Setting up your guitar is one of the most important things that you will ever do as a musician. It is great to have the ability to play fast and shred and sweep and do a million other techniques, but when it comes to money, it is even greater to have the knowledge to save.
Being able to set up your guitar properly is one way to do it, and it can save you a few hundred dollars a year depending upon how many guitars you own.
In this article, we will talk about one of the most common adjustments you will ever do to your guitar; adjusting the string height, otherwise known as setting the action for your guitar.
String height can make playing the guitar easier, or it can make it harder. Higher string height makes the strings harder to press down, which in turn can cause discomfort over prolonged periods of guitar playing.
It can also cause nerve related problems such as carpal tunnel, as the tension of a string that is too high tends to be far greater than the tension of a string that is too low. This can be avoided by lowering the string height.
A string that is too low, however, can make dead notes all throughout the neck, which in turn make playing a piece properly a great challenge as it eliminates the notes from the neck when they are deadened.
The most commonly used string heights are 3/64” and 4/64”. These are not the only acceptable string heights, but they are a starting point, as the happy medium all comes down to your own personal preference.
The higher the strings, the more tension they have, and the harder it will be to fret the notes. The lower the strings, the less tension they will have and the easier it will be to fret the notes. However, the string height doesn’t impact the tension as much as you would think; in fact, string gauge has as much to do with tension as anything else.
This means that you should be purchasing string gauges which help to achieve your goal, whether that be more tension or less tension, as well as adjusting your string height. One cannot do the entire job without the help of the other, and you’ll want to keep this in mind.
When adjusting your string height, be sure to measure. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people think that they can eyeball something and make it come out perfect. You want with sides of the neck (this means both the side with the low E string and the side with the high E string respectively) to be even.
This is very important, as uneven string heights can add tension in a bad way; they can help your guitar neck to warp. Now this doesn’t mean your neck will warp overnight, but it will start to curve to the side with more tension. Be careful, and good luck!
The Learn And Master Guitar Setup & Maintenance course is perfect for the discerning guitarist. Within the 3 full-length DVDs you receive, you will learn everything from correctly restringing your guitar to adjusting actions, checking relief and more…