How to Lower the Action on an Electric Guitar?

Getting your electric guitar difficult to play? Probably, the guitar action is too high. This means there is a significant distance between the strings and the fretboard. Hence, it needs to lower the action, but how to lower the action on an electric guitar?

That’s where we can help. As a new guitarist, you must know guitar action and how to adjust it. The guitar action settings ensure the right tone and ease of playing. Indeed, the string height plays a vital role in the way the guitar sounds.

Even being an expert, most of us struggle with the guitar action settings. We know the struggle is real. That’s why we will tell you how to lower the action in your electric guitar.

Before we tell you how to lower the guitar’s action, you should also learn a few more things. For instance, what guitar action is and how to measure it. Let’s get started!

What Is Guitar Action?

Guitar Action refers to the height of guitars strings over the fretboard. Mostly, the action is measured at the 12th number fret, but it can also be measured at 1st fret. The high actions mean the guitar strings are located far away from the fretboard.

Guitar action plays a vital role in the playability of the guitar. If the guitar action is too high, it will be challenging to play. You need to drive the strings down so they can come into contact with the strings. It makes the guitar hard to play and slows you down.

Else if it is too low, the guitar string will buzz. Besides, the wrong guitar action results in awkward tuning and pitch. In a word, the guitar action is a balance between strings and frets. Not too high or too low.

How to Measure Guitar Action?

Before lowering the guitar action, it is better to measure it. The distance from the bottom of the strings and top of fret plays a vital role in setup. It denotes how easy to fret each note and how aggressive you can play.

The action settings differ for different styles of players. In any way, you’ll need an action gauge or ruler. There is a range of rulers available in the market to measure more details.

Measure the Guitars Action

  • Tune The Guitar

Before checking whether the action is high or low, you need to tune the guitar at first. Make sure the neck relief is straight. You need to adjust your truss rod, as well.

  • Place The Ruler Over The Fret

At this point, you’ll need to place the action gauge or ruler over the 12th fret. Make sure the ruler ticks are parallel to the strings.

  • Raise Or Lower The Action And Read The Measurement

Everyone’s setting preference is different, so raise or lower the action accordingly. Then, read the reading in the ruler from the bottom of the string. Repeat the same for other strings on your electric guitar.

How to Lower the Action on an Electric Guitar?

The way of adjusting guitar action depends on the guitar’s style and the type of bridge. In some bridges, you need to change the action height. Others allow you to adjust the height across the entire bridge.

Tools Needed…

To lower guitar action, make sure to get the following tools.

  • StewMac Basic Guitar Set Kit
  • String Action Gauge Height Ruler
  • String and Fretboard Radius Gauge
  • Action Adjustment Kit

Your electric guitar action adjustments depend on what is wrong with your guitar. The high or low action can be adjusted by fixing the truss rod or fixing the nut or neck. Here are three simple steps to lower the action setting on your electric guitar.

Step 1: Adjust the Truss Rod

The truss rod is metal pieces inlayed inside the neck that provides flexibility to the neck. It can bet tighten or release to straighten or flatten the neck. The neck straightness causes high or lowers action problems. If the action dislocation happens due to the wrong truss rod setup, adjust where you want it to be.

Step 2: Adjust the Nut or Neck

When the neck is not as flat as you want, you can check the action at the nut. If the string is still higher, you’ll need to file down the nut. The action at the neck is measured at the first fret.

Step 3: Adjust the Bridge

Mostly, action displacement happens due to the bridge setup. The electric guitar has a different style of bridge, so you need to adjust them in different ways. Here is how;

  • AdjustAction On Fender Bridge
    • At first, adjust the low E-string height by lowering or raising the saddle. Set the saddle height that suits your playing style. Make sure to use the correct wrench size.
    • Then adjust both set screws and retune the guitar. Take an action measurement at the 12th Play the guitar to check the playability. If all ok, then adjust the rest of the string at the same distance.
  • Adjust Action On Gibson Bridge
    • Initially, measure the action at the 12th fret and check whether you need to lower or raise it.
    • Modify the bridge height by turning the slot-head screw.
    • Set the treble side action at about 1/64th of an inch lower or find the height that best suits your playing style.
    • Make sure tofine-tune the height of the stop bar tailpiece. Remember lowering the stop bar will increase the string tension.
  • Adjust Action On Tune-O-Matic Bridge
    • Measure the action height on both low and high E-strings. You need to adjust one or both if required.
    • To adjust the low E-string, turn the screw on the bridge post to the next low E-string.
    • Retune the guitar and re-measure until you get the right height.

To Sum Up!

Hitherto you know how to lower the action on an electric guitar. Which setup is correct is depends on the type of music you want to play and your comfort level. Hopefully, our guide helps you to adjust the guitar action like a pro!