Alexandria Thompson is a seasoned guitar instructor with a particular expertise in acoustic and classical guitar. She holds a degree in Music Education and has spent over 15 years sharing her passion for music through teaching. Alexandria takes joy in authoring articles that simplify and make the guitar learning process engaging for newcomers.
Fixing a high action on a guitar involves adjusting the truss rod, the bridge, and the nut. High action, or the distance between the strings and the fretboard, can make a guitar hard to play and possibly cause fret buzz. Let's dive into the steps to lower guitar action and make your instrument play smoothly again.
🎸 Let's Tackle the Truss Rod: Your First Step in Fixing High Guitar Action
Firstly, the truss rod, which is a steel rod inside the guitar neck, controls the neck's curvature. To lower the action, you'll need to loosen it, which will straighten the neck and bring the strings closer to the fretboard. Here's how:
- Locate the truss rod nut. On an acoustic guitar, it's usually inside the soundhole. On an electric guitar, it's often at the top of the neck.
- Use a truss rod wrench to gently turn the nut counter-clockwise. Start with a quarter turn.
- Let the guitar sit for a while, then check the action. If it's still too high, repeat the process.
🔧 On to the Bridge: Your Next Move in Lowering Guitar Action
Next, let's adjust the bridge. On an acoustic guitar, you'll need to shave down the saddle, while on an electric guitar, you can adjust the individual saddle heights. Here's how:
- For an acoustic guitar, loosen the strings and remove the saddle from the bridge. Using a fine-grit sandpaper, gently sand the bottom of the saddle to lower its height.
- For an electric guitar, use a small screwdriver to adjust the height screws on the bridge saddles.
🔍 Fine-Tuning the Nut: Your Final Step in Electric Guitar Action Adjustment
Finally, if the action is still too high near the headstock, you might need to lower the nut. This is a bit more complex and may require professional help. But if you feel confident, here's how:
- Remove the strings from the nut.
- Using a nut file, carefully file down the slots, making sure to keep them rounded and not too deep.
- Re-string the guitar and check the action.
Note: Always make small adjustments and check the action and intonation after each change. Too drastic changes can damage your guitar.
Adjusting Guitar Action Quiz
Test your knowledge about adjusting the action on a guitar.
To fix a high action on a guitar, you'll need the right tools for the job. One essential tool is a truss rod adjuster, which allows you to adjust the curvature of the guitar neck. Another important tool is a bridge adjustment tool, which helps you shave down the saddle on an acoustic guitar or make adjustments on an electric guitar. Additionally, a nut file set is useful for lowering the nut if the action is still too high near the headstock.
Having a complete guitar maintenance tool kit is also beneficial, as it provides all the necessary tools for adjusting the action and performing other maintenance tasks on your guitar. If you're not comfortable doing the adjustments yourself, it's always a good idea to bring your guitar to a repair shop.
If you're interested in more advanced techniques, check out this guide on improving guitar skills in a more technical way.
Now that we have discussed the theory, let's move on to a practical demonstration. The following video tutorial will guide you through the process of adjusting the action on your guitar.
The video above provides a clear demonstration of how to adjust the action on your guitar. Remember, it's important to take your time and make small adjustments. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, consider seeking help from a professional.
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