1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Anyone enjoy a high action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MrCash, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. MrCash


    Jan 16, 2016
    A few weeks ago while playing a totally unsetup bass in a music store, which had a horrible high action. My girlfriend said i sounded good and better than i sometimes do. I asked what she meant and she had been refering to string noise and said i had a "nice sound". And thinking about it I do sometimes play too heavy handed.

    So the other day i set my bass up for a high action (Pbass). Right on the limit of what i would call playable. Around about .015 relief and around 2.5mm all strings (flatwounds), as a experiment starting point. The bass I played in the shop had a even higher action.
    I work on basses/guitars so it kinda goes against what I normally try to achieve in a setup.

    The results are sore finger tips! A nice rounded tone and less string/fret noise, although I'm using flats so...
    I kind of like the higher action and somethings I can play easier, probably more so after my finger tips adapt. Some things are more difficult to play. I'm seriously thinking of keeping the bass setup like this, with another bass setup with low action (Which I currently also have). Which leads me to think I need a third bass with a medium action, just so I have all the basses (pun intended) covered :D

    Also i noticed that switching basses and going high to low action, I almost instantly felt I am a better player for having a day trying to get used to the higher action.

    Anyone else like a higher action or even a stupidly high action. Or have multiple basses with different setups heights?
    laxking77 likes this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Mine is higher than most prefer for the same reason. I dig in pretty hard.

    And, yes, I have different basses setup differently. It's pretty much as low as THAT bass will go before my huge hands create fret buzz and clank and noise for days. :D
    el murdoque, MrCash and biguglyman like this.
  3. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Rochester, NY
    I'm rather heavy-handed so I play with action a little higher than most. I had a refret done years ago on one of my basses and when I got it back, I immediately raised the action. Too much noise.
  4. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I have one bass that can go ridiculously low on the action, which I set up a bit higher than I usually prefer. That one develops a totally different character when played with a heavy hand and I like that a lot.
    My main player is super low and prefers to be played with a soft touch.
  5. Well I guess I play at a high action then! I'm at 3mm now, but that's down from about 4 - 4.5. I had a new bridge on it, and it took me a bit to realize what was going on. (Let that be a lesson to remeasure when you change a bridge, kids. Live n learn) anyway , it wasn't so much the fingers as it was the tension in the left hand. So going down to 3 after that, the 3 feels great. Easy enough to play, but I can still put some stank on it without rattling or clicking on the pickups
  6. Just out of curiosity, what are your measurements?
  7. I'm an absolute believer in higher action on both BG and upright. It just sounds more powerful, clearer, more note separation, and more expressive. I think it forces you to plant and release with greater timing, and pay more attention to note length and value. I also think it allows you to drive the strings harder, which drives the body and neck to contribute more. My main BG has gotten a little higher recently, and has unfortunately developed a hump near the body. I still love the sound, but its getting hard to rip a quick passage, time for a fix or replacement I guess.
    StayLow and Das Jugghead like this.
  8. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Another high action player here, I haven't measured it but my gigging bass looks to be about 3mm on the E, 2mm on the G.

    I do have a P that can go as low as you desire but because I am pretty heavy handed I now tend have the action similar to above. I used to have the strings almost on the frets but that was when I was playing crazy loud and fast so the lack of sustain and tone didn't bother me.
  9. MrCash


    Jan 16, 2016
    There's a good story about Will Lee saying his bass setup by Roger Sadowsky, 4 - 3mm E to G (5/32" - 1.8") still had fret buzz!
  10. LkS


    Oct 30, 2013
    EU, Slovakia
    .015 inch relief and 2.5 mm to 2 mm (E to G) is not high action ... every one here is either playing with the lightest touch or digging fret buzz ...
    To me that's standard (also according to most manufacturers factory specs), that's where you start off and decide whether you will go high or low ... or just keep it at that.
    Wanna know what high action is? 3 mm and higher on the low E, and believe me, you can find action that high on basses of players who just don't give a hoot about set up or on basses in guitar stores who ... just don't give a hoot about set up :)
    96tbird, StayLow and alanloomis1980 like this.
  11. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I just can't stand to hear my strings smack up against the frets on the neck when I'm plucking away notes...............so, I like moderate high action for clean sounds.

    3/32 @ 12th fret for the G. 15/64" for the E @ 12th. That is for TI flats. A bit lower for stiffer flat wounds.
  12. Yeah I was wondering what people mean by "high," it seems subjective. Fender specs is 2 - 2.8mm (or 5/ - 7/64") depending on neck radius and which string. So OPs example is right there within "normal"
  13. MrCash


    Jan 16, 2016
    Many manufactures specs are pretty high compared to what basses these days can achieve in action of the shelf.
    Most people ask me to setup there basses after fret work as low as possible. 2mm - 1.5mm and under is what's normally aimed for even 5 strings 2.2 - 2mm for the b string.

    This has probably skewed my opinion of high action admittedly.
    But still interested to hear from others that play high action near and above 3mm.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  14. I'm pretty new to doing setups myself. And even newer to actually measuring! :laugh: thanks for the feedback.
  15. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    A guy I know bought a coffee table bass (Overwater) and having played my P bass when it had low action wanted me to set it the same, I got it as near as I could without any fret buzz and he went away happy.

    That was last winter and as soon as summer came he was phoning me saying he had horrendous fret buzz so I called round and set the relief and raised the saddles slightly. I think I must have hit a point where he can tolerate the "high" action and the seasonal variations don't cause fret buzz.

    I hope so because I'm not getting paid for any of this work! :laugh:
  16. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    If 2.5-3.0 mm is high action, then I am guilty, and have been for many, many years. (Why you would call that high, I don't know...)

    What I am really wondering about, though, is why you would use Imperial measurements for relief, but metric for string height.
    96tbird likes this.
  17. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    He's doing that to keep from getting them confused!:D
    delta7fred likes this.
  18. MrCash


    Jan 16, 2016
    The UK tends to use a mixture of imperial and metric. This link explains it well.
    Will British people ever think in metric?
  19. MrCash


    Jan 16, 2016
    Haha :D.
    See the above link.
  20. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I was doing an engineering apprenticeship when the UK went metric so did the first half in imperial, the rest in metric so I am equally at home with either and use whatever is most convenient.

    I helped a builder out and he was just the same (but 10 years younger than me so he would have been taught metric at college) if it was a convenient number of inches, or with halves or quarters, he would use imperial if not metric.

    It confused the hell out of a young apprentice when he started working for him, he had heard of inches but had no idea what they meant. He soon got the hang of it and within a day or two was fully up to speed on the system.
    96tbird likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.