What is considered to be an attainable low string action?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by AxRookie, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. AxRookie

    AxRookie Tele-Meister

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    What is considered to be an attainable low string action with a good setup electric guitar?
     
  2. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I just dump the strings down as low as they will go without fretting out or buzzing and dial them up a bit from there. Leave them as low as they will go and that's about all you can do without a fret level. I think I can end up getting a 1mm pick under the string at the 12th fret with .6 mm to spare or something like that. Around 2mm is pretty low on a acoustic for me. That height allows for fast lead really comfortably. Much lower than that and volume and tone can suffer.

    Shredders with flatter radius may prefer lower but bending becomes harder.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  3. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    All depends on the player. With a light touch, and perfectly leveled frets, it's not unreasonable to get .05" bass side, and .04" treble, measured at the 12th fret. Might need to raise the trebles up a hair if it's a 7.25" radius. You'll know if you choke out on bends. And if you live in a humid or changing environment like the northeast, you'll be tweaking that truss rod every month. Just a bit...

    Too fiddly for my taste, anymore. Clarity suffers, too. When I used to set up low like that, it was fun to watch my friends try to play my guitars. They'd hit them hard, and all they'd get was a buzzy mess. I guess they thought I was simply horrible at setting up guitars LOL.

    Nowadays when setting up for myself (light touch), it's roughly .75" .075" bass, .65" .065" treble. I also keep the nut slots a tad on the high side, from .030" bass, to .015" treble. Easy to play, and lots of clear ringing notes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  4. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Each guitar determines it's own setup, based on feel and playability, not measurements.
     
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  5. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've played some with very low action, and I couldn't stand playing them. It's not even attainable on all guitars without fret buzz, but maybe you could with a lot of work. Also they had much heavier strings on, or else they buzzed a lot.
     
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  6. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    If you want very low action, you need to accept a little acoustic buzz and only care about what the amp picks up. If, like me, you set you amp at speaking volume for home practice, that may bug you. I can get all mine to about 1-2mm at the 17th fret with 10s, matching Fender’s specs, with little buzz. I set mine up without much relief.
     
  7. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity

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    I just wonder way you ask ?
     
  8. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I find .060 on the high E mostly unattainable. .080 or more works. I can't stand even minimal fretting out.
    Low E much higher, otherwise playing that boogie stuff in blues just rattles too much.
     
  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    My standard "low" action for both electrics and acoustics is 0.002 - 0.004 relief, 0.014 - 0.018 first fret action, 0.060 to 0.090 12th fret action. Requires correct hydration, correct neck geometry, perfect frets, strings chosen for their tension and tunings. I will modify that for the individual player.

    I recently did a long thread about setting up a guitar that applies to almost anything that crosses my work bench.
     
  10. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think ( like say PU height) it is a compromise between suggested setup specs for an acoustic or electric guitar vs. how the guitar IN YOUR LAP feels and sounds, and how you play it...

    I just say this as someone who ( unlike many) prefer someone else doing setups- BUT sometimes they seem to come back wrong or ' un-comfy' to me, after the tech has said ' everything is perfect now!" Then I need to ask them to tweak this and that...I respect the physics and the science, but there is the human element...

    As a ' jack of all trades' player who may play ' electric guitar music' on an acoustic, and vice-versa, I definitely go for a ' middle of the road setup' on any guitar:
    -Moderate to low PU height ( definitely lower than spec) - that way I can play clean stuff, not have too hot a signal?

    - moderate bridge saddle height- not too low- following the curve of the fretboard at a nice height seems the goal
    - and some relief on neck- not too low/straight as strings need to generate some acoustic energy and force
     
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  11. SuprHtr

    SuprHtr Tele-Meister

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    And a fine thread it was! I followed it to do my first set-up on a new ASAT Classic, and it now feels as good as or better than a guitar I paid to have set up. I’d been accumulating a few tools and finally forced myself to get into it. It was well worth the effort. My next project is to make my acoustic more playable, including making a new bone nut.
     
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  12. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    Ive been fighting the low action battle of late. I set the action pretty low for playing country accompaniment for vocals. Even solos rarely went above the 12th fret. Looking to make my playing more interesting, at least to me, I’ve started playing with jazz on a Dorian scale. This style often takes me above the twelfth fret. I’ve had to reduce relief and raise the saddles to get the high notes to sound clearly. This is a little less of a problem on my SG with 11’s than on my Telecaster with its 10’s. But I really like the tone of my Strat for this and I’m not sure what I need to change to play it with 11’s. So I’m finding that different genres require different setups to get the most from a guitar.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  13. colnago

    colnago Tele-Meister

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    4/64ths across the board seems low enough for me.
     
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  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Back when I was chasing low action, I discovered that starting with a flatter neck helped. When I set the relief to .005", I was able to drop the action .01" across the board. Before that, I'd been setting relief to the Fender-suggested .010".
     
  15. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Dan Erlewine wrote a book - "Guitar Player Repair Guide" it's an excellent addition to any guitarist's library, especially for advanced setup and overall maintenance. There are tons of videos on YouTube, about action height. Personally - I would steer you to the StewMac videos in particular.

    Nut, strings and saddles are going to play a big part in what you can get down to, of course neck radius and playing style are a huge factor.

    This is a personal thing based on your playing style (as a starting point) - you have to find your own path on action height.
     
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  16. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    I'd say 1/16th...LOL
     
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  17. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is the standard from the Fender set-up guides.
     
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  18. GuitarKid

    GuitarKid Tele-Meister

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    I was watching this Eric Gales video at Andertons and was surprised at how his guitar clearly sounds like it's got the lowest action possible. It almost sounds like it's buzzing at some points.
     
  19. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    I assume you mean .075" and .065", because .75" and .65" are 3/4 and 2/3 of an inch!
     
  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Woops. Yeah, I went from .05", up to 3/4". I really gave up trying, didn't I?

    Yes, you are correct, I'll edit the post if I still can.
     
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