Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
David LaPlante
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by David LaPlante » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:48 am

My client requested action heights have ranged (in mm) from about 2.75 (low E)-2.25 (high E) to 4.25 (low E)-3.75.(high E)
The low action was achieved with the use of a double action truss rod (to precisely control neck relief).
Certainly the most popular action height is in the 3.50-3.00 range but it's totally dependant on player preference (and style of play).
It is however one of the things I need to know however going in, as it affects the construction in terms of the amount of fret board taper and whether to use a two way rod etc.
Last edited by David LaPlante on Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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petermc61
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by petermc61 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:44 am

David

Did you mean the most popular action to be 3.5-3 or 3.5-4mm?

Peter

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David Norton
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by David Norton » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:47 am

Non-builder question here: why is it that some folks take this measurement with open strings, and others fretted? Yes it is a small difference, but still a difference. What's wrong with just using the open string method? To me, that approach represents "worst-case" displacement.
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David LaPlante
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by David LaPlante » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:41 am

Hello Peter.
That's 3.5 mm bass and 3.0 mm treble (more or less), measured open string.

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petermc61
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by petermc61 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:45 am

David LaPlante wrote:Hello Peter.
That's 3.5 mm bass and 3.0 mm treble (more or less), measured open string.
Aha!!!

I thought you were giving a range.

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senunkan
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by senunkan » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:40 am

As a player, I find 3mm T 4mm B has the best feel.
Any lower than 4mm, I find that the bass often buzz when dig in hard.
For those player with lighter touches I would suspect they prefer slightly lower actions.

All measurements I did was with open string unfretted and with eye ball method only.
I don't find the obsession with accuracy is really that important for this aspect.
More importantly is the feel of the player rather, IMO.
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James Lister
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by James Lister » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:43 am

David_Norton wrote:Non-builder question here: why is it that some folks take this measurement with open strings, and others fretted? Yes it is a small difference, but still a difference. What's wrong with just using the open string method? To me, that approach represents "worst-case" displacement.
I don't know of anyone who measures the action at the 12th fret when the string is fretted. I do measure the action at the nut by fretting at the third fret, so that the string touches the second fret, and measure the gap from the top of the first fret to the bottom of the string. The nut action should always be set first, as this measurement is independent of the action at the 12 fret when measured this way.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:07 pm

I'm currently playing a Guitar at 4 mm & 5 mm action, not that I'm any good. I'm no better than grade 5 and that's on a very good day. If someone had of suggested this type of action to me just a few months ago I would have thought they were completely bonkers. Doing the correct practice technique with the left hand and such an action is much easier than I ever imagined.
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petermc61
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by petermc61 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:16 pm

Michael.N. wrote:I'm currently playing a Guitar at 4 mm & 5 mm action.... <snip>....Doing the correct practice technique with the left hand and such an action is much easier than I ever imagined.
Michael

But not near as easy I imagine as 4mm/3mm. Given a choice why punish yourself?? :-)

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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:31 pm

I'm not punishing myself. If it felt that bad I wouldn't be doing it and boy have I had enough punishment playing the stupid instrument. I've just changed my approach to practicing. Probably won't work for most Guitarists but it might for all those who can't help but want to squeeze it to death - otherwise known as being riddled with tension problems. In fact it wouldn't make a difference if the action was 0.5 mm & 1 mm, it still wouldn't cure anyone.
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petermc61
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by petermc61 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:36 pm

Fair enough Michael! :-)

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:52 pm

Very interesting post.
I think there are several different issues to be addressed when talking about string action.
The first differentiation might be:
a. what is possible
b. what is desirable.

As to a.: let say as a player I want a guitar that allows for its own full dynamical range (which is different for different instruments anyway) without buzz, than the result will still depend on the top construction and the maximum possible excursion of the top, as well es the construction details of the neck. So for every guitar with a given set of strings there will be a minimum values of action that will do it. Every bit going below that will compromise the premise of no buzz with full dynamics.
And because the construction details of the top and the neck has a lot to do with playability, ton and intonation, there certainly is a reason why luthiers pursue different ideas in this field. But when I like a guitar for it's ton and playability and intonation, I have to live with the fact that there is a limit of lowering the action.

As to b.: not for every player low action (or high action for that matter) is similarly desirable. It depends on how the fine muscle movements of my hands work. I for my part have the experience that I operate smoother with small movements, and big movements against big resistance make me awkward. So for me lower action is a plus, which is not for everybody.
Now, for a given guitar there is also an optimum height of strings above the top, because the torque exerted on the top depends of that, which has a direct bearing on the sound and volume achievable . So lowering action can also compromise the optimal sound.
This also depends on the neck angle and can be controlled by it; so a luthier aiming at low action and bigger torque would have to aim at the neck angle accordingly.

So here are indeed many variables in play, and mostly they cannot really be standardized IMHO, so there will be differences that don't indicate a better or worse making but rather construction differences that might serve a purpose.

As to measuring: I use a ruler with 1/2 mm gradation and take a macro photo of both sides. That allows for later reading with magnification ... and no squinting ...

best
Robert
Last edited by rojarosguitar on Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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David Norton
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by David Norton » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:53 pm

James Lister wrote:I don't know of anyone who measures the action at the 12th fret when the string is fretted.
James
I seem to recall David Schramm saying that the fretted method was the best way. May have been on the old AG Forum though.
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Waddy Thomson
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by Waddy Thomson » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:55 pm

He does.
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James Lister
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Re: Recommended action height at 12th fret survey

Post by James Lister » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:49 pm

David_Norton wrote:
James Lister wrote:I don't know of anyone who measures the action at the 12th fret when the string is fretted.
James
I seem to recall David Schramm saying that the fretted method was the best way. May have been on the old AG Forum though.
Does he say why? I can't think of a reason. Given that most people measure with the strings open, it can only lead to confusion.

James
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