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Anyone else prefer higher action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by charic, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    Ive just found i play alot better and can change strings faster with higher action. I was always told lower action was easier.

    Anyone else the same or am i just weird?
  2. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I like to dig in pretty hard and I need a little room to get what I want. I keep mine at about 1/8" at the 20th fret. Give or take a bit. Part of the beauty of that setup is not having to tweak it all the time.
  3. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    I like mine a little higher than what's considered low action. It sounds better. I don't play all that hard and could get away with it lower. I just prefer the sound I get with the action a bit higher.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Higher action usually means better tone. Lower action is easier to play but some tone will be sacrificed.

    It is interesting to note that as a player gets older quite often they will accept higher action in a set-up. Maybe it's because they've gotten stronger and are more concerned with tone. When a younger player requests their instrument to be set-up "just like the pros" I hand them something set up that way. They usually pronounce the instrument unplayable.

    My setups vary depending on which instrument I'm setting up and what styles I'll be playing. If I'll be slapping I tend toward something a little lower. The rest of the time it's pretty husky. If I'm playing the blues I'm pulling hard and you can shoot arrows off the E string.
  5. Toneonbass


    Jul 1, 2006
    I think i'm leaning that way... I've been playing that way a lot lately.
  6. Vypor


    Oct 12, 2006
    Little Rock, AR
    I've been playing around 2 years, 2 and a half maybe, not really keeping track, but I love my action high. I play fast metal and I slap all over the place, pick all over the place, and finger pick really fast.

    In my opinion, once you get your hands use to playing in the higher action, its the only way to go. You get a better tone all they way around.
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    I can't play low action basses. Feels funny. I like my action a little higher than most, but not rediculously so.
  8. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    What would guys consider low action to be? What would you consider high action?
  9. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Vic here likes low action. So low that I have to concentrate on my touch being light. My action is medium. I get a tiny bit of fret noise when I dig in too hard. But I must say that all my basses are set up slightly different depending on what feels best with that bass.
  10. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    I setup my basses with the strings at 4/64" (1/8") over the 12th fret. I'm not sure if that's considered high or low. To me it's "right".
  11. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    too low - notes get choked with too much fretbuzz
    very low - there'll be lots of buzz if you dig in
    low - alittle buzz if you dig
    normal - as low as possible without buzz
    high - slightly higher than normal
    very high - matt freeman, james jamerson
  12. I used to play with crazy-high action, but now I use low enough action that I'm always on the verge of fretbuzz, just like Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, John Entwistle, Paul D'Amour and many other players who have buzz and grind in their tone.

    I found out one day by playing the song Opiate with my Ric, and found I almost needed the neck back bowed to get enough fretbuzz on the A string as he did in that song...you see, I started to go so high with my action, that my bass was becoming unplayable, and I realized I was getting farther away from the tone I wanted.

    ...if I don't want much buzz, I turn up the amp and play lightly...plus my tendinitis hurts a lot less with low action...I know many older players who play with a feather-light touch and crank their amplifier..:)
  13. SnuffdaCrimeDog


    Jul 24, 2006
    Can somebody explain "digging in" I here that alot and Ive never know what it meant I assume it means pressing down hard on the frets but to tell you the truth I dont know.
  14. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    i like my action pretty high. it's not crazy or anything... but when i have my bass set up, the guy calls me hercules. maybe it's higher than i think...

    i've just always played that way. i'm not trying to play lightning-fast or anything... and even if i do, i have a heavy touch.
  15. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    as far as i know, "digging in" refers to hitting the strings a little harder with your right-hand fingers. it gets you this growlyslap kinda sound.
  16. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I've noticed that I like my action a little higher than a lot of people, chiefly due to tone, and the fact that I sometimes dig in hard.

    Then again, I guess I qualify as an "old fart." :p
  17. I like my action high on a pbass because the only tone that I like a pbass is a nice dug in tone. On my other basses I have my action set as low as it will go with no fret buzz.

  18. lowtide

    lowtide Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bradenton, Florida
    Owner: Buzzard's Bass Shop
    No matter what bass I set up I go for as low as possible because, to me, the lower the string can be played the easier it is to play it.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think it depends what you want to do - when I started out at TB I was plaing BG only and trying to play things like Jaco/Stanley etc, and then low action helps you to get this kid of thing.

    I was always advocating low action and looking for basses that would allow me to play as many notes as possible.

    But sicne getting more into acoustic Jazz and being "seduced" by the sound and swing of Double Bass and having bought one of my own ....

    Now I find I'm really into making every note count and really meaning it - and I find I prefer higher action like my DB!

    So - as I Practice every day on my DB , getting my fingers under the string and really pulling through the string - it feels somehow "unsatisfying" to have low action and less room to get more "meat" into pulling the string.

    Nowadays I'm not concernd about playing loads of notes as quickly as I can - but rather with making a satisfying sound that contributes best to the overall sound of the band! :)
  20. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Hey, Bruce. been a while, hope you're doing well.

    I know what you mean about changing from ebg to urb.
    The opposite is true, as well. I played db for 40 years before I ever seriously tried to play ebg.

    It felt like 4 strands of spaghetti on a rubber neck. And that was with +3/16" string heigth.

    Congrats on the urb. I figured that you would eventually get there as heavily into jazz as you are. It's a whole different world, huh? :)
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jan 16, 2021

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