What´s a good guitar action height?

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

  1. Carlos Sanz

    Carlos Sanz Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 24, 2014
    Sorry for my English, but if you can bear it, here are some tips and a helpful tool regarding strings action:
  2. xzgabezx

    xzgabezx Strat-Talk Member

    Sep 19, 2012

    Hey! Well, looks like I am getting caught up in Forum Conversations again, and I usually only reply to the 'main thread' of a Post about the Kon Tiki prototype I have one of.

    My Humble and Open Approach to Guitar "Playability" came about as a Result of getting a Repair Tech Job before I even knew all my scales, which led to a looong strange trip to Vans Wourped Tours, and then later much later on, I went to the Galloup School of Lutherie when Brian Galloup Still Ran it, and a "Class" was 4 Apprentices, so total 12 Students at a Time. We were taught how to "Tap-Tune" an Acoustic Top in the Building Process, using Strobe Tuners and Mad Science to find tiny spots to sand Down .0014/in the size of a Dime. So, it was Great.

    So, I would say, to Learn the "Suggested" String Height, research what the Fretboard Radius is. Stew-Mac sells tiny shims that are .002, .003 etc etc for measuring the string height at 1st 7th 12th 15th. Remember all necks will have a Natural Curve, AND your Playing Styleay Wear Frets Unevenly! Also, your Pickups and Their Height go into the Mix, and Stew-Mac also sells Strat Specific String Height Gauges for measuring the Bridge, because the Radius will dictate the Tiny Necessary turns of the Saddle height Set Screws, so that from E to E (either way) there is an Arc-.
    One Tip: if you intend on "Tinkering" with your Own Guitar; take Thorough Notes, or Better yet Video, so you can rewind and undo if you don't like the feel but don't know what factors you changed.

    A suggestion when Choosing to stick to a Certain String Height- is to Try a Les Paul, or a PRS- you may Find a Vast Difference between them and your Strat Comfort Position; which could Impede progress in the Future.

    And, I always say to People who describe "Whose" Playing and Songs they are working toward as a Metric for Progress and to Convey Similar Syles- the Reason why "Awesome Guitar Player of All Time" sounds the way he Does, us that He used to Practice "Playing Like" somebody- and then Got to know enough styles they Found their Own. And That, is the Ultimate Goal- Connecting the Part of Yourself that Conveys Meaning through Music that Speaks to Other People. Some Super Famous Players Don't Play "Noodle Soup" Solos, they Arrive for a Sound and how they can Get other People Excited to Hear it.

    Good Luck with your Playing, Always ALWAYS Switch it Up, Play with whoever you can whenever you can and have a Good Time.
  3. JB74

    JB74 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 22, 2018
    ^^^ pretty much this, with the exception that I do have a very low action on all my guitars except two...

    ...and those two guitars would be Fender Stratocasters.

    I find it has more to do with the radius of the fretboard and saddle height with the trem setup than actually fretting out.

    But there is no real "gold standard" solution to your issue, because everybody has their own technique.

    My playing changes depending on which instrument I pick up. It's certainly very different between some of my LP's and the strats, and there is no way in hell I could raise the action on my Ric 12 string without feeling the pain.

    Nothing is without consequence. If you want a low action, you have to be prepared for climate variation and humidity, and keep the tools handy for trussrod tweaks. Naturalluy it follows that a higher action will not need as much fussing over, if the instrument itself is in good condition with even frets.

    The key that most mentioned already is comfort. If you're bending you still need a degree of comfort, whether the action is high or low. You may even find that you want to change your string gauge, and that means tweaks on the trussrod and bridge/saddles accordingly.

    It's the old cliché -

    "Whatever works for you"
  4. jdyanine

    jdyanine Strat-Talk Member

    May 9, 2019
    What I like:
    1.- Tune up your guitar and adjust your tremolo where you want it (floating or decked)
    2.- check the nut. if the slots are not deep enough, it will mess with intonation and overall string height
    3.- check the truss rod. Between 0.008" for modern fretboards to 0.010" for vintage specs.
    4.- check the intonation. at this stage you can tell if the nut is out of tune... it's very common to have the open strings flat, because of having the nut slot cutted too far away from first fret.
    5.- check for uneven frets using a fret rocker.
    6.- Setup the height at the 12th fret; 1.35 mm on the 1st string and 1.80 mm on the 6th string. If it's a 7.25" radius neck, an acoustic or you hit the strings hard, add 0.15 to 0.25 mm.

    I can't setup the height correctly without checking the 5 previous steps
  5. rafasounds

    rafasounds Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 25, 2011
    I don't go by exact measurements and charts. For years I strained my hands with ridiculously high action. Now I use a lower action, within the confinements of what's considered "normal" - not too low, not too high. I like it high enough to be able to have better grab and control, and low enough not to feel like I'm fighting a gorilla. I do agree that, in theory, the higher the string the better sustain, and the clearer the "bang", but it's a compromise. I think most of my guitars are within 2-2.5 millimeters at the 12th fret. On an Ibanez I can go lower but I'm not playing my Ibanez these days. It also depends on the particular guitar. Every guitar behaves differently.