Guitar action graphics The word "action" describes a series of settings (neck's relief, string's height, nut height, etc) made on an stringed instruments the purpose of which is delivering the best and comfortable feel while playing.

A comfortable action depends on three main factors (in chronological order of setup).
  • Fretboard's relief.
  • String's height at bridge.
  • String's height at nut.

  • and it's also influenced by pickups height.


    Below you will find some points you should consider when setting for the perfect action:

    PLEASE NOTE: best resulting in adjusting the action requires the frets to be perfectly leveled (dressed):

  • Fretboard should always have a small relief.
  • On the electric guitar, this relief corresponds (to give a certain reference) to the thickness of a Daddario strings cartoon placed between the top of the 10 fret to the bottom of the string.
    On the electric bass the same correspond to a business card placed same way.
  • The higher the action the highest the volume level the more dynamic you can apply to the instrument through your touch.
  • The lower the action the less you will be able to apply dynamic and your playing and technique wil be affected.
  • Neck's relief is more important than bridge height for a comfortable action. Therefore the straighter the neck the more the fretboard will be comfortable (of course some relief MUST be aplied).
  • Almost straight necks with HIGHER STRINGS will always deliver a better playing feel than a an up bowed fretboard with lower strings height at bridge.
  • High radiused fretboards (7", 9") will require higher string's height in order for the strings not to stop during bendings. The flattest the fretboard radius the lowest action is allowed.

  • The higher the string's gauge, the less neck relief and bridge height is allowed for the strings not to buzz and for a comfortable action.
  • The harder the touch the more relief and string's height is required not to hear buzz. The softer the touch the less the relief required not to hear buzz.
  • The softer the touch the more we will be able to keep the neck straight for maximum compfort without buzz.
  • To a lesser neck relief corresponds a higher strings height not to buzz.
  • Too much relief translates in buzz noise at the end of fretboard (last frets).
  • Too straight fretboard means buzz noise at the first frets (nut side)

  • Sometime is required for the instrument to settle after action has been setup.
    Having the frets dressed by a pro guitar repairman assures a lower action
    and a perfect feel on the fretobard. Pictured Frudua Carved Slave Pentabass.

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