tell if a guitar is setup correctly?

A guitar can be considered setup correctly if it meets the following criteria: proper neck relief, correct string height, appropriate intonation, and proper string action.

What should string height be at first fret?

String height at the first fret should be as low as possible without causing any fret buzz. A common range for string height at the first fret is between 0.5mm – 1.5mm.

What are the downsides of low guitar action?

Low guitar action can cause fret buzz, which can result in a loss of sustain and tone. It can also lead to playing difficulties for those who have a heavy-handed playing style.

Is higher action better for blues?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as some blues guitarists prefer higher action while others prefer lower action. Generally, higher action can help produce a more pronounced string bend, which is a common technique used in blues playing.

What is considered low guitar action?

Low guitar action is typically considered to be around 1.5mm or less for the high E string and 2.5mm or less for the low E string.

Does low action cause fret buzz?

Low action can cause fret buzz if it is set too low, or if the frets are not level. However, properly set low action should not cause any fret buzz.

Why do guitarists have their guitar so low?

Guitarists may have their guitar set low for a number of reasons, including comfort, ease of playing, and aesthetics. Some guitarists also believe that it can help with their performance and stage presence.

Is guitar becoming less popular?

There is no clear evidence to suggest that guitar is becoming less popular. In fact, guitar sales have been steadily increasing in recent years, and the guitar remains a popular instrument in many genres of music.

What fret size is easiest to play?

Fret size is largely a matter of personal preference, but generally speaking, smaller frets can be easier to play for those with smaller hands, while larger frets can provide better intonation and sustain.

How do I know if my first fret is too high?

If your first fret is too high, it can cause intonation problems and make it difficult to play notes cleanly. You can check the height of your first fret by using a straight edge to measure the distance between the first fret and the string.

What is the finger fret rule?

The finger fret rule is a technique used to determine the proper amount of neck relief on a guitar. It involves pressing down on the first fret and the highest fret, and then measuring the distance between the string and the 8th fret.

Does guitar action affect intonation?

Yes, guitar action can affect intonation. If the action is too high or too low, it can cause intonation problems and make it difficult to play notes in tune.

What is good low action on acoustic guitar?

Good low action on an acoustic guitar is typically around 1.5mm for the high E string and 2.5mm for the low E string. However, this can vary depending on personal preference and playing style.

What is considered low acoustic guitar action?

Low acoustic guitar action is typically considered to be around 1.5mm or less for the high E string and 2.5mm or less for the low E string.

Why do electric guitars have low action?

Electric guitars have low action because they are usually played with lighter gauge strings and have a smaller neck profile, which allows for easier playing with less finger pressure required.

Why do guitarists favor the solid body guitar?

Guitarists favor solid body guitars because they have a more defined and sustained tone, and are less prone to feedback than hollow or semi-hollow body guitars.

How do you get low action without fret buzz?

To get low action without fret buzz, the truss rod and bridge height need to be adjusted properly, and the frets need to be level. If the frets are uneven or worn, a fret leveling or replacement may be necessary.

Which guitars have the easiest action?

Guitars with the easiest action tend to have thinner neck profiles and lighter gauge strings. Some models known for their easy playing action include the Fender Stratocaster, Ibanez RG series, and Gibson SG.

What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive guitar?

Expensive guitars are typically made with higher quality materials and craftsmanship, and often have better tonal quality and playability. Cheaper guitars are usually made with lower quality materials and may have less attention to detail in their construction.

Why are cheap guitars harder to play?

Cheap guitars may have high action or uneven frets, which can make playing more difficult. The quality of the neck and fretboard can also affect playability.

Why is the first fret hard to play?

The first fret can be hard to play if it is too high or if the strings are too high off the fretboard. This can be caused by an improperly adjusted truss rod or bridge height.

How do I know if I need to adjust my truss rod?

If the guitar’s neck is bowing or has a back-bow, or if the action is too high or too low, it may be necessary to adjust the truss rod. A guitar technician can also assess whether a truss rod adjustment is necessary.

Should a guitar neck be perfectly straight?

No, a guitar neck should have a slight amount of relief (upward bow) to allow for proper string clearance and playability. The amount of relief can be adjusted with the truss rod.

Does Sharp on guitar be too high or low?

Sharp notes on the guitar can be caused by the action being too low, causing the strings to hit the frets too hard. Raising the action or adjusting the truss rod can help to alleviate this issue.

What is normal action on guitar?

The normal action on a guitar can vary depending on the player’s preference and playing style, but a typical range for electric guitars is between 1.6mm and 2.4mm at the 12th fret.

What is the ideal distance between strings and frets?

The ideal distance between strings and frets can also vary depending on the player’s preference and playing style, but a typical range is between 0.5mm and 2.5mm at the 12th fret.

Related Posts:

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others. Check out my recommended guitar gear!

Recent Posts