How can ANYONE like high action?!?!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fleabass89, Sep 6, 2001.

  1. I don't get it. Maybe you like the sound better, but IMO the cons of high action far outweigh the pros. Now, can someone tell me WHY they like high action?
  2. Players who dig in hard and don't like fret buzz often use high action. Also, high action lets the note "bloom" more, which is important for those of us who aren't playing Geddy-style.
  3. eViL cAkE

    eViL cAkE Guest

    Sep 6, 2001
    Just East of Dallas
    I like having something to tug on. I feel that when I have to put more umph into my playing to get a big sound, that it helps me in being more assertive with the groove in general. It also sounds more like the bass responds more like an acoustic instrument that way. You have more control over dynamics with your fingers with a higher action rather than a with a lower one. Finger derived dynimics always sound more natural than those coming from any electronic device.

    However, if you use a low action and touch the strings very lightely, with your amp cranked; your strings don't go out as far from their point of equilibrium. This slows down the decay rate, resulting in longer sustain and a more even tone from the initial attack until you choose to stop the note. This is the Gary Willis method. I prefer an earthier sound though.

    It's all just "apples and oranges" though. To put it into perspective; Eddie Van Halen uses a very light touch and low action to get his nimble guitar tone, while Stevie Ray Vaughn played extremely aggressively with a freaky high action to get his, fat, knock-you-over tone. Neither is better than the other, just to different sets of musical objectives.

    And that's my $0.02
    eViL cAkE

  4. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I totally agree with eViL cAkE. I like a little resistance, and I like the sound of a string that is moving more forcefully. I feel like I have very little control over dynamics with really low action; it almost feels like there is a compressor squashing the sound. If I dig in, I hit the fingerboard or frets. With higher action, I can play very softly or strongly, depending on the needs of the song. My natural stroke is a little too strong for low action, and I have to concentrate on playing delicately.

    Then again, I am primarily playing groove-based music fingerstyle on a fretless with flatwounds. If I played chops-intensive fusion with lots of slapping and tapping, I'm sure I would feel differently.
  5. merlin

    merlin Guest

    Those of you who agree to the terms please raise your hands and say "I" :p

    Ok, i personally like a low action for speed wise and light touch. I used to have a fairly high action. There is a point of extreme tho. I played a bass once with a action so high that my fingers actually could fit under the strings.

  6. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I use a medium high action on everything except my MIA 75 Jazz reissue.

    I've got TI Jazz flats on my Curbow Int'l Petite 5, and my Curbow fretless and since they have a really low tension, I have the action up pretty high. It really lets me dig in and get the most amazing tone from the Curbows. I play pretty hard, and the basses have 18V electronics for lots of headroom, so I get lots of note bloom and depth without a lot of added hand fatigue.

    I have roundwounds on the Jazz, and I have that action a good bit lower because I got the Jazz specifically for that metal/wood spank sound.

    I used to have a '78 PBass fretless that I kept a set of LaBella Jamerson flats on with a foam mute, and the action was ridiculous--I could fit my pinky under the string at the 12th fret. But, the tone was the voice of an angry god.

    Jamerson used super high action, and I don't think anyone could say that it affected his dexterity, or lines. It's just a matter of deciding how much technique to sacrifice for natural tone.
  7. I like slightly higher action for recording. Besides the notes having more resonance (as mentioned already) higher action equals less fret noise which means my tracks are cleaner and sit better in the mix IMHO.
  8. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    GOTTA HAVE IT! HIGH ACTION! mines so freaking high, i play with a pick....HARD. cant stand the fret buzzzzzzzz. all the bass players in the store think im nuts. its just the setup for our band. if i wasnt in this band to get this kind of sound. id probly.....STILL HAVE HIGH ACTION! WHAAAAA HA HA HA HA...
  9. Hmm--I'd actually use lower action in the studio, for better intonation. I was once helping a local punk band record their demo; the action on their "bassist's" (really a converted guitarist) instrument was a good half an inch, as the truss rod had never been touched. I gave it a good quarter turn and suddenly he wasn't a quarter-tone off at the seventh fret--imagine that.
  10. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I use medium-high action because of fret buzz. The only i advantage to using low action is that it is easier for people that have never used high action. And there is intonation reasons.
  11. i like to be able to put enthusiasm into certain notes and not buzz out. it feels silly when jumping and hitting that loud note while landing, and having to use a feather-light touch to play it.

    also, i use the sansamp BDDI, which does a very nice tube amp simulation, meaning that more output = more breakup. having low action would give me a uniform tone. but with the higher action, i can make it more interesting without using a volume pedal or something.
  12. berklee46

    berklee46 Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2000
    I've got a pair of Status Graphite 2000s, which allow me to have the action so low it's almost touching the board, with light gauge strings....Now that's *almost* low enough for me.
  13. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001

    I like my action like limbo - how low can you go? ;)
  14. Well, i don't like it insanely low.. I used to, but then I would feel like i'm "hurting" the bass everytime I dug in... Now I can pretty much beat my bass up, with my heavy strings and low action... it's fun
  15. Dave Metts

    Dave Metts Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I find it hard to play slap with higher action. I have to put way too much force in to actually get the correct tone. My Spector (which I got yesterday) came to me with pretty high action, so I may have to take it in to a music store somewhere to have it lowered a bit (I don't like to fool with truss rods myself). I'd have to say I'm in the medium/medium-low category as far as where I like my action. I personally think that's really the best of both worlds! You don't have to sacrifice much speed, and you can play dynamically (within reason).
  16. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I tend to prefer a low action, but I can certainly see the benefits of a higher one - with my super light gauge strings, the dreaded fretbuzz is never far away. Having said that, I find that plucking right on the bridge allows you to really dig in, without sacrificing any speed or playability.
  17. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    Yawnsie, I agree about playing by the bridge. I used to play back there all the time, but in the last few years I have moved my right hand clear up to and even onto the fingerboard for a super-fat tone. I definitely needed higher action when I switched from the bridge tone.
  18. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    i have insane high action and i can slap very fast (i have to slap harder though)... i guess i just got used to it... and i absolutely hate fretbuzz...

    i´m working on tapping... it´s hard but i´m also getting around it... :)

    i´m saving low action for a high-end bass... i can picture myself used to play fast on high action and even faster (and better) on a low action :eek:
  19. Dave Metts

    Dave Metts Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I'm sure part of the reason I can't slap with high action is because my technique is horrible. I've never had any sort of formal training or anything, so I just tried to piece it together from the little I've read and heard. I'm thinking about getting Alexis Sklarevsky's Slap Bass Program video. I hope that will put me on the right path for slap.
  20. arjune


    Oct 8, 2006
    SF, CA
    The tone, man. :D