String Action....why

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by projectBdaddy8, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. Why does everyone prefer lower action? I just dont get it.
  2. Bazzist


    Dec 7, 2002
    Nova Scotia
    It's generally easier and faster to play a bass with low action. Thats why.
  3. i understand that. but dosent that open the door to laziness.?!
  4. Bazzist


    Dec 7, 2002
    Nova Scotia
    Actually not at all it just if your freting a note on a bass with high action it requires so much force so it cant be done so fast. Understand now?
  5. yes....but its like this. people pay money to have a little machine to sqeeze to strengthen their fingers. i like my action high because its harder to play. it provides a challenge...and then when i play a bass with low action its so much easier.
  6. Seems like you answered your own question.:meh:

  7. ashtray9


    Aug 1, 2002
    Tempe Arizona
    I like high action because I really love digging into the strings. I use flats, and they sound great with a massive pluck to get them singing.
  8. Melf


    Mar 20, 2003
    Starkville, MS
    I don't see how low action opens the door to laziness. It makes playing bass easier, cleaner, and faster in my experience. Look at it this way, do you know many bassists who would be up on the fretboard at the G string octave and then play an A on 5th fret E instead of open A? I don't think that that's being lazy. I don't know about you, but bass is hard enough for me to play without added wrist stress.
  9. all im tryin to say is that if high action is harder to play, and low action is easier, wouldn't it make sense to practice with a bass that has really high tight action? it would make it easier. im not saying that i would particularly enjoy playing with the action i have my bass set at in front of thousands of people, but until then high action rules. you have to work harder for every note.

    i think ill try flats on my bass next....even though it is fretted, im having trouble with bright tone anyway. I have an old late 70's - early 80's Bassman tube amp....and for jazz it absolutely sings, but its not exactly great for nu-metal...not that i like to play nu-metal :D!!!
  10. just don't come crying to talkbass when you get tendinitis/carpal tunnel/something like that. :D
    well, hey, if you like your action high, then more power to ya. Personally I think that playing bass should be as easy as possible ;) . I think most people would agree with me on this, or why would anyone care about playability when buying a bass? I don't think that lower action is opening the door to laziness. I think high action is closing the door on good, efficient technique.
  11. ok well i guess that was a stupid idea for a thread since noone agrees with me :( . But i just wanted to see if i really was alone in that opinion. oh well. I really am curious though: clef, what do u mean by high action opening the door to bad technique, cuz i definately dont want to develope bad technique.
  12. It develops bad technique in a sense you can become heavy handed. You really have to dig in. I find with a higher action the strings feel tighter.

    Speed becomes an issue too. The distance your hands have to travel to make it smooth.

    From a sound point of view. Your strings are further from the pickups. Therefore you arent getting the best dynamic range out of them. You have to push the strings further down to make contact with the frets, thus damping out some of the characteristics of your bass.

    A high action is fine if you like it. Generally many people like the lowest action possible because you can become quicker and smoother as above stated.

    Now play nice!


  13. Just because the majority doesn't agree with you doesn't mean that it was a bad idea to start the thread. Now you know why most people prefer lower action to higher action. Maybe because of this thread your wrists will thank you in 20 years. Either way you learned something. :bassist:
  14. having high action requires moving the string down further to get to a fret. the further you have to move it, the more the pitch changes, and the intonationw will be further off. it's probably not a big change, but it may be audible.

    and really, i can understand training your fingers to be stronger than they need to be, but that's in training. if you're performing, why would you want to make things harder on yourself?
  15. Boozy


    Apr 29, 2002
    Kelowna BC, Canada
    Well, I see your point... but, you don't want to practice on high action and then play live with low action.. sure it will seem easier, but you want to play live on a bass that you are use to playing (IMO).. I meen, why take the risk of playing on a bass that you havn't been practicing on? ...alls I can say to that is, if your live gig or whatever goes bad, don't say "well, I wasn't use to playing this bass"...

    I don't mind a high action bass while playing with a pick and it is okay playing fingerstyle.. I can get away with high action while playing those styles... but I can not slap on a bass with really high action... It is just too awkward.. well I guess i "can" but I would avoid slapping if at all possible... and why limit myself?

    I like relatively low action and have become a much better player since owning a bass that has allowed me to have just that.
  16. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Imagine driving a car with no power steering. I mean none. Sitting still, gotta pull out at an angle, cranking that wheel with both hands to save you're life and it's barely turning. (like my old chevy cavalier...) Anyway, now think of a ride with the smoothest, most power assited, takin' hairpin turns with one finger steering you can imagine.

    Maybe action is similar. Just depends on what you're used to and what level of handling you want. Tell you what, learning banjo (yup) on one with meat-grinder action and actually being able to play it decent sure made for a world of differece when it came time to upgrade to an instrument that could actually be adjusted.

    It's a Goldilocks scenario, really. I like my action low so I can tap with just my left hand and grab a beer without missing a beat...:D

  17. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    When I was first starting out, I couldn't stand low action. I needed everthing set high so that I coulod play all the strings evenly without clanking the strings against the frets. This was a beginners technique issue. As I developed and attempted to play faster parts, I realized that I was spending too much effort trying to fret the high strings. Since I started playin faster, my touch became lighter, and the high action didn't allow to play fast. Now that my technique and touch is better, I really can only play with light action. Also, some styles of playing, ie tapping require low action. It's all a matter of preference really, not laziness as some may view low action. I'm sure there are low action players that think high action players have bad technique and overcome it by setting up higher.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - making music is not a competitive sport! It is about playing with other people to make something that people will enjoy - not showing off how strong or fit you are!! :meh:

    There are plenty of things to think about other than the physical challenge - like thinking about getting the balance with other musicians right, getting the rhythm section tight together, playing with dynamics, thinking about where to place fills etc. etc.

    If you can forget about the physical challenge and make things as easy as possible for yourself - then there is a far greater chance that you will actually make music with other people and will put your energy into creativity, musicality etc. - rather than giving yourself some kind of workout!!
  19. I like high action because I really like to dig into a bass. I play better when I can kill my bass. I tried the light touch thing and it does work great for me with jazz and lighter styles but with rock I just have to strangle that neck.
  20. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    No one's gonna jump all my power steering analogy? Aw come on!
    :D :D :D :D :D

    Seriously, the relationship between action and technique is an intimate one. Control the instrument, don't let it control you. I think Halftooth really summed this one up nicely.