What is considered to be an attainable low string action?

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

  1. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Factory specs are set on the safe side to reduce complaints and returns/ warranty work. String height is a personal thing that differs from person to person. I don't really know the actual measurements I prefer as I dial it in by feel. That's the best way to go imo.

    Measurements are useful if you cant get a comfortable action and think there might be a problem with the guitar due to fretting out or are trying to advise someone else who's setting the guitar up for you. Still not ideal. The player should know what he likes better than anyone.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  2. speranza

    speranza TDPRI Member

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    I've been experimenting with this myself, and with heavy strings (.012s) and an almost completely straight neck I can get down to .050" all across the fretboard — maybe a hair higher on the low E.
     
  3. stefanhotrod

    stefanhotrod Tele-Meister

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    Strings need room to swing out.
    Rule of thumb is to raise the strings 5-10% above their perfect buzz-free height to avoid fret touching while diggin‘ in and allow the tones to develop unimpeded.

    And the perfect string height on each electric guitar depends also on the height of your pickups.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  4. vgallagher

    vgallagher Tele-Meister

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    4/64ths at 17 fret. .005” relief. Work fine for me.
     
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  5. colnago

    colnago Tele-Meister

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    I know, all the setup guides use 64ths. Seems odd until you see 5/64ths or 3/64ths with it and then its a lot easier to see the difference in your head instead of reducing fractions.
     
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  6. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    about...this here...:)

    clare action2.jpg
     
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  7. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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  8. AxRookie

    AxRookie Tele-Meister

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    Thank you guys! A lot of great info!
     
  9. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    actually it's a Mustang ...almost a match for a Tele....:D
     

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  10. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    It depends on how you play. Lighter plucking and fretting can let you use lower strings.

    Also, you mean "string height," not "action." Action is the general feel of the played parts of a musical instrument (e.g. piano keys, saxophone keys, etc.). It cannot be measured – only described with words. String height is one element of action, and it can be measured.

    You should set your strings to where they feel best, and where they work with your style. THEN measure, and use those measurements for future reference.

    My strings are higher and stiffer than most guitarists have them set these days. I can pick very hard at times, kind of Townshed-esque playing, with a very wide dynamic range. My dad played with lighter and lower strings, as he was more into playing leads and strumming, as opposed to snapping, whacking, crashing, etc. the strings.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Just bear in mind that "the lowest possible action" will only be playable to a certain type of player, and if you are not that type of player, you have a guitar that needs a setup, NOT a guitar with the lowest possible action.
    Actions is about usability, not some random set of numbers.
    If the setup works for other players but not for you then it is lower than the lowest possible action, because it simply doesn't work.
    So the lowest possible action is determined by the player, not by the guitar, not by a tech, and not by internet opinion.

    I used to like ultra low action and have done setups for shredders that I thought were too low (the setups, not the shredders) to work well, but I wanted to see if they could work with it.
    I mean I could play and recognize all the notes but half the board buzzed with a medium touch.
    Buzzing is acceptable for some players and styles, but they generally mitigate the buzz with technique.
    I wouldn't say all shredders like such low action but some do, maybe more student than older player.
    Can't hear the fret buzz through a distorted amp.
    No open chords of course.

    Would most players call a guitar that buzzes on most wound string notes "low action"?
    Or "unplayable"?
     
  12. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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  13. AxRookie

    AxRookie Tele-Meister

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    Are you sure that's a Tele...
     
  14. AxRookie

    AxRookie Tele-Meister

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    Two definitions of string action...

    "String height or "action" describes the distance between the top of your frets to the bottom of your strings"

    or...

    "guitar action refers to the height of the strings above the fretboard. It is also used to describe the general feel and playability of a guitar"

    So yes I did mean "action"...
     
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  15. kingvox

    kingvox Tele-Meister

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    I love really low action.

    One trick is, for the Low E and A strings, which need more room to vibrate: slightly backbow the neck, and then level those frets only (the area directly under the Low E and A). It's a very small amount of leveling. You just want to hit the tops of the frets a very, very little bit, with a full-length sanding beam.

    This means when you get the neck just about perfectly straight, you'll have a "hollow" carved into the frets under the E and A. Basically, you'll have some more relief under the lowest strings that need it the most, while the thinner strings enjoy lower action from less relief/straighter neck. It works beautifully.

    On my main Strat my 12th fret open action is a bit under 4/64" on the Low E and a bit under 3/64" on the high E. For me the absolute lowest is 3/64" on the Low E and 2/64" on the high E, measured open at the 12th fret. I pretty much always will settle on 4/64 Low E and 3/64 High E, though, or just a little below that.

    I also use .008, .011, .015, .022, .030, .042 strings I make up myself. I have a hand condition on my fretting hand (no muscle at the base of the thumb) so I cannot comfortably play without a setup like this.

    Your fretwork needs to be better and better the lower you want your action without buzzing. I am tolerant of a small amount of acoustic buzz, which is normal, and generally does not come through the amplifier. It's a balancing act. Flawless fretwork is Step 1, then the rest is just a balancing act between neck relief and saddle adjustment.
     
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  16. AxRookie

    AxRookie Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, That's some great info and is what I was looking for...
     
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  17. billgwx

    billgwx Tele-Meister

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    Fret level and neck straightness are also big factors. Minus a good leveling (or tamping down of offending individual frets that sometimes bounce out of place) there are bound to be some frets that stick up a little higher than the others and limit how low you can go. Am having this problem with an LP where one fret is getting in the way, that I hope only needs to be tamped back down. Meanwhile my Tele's neck has just enough of a "ski slope" thing going on where the neck meets the body that I can't get the action below a certain point, or I'll fret out big time on bends higher up the neck.
     
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