How to lower action on acoustic guitar?

Table of Contents

How to lower action on acoustic guitar? It’s a question I get asked a lot and one we will try and answer here. There are lots of different reasons why your action might be high and we’ll look at the most common causes before discussing how you can lower your acoustic guitar’s action.

The first thing to do is stop playing and take a deep breath (seriously) as it may well be that you’re pressing too hard with your fretting hand. If you’re experiencing any pain in your fingers, hands, forearms or neck then this can really affect not only your playing but also your ability to play for sustained periods without discomfort. So check the basics first, such as ensuring that:

– You’ve warmed up.

– You’re not playing too hard.

– Your instrument and strings are in good condition i.e. no sharp frets, worn out/broken strings, etc.

If you’re sure that your guitar is set up correctly and you’re not pressing too hard then it could be time to lower the action on your acoustic guitar as it’s probably too high.

Before you start lowering your acoustic guitar action there are some things to consider. First is that an incorrectly set up guitar can feel worse than one with the correct action, i.e. it’s not just about playability but also your perception of how good it feels in your hands when holding and fretting the instrument.

Can you adjust the action on an acoustic guitar?

Can you adjust the action on an acoustic guitar? Yes, lowering the action is relatively straight forward requiring no more than a few simple tools and some time. However, there are factors that come into play that will affect how high or low your strings sit above the fretboard. Some of these include:

– The height of your saddle (the piece of plastic, bone, or material that your strings rest over).

– The size of the neck (i.e. depth and width).

– The radius of the fretboard (the curvature along which your frets lie).

The action height is set by adjusting either the bridge saddle (in most cases) or the nut (at the headstock end where you tune your guitar) depending on whether it’s an acoustic-electric guitar or not.

Adjusting these components then affects how high above the fretboard your strings sit and thus lowering them will then affect how much pressure you need to apply to fret a note cleanly. Conversely, if you’re looking for a higher action such as when using a capo, either on some or all of your strings then you would raise the action instead.

What are the benefits of lowering the action on an acoustic guitar?

Lowering the action on an acoustic guitar is usually done for two main reasons. One is that it can make playing feel more comfortable, whether it’s due to problems with hand/finger pain or because the instrument feels awkward in your hands – often this is referred to as playing high or at a high action.

The second reason for lowering your acoustics action is to make it easier to play cleanly without unwanted buzzing from certain frets being audible when you’re fretting notes at lower frets closer towards the body of the guitar.

What are some tips on how to lower my acoustic guitar action?

There are a few things to look out for when you’re trying to lower your acoustic guitar’s action. First, ensure that the truss rod is in good condition and correctly adjusted as this can affect playability and add unnecessary tension on the neck which can then affect the height of your strings above the fretboard.

If you’ve been regularly changing your strings then they could also cause problems, especially if they’re worn out or have been fitted with incorrect string gauges, i.e. lighter gauge guitar strings on a guitar set up for heavier ones, etc., Not only will these stretch more but they can also pull your instrument slightly out of tune every time you take them off/put them on again (especially if it’s just one or two that you’re changing).

Which way do you turn the truss rod to lower action?

Truss rods are usually fitted in a clockwise direction to tighten and anti-clockwise to loosen.

If you’re not sure then try turning it the opposite way first as you can always check by holding down a string at the 1st fret, pressing it against the second fret, and checking if there’s any noticeable movement between your finger and the string.

If you have a truss running from the headstock to the bridge i.e. an acoustic-electric, then be very careful as it’s usually put under a great deal of tension and can snap extremely easily if too much pressure is applied which could also result in damage to your instrument.

Jim Henneberry

Jim Henneberry

I love playing my guitar, and my kids got hooked along with me.
This is a family thing now - why don't you join the family fun? :)