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Setting Up Your Guitar Action Is Critical To Your Success As A Player
Guitar action refers to the height of the strings above the frets. The action is perhaps the primary and most important aspect of playability. High guitar action typically results in an instrument that is hard to play and painful for the fingers.
Adjusting guitar action can be easy or difficult depending on your instrument. In some cases, you may need to take your guitar or bass to a professional in order to have it set up correctly.
These setup issues are particularly problematic with cheap beginner instruments. Ironically, the very people who most need an easy-playing guitar are usually the ones who must suffer from a poor setup!
Different Aspects Of Action
Guitar action is not as simple as a single measurement. There are a few different things you need to look at if you want the best-playing instrument possible. There are essentially three different aspects to acoustic, electric or bass guitar action. The first is the height at the nut. The nut is what the strings rest on at the headstock end of the instrument. The nut must be fashioned in order to keep the strings very low to the first fret.
In general, if you can fit much more than a business card between the strings and the first fret, you should see about having the nut re-cut. The second consideration is the height at the bridge. This is more relevant if you are playing higher notes on the neck. The bridge can be adjusted to lower the action on the higher frets. Finally, the neck relief is the measure of bend in the neck.
If you look straight along the neck you should see a slight curve. This curve can be changed by altering the truss rod inside the neck.
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