#1
What's more important to you as a player? Tone? Or ease of use?

Obviously, the way you set your action reflects your stance on this issue.

So many players set their action low and can play faster for this reason.

However, the tone sounds so thin that I don't think they could really sound convincing in a concert setting.

I think the preference for higher action may come with one's maturity as a player. Guys like Marty Friedman for instnace, play with heavier strings and set action a little higher. Malmsteen apparently prefers high action as well. Eric Johnson is another player who seems to prefer higher action based on the tone he produces.

Other guys, such as Steve Vai, seem to prefer lower action, which seems to make his tone thinner and have less balls. Kirk Hammet's tone has changed over the years, but after hearing a live recording of metallica these days, still seems to sound thin and shitty.

So what's your preference? Debate and discuss.
#3
its a personal preference. The effects of action vs tone could be counteracted by adjusting your pickup height. I personal prefer a higher action. I dont use a lot of legato and like big bends with out catching other strings.
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#4
I prefer higher action, not just because of the tone, but it feels more natural and more comfortable.
#5
the lower the better for me
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#6
I have such a low action that the fret buzz gives my guitar its own natural distortion (dw its only a Squire Strat nothing expensive), I like low action because it allows you to improve the efficiency of your guitar playing.
#7
i actually like both high and low, and keep 2 guitars with high and low action. they both have their benefits and drawbacks really
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#8
Just high enough to where all the notes ring clearly so I guess medium action. I want to say 1.5mm on the 1st string and 2mm on the 6th at the 12th fret is where I start at when setting up one of my guitars.
#9
Anywhere between medium and medium/high. Sounds better and seems to play less sloppy. And for the record, Malmsteen uses 8s for his strings, so his maturity is out of the question
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#10
I can't live with anything Above a low-medium height. My main guitar right now has a really low action which feels perfect for lead playing, but not as good for rhythm, especially below the 3rd fret. As low as possible without too much buzzing low down for me.
I don't really notice a weaker tone from lower action unless there's thinner strings to go with it.
#11
i can hear no difference in a guitar with a higher action, and a lower one. WTF are you talking about?
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#13
^ I also hear no difference in tone. It's more of a comfort thing. Also, lowering the strings would make them closer to the pickups, making the signal stronger!

Moving the pickups would change the tone though.

#14
If you can't hear the difference you've never lowered the strings too low before.
#15
Quote by Rokeman
^ I also hear no difference in tone. It's more of a comfort thing. Also, lowering the strings would make them closer to the pickups, making the signal stronger!

Moving the pickups would change the tone though.



pickups can help a little bit I suppose... but they function more to increase the volume....

the type of tone im referring to refers to a general "thinkness" or balls...
#16
I like to keep my action as low as I can without getting any fret buzz. It feels comfortable, and still sounds good. For me the only way I notice a big difference in tone is if the strings are causing fret buzz. Obviously if the strings are closer to the pickups you get a more vibrant sound, but the action doesn't make a significant difference with this (unless your action is stupid high...)
#17
i usually have my guitars setup with high action, usually an action similar to an acoustic. they are usually about 1/2 of a centimeter above the 12th fret. i love heavier strings and love to feel a bit of resistance when i play lol. gotten used to it now.
Last edited by WaltTheWerewolf at Jun 14, 2010,
#18
I use Ernie Ball Not Even Slinky strings, but my action is set as low as possible. I tried them with high action, but the sound I was getting versus the feeling as I played was just not worth it. At low action, I think the thick strings still sound good, and it's a lot easier to play. When I had my stock strings, I had them with high action; nothing is as good as a good vibrato :P I guess that's why Malmsteen liked high action, his vibrato was out of this world.
#19
i prefer a low action. but thats just me.

Also, TS has something against low string height haha.
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#20
Action should make little difference to your tone. When you fret the note the string will be at the same height, no matter what your original action. Obviously, if you set the action too high your note will go sharp whenever you fret and if you set it too low it'll buzz but generally speaking, action is a comfort thing.
Personally, I like my action to be as low as possible without causing buzz.
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#21
Low action for ultimate comfort and the tone difference is negligible.
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#22
I like mine closer to a high action. It just kind of feels too slack to me with the lowest possible action with no buzz, plus I think it gives a fuller tone. To me, it seems to add a "sweetness" of tone, almost like a URB. While low is nice for faster playing, I tend to dig in fairly hard at some points through a song and I just hate the buzzing that it causes.
#23
Quote by Aleksi
Action should make little difference to your tone. When you fret the note the string will be at the same height, no matter what your original action.


No, because you usually adjust the action bu changing the bridge height- which would change the string height even when you fret a note!

Quote by aloysiuscarl
I tend to dig in fairly hard at some points through a song and I just hate the buzzing that it causes.


+1

Low string action just doesn't feel right for me because you have to be really gentle with the strings (or so it feels). That's just not how I play.

I actually just went round measuring the actions on my guitars (having set most of them up myself) and I seem to prefer between 3 and 6mm at the 12th fret.

Saying "High" or "low" doesn't make much sense, though, because I would call anything under 3mm at the 12th fret pretty low. I see some replys on here saying they prefer "medium" and quoting around 2mm- so it's pretty subjective without a measurement.

I also don't believe that action really affects speed too much, but a setting that's too low can sometimes negatively affect the tone. To be honest, I've always wondered how Kirk Hammet's tone sounds so "flat" and "thin"...is that really just the action he uses?!
#24
I always try to have the lowest action I can without getting fret buzz. Then adjust the pickup height to suit.
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#25
Action height most certainly does affect tone on an electric guitar, and even more so on an acoustic. If your amp isn't hugely responsive I can imagine you'd hear a negligible difference. It's not like you can listen to a recording and pinpoint exactly how high somebody's action is, but it does make a noticeable difference.

On electric, I've always set my action just high enough so I'm not unhappy with the tone. Sure, it sounds nicer when it's a little higher again, but I have to be able to play the guitar the way I want to aswell.

On acoustic, my action is quite high. Aside from just sounding better, I use alot of alternate tunings, and high action makes it less likely that strings will buzz when in a lower tuning.
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#26
Quote by Rokeman
Also, lowering the strings would make them closer to the pickups, making the signal stronger!


That's not quite how it works. If your pickups are too close to your strings, the magnets in the pickups dampen the strings vibration, reducing the sustain and altering tone of the notes. Thinnner, and more "ice pick" like, usually.
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#27
Funny thread. I think if you care so much about getting better tone by increasing your string height you should wind your own strings, make your own guitars and amps and pedals. The difference in "tone" (whatever quantifiable feature of your sound that is) is minimal compared to other features that alter the sound you produce. Get your heads out of your arses.

Playability is the only reason people change their action. For instance, touch tapping with a high action is very clumsy, and playing slide with a low action sounds sloppy.
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#28
Quote by Deep*Kick
Funny thread. I think if you care so much about getting better tone by increasing your string height you should wind your own strings, make your own guitars and amps and pedals. The difference in "tone" (whatever quantifiable feature of your sound that is) is minimal compared to other features that alter the sound you produce. Get your heads out of your arses.

Playability is the only reason people change their action. For instance, touch tapping with a high action is very clumsy, and playing slide with a low action sounds sloppy.


On an acoustic, it makes a world of difference. I can see how it wouldn't do much on an electric, though.
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#29
Quote by Deep*Kick
Funny thread. I think if you care so much about getting better tone by increasing your string height you should wind your own strings, make your own guitars and amps and pedals. The difference in "tone" (whatever quantifiable feature of your sound that is) is minimal compared to other features that alter the sound you produce. Get your heads out of your arses.

Playability is the only reason people change their action. For instance, touch tapping with a high action is very clumsy, and playing slide with a low action sounds sloppy.


While there are many things that can affect your tone, I don't think that discussing one element that might affect it means we have our heads in our arses!

Anyway- apart from the distance to the pickup- action can affect tone due to playability. You must have to agree that the way you play influences the tone you get?
#30
The action of the strings won't make a significant difference to the tone of the guitar. You should adjust your guitar so that it is comfortable to play instead of the tonality it produces. It is more important that you enjoy playing rather than think of it as effort in order to produce good sound. Your tone can be manipulated through pedals and amplifiers anyhow. When customizing a guitar, this is the list of importance of different aspects you should adjust to;

1. Playability
2. Tuning Stability
3. Tonality
4. Everything Else
5. Appearance

Good luck,
Jake