Where do you set your action?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Marc Morfei, May 6, 2021.

  1. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    For those of you who keep track of such things, where do you like to set your action? I used to think 6/64ths was fine, but as my playing has improved that has become too high. 5 is ok, 4/64ths seems just right. But I am having a hard time getting there without sacrificing tone. With all my guitars, I find that once I nudge it lower than 5/64th I get a faint buzz and the strings take on an unpleasant kind of thin or tinny quality. Sometimes I can't seem to even get to 5 without this happening. I have tried messing with the truss rod (a little relief like Fender says, or pretty straight like other people say) and it doesn't seem to make any difference.

    So my question is: is this normal and inevitable? I am doing something wrong? Should I just be happy with 5 or 6/64th and leave it alone? Are my ears broken?
     
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My starting point for most players and most guitars is

    - structurally sound
    - perfect frets
    - relief 0.003 - 0.004
    - first fret 0.014 (high E) to 0.018 (low E)
    - 12th fret 0.060 (high E) to 0.090 (low E)
    - pickup height as required to balance
    - intonation +/- 2 cents

    That is a good "medium low" starting point for both electric and acoustic guitars. I'll modify it to suit the player (and guitar) as required. Here is a little more detail

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/basic-setup.952636/

    Oh, and I keep track of these things. I fill out a spreadsheet on every guitar I work on with the starting measurements, my targets and the final ones.
     
  3. J. Bonkosky

    J. Bonkosky Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Factory specs to start. Then I see how low I can go.
     
  4. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    I’ll see myself out…
     
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  5. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra Tele-Meister

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    Somewhere below the belly button.

    +/- 1/64th of course.
     
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  6. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    15th fret:
    Probably about .070/.080 on the high E
    Maybe .125 on the low E. I like the low E high to avoid rattling on that boogie stuff.

    I rarely find I like it lower. Cleaner more distinct notes with it up a bit.
     
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  7. northernguitar

    northernguitar Friend of Leo's

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    I have no problem with 5/64 on bass and 3/64 on treble side. I like to heavy hand my strings sometimes, and going any lower is a recipe for buzz.
     
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  8. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    The title says "set", not "get".
     
  9. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    They say there’s always that one guy, but apparently there’s also always that one other guy… :D
     
  10. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Holic

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    Have never, in 50+ years, ever measured, honestly.... I just lower or raise it until it’s comfortable on that particular guitar... I have a couple low, a couple higher, a couple in between.... whatever works and feels good
     
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  11. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I usually adjust mine while sitting on my couch and reading the forum, I never measure anything, the guitar tells me what it needs...
     
  12. Dostradamas

    Dostradamas Tele-Meister

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    I drop the saddles til they touch frets then individually raise til they sound right.

    As low as I can without twang/buzz/yuk
     
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  13. Kevin Wolfe

    Kevin Wolfe Tele-Holic

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  14. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don’t measure action. It differs a bit between the wound and unwound strings. I set action at the bridge so I don’t get fret buzz on any string from the frets I use from 15 to 22. I adjust the truss rod to give a playing card of relief at 12. I then play, listening for buzz and unintentional string muting from 1 to 7 and checking for feel. If the action feels high, I lower the saddles or bridge. Until it feels right without buzzing. I then tweak the truss rod if need be. I don’t play with a feeler gauge or a caliper. The numbers are a curiosity more than anything else. I play using my fingers and my fingers tell me all I need to know.
     
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  15. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    For me, each string needs to speak clearly on every fret, whatever it takes.
     
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  16. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    5/64" for each string.
     
  17. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    I don't measure the height. I set it where it feels good. If the high E string frets out around the 13th or 14th fret when I bend a whole step up, then I raise it a little, and reset all the other saddles to match.
     
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  18. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Holic

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    Like yourself, I used to use a higher action -- generally about 6-7/64" -- but since I've stopped playing live and spent more time working on my technique in the past year, I've found that it's too high that way. Gradually, I've been having the action on my electric guitars lowered to 5/64". I find that it's low enough for comfort but high enough to facilitate bends and occasional slide playing and to minimize most (but not all) buzzing. I've had my acoustics adjusted to about 6/64" but don't necessarily love the buzzing that comes with it...I may go back to 7/64" there, but we'll see.
     
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  19. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would guess out of 20 or so guitars, two would be similar. Typically a tad above buzzing. I have never measured. I eyeball the relief and nut height as well. Yonder lies the sinner...
     
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  20. lmjmitchell

    lmjmitchell Tele-Meister

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    I start with the factory specs, then see if I can get away with lowering it more without any buzzing.
     
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