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Best Guitar Action

//Best Guitar Action

Best Guitar Action

Best Guitar action determines how much pressure and distance is required for the string to make full contact with each fret. This height decides how fast, slow and kind of “attack” one can use before fret buzz occurs. Sometimes there is a slight trade-off between low action and some tolerable buzz. Decide if you want low action and can handle a small amount of string buzz. Guitar action sometimes if too high can also be painful.

image: wrong guitar strings hurt fingers-guitarist-fingers-guitar hard to play and guitar action too high
Too High action: you slow down and hurt your fingers.

The approach or “attack” a guitar player uses will determine the amount of buzz coming from the fretboard sometimes. When you play your guitar, and your form is correct, and your technique is properly developed then that is a good start. Also, there needs to be some attention paid to where your fingers are when the notes are played for best guitar action. For example, are you playing on the frets or between the frets? Or are you applying the proper amount of pressure when playing a note. A lazy half-hearted fingering will result in “string buzz” on even the best guitar action. Are you firmly pressing the note between the frets with just the right pressure? Your technique many times will determine the amount of fret buzz that occurs.

image Haywire Custom Guitars-Products Nashville Players #1 Guitar
guitar action is just right
Haywire Custom Guitars-Products Nashville Players #1 Guitar with best guitar action

Before you complain too loudly about your guitar “setup”. Make sure you are not the cause. Be sure your playing style is excellent and there are no roadblocks between a clear concise sound that you are creating and the sound you want.

image Rick Mariner working on guitar repairs, setting guitar action
Rick Mariner working on guitar repairs, setting action

Where you prefer to set your action is subjective and completely personal. That being said, these are some things to take into consideration when it’s time to determine best guitar action.
String height or action describes the distance between the top of the guitar frets to the bottom of the strings. This distance is important in your setup because it determines the ease in which your guitar can be played. Too high=out of tune. Too low and lots of string buzz. Find your perfect equilibrium.

Guitar action adjustments are not hard. It does require a small hex wrench and some concentration. It will assure that it feels good. This is usually not done well in the factory so it’s incumbent on the guitar owner to learn the process. The action is the height of the string from the fret and ultimately how the guitar feels. If the strings are too high, they’re hard to press down and conversely, if they’re too low, an annoying buzzing occurs.

What is a guitar string saddle? The saddle of a guitar refers to the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings. It may be one piece (typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string (electric guitars and basses).

While there are reasons to raise and lower your string saddles and since comfort and feel is the key. What reason would you need it done? Comfort is the goal.

Increase comfort by decreasing pressure on the players finger tips
Eliminate or decrease buzzing. Improve sustain and tone
Improve intonation by reducing the distance (sharpness) of string travel to the top of the fret.

Most importantly, if you could make adjustments in action yourself, you won’t have to take your guitar to the shop for small incremental changes. The action is usually set at the bridge. Guitar action is how a guitar plays, specifically the distance of the strings to the fingerboard. If the strings sit too high, they’re hard to fret; if they’re too low, buzzing occurs.

Guitar action needs are very personal. Adjust the action to your parameters and what feels good to you. To adjust the action, you need to raise or lower a part of the bridge known as the string saddle. Each string has one. 

By | 2023-02-22T18:24:52-05:00 February 11th, 2023|Guitar Education|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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