How to lower the action on acoustic guitar explained easy

Factory settings

One of the main reasons why your newly delivered acoustic guitar requires the string action lowering is because most mass produced acoustic guitars are manufactured in the Far East. The temperature ranges upon transport can cause quite a bit of distortion within the guitars wooden body, thus when you receive your mail order guitar the chances are the neck will still be as per the factory setting and almost flat to compensate for the strings tension.

The truss rod and the nut are not covered in this advice, reason being; standard factory string height settings are usually as follows;

E6 – 2.38mm (6/64 in)
A5 – 2.28mm (5.75/64 in)
D4 – 2.18mm (5.5/64 in)
G3 – 2.08mm (5.25/64/in)
B2 – 2.03mm (5.15/64in)
E1 – 1.98mm (5/64in)

The truss rod should not be used to adjust the string action, its job is to straighten the neck and compensate for the upward pull of the strings. If the action is too high at the nut, it is the nut that needs adjustment. If the action is too high in the middle and upper positions, it is usually the saddle that needs to be lowered, this is what we are going to cover in the following easy steps on lowering acoustic guitar action. It will save you quite abit of money, for those in the U.K. lower your utility bills here, The Utility Warehouse works for me.

Measuring the string height

The guitar in the photos had string height of 4mm at the 14th fret on the E 6st string, this needed to be reduced down to as close as possible to 2,38mm, if you find that you can not remove enough material then it is possible you might require a new saddle, but 3mm is getting close, very nice and easy to play.

Tools required

Very simple tooling; long nosed pliers, tape measure or ruler, pencil, and sandpaper. The chosen sand paper grit is P120 as it smooths off pretty quickly as soon as you start sanding the underside of the saddle. To fine a grain you might feel like your not getting anywhere despite all your sweating efforts.

Strings

Loosen the strings as far as possible, you do not need to remove them but they do need to be extremely slack so you can lift them high enough to remove the saddle.

If you are feeling flush with a new set of strings then do all the adjustments before fitting the new strings as you really do not want to be tightening and loosening them a few times.

Long nosed pliers removing saddle

When the strings are loose enough, at the saddle carefully lift them as high as possible, care should be taken so as not to cause any kinking.

Using the long nose pliers carefully remove the saddle, if it feels tight its important not to try wiggling it out, straight firm tugging will get it out.

Pencil mark

Once you have the saddle removed use a straight edge to mark the base of the saddle, it would be best removing a little less rather than a little more, too much and the saddle being too low could cause string buzz, time and patience is required at this stage, you will feel a joy of achievement upon finishing.

Sandpaper grade

Really the choice is yours but a mid grit ‘P’ is much easier to use, to lower grade and chunks will be taken out of the saddle, because it would be harder to use the chances are the base of the saddle will end up being curved. To fine then it will wear in no time leaving you panting and sweating.

Sanding down the saddle

Using a flat surface – like a book – place the sand paper onto it, fold both ends under the book to hold it in place. Carefully hold the saddle with your thumb and forefinger, use your index finger to press down on the saddle.

Start nice easy motions of to and fro sanding the saddle, check every 20 or so movements that it is being sanded down straight, also keep your fingers off the grit surface or you will remove some skin. Once the saddle is down to the pencil line its time to try it out.

Replacing saddle

Lifting the strings replace the saddle back correctly, remember to check the saddle is fit the same, as it could be quite easy to slot it back in facing the wrong way, this will cause problems with the intonation, again care must be taken not to kink any strings.

Tighten strings

A string winder could be helpful, it will certainly tighten the strings much quicker, otherwise bring the strings back into tune.

Measure

All in tune and tensioned then measure the strings at the 14th fret, it’s more important that you feel comfortable rather than having the strings at 2.38mm, if you are near to 3mm then that’s pretty good. Go have a strum and find your way around the frets, if you have managed to drop it a millimetre or two the ease on the fingers is fantastic.

Start again if necessary

If after this it still feels too high have a look to see if the saddle can be dropped further, if it can not and the neck is OK then that’s as good as your going to get, as mentioned earlier most mail order guitars are now manufactured in the Far East, they are usually set up to the 2.38mm bottom E at the 14th fret but hot humid manufacturing sites and then shipped all over the world does cause problems to the body more than the neck.

Follow this very simple and easy guide you will not go much wrong. A sense of achievement will overcome you after your action lowering task, give yourself a very welcome pat on the back and enjoy your new lease of acoustic playing. You have now saved on restoring string height on your acoustic, see how you can also lower your utility bills here, The Utility Warehouse works for me.

114 Responses to How to lower the action on acoustic guitar explained easy

  1. Thank you! I am just learning to play and wondering if I needed a different guitar when I came across this tutorial. I was able to lower the action myself, for free, and it’s much easier to play! Thanks so much!

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    My new Guild was tearing up my fingers after every gig…but I put up with it because I loved the tone.

    I didn’t want to spend the $$ or give up my guitar for 5-10 days at the shop.

    This was simple and now I’m down from 5.5mm to 2.6-ish and it plays like butter!!!

    You rock! Have a wonderful life!

  4. Hi, the problem is that even with the saddle removed completely the bridge is still too high so that no matter how much I sand down the saddle the action would still not be good. This is because the bridge itself and the string holes are so high that even without any saddle at all the strings are about 6mm above the twelfth fret. There is no truss rod in this acoustic Hohner guitar and sanding the bridge down from the top would not achieve anything as the string holes hold the strings too high regardless of how high the top of the bridge is. I am wondering whether to take the bridge off and to sand it down underneath and then to put it back on again as this would lower the whole bridge from below.

  5. Derrick Routledge

    Well Joseph I done this very carefully after following your instructions and I managed to drop the strings down to a good playable hight.My new guitar is a Stagg bought from my local music shop who wanted to charge me £55 to lower the strings which were very high.I now can play up and down the frets with no buzz and no sore fingers.Thanks again for your tutorial.

  6. Many thanks for this useful guide. I am going to try and do this on an acoustic Bass I have just got my hands on. Do you know if the string heights on acoustic Basses are roughly the same as guitars or will they be different? Really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge.

    Dan

    • Hello Dan. Well, good question, as myself, well I have an acoustic bass. The answer is – yes, the height of the strings most certainly be the same. The only difference is that the bass strings are ‘fatter’ but the action, or string heights should be very similar on all guitars of any types of strings.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I just bought a Takamine on line. Noticed the action is a little high for me. This is my 2nd acoustic so I wasn’t sure if this was normal. I knew my first one (Fender) was not like this. I found your diy page to lower the strings made me very happy. Seems straight forward. I don’t think I could screw this up! So, off I go to lower the strungs. Thanks a million..

  8. Dear Stuart,

    Thanks for the help:) After few tries and a broken “E” string, finally was able to lower the action.God Bless:)

  9. Hi,

    My strings are way too high from the fretboard as I move up the neck. I saw some videos to shave off saddle, is that what you recommend also?what precautions I need to take for that.

    Thanks,
    Jaggs

  10. Hi there, I’m so glad I found your straightforward and friendly site! We got our little girl a yamaha beginners classical guitar to let her explore her talents. I started watching a variety of lessons/tutorials with her and soon found myself sneaking her guitar away after shed fallen asleep to practice what she was learning myself! My husband must’ve noticed the sparks in my eyes because last week I opened my very big birthday box to find an acoustic fender tbucket, It was love at first sight. By the way Im a lefty learning on a righty guitar, which feels fine since my right hand has gained a little dominance playing the occasional piano.
    So anyway, the point is that these instructions seem very approachable even for me as I have realized the action is a bit high on both guitars. But before I jump straight into it I wanted to ask you a few questions and I would really be grateful for your time (thanks already for reading such a long post!)
    1- should I be at all concerned about calluses and less sensation on the fingertips of my dominant left hand? My handwriting is already a mess and if I suddenly cant hold a pen write…
    2- the fender was ordered online and was quite hot coming out of the delivery package. Is it safe to renew strings (and lowering action while Im at it) or should I wait a few days for the wood to.. Recuperate or something.?
    3- this is just a random thought and I know its crazy but.. By total coincidence I was filing my nails when I discovered this page.. And I couldnt help wondering how crazy it would be to try the gritty side of a manicure block for this little job? Go ahead and say thats crazy and Ill keep my girly manicure gear away from the guitars (no nail polish on the nuts I promise)
    Bookmarking you thanks again!

    • Hello Sara, thanks for the mighty comment! Don’t worry about your finger’s, they will take shape and stick to that shape as long as you play. I would let the guitar settle for a few weeks, my action actually went up over the period before I lowered it! As for the manicure block, it’s flat and so it will certainly do…

  11. Excellent advice and enthusiastic attitude – very useful for non-techies like me!
    Many thanks, Stuart. I’ll buy a few bevvies with the £50 you’ve saved me – and I’ll toast you with every one I drink. Cheers :)
    martin.

  12. Thanks a lot for your instructions. I figured if you can do it to a fender then I should try with my encore. Its now much easier to get those high up bar chords and general playing much more enjoyable. Also did my cheapo classical with similar results. Well done and thanks.

  13. Thanks so much for this tutorial, gave me the confidence to tackle the job on my Fender which I love apart from the fight to play 9th chords up the neck … have just lowered action from 5mm to a shade under 3 mm. Feels great now! My advice to anyone else is, try it, it’s not hard but take it slowly. I did it twice and worked my way down rather than take off a whole lot at the start. It’s worth taking the time and easing down to the mark.

    • One thing to add… I found that the G, B & E strings weren’t coming through when I plugged in to my amplifier. On inspection I found when I had replaced the bridge I had accidentally pushed down on the under bridge pickup – I think I must have slid the bridge in and down. I had to reposition the pickup to make sure I had contact all along the bottom of the bridge. My advice if you have an under bridge piezo pickup, make sure you install the bridge vertically, don’t slide it in and down.

  14. Hi Stuart.I have a Fender sce and I’d thought for a long time-and it’s so easy to get use to..”poor”action dare I say,that a little further up,it was a little..awkward and noisey changing chords…checked your tutorial out and lowered the action(which it clearly needed)without any issues-3mm works fine for me!An excellent and straight forward tutorial-even slacking the strings(without taking the pins out)is a simple,logical and clever idea!Many thanks.Jai.

  15. Thank you for this tutorial. I wonder if there is possibly to estimation how lovering the bridge e.g. 1 mm will affect the hight(in mm) at the 14.th fret.

    Thanks

    Lars

    • The 12th fret is the half way point along the string. To lower the string by 1mm at this point you need to lower the saddle by double this amount ie 2mm

  16. Thanks a bunch for the simple and straightforward tutorial.

    FWIW, I used some coins to measure the gap
    pennies: 1.52mm thick
    nickels: 1.95mm
    dimes: 1.35mm
    quarters: 1.75mm

    2 pennies stacked = approx 3mm

  17. Hi thanks for the info I measured and it sat at about 7mm! but I have measured mine now without the saddle and it still sits at 6mm above the fret???! No way that’s getting anywhere near 2.4mm!! Please help!

  18. Excellent public service you are providing here. Great to hear so many success stories. I’ll be attempting this on my Martin as soon as I get a suitable featuring device!

    One thing I have already done that I think will be of interest, is to change the nut with one that has an integrated zero fret. This mades the sound and action the best possible and eliminates the ridiculous guesswork and variation (and labour) involved with regular nuts.

    This is the place I got it from, and they have a wonderful explanatory video there:

    http://www.zeroglide.com/

    Recommended. I don’t know why all makers don’t make a zero fret as standard. They are great. My Steingerger has one too (from factory) and I love it!

  19. iup! first of all thanx man for puting thi, reaaly apreciate it!

    i have a serious high problem action on my acoustic guitar. i bought it like 2 years ago and it came by plane from China to Barcelona, and just now with your tutorial that i came to undesrtand why the action is that high.

    so i have an action of 8mm on the 14th fret of the E- 6th string. and as an experiment i removed the saddle, and tight the 6th string to an E without any saddle , just to see what happens, and it still have 5mm from the 14th fret

    ah and by the way. at that point, some months ago i tried to fix it by trying to adjust the truss rod, but now i don’t even know how many turns i already did…

    so, if so if even before the sanding process i have 5mm without a saddle, what would be your recomendation?

    thanx a lot!

    so what would you say to that??

  20. I was adjusting the action on my Gibson Hummingbird guitar and the adjustment nut broke off flush with the neck. How would you remove the rod and replace it?

  21. Thanks for the very clear instructions,just finished with my Tanglewood and the difference is superb. I did however go a bit to far for the top E string but nothing a bit of shimming couldn’t fix.

    Cheers.

  22. Stuart, Thank you a thousand times. I love my Fender cd 220 sce again. And it sounds great. I would like to mention if one is performing this procedure on an electric acoustic like I have be careful to not damage the pickup in the bridge. I almost tore mine out thinking it might be packing material.

  23. Am I correct that you measure from the bottom of the string down to the surface of the fret board. Not to the surface of the fret itself ? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Graddy, thank you. The measurement is taken from the underside of the string to the surface of the fret, and not the fret board. It is much easier with a steel ruler!

  24. One thing I do not see mentioned here. Removing material from the saddle, changes (reduces) the angle that the strings make when passing over and going through bridge where they are secured by the bridge pins. If alot of material is removed from the saddle, or a significantly lower profile saddle is used as a replacement, it may be necessary to make small groves in the wood of the bridge in order to maintain proper pressure on the saddle. Lower pressure on the saddle may reduce the sound transfer to the top (soundboard).

    • Patrick, I certainly agree. Also your previous comment about nut angles, its vital that the fret board is not twisted. As for the saddle string intonation angle, obviously on electric this is adjusted by the intonation screws, but for acoustic, unless your really tuned by ear I would suggest not to worry too much about the string angle.

  25. Hi Stuart

    I followed your advice, only to find the saddle had several packing strips under it, so removing them lower the action without any sanding!! Might be worth checking for these stops before sanding!!

  26. Hi Stuart, thanks for the guide. I’m going to try this tonight but one thing I hope you could help me with: my high e string catches on the fret metal sometimes because its very close to the bottom of the neck – is there a way I can adjust this? Would it be on the saddle?

    • Hi Adam, first of all check to make sure the guitar neck is not bent in any way? Then I would slightly angle the sanding of the saddle, if that does not work slightly shim the underside of the saddle, it takes time but can save you a lot of cash.

      • I would also check the nut of the guitar. Check for orientation to the neck, maybe slipped, check for nut slot width for string width and any cracks etc.
        Also, shimming the saddle may reduce the sound (vibration) to the guitar soundboard (top). I would replace the saddle as this is an inexpensive item.

  27. Thanks For The String Height Guide. Got My Mexican Down To Specs Rather Easily. Just Finished Work On My Chinese Guild. It Was So Bad That I Had To Lower It A Total Of 8/64Ths By Sanding Down The Bridge Also And Deepening The Slot For The Bridge Insert. Got It To Specs And It Plays Sweet. I Had Sadly Contemplated Burning The Darn Thing! Thanks A Bunch….
    Used My DREMEL To Get The Inserts Close. And I Found Using Drill Bits For Measurement Gauges Made For Accurate Adjustment. Had To Shim The Guild After Completion And Used Shims Cut With Shears From And Old Set Of Automotive Feeler Gauges.
    Thanks Again And Keep On Picking…. :D

  28. Hi Stuart! Just wanted to thank ya for the easy guide. I’m a total guitar noob (have only had mine for a couple weeks) and felt action was a bit high. I followed your guide and it went flawlessly. Didn’t have to sand the saddle down since I found my guitar came with an additional smaller saddle, so I just replaced them.

    Cheers man. You saved me some dough. Rock on!

  29. Thanks for the information! I did a combination of adjusting the neck truss, and then the saddle. One thing that I found to make it easier was to use my electric orbital sander on the saddle. I had it marked and took it down nice and even. It plays like a dream now! Thanks again

  30. hi ,
    i followed you but my saddle suddenly broke do there is any saddle that they sell it on shops or what can i do?????????
    please help!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yes shops do sell them, once you have purchased a new saddle, follow the steps and carry out the sanding of the saddle in stages, go easy on it.

  31. mahmoud jonas

    i did the same as i followed you but my guitar started buzzing now

    so what can i do
    please please help!!!!!!!

    • Hi Mahmoud, first of all, do check that your guitar neck does not have any negative bend, where it bends backwards or downwards as you check, most guitars should have a little positive bend, this also allows to reduce fret buzz.

      If you have gone slightly low, remove the saddle and start by putting some thin packing under the saddle, just to bring it back up that touch, doing this and checking the neck should solve the problem.

  32. Hey Stuart,

    Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I managed to drastically lower the action on my new Cort Semi Acoustic. I have a small query – the thick upper E string (6th) strings appears to be slightly lower to the 5th string. Although, the guitar sounds perfect and there’s enough gap between the fret board and the strings I wanted to know whether this is an issue to trouble me and if I can keep things the way they are.

    Cheers :)

    • Hello, near the start of the tutorial I mention about the factory settings, these are;

      E6 – 2.38mm (6/64 in)
      A5 – 2.28mm (5.75/64 in)
      D4 – 2.18mm (5.5/64 in)
      G3 – 2.08mm (5.25/64/in)
      B2 – 2.03mm (5.15/64in)
      E1 – 1.98mm (5/64in)
      So, as you lower the strings they all should drop by the same percentage, If not, and it is only the bottom E string then I would suggest putting some light packing under the nut (before the first fret) of that string, this should solve the problem.

      • Hello,

        Great tutorial. I notice that your text consistently says to measure at the 14th fret but one of your pictures seems to show you measuring at the 12th. Am I mistaken? We are to measure at the 14th, yes?

        Thanks.

  33. D. James Jones, Jr.

    Is there any reason this technique will not work on a ’55 Martin 000-18?

  34. Hi Stuart
    Thanks so much for the tutorial.
    I got a new alvarez ap66sp, it`s a parlor 12 frets to the body.
    Question: is it the same measurements I need to use?
    Best regards from Denmark
    Brian

  35. Hey Stuart! Thanks for the instructions. I have an Ovation acoustic electric, the saddle is much different on the bottom. It has little sqaure teeth, will the same method work? It doesnt appear that I could take much off.

  36. I got my kid a new electric/acoustic guitar for Xmas. He had been learning on a nylon string folk guitar. He complained about the strings hurting his fingers but I chortled and pontificated that he just needed to get the calluses built up on his fingers.

    So last night I finally sat down and played his guitar and hell if the fingering didn’t hurt like crazy. Read your tutorial and measured the E string. It was almost at 6mm! Just got done following your directions and got it down to 3mm. The difference is amazing. Not just easier finger but a much better sound. Thanks for posting this.

  37. Hi stuart
    thanks very much for your easy to follow guide , checked the height of strings on my newish guitar and they were about 5mm , got this down to about 3mm put some new strings on and it plays and sounds great , saved some wonga as well !!!

  38. Stuart, great tip. I measured my instrument, a mid-1970s Giannini Craviola, and the E6 seems to be right around 2.38. However, when compared to some new instruments in a music store, the pressure it takes to fret at the 1st fret is greater on my instrument. It makes it a little harder for bar chording and arpeggio type picking on the first few frets. Is there anything I can adjust on my instrument to help ease the pressure?

    • One thing that older acoustics seem to have, are high ‘nuts’ im unsure why? but you can get a lower nut (leading to the first fret), put slight positive bow on the fretboard and then go through this tutorial, it will work Joe.

  39. Thanks for the great tutorial. Very clear and concise, but despite that, I still managed to balls something up! :) I stupidly filed down the wrong side of the saddle. I just flattened down the curved side to the size I want. So now I have a rectangular saddle, without the curve that it’s supposed to have. It seems to be fine and plays better than before with the lower action but do you think this’ll cause problems? Should I buy another saddle and do it again (hopefully correctly next time!!)??

    • Yes you really need another saddle, now the main problem will be the intonation, as you play higher up the fretboard and with open strings it will sound out of tune.

  40. Stuart,
    just wanted to know if the mm im trying to reduce of the string-fret distace, corresponds with the amount i should sand off the saddle.. so if i want the strings to be just over a mm lower, would i try to sand 1mm off the saddle? i hope this makes sense to you haha!

    also, this tutorial is fantastic, so easy to follow and understand! Gave me the confidence i needed to try this, i just wanted to double check with you before it did. thanks!

    • The answer to that Josh, to lower it 1mm then you need to take more than that off the saddle, but, many folks play with some positive ‘bow’ on the fretboard, this can help reduce fret buzz but also requires more taken off the saddle.

  41. A new Acoustic i bought has strange action in that it slopes, with it being close to the frets on the first, and progressively further apart up the fretboard.

    What can i do to remedy this?

    • That is quite normal Connor, folks many times have some positive ‘bow’ on the fretboard, but if its too much then it will need taking back slightly before lowering the action.

  42. This is not only an easy guide but a complete, logical and decent one.
    Thank you so much.

  43. This really works, I was reluctant to try it, but your tutorial made it look so easy; now its a pleasure to play my transformed guitar.Brilliant, thank you .

    • Thanks Dave, its really cheap too, we know music shop need local custom but in these times saving between £50 – £100+ is alot of cash, and the guitar does feel like something else once you settle for your optimum string action height.

  44. Hi Stuart
    I followed your advice for lowering the saddle on a guitar I bought. Once I got it out I found some card under it as it appears to have been raised previously. Just by taking this out it has improved things a lot. It does look like it could come down a bit more. My question is if you get the E6 close to 2.38 mm will the others automatically be within their optimum range or is it necessary to sometimes lower individual strings. If so how would I do this? Thanks for the great advice so far.

    • Hello Brendan, thanks, and the answer is no, providing the saddle is filed evenly the strings will all lower correctly in parallel, glad you found this easy to follow, hoping it saves folks cash and gives them more reason to carry on playing with potentially difficult guitars.

  45. hi,
    I was hesitant to try lowering the action on my 20 year old breedlove since i didn’t want to mess it up, but i followed your steps closely and now have the action at 2.4 mm. I feel like i’m playing a new guitar!

    Thanks!

    • Thanks David, I try to explain everything as easy as possible, too many articles of advice use the technical terms, although technical terms are correct, most of us do not know what they mean!

  46. Giorgos Therioudakis

    My deepest thanks to you. I actually pulled it off! I never would have tried it by myself but for your simple advice and encouraging words. I was too afraid I would cause some kind of damage. Now it’s like I have a brand new guitar ! I can’t thank you enough! God bless you, friend Stuart ! My only regret is I didn’t try it years ago…

    • Hi Giorgos, we all get a little frightened before attempting any kind of adjustments to an instrument, my idea is to show just how easy it is for those without a workshop and all the flash tools, in the future I will post other videos on how to make various adjustments.

  47. Hi Stuart,

    Do you have advice on how much of the saddle to sand off?
    For example, if the strings are at 4mm at the 14th fret, does that mean I need to sand off 1mm of the saddle to get to 3mm?

    Thanks,
    Reese

  48. Hi Stuart

    Thanks for the good advice I have lowered the saddle as far as I can go but can’t go any further. The low E is about 3.5mm at the 14th fret, but the guitar still feels very stiff especially in standard tuning. What else can I do? I have thought of sanding the area between the saddle and the pins where they slot into the bridge down so that I can get more clearance and hence shave more of the saddle down. Would I ruin the action if I did that? I need to take off a couple of millimeters off still I think to get it right but I’m stuck at the moment.

    • Hiya Abraham, sometimes we just can not get the action low enough, you can sand that area a little but be careful not to make the slot loose for the saddle, this can cause some problems with the intonation, also do check the the fretboard is not too curved, we do not want a dead flat fretboard, just a little bend that cuts out string buzz for lower action.

  49. Stuart,

    Thank you so much for your tutorial on adjusting the action on an acoustic guitar and giving me the confidence to it myself. I have a Martin HD-28 and have always been very apprehensive about doing any kind of work on it. Your advice really improved the action and playability. Thanks again and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    BAMABOY

  50. Thank you all for the great comments! it has been asked if the saddle should taper down from the wound strings, yes it should, a saddle that is square all the way down will make the treble strings much higher than the bass/wound strings, we are looking for the action to be correct along the under side of the strings and not the centre of them.

  51. Thanks so much, you’re a legend! I just saved myself $75 by shaving the saddle myself. I had a question for you: the saddle of my guitar is lopsided – it’s higher on the bass side and tapers down towards the treble side. Is that normal for acoustic guitars, or is it something I should fix? Thanks again!

  52. You’ve been a great help. Very simple, easy to understand instructions.

    Thank you!

  53. A big thank you from a newbie.
    New guitar and puzzled by the distance at the 14th fret I plowed through the you-tube tutorial’s but didn’t feel convinced till I came across your excellent advice.

    Thanks again.
    Your obidient servant,
    Dave

  54. Hi Stuart, great tutorial.

    Just wanted to be clear about something – when you say string height at the 14th fret, are we are talking about height over the fret itself or the fretboard? I’m assuming it’s the fret but I just wanted to be sure.

    Sean

    • Hello Sean, good question, I always measure to the fret, I have noticed on other folks explanations that they sometimes measure to the board, I find that abit pointless as its the playing height, this is to the fret, also too many folks measure at the 12th, as can be seen on my video intro, manufacturers indeed measure at the 14th, this acoustic is a Fender. Hope this helps, in fact I will include this information into the tutorial!

      • Thanks Stuart, I’ve now used the info in your tutorial to lower my low E action at the 14th fret to 3mm. I think I could go down a little more, but I’ll stay at this for a week or two and see how it goes. Thanks again!

        Sean

  55. Thanks for this very clear tutorial Stuart and an interesting site to delve around too. I found it after watching some numpty boy on Youtube went about showing how to adjust the action with the truss rod – alarm bells!
    I’ve just bought a lovely Cedar top Adam Black acoustic very cheaply off Gumtree – fantastic tone and looks as new, but slightly too high an action for me. I can’t wait to get it down a millimetre or two now. Cheers, Simon.

  56. Hi Eric,
    Just recently traded my electric for an acoustic guitar. Barre chords are a real pain to play. My strings are over 4mm in height which explains my difficulty in playing. The neck looks ok though. The point of my reply is that I have always paid others to adjust my guitars. I couldn’t shell out the money this time since I have just been made redundant so have to think twice before spending. Took the plunge to have a go at diy and found your web site by accident although I knew what I was looking for. After following your easy to follow lesson I have successfully transformed my guitar into a more pleasurable instrument to play.
    A superb lesson
    Thank You!!

  57. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I bought an old guitar on which to teach a friend, and this completely brought it back to life so she can now learn with much more ease!

  58. Hi , Followed your guide to lower the action of my averaged priced dreadnought guitar out of China and with caution managed to get to 3mm from over 4mm by sanding the bridge . Improved the action no end and no buzz. I also made the adjustment with the truss rod loosened and then after tuning I made adjustment to the truss rod just to take it into tension. Not sure if this is of any significance but your guidance gave me the confidence to attempt the work. Thank you.

    regards david bantock

    • Hello David, doesn’t it make such a difference, in real terms its about 30% less force on your fingers, much more pleasurable and certainly keeps the momentum going. I’m glad I could help you.

  59. Hi Stuart,
    Thanks for taking the time and effort posting this tutorial. A very easy effortless and minor operation with maximum effect! Happily playing before and now even doubly so.
    Sunshine to you,
    Eric

  60. Stuart, thank you so much for this great tip. My el-cheapo Ashton plays like a Martin now. OK, well, maybe not, but it’s so much better now.

    Cheers from New Zealand,
    Joe

    • Hi Joe, and glad you found it helpful in making a cheaper guitar certainly sound much better, too many folks get put off of learning guitar as they think cheap guitars can not be made to play well, oh yes they can!

  61. lovely tutorial! Very helpfull, but do you mean 12th fret instead of 14th fret?

    • Thanks Koen, the factory settings are at the 14th fret, I show this at the start of the video, its potentially where some folks get confused as too many articles advise this wrongly.

  62. James Robinson

    Hi Stuart,
    Once again thanks for your advice on lowering the saddle on my guitar. Did you say you have a web site of similar information? Because I was only able to lower my strings 2mm I am thinking of replacing the nut so I can raise the strings at the nut and lower them more at the saddle. This is because if I reduce any more at the saddle I will have a buzzing at the first fret.
    The difference your advice made is I cannott put down the guitar now whereas before I was reluctant to pick it up because it hurt too much.
    Many thanks,
    James

    • Hello James, glad you have managed to lower your strings enough to feel the guitar better, we order these guitars on the promise of low action only to find the action is huge.
      As for the ‘nut’ it could be an idea to make sure your fretboard is not absolutely flat, many players allow a little loosening of the trustrod to allow a little positive bend, this can also allow more lowering of the strings avoiding ‘buzz’.
      I only have my advice and ‘how’ pages on this site with the YouTube videos, covering alsorts of things as I find out for myself.

  63. Hi Joseph.

    Glad you found my tutorial of help, too many advice articles are in workshops with all the tools on the planet, this is in my living room, not messy and easy to follow, thank you for the nice comment!

  64. Hello,

    Thank you for this tutorial. I just made an old guitar playable again!

    Joe

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