Higher string height

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ce24, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Soi have this partscaster tele. Nice MIM fender Strat neck, bigsby. I installed a roller bridge which made my action too high so i shimmed as per instructions. The action is higher than any of my other guitars but just barely and it feels kinda good. It seems to have a kind of different tone...cant really explain better than that. Sooooo the question is. ??can string height change tone??

    cheers
     
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  2. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Yes. Or at least I believe it does. My guess is that lower action means the string frets out a little at the ends, and that knocks some lower frequencies off (and a bunch of sustain). My guitars always sound bigger and 'richer' when the action is up higher, but I can't play them like that for long.

    Someone once pointed out to me that a lot of the old electric blues guys in the 40s and 50s had come from acoustic guitars. So they put huge bridge cables on their electrics and pulled the action up higher because that's what they were used to. And this is one of the secrets to their great tone(s) of the time.
     
  3. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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    That sure makes sense!
    Thanks.
     
  4. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Pickup height can make a difference.
     
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  5. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I’ve always kept my action 1/64 to 1/32 higher than what it’s “supposed” to be. Just feels better to me.
     
  6. Joeyb817

    Joeyb817 TDPRI Member

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    If you can play the guitar with high action, more power to you. Stewmac has a selection of shims, they’re made to fit the entire neck pocket and they have a 1mm size that may help you. You should have your “action” measured where the neck meets the body at 5 64ths across all the strings. If you do this you’ll have a perfect radius too. If you can get the GBE strings a hair lower, like G 4 1/2 BE at 4 three thumbs up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
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  7. RottenTheCat

    RottenTheCat Tele-Holic

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    Could be that Bigsby that's helping in the tone department?
     
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  8. Joeyb817

    Joeyb817 TDPRI Member

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    Try lowering your pickups when your done. Could be you found the sweet spot.
     
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  9. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Higher action certainly changes tone - absolutely. If you play clean, if you use fingers, if you use a lot of dynamics in your playing (hitting hard, then soft) it is very noticeable. If you pick evenly and play with gain it is less noticeable. I keep my tele setup with 11s and higher action than you would think - it just likes to get spanked like an acoustic sometimes, really responds well. Some guitars or playing styles really seem to benefit, others not as much.
     
  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I would first consider the Bigsby and pickup height as your main perceptive change before action height. FWIW.
     
  11. Vespa_One

    Vespa_One Tele-Holic

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    Jerry Garcia played with really high action, some say it was part of his sound
     
  12. Joeyb817

    Joeyb817 TDPRI Member

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    Could be lots of the pros play with high action, they don’t like buzzing.
     
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  13. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    High string action is great for slide, but sucks when fretting because it can pull the notes sharp.

    What's happening is pickup distance from strings.
    Lots of people always adjust the pickups as far up as possible to get the most volume, but that doesn't deliver the best tone.

    When setting up a guitar, the first thing to do is get good string height all the way up the fretboard without any fret buzz.
    The second is to drop the pickups as low as possible and adjust up in slow increments til you get the tone you like and the volume/string response you like.
    Then it's awesome action with awesome tone.:cool:
     
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  14. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Friend of Leo's

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    Distance to pickup definitely makes a difference. But regardless of that I think a guitar plays more cleanly and sounds better with a medium-to-high action.

    I play with lots of dynamics, and when I play some shredstick with super low action the notes fret out on me.
    For guys who play lightly and have devoted much practice time to consistent picking force for the sake of speed it might not make much difference.

    But for me it definitely does.
     
  15. tonejam

    tonejam Tele-Meister

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    If I remember correctly, Danny Gatton said one of the things he learnt from Roy Buchanan was to use a high action.
     
  16. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can't dig in when the action's too low. Notes just die on the vine. I'm not a delicate player, so I like to have the strings a little bit high.

    Besides which, the quest for super low action can drive you nuts.
     
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  17. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My thoughts...

    as it sits on the tele body how much higher are the saddles of the roller bridge compared to a stock ashtray tele bridge saddles?... are we talking 1/8" or more maybe?...

    if they sat 1/8" or more I'd put a full pocket flat shim that size and raise the neck parallel to the body...

    then see how that goes.. adjust the saddles too...

    small shims might work fine within tele bridge/neck/pocket ranges... but adding new saddles that are much higher would need to have the neck thickness bigger or the pocket shallower to keep the tele flat action as a baseline....:)
     
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  18. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    As you know Trev am building a LP jr. I'll be happy if all clears the pickup. Have solved the electronics question as stewmac sent a 10 cm ( 100mm) 0.022 with long legs ( orange drop) free,worth buying guy.to cover the ridiculously large gap of 9 cms. between tone and volume pots. I will also sleeve the legs.
    As to the original post the p/up height does affect the tone so my next problem is to solve that. Those heights you mention , Trev,
    You are correct.
    Yep, a Tele must be flat as a pancake. I hate using shims but have done so twice.
    Your advice is correct Trev.
     
  19. DekeDog

    DekeDog Tele-Holic

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    I do my own setups, and I don't measure anything. I like low action, and when I check for string buzz, I set the action based around attacking each string a little harder than I normally would. (There are times when I use string buzz for effect.) The result is that the action is relatively low, but not as low as I could reasonably go. Very low action requires more precision and less room for error and is more affected by changes in humidity.

    Does string height affect tone? Not to my ears unless buzz is created from action too low or strings are too close to pickups. I also agree wholeheartedly about experimenting with pickup height. I think most people set it too high. If you play an LP, you may have noticed that a lot of great LP players adjust neck pickup as low as it will go, then adjust the bridge pickup for volume relative to the neck.

    I heard an interesting comment about pickup height that I tend to agree with. When pickups are set higher, you tend to hear the pickups more; when pickups are set lower, you tend to hear the guitar more. I expect this is especially true with (semi)hollow guitars.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
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  20. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Tele-Meister

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    SRV was famous for a high action, too.

    I like a higher than normal action. As mentioned above I find that a really low action gets in the way of thrashing the guitar.
     
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