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Thread: super low action - does it affect tone?

  1. #1

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    super low action - does it affect tone?

    HI Guys,

    I recently pushed a EBMM JP guitar and I love it love it love it. However, I noticed the previous owner had the action very low -I think as low as you can go w/o fret buzz. This brings up three questions:

    1) Typically speaking how does super low action affect tone - specifically does it bring out the highs more then the lows? I've noticed this guitar sounds somewhat bright through my amp. Raising the action will affect the tone how?

    2)I'm going to adjust the action myself - counter clockwise raises the action is that correct?

    3) I'm debating raising just the high strings as the low strings sound fine - is there any problem or headaches that come with raising one side and not the other? I haven't decided but I may raise it even across all strings just want to keep options open.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrpingua View Post
    1) Typically speaking how does super low action affect tone - specifically does it bring out the highs more then the lows? I've noticed this guitar sounds somewhat bright through my amp. Raising the action will affect the tone how?
    Won't. If there is no or very little fret buzz to begin with, there will be no significant change. Do before and after recordings if you are unsure.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrpingua View Post
    2)I'm going to adjust the action myself - counter clockwise raises the action is that correct?
    Yes. Your rule of thumb is "Lefty - Loosey, Righty - tighty". Loosening the truss rod adds neck relief, which increases the action a little.
    super low action - does it affect tone?-adjustment2-jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by mrpingua View Post
    3) I'm debating raising just the high strings as the low strings sound fine - is there any problem or headaches that come with raising one side and not the other? I haven't decided but I may raise it even across all strings just want to keep options open.
    No problems. The string saddles on the bridge are individually adjustable. Do what works for you.
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  3. #3

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    The sound in itself properly won't change much... You might get an increase in sustain if you raise them up.
    But the kind of gain you use also makes a big difference to what kind of setup you need.

    If you use tons of gain and do lots of legato runs, then it can be really nice with a low, easy to play action... But if you're not into "shredding" then raising them a bit, and getting som resistance under your fingers - i find - helps with sustain and "feel".

    For me, the height of the strings often is more of a "feel" thing than a sound thing - but that's just me. There is no holy grail
    Last edited by Magnus; 04-09-2017 at 05:11 PM.

  4. #4

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    Man, I've got to disagree with the folks who say it doesn't affect tone.

    I ran a super-low action on my 2007 Axis for years. When I got my PDN a couple of months back, the dealer had set it up with a fairly high action, almost to the point of being uncomfortable for me. When I started playing it, though, I loved the clarity of the sounds that I was getting out of it. It was like night and day with the low-action Axis. I cranked the action on my older Axis up a little (though not quite as high), and you can definitely hear the difference.

    I guess it depends on how you define "tone," but action can definitely change the clarity of the sound.
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  5. #5

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    Keep in mind that as you raise the strings, you're also increasing the distance from the pickups. That can have a big impact.

  6. #6

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    It absolutely affects tone. Lower will be brighter with less sustain, as the magnets in the pickups prevent them oscillating for as long. Raising the strings will be more mellow, and depending how high you go, make the guitar harder to play, so that will affect your tone too.

    Experiment.
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  7. #7

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    Absolutely affects it. Set up a Martin acoustic guitar with low action like you speak of and it will sound choked. I'm not saying that you should use the Martin recommended string heights on your JP guitar, but just know that a higher string height will give a cleaner and louder acoustic sound which may translate into a better sound when amplified.

  8. #8

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    Once you realize that each string has its ideal setup, and that the neck and frets should be adjusted appropriately, you can have low action without it having a negative effect on tone. But this is something that can not be achieved easily. It must be done intentionally.

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