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is action about sound, or playability?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    What say you?

    Do you adjust your action to get the best sound, or to get the best playability?

    Or, do you try to achieve a compromise?
  2. For me deffinately playability first, sound second. When I play a jazz bass the tone shaping happens at the amp and wth playing style.
  3. I always adjust the action for playability. I dig in pretty hard and raise the strings right at the threshold of buzzing. I adjust unamplified and go for the feel and never considered sound, (unless you are talking about fret-buzzes).

    As far as sound, I'm not sure if 1/16" either way really matters, or can be descerned. There is more movement than that when I am just plucking the string.
  4. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Playability. I like the action pretty low and the tone thing seems to take care of itself. Fenders sound like Fenders.
  5. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    Compromise. I'm going through it right now with one of my J basses, strung with low-tension TI Rounds. It played well enough with the action set (moderately) high, and I got the growl I wanted. Now, I'm gradually lowering the action to maximize ease of playability but still don't want to lose the growl. I'll sacrifice a little playability for sound.
  6. Lorenzini


    Dec 31, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Playability. I like low-action tone anyways.
  7. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    A bit of both really. I love low action for cordial tap riffs but I also get a great growl for finger funk stuff with that hint of frett buzz.
  8. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Both. The way you set up a bass determines the kind of touch (light/low or diggin in/high) that you play with, and the way you play a bass affects the tone you get.

    This is why their is no universal setup - a bass is set up for the player's taste. And why it's way better to do your own setups, since you know your preferences best. As a corollary, you can use your set up as a learning tool - set up your bass differently and note how it affects your playing style, and you may learn something about yourself, problems in your technique that you can address and fix.
  9. For the longest time, to me, action was all about the playability. I wanted the action as low as possible so it would make fast, technical play a bit easier and faster. Well, I played this way for quite some time, but I started to step back and listen to my tone, and what I found out was that it was lacking "it." I started experimenting, and with the help of a guitar tech, I decided to raise the action. The result was big for me. The playability really didn't change that much, but the tone drasticly improved. So now, it still has to feel right, but it's got to sound good as well.