What Is Action On A Guitar? On a guitar, action refers to the distance between the fingerboard and the string. In turn, it determines the ease with which the notes can be sounded with applied pressure on the strings from your fingers. It is also a significant factor in the way a guitar feels when being played.

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What Is The Right Amount Of Action? 

The action should be just right for the guitar to sound as it should be. Too low and the guitar can have a buzzing sound caused by the friction between the vibrating string and the fingerboard. Too high and the strings cannot be fully depressed due to their tautness resulting in slow, awkward, or uncomfortable playing.

Generally speaking, a low action is widely considered as more playable. There’s less amount of pressure necessary to press the string to the fretboard resulting in less strain to the fingers.

But it must also be said that the right action also depends on your playing style and your guitar. If you have a light playing style, meaning you use soft movements when picking the string, then low action shouldn’t be an issue. Most jazz guitarists use low action for this reason.

But if you play more aggressively, such as in rock ‘n roll or heavy metal, then high action is your best bet. You won’t get the annoying buzz that comes from the strings vibrating wide whenever you hit them hard.

There’s also the difference between electric and acoustic guitars, action-wise. With acoustic guitars, the action is at about 2.0mm on the high E string and 2.8mm on the low E string. But it will also depend on whether a capo, such as the Planet Waves NS Guitar Capo Lite, is used.

What Is Action On A Guitar?

With electric guitars, it’s 1.6mm and 2.4mm, respectively, when bought from stores. You can increase or decrease the action depending on your playing style and on the presence of buzz. You must then test an electric guitar when it’s plugged in to determine the right action.

How Do Your Measure Action?

Don’t even think about making adjustments to your guitar’s actions without measuring its present action first! You don’t want to adjust and readjust without rhyme and reason.

  • Use the right tool, such as the FretGuru String Action Gauge Guitar Ruler, since it is specially designed for this purpose. It is easy to utilize and it provides accurate readings in millimeters for fret height and width, even for nut height.
  • Tune your guitar so that you can apply the right tension to its neck. Check that its neck is straight and adjust the truss rod, if necessary.
  • Rest the guitar ruler on the 12th fret and read it from the bottom of the string. Also, take note of the measurement.
  • Repeat the steps for the rest of the strings. 
What Is Action On A Guitar?

You can then adjust your guitar’s action based on these readings.


In conclusion, getting the right action on your guitar will have a significant effect on your performance. With it, you will have an easy time pressing on the strings, plucking or strumming the notes, and getting your desired sound. You may have to engage in trial and error, but it will be well worth the time.

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