High Action

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by stonedmotus, Aug 25, 2011.


  1. stonedmotus

    stonedmotus

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    i read that james jamerson had sky-high action, also (guitar) stevie ray vaughan's guitars were virtually unplayable with very heavy gauge strings, a bowed neck & high action. any other bassists of note known to play with a very high action? i prefer medium but assume most want it as low as possible.
  2. shrimpflea

    shrimpflea

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southern California
    I read somewhere that Sting's old P Bass has pretty high action.....mainly because his tech doesn't want to mess with the neck.
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Location:
    St. Louis
    McCartney likes high action. My guitarist likes high action too. I do his set-ups. The first time I did one of his guitars he gave it back and said the action was too low. I was a little taken aback considering it is my nature to set everything as low as I can get it without fret buzz.
  4. pmcd

    pmcd

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Denver,CO
    Setup is completely subjective. There is no one standard. Personally, I cannot play a bass with incredibly low action, but don't like it incredibly high either.
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  6. bolophonic

    bolophonic

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I like high action. I am not a bassist of note, but I like my action high and a slight bow in the neck.
  7. arsie

    arsie

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    Action is directly related to playing style, isn't it? And playing style is about as subjective as you can get.

    I play with a really light touch, so I love my basses with as low action as I can get. I also love higher tension strings as a result. But I realize that there are certain tones that can only be achieved with certain playing style that will require a higher action.
  8. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    I been everywhere, man...
    Will Lee plays pretty high action, as well as John Patittuci and Tim Cummerford of RATM. Percy Jones, George Porter Jr. and Gene Simmons, too.

    Lee Sklar likes high action on his old modded Fender/parts bass, but not on his Dingwall. The late great T-Bone Wolk used high action on his P-Bass. I played one of Neil Jason's old Jazzes and he had a higher action than most players.

    I've heard and read that Pino and Tony Levin like higher action as well, but I don't know for sure. It sounded like Pino used very low action on fretless in the 80's, but maybe not so low on later and more current projects using fretted.
  9. stonedmotus

    stonedmotus

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    that's a lot of great bassists, good to know, like i said before i've always liked a medium action but in the back of my mind i'm always thinking "it looks too high". i have played a few basses with incredibly low action & no buzz but i think thats only really meant for a lighter touch, not really digging in, i could be wrong.
  10. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh man, this is worth the half year bump just to point that out.


    And I'll never understand how people can like high action. Why would you make it more difficult to play?
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2000
    Location:
    Groom Lake, NV
    Disclosures:
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Medium low is good for the Munj.
  12. LowNotes1

    LowNotes1

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    I prefer the action as low as possible without buzz also, but this seems easier to achieve on some basses than others. Among the five I have now, my mid-80's E-series MIJ Precision has the most accommodating neck.
  13. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper P is the Key. Call me Marc or Marky Potatoes. Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Fresh Meadows (Queens), NY, US
    Medium-low or as low as possible with no buzz/a little bow for me
  14. mrsal

    mrsal

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    my action on my fender looks really high, but it doesn't feel it. i think is something to do with the radius messing with me. plays great too
  15. Duckwater

    Duckwater

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Location:
    USA, Washington
    I like to play with a lot of dynamics, I set my basses with medium action so I can get some fret buzz and clank when I dig in.
  16. FrednBass

    FrednBass

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Bowed neck and high action. That's the McCartney way
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  17. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2000
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Disclosures:
    Lakland Basses Artist
    On my Laklands (4 and 5 string), as well as my '75 Jazz, I prefer light or medium nickel rounds (depending on how the neck and overall setup feels) with a setup as low as possible to avoid buzz when played with a light to medium touch. I try to play as light as possible to avoid fatigue and maximize flexibility for dynamics.

    On my P-Bass however, strung with light gauge flats, I prefer a more medium action for better 'bounce' when played fingerstyle or when palm-muting. In any case, I try to get the neck as flat as possible and set the action/bridge curve from there.
  18. c0d3h4x0r

    c0d3h4x0r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Dear god, that's ridonkulous!
  19. KingRazor

    KingRazor

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon USA
    As low as I can get it without buzz, but with a bit of neck relief and tighter strings. Tighter strings let me get the action lower while still being able to pluck a bit harder.
  20. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Because not every player is the same.
  21. JimiLL

    JimiLL Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    Location:
    Hunt. Co., New Jersey
    I cant believe he can be intonated like that

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