I can't stand low action anymore. How do you have your guitars set up?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by GuitarIV, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    So I noticed this a while ago. I have an ESP E2 Eclipse that came with ridiculously low action on it and the fact that it doesn't buzz shows great craftmanship. However...

    I played a gig this year bringing both my Custom Strat and the Eclipse. I started out with the Eclipse and didn't really feel comfortable with the strings being so low. It felt awkward to have no bounce back when slamming the strings on stage in the heat of the moment, so mid set I changed to my Strat (which has a bit higher action) and it was way better.

    I also got a used ESP M-II some time ago and she plays great and feels amazing, but I also noticed that I could lower the action more if I wanted to.

    I inspected the Eclipse and found that the neck is dead straight. On my Strat I did a setup 2 days ago and gave the neck a bit more of a bow, so now the strings are even higher up, still low enough to be comfortable but high enough to let me dig in and smash the strings if I want to.

    I used to be all about low action, seems like my preferences have changed over the years. Had the same ever happen to you? I'm curious.
     
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  2. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    Higher is better IMO. The strings ring louder, bending is easier, and they just sound better.
     
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  3. john hammond

    john hammond Well-Known Member

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    higher is better, you cant dig in when low, and when you have some height, that bounce effect gives you a cool 3d sound, give it some relief on the trussrod, turn it anti clockwise 1/8 to 1/4 turn
     
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  4. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    I am not an action weenie, but I do like it fairly low.
    But I find I can dampen unwanted string noise with my fretting fingers far better if the strings are slightly raised more from the frets.
    You need a small amount of relief in the neck for that first release of the string after plucking/striking. Without it, the MAX string amplitude is hampered by the room it has before it hits the frets on the first oscillation (you can hear the slap).
    As @john hammond said, just a tidge of a turn should fix it. Play for a day, and adjust again if needed.

    A guitar I made myself suffers from a nearly flat neck, but there isn't much I can do about it without a fret dress, or better yet, a re-fret. I didn't build enough relief into the neck and the fretboard is almost flat with the truss-rod nut backed completely off. I would need to put some deliberate back-bow in the neck and have it flattened off again to reintroduce some natural relief.
    To compensate some I run a higher gauge string-set to pull the neck in a bit more. With 10-46 it plays just this side of excellent!
     
  5. Dblgun

    Dblgun Member

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    Just to be curious, how low is ridiculously low action? I sometimes have people who pickup a guitar of mine who think the action is high and others comment that it's lower than they like.

    I try to set all of my guitars to be the same but this only possible to an extent because of variance in the type of guitar and how it is equipped. My strat with a Floyd Rose and locking nut feels quite different from my Les Paul with a Tune O Matic.

    What if any difference is there in the fret board radius between your Custom Strat and the Eclipse? My experience is that ESP is a pretty flat radius. I once had a Vintage Plus that had a more radius than my 48th Street strat and it played more like a guitar with a 7-9" radius than the 12-15" I was used to. I would guess that the action on my guitars is lower than most of what you would generally find at a guitar store.
     
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  6. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    Both my Eclipse and my Strat have a 12" radius, the only difference really is the scale length and the TOM bridge vs. the individually adjustable saddles on the Strat. But I get your point. Ridiculously low for me is when you barely need to touch a string to fret it, the ESP has XJumbo frets so already feels pretty effortless to play.

    Anyway, I took the 5 minutes and did the setup. Put some relief in the neck, raised the bridge a little bit and surprise: my complaints are gone. Feels waaaay better, I can dig in properly. Also: she sustains even more now. Played the lead lines to Parisienne Walkways and Still got the Blues by Gary More and the thing sings!

    Might be a trade off to someone, but higher action equals better tone it seems. I certainly don't mind :D
     
  7. Michael Roe

    Michael Roe Well-Known Member

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    I have always liked my action a little on the high side. I use a heavy pick and pick rather hard at times so for me low action does not work.
     
  8. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    it depends of a lot of factors: nut height, scale radius, neck relief.

    but for a straight neck (no relief) with the strings around 0.30"in in the first fret and a scale of 10 or 12 generally I use something from 1.5mm to 2mm in the high E and 2mm in the low E depending on how it feels. it's not super low, neither is high. for me it's confortable.

    I've started playing looking for the lowest action ever, few years later .012 with high action in strats... and them I've realized it's not a sport, it's music. so I try to make things confortable low enough...
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  9. Micky

    Micky Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Low. Played 4-5 set nights for a long time and the low action without any buzzing saved my hands. Also contributed to better speed.
     
  10. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    I set mine as low as physically possible without any dead spots. My pick attack determines whether or not I get any string slap (which I actually like).
    :shred:
     
  11. Exotic

    Exotic Active Member

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    i'm an action weenie !my 1970's ibanez guitars are notorious for low action ,i have them set as low as possible ,i sacrifice all the nice things you guys are talking about to be able to easily shred arpeggios and scales at full speed .if you hate how low action feels? then u r used to high action . if u use high action ,maybe your guitar solos aren't that demanding ? and u mostly play rythm ?
     
  12. lespaul339

    lespaul339 Active Member

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    About a decade ago I made the switch from playing metal to playing more rock and blues type stuff like the Black Crowes. I used to like low action for metal, but since I've set my guitars up with higher action to play slide, I prefer a higher action on all my guitars now. I also think the guitar has better dynamics with higher action. Seems to resonate more and the harmonics seem a lot better with higher action. I can't stand picking up a guitar with low action anymore. Just feels wrong.
     
  13. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Active Member

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    Super low action with a light touch and lots of sustain in the rig is a wonderful feeling. It's ideal for a soloist.

    But the moment you have to start strumming you will appreciate having a little room for the strings to move and not crash into the frets.

    I've done tons of fretjobs over the last 35 years. I can set up your neck, nut, bridge, and frets for action as low as you want to play. But for myself, I find that I'm happiest when my setup is 3/64" at the 12th fret high E string and 4 to 5 64ths at the 12th fret low E string. String height at the nut should be as low as possible without buzzing.
     
  14. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    The lowest action I ever managed to set was on a Tom DeLonge Squier Strat! A cheap as chips signature model I got for my nephew. It just kept going down and down, whilst refusing to buzz. After a point I had to raise the action again to make it playable!
    It should have been the perfect beginners guitar with an action like that, one Duncan Designed Detonator, one vol, and a hardtail bridge.
    But he never got the bug and I think it's gathering dust somewhere.
    I've tried a couple of times to buy it back off him!
    He's a poor student now, so maybe time to try again?
     
  15. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    actually the time I was using .012 , strats and high action I was shredding all the time. I'm a metal player . but that kind of abuse lead me to a tendonitis in my left hand. it's possible to shred with high action, look at YJM.
     
  16. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Searching all of my old technique books I can't seem to find these terms. They seem more related to structure demolition than music.
     
  17. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    You do know that YJM uses a scalloped fretboard..............right? :jam:
     
  18. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    Action weenie ! Action weenie!!! :rock:
    BP
     
  19. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    yes, and so do I. scalloped neck makes it even harder, it's like running 400m with obstacles. he's not from this world.
     
  20. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    LOL! :pops:
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019

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