What´s a good guitar action height?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by alialxnunez, Nov 18, 2020.

  1. alialxnunez

    alialxnunez Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    16
    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2020
    Location:
    México
    Hey guys!

    I´ve been researching a lot about guitar action height but I don´t find anything concrete that can help me.

    So, I´ve been wondering if y'all can help me.

    I play mostly John Frusciante, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. A lot of blues, funk, and rock, so in your opinion...

    What can be a good action height for my guitar?

    I may also say it´s a Squier Strat Vintage Modified.

    Thanks in advance!!
     
    Jerseystratfiend likes this.
  2. WhiteWabbit

    WhiteWabbit Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    31
    Messages:
    3,814
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    It’s whatever u like, go as low as you can before it starts fretting out is what I’d recommend.
     
  3. sam_in_cali

    sam_in_cali Scream for me Strat-Talk! Silver Member

    Messages:
    13,251
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Maria, CA
    Yep. Start there at the lowest you can get them without buzzing and fretting out, then adjust for where its comfortable to play. For me, I bend a lot so I just try to get to the point where my ring finger can easily grab the higher strings around the 12th fret for a full step bend. Nothing too scientific...its all personal preference.
     
    Bob Rosencrans and alialxnunez like this.
  4. Biddlin

    Biddlin Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,994
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    Location:
    USA
    +1
     
    Willmunny and johnted like this.
  5. Foxconn

    Foxconn New Member!

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2020
    Location:
    Washington
    I stole a tip from another member here (mw13068) on my strat and it worked out great:

    Once the neck relief is correct, then set the action for all strings (unfretted) to 2mm above the 17th fret (top of fret, bottom of string). I was able to go slightly lower than this after trial and error, but it was a good baseline to start.

    Good luck, whichever way you go.
     
  6. EC Strat

    EC Strat Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    50
    Messages:
    2,459
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2018
    Location:
    Louisville Kentucky
    I used to go as low as possible but found that any slight change in the neck due to weather or any changes in frets and the buzz / fretting out starts. Takes a fair amount of upkeep to keep extremely low action playing right.

    over time I’ve found. That I actually prefer a higher action - a noticeable improvement in tone , sustain and playability / string bending.

    I keep mine right at 4 mm from the top of the 12th fret on my guitars
     
    Paperback Rocker and tinkertoy like this.
  7. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    40
    Messages:
    7,697
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Location:
    Philly, PA
    Whatever feels good. I’ve never measured my action height. I just adjust the action to where it feels right.
     
    BigNorm, tinkertoy, RichBrew and 3 others like this.
  8. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    40
    Messages:
    7,697
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Location:
    Philly, PA
    In my experience here in PA, I don’t find a quarter turn of the truss rod twice a year on SOME (not all) of my guitars to be unacceptable. It takes less time to do that than to get an oil change in my car. Lol
     
    Stratoskater and AxemanVR like this.
  9. SpeedKing

    SpeedKing Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,168
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2015
    Location:
    UK
    The only measurements worth considering are those made by your brain when your fingers play. When it feels right for you it is right.

    As others have said the logical way to achieve this is to set relief first to your preference then lower the saddles to where you encounter buzz with normal playing then move them up individually until you don't. This will automatically take into account the fingerboard radius. Try bends and raise further if the string chokes out until you're content. You now the lowest possible action for normal play allowing for string bends.

    Only by then playing it for a while will you know if you want to raise it further above this theoretical 'lowest'.

    One tip if you like your trem floating. After setting action you'd usually finish with intonation. If you have a big float and particularly if you've had large adjustments to make during intonation check action again afterwards as movement along the bridge will move the saddle height relative to the board as well.
     
    Nate D likes this.
  10. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    45
    Messages:
    3,790
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    All my guitars have action between 2 and 5 mm.

    There are lots of different factors that go into it. How hard you hit the strings, how level your frets are, how much relief, how heavy your strings are, and how much fret buzz you are willing to tolerate.

    If you don't have a preference already--lower it until it starts buzzing, then raise it 'till it stops.
     
  11. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.

    Messages:
    26,334
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Location:
    Initech, Inc.
    What do you like?
    That's really the only correct answer. Me personally, I like a medium-low action, high enough to get under the strings for big bends without buzz but low enough that I don't have to contort my small hands to fret chords cleanly up the neck.
     
  12. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

    Age:
    61
    Messages:
    37,425
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Where ever it feels right for that particular guitar, which is more important than measuring anything.
     
    BigNorm, s5tuart and Nate D like this.
  13. Numbercruncher

    Numbercruncher Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    50
    Messages:
    1,593
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2017
    Location:
    Spokane, WA

    This X 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

    Personal preference. If you aren't getting fret buzz and are happy, don't sweat it. I wouldn't try to be one of those guys who claims to plya ultra-low like it is some sort of status or ability thing. Everyone follows the no fret buzz rule regardless of the height they are at as fret buzz is bad, bad, bad.

    NC
     
  14. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

    Messages:
    3,979
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2014
    Location:
    Minnesota USA
    `
    What's with all this mm crap? (just kidding / making fun).

    Anyway, I have never liked a super low action, so string buzz is rarely an issue with me. You'll know if it's too high, so anything between "too high" and "too low" is perfectly fine...



    `
     
    dante1963 likes this.
  15. EC Strat

    EC Strat Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    50
    Messages:
    2,459
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2018
    Location:
    Louisville Kentucky
    Well, I did say FAIR amount
     
    Nate D likes this.
  16. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

    Messages:
    13,649
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Location:
    All over the place!
    The height of the action can also be reliant on the gauge of string you use.
    As lots have said, it depends on how it feels to you.
    I have the lowest possible action and 7 gauge strings on my guitars.
    Some people (lots) find them impossible to play.
     
    Thrup'ny Bit, Biddlin and Nate D like this.
  17. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    40
    Messages:
    7,697
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Location:
    Philly, PA
    Lol. FAIR enough friend. FAIR enough. Lol
     
    EC Strat likes this.
  18. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Area 51
    As others have said it depends on a lot of things - size of strings, how heavy-handed you are, etc.
    Fender recommends about 2mm from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string, with the low A and E a titch higher - might be a good starting point, although a little high to my liking.
    On most of my strats I run 1/16" and the low A and E around 5/64".
     
    Colnago1, Stratoskater and Nate D like this.
  19. summer69

    summer69 Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Location:
    Denmark
    Good action height? Depends. Heavy picking and thin strings call for higher action where soft picking and stiff/thick strings allow for lower action before sound is negatively affected. If you use bending you might prefer thinner strings. And on it goes. If you have a Fender/Squier use the recommendations in the manual they are quite fine for a start for the average player.

    Almost forgot the most important: you can download the manual for your guitar at fenders website.
     
  20. SoulSurfer

    SoulSurfer Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    307
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Location:
    Toronto, ON Canada
    I would have to say that this is largely a function of the gauge of your strings. If you were to look at a first-rate stringer like the irreverent Billy F. Gibbons, he plays with 8's or maybe even 7's. At such a like gauge, you can have a higher action. With heavier strings like 11's which I played on, I preferred a super low action. It's all a matter of preference, really.
     
    Nate D likes this.