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Setting the action too high on purpose...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Damani311, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Anyone know of any drawbacks to this? I figured it would increase finger strength in a very good way, but need to know if this could be detrimental in the long run for some reason, please let me know, thanks !
  2. Thunderitter

    Thunderitter Bass - The Final Frontier! Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    You'll spend too much time finding notes with you left hand losing speed and fluidity. It may make your hand stronger, but IMHO I can't see the point!

    If you get too high you'll also reduce the effectiveness of the pick-ups as most of these on have a limited height adjustment!

    Better to get stronger hands through plenty of practise on a well set up bass....and don't forget those scales!
  3. Keeping action at a certain height can eliminate some noise and a certain height can help with an upright bass sound.

    1. It takes more effort to play notes, thus slows you down.
    2. Possible issues with inconsistent output.
    3. The stretch of bringing the string to the fret will make the notes somewhat out of tune.
  4. Muckaluck


    Oct 11, 2005
    Whitby, Ontario
    I noticed when I lowered the strings on my Warwick that were previously a little high, the sound was different. Once lowered they sounded much more growly. This could be because the pickup is catching more string and finger nuances.
  5. Crow


    Oct 28, 2006
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I've found that on a bass with a high set-up when you have a pattern of a 1/16 note, then a 1/16 rest, repeat for entire measure, there is a lot of fret noise when playing this pattern, not nearly as much with an instrument that is properly set-up.
  6. I do this, because it actually makes my precision sound better, don't ask me why, I just think it has to do with the pickups not doing the magnetic strings over those huge flatwounds strings that I use.
  7. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    I keep certain basses roughly 1/64" higher than factory suggestion. This allows me to play more aggressively, for certain songs, with more clarity and less fret buzz.
  8. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    I tried emulating the set-up of the late, great James Jamerson, by slackening the truss rod on my '62 P Bass (;) reissue) and raising those fat LaBella flats way up to about 1/2" off the board at the neck joint :smug: .

    It certainly made fretting a challenge and did more "bad" for my tendonitius than it did "good" for my finger strength. Not only that, but you lose a lot of sustain that way, as the notes tend to be fretted for less time, due to the fact that the note stops the instant that you release your finger pressure. With a "normal" set-up, there's a lot less pressure required to keep the note fretted, so even as you release your finger pressure, the pad of your finger will keep the note fretted for a split second. It really slowed me down too! I couldn't manage as many "notes per second".

    It's hard to explain really! You should obviously try it for yourself, but unless you're planning to do it on an "only" bass (i.e. not a spare), I think that you'll soon get itred of it - I certainly did :smug: .
  9. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    For me it differs from bass to bass.

    My Bongo 5 has very low action as I play metal (finger style) with it and like the ability to do quick runs.

    My MIM P has high action as I only play R&B and Reggae with it and use flats.

    My Geddy Lee Jazz has super low action and it is an amazing slap machine.

    The action on each is set by me purposely after hours of tinkering. Hey, it works for me!:bassist:

    But, very high action for any reason beyond rting to capture a certain sound makes no sense to me. It is like giving yourself carpel tunnel syndrome on purpose!
  10. Thanks for the awesome responses guys!

    I agree it makes a different sound and slows you down, and the issue with making extra noise when fretting is what's causing me to abandon this idea. Glad to check in with some people that have good advice, thanks :)
  11. I too do metal finger-style, and also like quick successions and runs of notes.
    I'm really pleased with my new lower action on my bass, it was way too high before! Sure, it was a good workout, but now hearing it and playing it is so much more of a joy. Nico did a wonderful set-up for me, and I wouldn't recommend playing as high as I did.
    However, I was playing riffs that other musicians have said they wouldn't have been able to play themselves with that action, but I know how much it adversely affected my sound, consistency, tone and length of notes.
    I'm looking forward to recording with it, it sounds fantastic.
  12. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I don't understand why people worry about left hand strength- it's not strength you need, unless you are REALLY having a serious amount of trouble fretting a note. Accuracy and endurance are what you need, and speed finds its own way to the party when accuracy is improved.

    I can't imagine why left hand STRENGTH would be necessary.
  13. 88persuader


    Aug 5, 2007
    One of the major drawbacks I can see from high action is slapping. You really need low action to slap with any athority.
  14. I think the answer it's more about the mix of strength with flexibility and ability.... I mean, there are certain excercises I do on my P-bass that keep me on the good road for certain techniques. But, it can become an issue if you are not taking care of your hand.
  15. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    My basses all have high action. Love it, love it, love it. Check out http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=4554091&postcount=53 for pics of my '78 P.

    I did a Rush tribute band with this action, so it didn't slow me down. It's what you like/get used to. My action gets higher as the years go on and my strings get thicker. My new Rob Allen P will be strung .75-.95-.110-.130 :)

    I'm going on close to 30 years of playing this way, no hand problems (knock on wood).
  16. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I keep the action high on one of my basses, for practicing. It really does make your hands stronger. It's just like warming up with two or three baseball bats before you go up to the plate.

    - Dave
  17. Plus, if you like to have a very strong attack, it just feels right to have a hig action. I mean, not a insanely hig action, but you get the idea...
  18. ibnzneksrul


    Feb 2, 2007
    So Cal
    Amazing that he did what he did with that high action. I would love to go back in time just to watch/hear a Funk Brothers recording session.
  19. Add the "one finger only" factor... and it goes even more amazing.
  20. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    I developed an upright/one finger kind of playing style naturally. Sometimes I'll use two fingers, but more often than not, it's just one. One feels better. I guess because my basses were always set up high, I gravitated towards developing that. It looks like a claw sometimes lol

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