How High (or Low) Should My Guitar Action Be?

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Written By Gary Daws

Chief Music Officer

Guitar action, or the distance between the strings and the fretboard, is a significant factor in an instrument’s playability. As preferences for action height can vary widely among guitarists, depending on factors such as playing style, genre, and technique, we’ve gathered a range of opinions on the subject to help you find the perfect setup for your unique playing style.

In Defense of Low Action

Many guitarists express a preference for low action, citing its smooth and fast playing experience. They believe that the key to achieving the perfect low action is to minimize fret buzz without sacrificing playability. Some players prefer low action across the board, while others adjust their preferences depending on the type of guitar, such as Les Pauls or Strats. However, it is essential to consider that low action can make it difficult to perform techniques like bends and slides.

The Case for High Action

Some guitarists find that a higher action allows for better string control and a richer tone. High action can be especially useful for playing slide guitar or for genres like jazz and country, where a well-defined sound is essential. Additionally, players with larger hands or stronger grips may prefer higher action to avoid accidentally fretting notes when they only intend to mute.

Finding the Perfect Balance

For many players, the ideal action height lies somewhere between low and high. It’s crucial to consider factors such as string gauge, fingerboard radius, and guitar type when determining the optimal action for a particular instrument. The best action height for a player may also evolve over time, as they develop their technique and preferences.

Tips for Setting Up Your Guitar Action

  • Learn to set up your guitar: Understanding how to adjust your instrument’s action allows for greater customization and control over your playing experience.
  • Experiment with different string gauges: The right string gauge can significantly impact your guitar’s playability and tone.
  • Remember that action is subjective: What works for one player may not work for another, so it’s essential to experiment and find the action height that suits you best.
  • Take your guitar to a professional for a proper setup if necessary: If you’re unsure how to adjust your guitar’s action or are uncomfortable doing it yourself, seek the assistance of a professional luthier or guitar technician.


Ultimately, finding the perfect guitar action comes down to personal preference and playing style. By exploring the diverse opinions of fellow guitarists and experimenting with different setups, you can discover the action height that best suits your unique needs and enhances your playing experience.