I have gotten a lot better at bending, so I stopped questioning the action on my guitar for a while. But now I feel like although it is good at the lower frets; at the higher frets it seems very high when playing fast, or playing solos, and sometimes my fingers will go under the string above it a little bit. Is it still a preference at this point (since I would like to lower it), or is it possible it is too low here and I shouldn't lower it? Thanks.

lower frets action height

upper frets action height

4 Answers 4


That is a very high action. If you intend to just play "Cowboy Chords" and want your strings to sing out clearly with no fret buzz, that could work, that's high for even slide-first guitars.

You can do great amounts of setup yourself; here's a previous answer explaining the process. I don't see the neck or bridge, so I can't tell if the neck is straight (too much relief will raise the action) or if the bridge is too high, so shimming the neck is within the realm of possibility. That is a doable fix for the home player but it involves unscrewing the neck.

Good luck; we know you can do it!

  • I've read before that one should get their guitar "set up" by a professional. Maybe I should just do this, but I don't know what other things are commonly checked.
    – Derek Luna
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 4:28
  • The elements of a setup are detailed in the link of the answer. Google searches can get you deeper. At my local shop, a setup is $45, but that might be way low. It could be worth it to you. A Phillips screwdriver and the right allen wrench can do a lot for you. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 5:15
  • 1) straight neck. Fretting a string at both the first and last fret, you should be able to fit a dime under the 12th fret. Not much more. Fixable by turning the truss rod. Turn a quarter turn and let the neck adjust for a few minutes. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 5:18
  • Looking at the Fender setup guide ( support.fender.com/hc/en-us/articles/… ) and knowing yours is a Strat-style guitar, there's the possibility that you don't have enough spring tension as well. The guide is a good start. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 5:22
  • An embarrassment of links: here's Premier Guitar covering the setup as well. premierguitar.com/articles/… Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 7:04

Normally you want the action as low as possible, for as long as fret buzz isn't a problem. So it depends on your preferences, on how you play and what kind of music.

By increasing the neck curvature and decreasing string height at the bridge you can make the action more even along the length of the neck. Perhaps that can help you. Or maybe not. Various guitarists have various preferences on this as well.

I recommend using a good ruler with fine scale to measure the action, rather than doing it by eye. There are gauges made specially to measure guitar string action, they are very useful.

Last but not least, work on your technique. Slow down, identify the issue, practice good technique.

  • 1
    'Increasing the neck curvature'. Are you sure?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 8:00
  • That's geometry. The string is straight. If the neck is straight as well, the distance between the two unavoidably increases as you go towards the higher frets. Neck relief can compensate for that. Of course it's possible to overdo... and everyone has their preferences as well. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 15:27

It does look quite high. Setting up a guitar is really for experienced people, but unless you start now, you'll be relying on them for ever, instead of being one yourself.

Apart from trussrod adjustment, all else is pretty safe. And can be reversed safely too.

First obtain the correct tools. A hex (Allen) wrench that fits the truss rod and doesn't slip is important. Look down the neck, and with strings tensioned (they'll obviously be straight), see that the neck/fretboard has a very slight bow, farthest away from the strings around fret 12. As big as yours is will benefit from a tweak of 1/4 to 1/2 a turn. Gently, a bit at a time, leaving some time for all to settle. Maybe hours, or overnight.

Next is to lower the action using the grub screws each side of each string, at the saddles. Keep the string in tune, and lower till it rattles on a fret or two - try all - then raise until the rattle disappears. Re-check the neck relief from time to time, adjust fractionally if needed, but do it bit by bit.

After, when it feels far better than it does currently, it's worth checking the intonation - but that won't affect the action at all.

  • all else is pretty safe kinda. There are lots of easy tweaks and adjustments you can make, but it is also easy to do some serious damage if you're not careful. Screw heads can be stripped whilst intonating, hex keys can round off the saddle adjusters and the trussrod, etc. Not saying dont learn how to DIY but be CAREFUL! Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 14:13

Yeah that action is pretty high.

There are a few replies here suggesting you fix it yourself, but I'll play devil advocate and suggest just get someone to do it for you.

I know, I know. Yes you should learn to do all this yourself, it'll save you money and very satisfying. But

  • from your question I'm getting the vibe that you are relatively new to the guitar
  • If you have to ask the internet if the action is wrong, you're probably not really sure what is "correct" in the first place
  • Without being able to see, hold feel the guitar none of us here can really tell you what the limits of this guitar's setup is

You need a frame of reference

Take the guitar to an experienced tech they will tell you if the guitar is even capable of being set up any better. Your guitar might be a dud, or it might just have limitations that come with cheaper guitars, or it might have been damaged by a previous owner. A real human being will tell you if there is a realistic chance of improving this instrument.

Assuming the guitar is in good condition and just needed a nice setup, when you get the guitar back from the tech it will be amazing to play, so much easier, much more fun. But more importantly (in the context of this question) you will understand what this guitar should feel like, how the action should be set, how the frets should feel, how much buzz is "acceptable". Then, moving forward, you can use that knowledge to inform your own maintenance and to learn the skills required to maintain your guitars.

I still take my guitars to a tech after 20 years, he's like a magician. If I'm playing regularly I might visit him as often as once every 18 months or 3 years. Or if I've worked on a referb or built a salvage guitar I'll take it in for the finishing touches.

  • 1
    I have actually been playing for around 5 months off and on...in one of my comments to another answer here I explained how from my research I concluded it was most likely because I sucked. I feel like I will be able to play much faster and more accurately now if I can get the action lowered.Thanks for your answer.
    – Derek Luna
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 14:40
  • "Sucking is the first step on the path to Not Sucking" - Someone Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 14:42
  • 1
    I'm just saying because people here are acting like I should have known haha, I hope I didn't build bad muscle memory/habits or anything. I bet it will feel very different.
    – Derek Luna
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 14:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.