Andrew Pohlman wrote:The standard at the SF Conservatory nowadays is 3/2.5 with HT strings - MAXIMUM. I've seen lower action for sure, especially on flamencos. Classical, not so much. All my guitars are now set to 3/2.5 with HT strings per SF Conservatory standards.
But the proof is in the pudding. If you are getting no buzz, you can go lower or use lower tension strings. You have to play with it on YOUR specific guitar to find the limits.
A conservatory has a standard for guitar action and what strings to use??
I would love somebody to explain the logic of that to me. At face value that just seems a ridiculous thing to have - all guitars are different and all players different
I highlighted the proviso.
I have had this conversation with Trevor Gore and with a Bay Area luthier, Lewis Santer, protege of Somogyi. The well known 5mm+ action is only justifiable when you use low tension strings. Higher action only makes it harder to play. The kinesiology of it is clear - finger movements needed to play and release a note with 5mm action take more time and effort than with 3mm. Stated slightly differently, players typically use low tension strings for ease of play. If you can handle HT strings, why would you make it harder to play by choosing 5mm+ action? All that and 5mm+ action has a bigger affect on intonation.
Trevor can certainly build guitars to whatever spec the buyer wants given the limits of guitar physics. My Gore easily handles 3/2.5 mm and I could go lower. Lewis Santer is vehement about this. He works on many of the instruments used by staff and students at SF Conservatory. He equates the 5mm+ action with T. rex thinking. He told me, "It just isn't done that way anymore." - at least not at the SF Conservatory. No extremes - I'm sure there are some who will still request high action due to tradition ... damn the kinesiology!