#1
I have my SG set up with what I imagine is medium to high action -- a tick under 2mm on the treble side, and a tick over 2mm on the base side. Just as an experiment I change it to about 1mm treble, 1.5mm bass, and with the same amp settings it sounded absolutely horrible. I mean, it went from a rich, booming tone, to a weak, tinny sound.

I get why that happens, what I don't get is how guys can play super low action and get decent tone. Is something else done in the set up of the guitar to compensate, or is it done with the amp, pedals, etc.?
#2
How far are your pickups from the strings? If they're too close it's not good.
#3
Quote by OliveG
How far are your pickups from the strings? If they're too close it's not good.


I set them a little further than normal in my usual high action set up, so when I fiddled around with lower action the pickups were probably very close to recommended spec.
#4
The weak, tinny sound you're getting is probably from the strings being choked out by the frets as your action is simply too low.

Achieving a low action comes from a combination of different things. Such as the action of the guitar itself, having frets that are perfectly level with one another, having appropriate neck relief, an appropriate neck angle, and playing in a way that allows for a low action without getting fret buzz. Until all of those variables are addressed, you're not going to get the guitar to play right.

Are you measuring action from the highest fret or the 12th fret?
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#5
Yeah I was measuring at the 12th, but just to be clear, I'm getting awesome tone with my usual higher action set up. I just wanted to see what would happen if I lowered it because everyone I know seems to be obsessed with low action. Anyway, it seems like a lot of things have to be done in the set up to get a low action rig to have nice tone.
#6
To get a super low action right the guitar has to have a perfect setup. Nut slots, fret levelling etc. These are almost never spot on in cheap and midrange guitars because it needs some human hand and it takes time, so take the guitar to luthier if you want low action.

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#7
Quote by MaaZeus
To get a super low action right the guitar has to have a perfect setup. Nut slots, fret levelling etc. These are almost never spot on in cheap and midrange guitars because it needs some human hand and it takes time, so take the guitar to luthier if you want low action.


Yes, throw in neck adjustment and that about covers it.
The luthier might only need to set it up and fiddle with the truss a bit! A guitar deserves that anyway.

Personally I don't like really low action, other strings get under my finger when bending lazyly, and this is only very rarely useful.
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#8
Ok cool, so this is not something where you're taking it off the rack and just lowering the bridge. Didn't realize that much tweaking went into it. Thanks for the replies.
#9
Quote by PB26
Ok cool, so this is not something where you're taking it off the rack and just lowering the bridge. Didn't realize that much tweaking went into it. Thanks for the replies.


Actually, if the guitar is set up optimally to begin with (by the factory or store), it is indeed just lowering the bridge (and redoing the intonation).

On a sidenote: play Django Reinhardt on a cheap acoustic for a year and the action on an electric will be like, WHO CARES!
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Last edited by bornfidelity at Oct 1, 2014,
#10
I generally play with very low action, and there's no problem with tone.

But most of the guitars have been very carefully set up. One, for example, was a $200 B Stock (including case and shipping!) Agile. It had its frets superglued and was tossed on a PLEK machine. The process itself cost more than the guitar. But it's a stellar player and sounds great. Carvins usually come from the factory with very low action (at one time they advertised "action as low as 1/16th" at the 24th fret with no buzzing frets!" and delivered. "Tinny" sound usually indicates issues with fret level or nut preparation.
#11
yeah a quality guitar can be set lower because the guitar is made perfect and all teh parts are as they ideally should be. i have a carvin and i got comments that it was actually setup high from the factory. i found it a big "slower" on fast licks on high frets. i recently even lowered the bridge. its not as lot as it goes but getting there. its on the verge of being "too low for any guitar to actually play correclty". i am flirting with fret buzz but just on the cusp where my whole neck is not buzzing. ie - it may be a darn near perfect playing fretboard.

no i dont have tone issues. could i do this on any other guitar ive ever owned? heck no. not even close. its because no guitar ive ever owned comes close to my carvin in build quality.
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#13
I've been trying to tell people for a long time that you would certainly get better tone with high action. I'm actually starting to suspect that people who disagree have silly low action who raises it by two hairs afterwards and hear no difference.

Personally, I define action by a few stages:
Silly low -- anything less than a mm at the 12th fret up to 1.2mm at the 12th
Low -- 1.2-1.5mm at the 12th
Rather low -- 1.5-1.7mm
Medium low -- 1.8-2.2mm (I use this action myself | Perfect blend of playability and tone)
Medium -- 2.2-2.5 (used to use this: faster than medium-high without any loss of tone)
Medium high -- 2.5-2.7 (slight loss of 'oomph' compared to high action)
High -- 2.7 - 3.0 (Unless you plan to play Albert King licks all the time, forget this.)
Pointlessly high -- >3.0mm (Just asking for intonation issues)
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Last edited by Archer250 at Oct 1, 2014,
#14
Interesting, I guess I fall into the medium category the way I have it set up now.
#15
Quote by PB26
What are you guys defining as low action, in mm or 64ths?


I have action on a couple of guitars as low as 4/64ths, but at the 24th fret.

I'd say that action of around 4/64ths at the 12th fret, bass side, and 3/64ths at the 12th fret, treble side, would be classed as low.
#16
Quote by Archer250
I've been trying to tell people for a long time that you would certainly get better tone with high action. I'm actually starting to suspect that people who disagree have silly low action who raises it by two hairs afterwards and hear no difference.


I've played actions at pretty much all levels, and I think discussions that veer off into this area are nonsense. It's impossible to define "better tone" and there are so many factors that enter into the discussion, such as pick type, picking style, string gauge, pickups, action height, guitar construction and materials, music preferences and much more.

It's awkward to suggest that anyone that disagrees with your choice must be doing something wrong in their evaluation; we've had the same kind of silliness regarding string gauge, and there are folks who line up on the side of playing 13's on a 25.5" scale with medium-high action and others who think you can do very well playing 8's on a 24.75" scale with nasty-low action, allowing the guitar to do the heavy lifting.

It should go without saying that working with very low action requires a guitar that is set up far more meticulously than it does working with medium or high action. Fret level and nut/saddle preparation becomes critical.
#17
Quote by dspellman
I've played actions at pretty much all levels, and I think discussions that veer off into this area are nonsense. It's impossible to define "better tone" and there are so many factors that enter into the discussion, such as pick type, picking style, string gauge, pickups, action height, guitar construction and materials, music preferences and much more.



Okay, I agree with you there. Then I must define that higher action to me gives a "fuller" sound, but that's to me.
Gear:
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