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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How high is your action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fat jonny, Nov 19, 2000.

  1. fat jonny

    fat jonny

    Jul 8, 2000
    Columbus Ohio
    I am trying to find out if my action is high or low compapared to most people. Does anyone know high high their strings are at the 12th fret? Also, is this the height you like or would you want it lower? higher? thanks a lot!

  2. 311 fan

    311 fan

    Sep 24, 2000
    La Verne, CA
    Mines high as heck. I hate it. Its only to high if it bothers you. They can be lowered. It would be nice if you told us wut kind of bass you got.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Somebody put in a link to Gary Willis's website which shows you how to measure the ideal action. It's basically holding down the A string at the 1st fret and then at the end of the neck, by the body. You should then be able to just slip a credit card under the string at the 12th fret.

    I have actually set mine a touch lower than that, but this is only suitable if you play with a very light touch, like Willis does and if you get it too low, you will get buzzing on some of the strings.

    I am happy with my action at the moment, but it also depends on how flat your board is - any relief can mean that you can't get it that low. Also, some basses are easier to set with a low action than others. Low action is often easier on neck-though basses than bolt-on - but not always.
  4. I tend to set my action at "medium" height.In other words my action isn't so low that all I get is fret buzzing when I pluck hard nor is it so high I wear out both my left and right hands.Also,it sometimes depends on the instrument and the dynamics of the band I might be involved with.For awhile,I used to set all of my basses with real low action.The only problem was that my fretting hand was becoming lazy and spoiled.(I sprained both of my wrists when I was a teenager and I still need to keep both of them in shape.)An instrument should be easy to play but at the same time it should give you a reasonable workout.

  5. [/B][/QUOTE]

    Somebody put in a link to Gary Willis's website which shows you how to measure the ideal action. It's basically holding down the A string at the 1st fret and then at the end of the neck, by the body. You should then be able to just slip a credit card under the string at the 12th fret.

    I think what Bruce is talking about here is the relief in the neck. This does contribute to the action but is not in itself the action.

    I set mine pretty low and measured with the string open and the bass in normal playing position. I measure 1/12th " (2.1 mm) for the E rolling down to 1/16th " (1.58mm) for the G. On my 5 and 6 the C goes down to about 1/20th " (1.27mm). At the end of the day it comes down to what feels right to you, same old story really for this game.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yeah but you're missing the point here - the poster really wants to know if he's got it set up right as compared with others. Now my opinion is that there's little point in going out and measuring action to fractions of an inch and saying that's what mine is - this doesn't help! My view is that different basses can cope with or suit different actions. Some basses with very flat necks usually neck-through, can be set much lower than say a P-Bass.

    In practice, I would never check the action and measure it but rather go on the feel and the sort of test that I mentioned, which I think is far better to look at than being stuck on a particular fraction of an inch higher or lower.
  7. I don't think I missed the point the question specifically asks for measurements.

    In your response you specifically state that the method you described is a way of measuring "the ideal action", I don't think it is.

    Whether you measure or not is entirely up to you, I feel I get repeatable results this way. It also serves as a reference point we can all relate to.

    It's a shame you felt you had to attack my method over yours simply because I tried to clarify the relief/action thing.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As I tried to explain - this is because I believe that each bass has a different "ideal action". So while your method may work well for you I don't believe it necessarily helps anybody else with a different bass - whereas I do believe that what I suggested can be applied to any bass.

    I think you are being too "literal" and it's not a question of attacking one method over the other but of saying something that can actually be applied to anyone's situation. If I took your measurements and applied them to may bass I would just be wasting a lot of my time, as I have no way of knowing whether these measurements are appropriate or whether I would consider them high or low.
  9. OK we agree.
    I never recommended that anyone transfer my set up to another bass or player. In fact in my first post I said at the end of the day it is down to personal preference. I supplied the measurements because this was the posters request "How high is your action" .

    Where I take issue is that with one hand you criticise my answer and with the other purport to be supplying more useful information without actually answering the question.
    In fact you even presume to tell the poster what his question actually is.

    When all is said and done neither you or I or indeed Gary Willis can provide the answer to a personal preference issue. For consistency shouldn't you E-Mail Gary and tell him that the advice for his measurement of relief is not correct for every bass and player.

  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I think you must have misunderstood me somewhere, because I have been trying very hard to say that I do think the "Gary Willis" approach (I'm sure it's not just his but anyway) works for all basses - whereas I don't believe that measuring the height of the strings will work for every bass. This is the whole point of what I have been trying to say!
  11. I haven't misunderstood you at all on the contrary I understand perfectly well what you are saying. The Gary Willis method is the standard way that I know of to measure the relief of a neck. Surely you must agree that this will be different for most basses. I am merely pointing out that the credit card measurement (it is a measurement after all) is no more valid for every bass than my own personal action measurement. I still say that what you are suggesting ( the core of which is correct) is not the way to set the action.
    Action setting is a combination of relief and bridge adjustment and of course the nut too. A bass could be set to have the credit card measurement set perfectly but still have the strings a great distance from the fretboard. Holding the string down at the first and last frets nullifies the bridge height. Dan Erlwine's book has a great explanation of the procedure for setting the action of an instrument and I would point the poster in that direction.
    Interestingly in this book Ken Smith defines his set up using measurements of string height as does the set up sheet for my F bass. Surely there is more than one way to skin a cat (apologies to any feline fanciers).
  12. bassphreakz


    Mar 19, 2000
    Mine is rather low on both my basses. It makes it easy to move and play. I don't have any problems with the strings accidentally hitting frets when I play. I can play at unbelievable speeds on my fretless because of the low action. I could never stand basses with high action.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I didn't really want to get into an argument - just saying that I believe that what I was saying would be more help to the original poster than listing heights. As we don't know what bass he's using -it's pointless telling him the ideal height for a Ken Smith or F Bass! :rolleyes:
  14. I'm not arguing with you Bruce.

    I am just saying there is more than just your way of doing things thats all. I would never presume to tell someone my way was right and any other wrong. You keep twisting my responses, my reference to Ken Smith and F bass was to highlight that other (highly respected) people find it useful to state measurements as a starting point. I didn't supply these measurements, so where do you get the idea I'm suggesting that the poster sets his bass to these ?

    I believe that the action of a bass is determined by a combination of the following :-

    Nut height
    Neck relief
    Bridge height

    This is supported by my reference to the Dan Erlewine book I mentioned previously. You only dealt with one of these in your reply (neck relief) and then it came across (unintentionally I'm sure) that this was a universal measurement.

    Surely it is easier to grasp an idea when the language used is understandable by all and not defined by subjective words such as low.

    I hope I have cleared up the misunderstanding you seem to have with my point of view.
  15. On my MIM Jazz and Korean Squier Jazz, 1/8th inch, bottom edge of E string to top edge of 12th fret. Looks kinda high, feels fine. No buzz with these cheap basses and hard playing. My Rickenbacker is about 1/16th inch, but does have some slight fret buzz when playing unplugged.

    These measurements are taken by eyeballing with a tape measure held beside the neck at the 12th fret, E string open.

  16. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    Somewhere between 1/16th inch and 3/32 inch from top of fret to bottom of string at the 12th fret. All strings. That's just right for me.

  17. I know next to nothing about action height and all,but after playing some other basses at GC...I would have to say the action on my Ibanez GSR190 is too high! I first noticed the differance when I tryed slapping on a MIM Fender Jazz.WOW!!I could actually get a sound out of it!!That is near impossible on my Ibanez.Since I don`t do the slap thang too much I have left the action like it is/seems to be ok for everything else.Not sure if this random observation will help.Good luck!
  18. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I dont go by specs when it comes setting my action never have never will, I go by what feels best for me! I set it as low as I can without fret buzz, Im really suprised to hear your string action on your gsr was too high, Both my Ibanez's were set really low, every Ibanez Ive ever put my hands on in the stores were set very low, too low in my opinion, I do agree though I dont think you get good slap tones out of them either, but on my Fender I get excellent slap tones.
  19. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Usually the ideal action height is that recommended by the manufacturer for that bass i.e. how they set them up and send them out of the factory. Action is usually measured at the last fret and is the height of the string above that last fret. This notion seems to be common in all of the literature that I've read from the manufacturers. You can check http://www.mrgearhead.net/faq/basssetup.html for fender bass setup instructions.

    [Edited by Phil Smith on 12-04-2000 at 08:39 AM]
  20. I agree with Nick Bassman that your action is defined by Bridge height, Neck relief and Nut height. Setting your Bridge height is pretty easy and Neck relief has been explained.

    Setting the Nut has always been a point of stress for me. It is so final. Any tips?

Share This Page