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Reasons to raise action?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Morf2540, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-Talker

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    I traded guitars with someone recently, and the guy I got it from had it set up with really low action. We were playing, and he commented that seeing the way I play I should think about raising the action. Only later did I start wondering what he meant by that. Now, I'm not very good, I will freely admit that. So I'm sure that had something to do with it. But I don't totally stink, either, I'm OK. So my question is: when is a higher action better for someone? And what could he have possibly seen in my 5 minutes of noodling that could have caused him to make that remark?
    abnormaltoy likes this.
  2. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    The reason I like my strings a bit off the fretboard is if they're low, when I bend, the strings tend to slip between my fingers and the frets, and that makes things difficult. I like the strings high enough that a big bend pushes several strings aside, rather than having them bunch up under my fingers. Maybe the other guy saw you bending and having that trouble.

    Another thing I don't like about low action is the greater buzzing that happens compared to higher action. Maybe the guy saw that you pick on the hard side and the strings were buzzing.
  3. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 13, 2014
    It may be the way you attack the may have a heavy pick/finger attack. That could cause strings to buzz if the action is too low, and particularly if they are a light guage string like 9's or 8's.
  4. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    "when is a higher action better for someone?" : When they personally feel like it's better.

    "what could he have possibly seen in my 5 minutes of noodling that could have caused him to make that remark?" : His own ego.

    Seriously, action is a very personal matter of feel, and preference. Nobody can, or should try to tell you how you should have your guitar setup, unless they are a know-it-all asshat.
  5. abnormaltoy

    abnormaltoy BushBaby Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 28, 2013
    I got used to mine being a bit high, when I used to play slide.
    s5tuart likes this.
  6. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-Talker

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    That makes sense. I am a little too undisciplined with my right hand. Way too many years just strumming away on an acoustic guitar, trying to make it sound big. Still learning I need to play with a lighter touch.
  7. Biddlin

    Biddlin Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 11, 2013
    Indeed, but one should not be afraid to experiment.
    51 years now, I've been working on that. When you feel that your picking is a bit aggressive, trying listening to the same notes played with less vigor. I know especially on my single coil guitars that there is a pressure point where you get the cleanest, truest sound. More attack is harsh and sharp, less is a bit muted.
    s5tuart likes this.
  8. heltershelton

    heltershelton BANNED Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    i think you get better tone with higher action. i like to "fight" the guitar a i have high action. its what i like. i can barely play guitars with low action.
  9. Stark

    Stark Ghost of Johnny Thunders Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 16, 2011
    Richmond Annex, CA
    Normally I prefer my strings on the other side of the frets but everything on REHAB is right just as she is, high action and all. I played REHAB through Kelly’s AC4 and G-Bone(?) small pedalboard, and I loved the sound!
    heltershelton likes this.
  10. rgbedard

    rgbedard Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 3, 2018
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I always thought I really preferred low action. I bought a Strat from a shredder that had the action at about 1.25mm, and it would "fret out" when I did bends. I raised the action about a half a mm, and like it much better.
  11. fezz parka

    fezz parka Do you Reach? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    Right behind you...
    There are technical reasons too.

    Fret slap...choking out...out of level frets...

    But its mostly about personal preference and your technique.
    s5tuart and Nate D like this.
  12. Nate D

    Nate D Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2016
    Philly, PA
    Communism. ;)

    Jk. Lots of players love high action
    Lovnmesomestrat likes this.
  13. StratPlus97

    StratPlus97 Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 7, 2016
    I laugh every time I see a guitar for sale with a selling point being “low action” and the seller raving about how nice it plays because of it.
    Action height is 100% personal preference and part of a Guitars set up. Not everyone likes their action low.

    To answer your question…
    In my opinion, you may have a heavy hand and maybe he noticed that.
  14. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 30, 2014
    Do you play with your fingers?

    Do you sometimes pluck the string from underneath?

    If you answered yes, a higher action is usually better. I almost always play with just fingers and have a pretty heavy hand, so slightly higher action works better for me.

    You didn't mention what gauge strings are on the guitar, but I'll bet they're really light. Try a heavier string.
    Lovnmesomestrat likes this.
  15. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Strat-O-Master

    Oct 16, 2018
    Tacoma in two weeks
    When I got the strat in my avatar, i had to raise the action a bit so I could bend up a whole step without it fretting out (7.25 radius)
  16. hornpiper

    hornpiper Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 23, 2014
    Portland, OR
    I might be an anomaly, I don't know, but with me, it also depends somewhat with the individual guitar, scale, neck depth and width, even body style, (i.e., solid, vs. semi-hollow, or hollow body, Fender vs. Gibson style guitars, etc.). Sometimes slightly different string gauges on different guitars you have working, or sounding better. All that said, I dick around with the truss rods and bridges sometimes searching for the all elusive "something better", or "perfect". I might do that too much...
    ryapou likes this.
  17. Namelyguitar

    Namelyguitar Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 3, 2009
    Mobile Bay
    Bending notes.

    While it may not take much height compared to what you're used to, it nearly takes away from the low height that I enjoy the most for other types of playing.
  18. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 10, 2014
    Initech, Inc.
    Yes. I tend to like what I would call a “medium” action, but the guitar itself had a lot to do with where I wind up putting it. The Goldilocks action is a bit different in each.
  19. Tone Deaf

    Tone Deaf Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    New Jersey, USA
    Have you recorded yourself and listened?
    Even on a cheap recording device...
    Maybe that will give you a clue.

    Then again, if he's really a friend, you can always ask him why he suggested that.
    BTW, how did HE sound when he was playing YOUR guitar?
  20. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-Talker

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    Yes I think that must be it. This guy was a very experienced and skilled player, and I felt like he was trying to give me some friendly advice as I am relatively inexperienced.
    Biddlin, Lovnmesomestrat and s5tuart like this.