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  #1  
Old 09-28-2010, 06:53 AM
Johnmoorejohn Johnmoorejohn is offline
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Default Does changing the action affect the tone?

Title says it all. Will a higher or lower action change the toneof a guitar in any significant or subtle way?
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:41 AM
Laurent Brondel Laurent Brondel is offline
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Yes in theory, since for a higher action you have to raise the saddle, thus increase the torque on the top, thus increase its potential to produce tone up to a certain degree. It will be really noticeable on lightly built guitars, much less so on overbuilt and plywood ones. On a side note, too much torque on the top will either damage it, or muffle it, perhaps both.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:50 AM
StringFive StringFive is offline
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In my experience, yes. I bought a D15 for my daughter a while back. After lowering the saddle slightly the tone improved quite a bit.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:15 AM
olrocker olrocker is offline
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Default Yes

To an extent...try it! It is interesting to hear the results. Higher action can yield a "woodier" tone.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:24 AM
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Yes, and I find it to be more significant than subtle. Setup is very much a part of the tone of a guitar.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:34 AM
Penrith Pete Penrith Pete is offline
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Default sweet spot

Hi

Well, I am convinced that is does have an effect, no doubt in my mind.
My expereince is that guitars have a sweet spot when it comes to saddle height.

presuming that the sanding of the saddle is done right and good contact exisits between saddle and bridge - both bottom and front side - then there is a little zone where the guitar sounds its best. If the saddle is too high it can cause too much torque and I think this might reduce the ability of the top to vibrate - especially in cedar. Too low and the bass seems to start to fall away - even perhaps before buzzing really starts.

If you are sanding down the height then go in small increments. I thin you will rerach a point where you sens that somethign about the quality of the tne has diminished slightly rather than improved. You can keep sanding after this of course but it will be to achieve a low action and not to improve tone.

Take care and go slowly!

Pete
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:57 AM
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Laurent in just a few words explained it perfectly. IMO though trying to adjust the saddle height a few thousandths one way or another while making tonal evaluations of the result will not work out. Just set the height for the best playing action.
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Old 09-28-2010, 09:44 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Bluegrass guitarists in particular will often prefer surprisingly high actions. They do that because it gives them more volume and projection, plus it does affect the tone, as well.

I play some bluegrass music, but prefer the action on my instruments to be a bit lower, for the sake of both comfort and playability. I play a lot of chords up the neck (which, typically, bluegrass players do not,) so I need a string height that allows me to do that.

But, yes, string height and overall action most definitely affect the tone of a guitar.


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Old 09-28-2010, 09:53 AM
guitargabor guitargabor is offline
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definitely!

My 00-18V has been played regularly for the past 3 years.Had initial pro set up performed 2 months after purchase.

the past few months I have noticed slight intonation irregularities.The action was becoming low causing some buzzing at the upper frets.

I have since added an ebony shim and with the raised action the guitar sounds much better with perfect intonation.

I think every guitar has a specific action where they sound the best....one should try altering the action and notice the response.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:15 AM
JLS JLS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
Yes, and I find it to be more significant than subtle. Setup is very much a part of the tone of a guitar.
Yep, I agree. What I find most often, is that when I setup an acoustic guitar for a customer, an they no longer have to fight it, tone improves dramatically.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:33 AM
JohnnyDes JohnnyDes is offline
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For a fun ride on this topic, see the old thread.

http://69.41.173.82/forums/showthrea...ghlight=action

My summary:
1. OP claimed that action lower than 1/8" can affect tone/volume, as it can diminish the arc of the vibrating strings. Seems like a plausible hypothesis, but no direct evidence to prove this was provided.
2. MANY others, including experienced luthiers and builders, disagreed, thinking that actions of 6/64" or even lower are possible on well-built guitars without sacrificing volume.
3. Some people got angry.

There does seem to be a general experiential sense that action can affect volume and tone, so probably the best way to find out is by experimenting yourself. I was recently advised on a thread to loosen my truss rod slightly (1/8 turn) to see if it had an impact on my tone, since I was complaining about more pinched sound higher up on the neck.

JD
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:52 PM
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I think action affects tone in much the same way that string gauge does -- and presumably for the same reasons. And as Laurent (who knows much more about this than I do) points out, too much of either saddle height or string tension can do harm and/or muffle tone. The third factor is string attack. On guitars I fingerpick, I find that when I lower the action some, I tend to pick harder to get the tone and volume I'm accustomed to hearing. I usually back off some after a while, though.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:27 PM
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Maybe we should get one thing crystal clear, ( and it has already been stated by a couple of posters above).

The only difference which a higher or lower action makes to tone is in the breakover angle at the saddle.

Let's assume a bluegrass player elevated the saddle to get him more projection, and in the process , naturally the action gets higher.

Same player decides to get a neck reset, and wants the neck angled back to make the action lower, but still keeping the same saddle height.

Result : tone remains with increased projection, but action becomes easier.

So , it's not the altered action per se, it's all down to the breakover angle at the saddle.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:45 PM
gmm55 gmm55 is offline
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Yes, but the break over angle does affect the torque on the top, as observed by someone earlier. It is easy to convince one of this effect by imagining an absurdly tall saddle, and in this state, the additional height makes the saddle act as a longer lever. The same thing occurs at any height, but of course the amount of effect within a reasonable (thus narrow) height variation in any normal guitar is open to debate. My own feeling is that it is not negligible, but that string clearance must take priority, meaning it makes no sense to adjust saddle height to optimize tone, unless one was indeed also doing a net set.

Break angle and torque are contributing factors, and assuming a correcting neck set is not done, so is the extra fretbuzz-free headroom -if you will- that is afforded by higher action. I trust you already know this. Of course it is almost impossible to explain phenomenon in a complete way that is not subject to misinterpretation or confusion by anyone. And just to prove the point, I will add another even better hidden effect on the changing saddle height, and that would be it's resiliency. The taller the saddle, the more it will bend under the string tension. Oh, and there is also that small matter of the additional mass in a taller saddle, and then there is also ...

Last edited by gmm55; 09-28-2010 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
Maybe we should get one thing crystal clear, ( and it has already been stated by a couple of posters above).
The only difference which a higher or lower action makes to tone is in the breakover angle at the saddle.
The break angle over the saddle is not the main factor (a sufficient angle is enough and more than that does very little regarding tone). What is having the greater effect on tone is the increase or decrease of torque on the top which occurs with a higher or lower total string height.
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