What string height (action) should I have?

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by Bert Scrogshaw, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Bert Scrogshaw

    Bert Scrogshaw New Member

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    What kind of string height from the fretboard should have? I gather I could ask a hundred SG players and get maybe a hundred different answers. I'm basically a chord player. Like playing them and want the limited chords that I can play 'sound nice'. The top 2 strings always sound weak in volume and projection. I've read somewhere that raising the action can make chords sound better. I've measured the action at the 12th fret. Bottom E string is around 1.25mm ( around 2/32 inches) and top E string is around 1mm (a smidgeon under 3/64 inches).
    Do I need to raise the strings?
     
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  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    The lowest you can achieve without fret buzz. Forget numbers.
     
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  3. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    That ...
    And play with your pickups height, it might solve the weak high strings syndrome. You're allowed to raise just one side of the pickup.
     
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  4. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    I like 1/16" gap between the top of the 12th fret and bottom of the string. I also put a 1/16" gap between the strings and pickup pole pieces fretted.
     
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  5. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ETSG!

    You already know the correct answer, which is that there is no "Correct Answer"....
    Gibson gives us all these little screws so each player can adjust their guitar till it's perfect
    for their style.

    On a Gibson, you can raise the "action" or lower it, you can raise the pickups or
    lower them, and you can raise individual pole pieces, or lower them.

    My first suggestion is usually to take your new guitar to the best luthier you
    can find or afford, and get it professionally set up. Talk to local pro players,
    and find out where they take their guitars for service. Avoid the sales guys
    at Guitar Center in general... they are sales guys and not luthiers. There's a
    big difference.

    Some smaller music stores often have a guy there who knows his stuff and
    can set your SG up. It is an expense, but I believe that your SG experience will
    be much enhanced after this is done.

    The luthier will ask you questions about your style, or listen to you play.
    Then they will check the neck for straightness, check the nut slots to make sure
    they are properly cut to the proper depth and are the proper size for the strings
    you prefer. When the neck is right, the luthier will set the action to your preference
    if you give one, or to Gibson (generic) specifications if you don't. Once the action
    is set, the luthier will adjust the intonation of each string, and possibly adjust the
    pickup height or pole piece height.

    Once I've had a pro setup done on any new (or used) guitar I buy, I can usually keep it this way.
    I recommend a book called "How to make your Electric Guitar play great" by Dan Erlewine.
    This book tells the guitarist most of what he needs to know, and is very well written and
    has excellent illustrations. Every player should read and keep this book.
     
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  6. Norton

    Norton Well-Known Member

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    Numbers are completely valuable as a standard for a guitar setups.

    You may WANT higher than X action. But you should be able to setup a guitar without buzz at around 1mm at the 12th fret both high and low strings.

    That’s really low. But if you can’t hit that mark...then there’s something that’s not ideal. High frets, wonky relief, high/low nut slots.
     
  7. Bert Scrogshaw

    Bert Scrogshaw New Member

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    It's probably not worth the cost of getting my guitar set up by a feller who can do so (luthier/bloke with all the tools) for my level of playing. In the meantime I've ramped up the action myself to around 2mm on the low E string and 2.6mm on the top e string at the 12th fret. Everything sounding clear as a bell through my Vox mini 5 amp clean setting with a smidgeon of reverb. Happy days.
     
  8. Norton

    Norton Well-Known Member

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    That’s pretty high but if it works for you... it works for you
     
  9. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I'd argue that it's more important for someone just starting out or with basic skills to have a properly set up guitar. It will make playing and learning much easier if you're not fighting the thing the entire time. A more experienced player would find it easier to overcome such issues (although most wouldn't want to).

    Find someone who comes recommended in your area and pay them to setup your guitar, and see if they don't mind showing you a few of the basics. There's also lots of great resources out there to learn how to do basic setups yourself. I will always recommend any of Dan Erlewine's books. Adjusting string height, neck relief, intonation, etc. is not difficult stuff and if you're not ham-fisted with things it's pretty hard to damage anything.
     
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  10. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    Whatever feels comfortable to you.
     
  11. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    With a new set of the strings of your choice, restring and tune your guitar. Starting with the low E at fret 15,check each note on every string from fret 15 to 22(24) , raising the bridge to get out the buzz or lowering it until the string buzzes and raising it to get minimum clearance, slacking the strings and retuning between adjustments. Repeat on the high E. Now you need to adjust the trussrod, in 1/8 turn increments, retuning between adjustments. If your strings buzz on the frets 1-14, you need to increase the neck relief by turning the adjuster counterclockwise.. If the strings are buzz free, but seem too high, you want to decrease relief by turning clockwise until you hear buzzing, then increase relief by a tiny bit until the buzzing stops. Once it feels and plays good, set your intonation,again slacking and retuning each string, between adjustments.
    Now you've done a custom setup, without measuring tolerances and saved yourself a few bucks! Measurements are just numbers. The geometry of your particular instrument and the force of your attack and fretting will determine the "correct" tolerances.
    (Secondary lesson here: Your ears are your most important gauge!)
     
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  12. Bert Scrogshaw

    Bert Scrogshaw New Member

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    I've had a go setting up using this method......and I like the results. I'm not a technical player/shredder but I think I've got the action as low as it can go for my beloved Epi SG. I've only used a measure at the completion of the set up just to give me an indication what the action might be. (12th fret low E = 1.5mm high E =1.25mm). The action could maybe go even lower a tad on the bass string side......but the D string buzzes around the 15 and 16 fret. Don't know if it's a high fret or maybe a low D string saddle or possibly a fretboard radius thing! Anyway, for a bloke who likes to play chords and knock out the occasional Hank Marvin/The Shadows riff it works a treat.
     
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  13. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

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    Whatever fits you and your playing style best, as long as you don't get any fret buzz.

    I got mine at just about 2mm on low E string side and just bellow 2mm for high E string at 12th fret.
     

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