How To Lower The Action On An Acoustic Guitar?
Lowering the action of your acoustic guitar is quite a lot complicated than its more advanced electric guitar counterpart. The thing is, electric guitars, unlike acoustic guitars, have more machined pieces. This pieces are carefully screwed together and can be easily manipulated to lower or elevate the action of your electric guitar.
However, on your acoustic guitar, things are very different. Acoustic guitars just have a few pieces. If you ask me how to lower the action on an acoustic guitar, I can't give you a single answer. But if you insist, here is how you can do it with just a few tools you can find at home.
What You Need?
The things you will be needing are not hard to find. In fact, you might be able to find all of this in your kitchen and may some in your toolshed. Find all the materials you need and let’s get going!
- Long Nose Plier
- 200 grit Sandpaper
- 1000 grit Sandpaper
- Filler Gauge
- Precision ruler
To answer the question above "how to lower the action on an acoustic guitar?", here is a step by chronological step process that you could follow.
Adjusting The Height From The Saddle
Measure the height of the string on the midpoint between the nut and the saddle. A reading of about 6/64 of an inch from the thickest string to about 5/64 of an inch on the thinnest string is advisable.
1. Get the difference between the current measurement and the advised measurement.
2. Loosen the strings and gently pull out the saddle.
3. Using your pencil, mark how much you will file from the underside of the saddle.
4. Wrap your 200 grit sand paper on a steady surface (a book or a chopping board) and gently scratch the bottom of the saddle. Be extra careful while filing your saddle. Rest a few seconds in between scratches so that it will not chip due to friction heat build-up.
5. Be careful not to file beyond your mark!
6. Before you reach your mark, try re-installing your saddle over the bridge. Re-align the strings and verify it you have reached your desired measurement.
7. If it’s not low enough, do a few more scratch, reposition, replace the string and check the height. Once you are satisfied, tighten the strings and retune your guitar.
Adjusting The Height From The Nut
Check for the height of each string on the nut. The ideal is about 7/32 from the thickest string (low E) and gradually lowers to about 3/16 of an inch to the thinnest string (high E). Any higher than that makes it painful to play the guitar in the first position.
1. Loosen the strings and pull it aside.
2. Find a filler gauge that fits loosely in between the grooves of the nut.
3. Wrap the filler gauge with your 1000grit sand paper.
4. Gently file downwards slanting towards the headstock. Do not use a sand paper rougher than 1000 grit. You will only be filing a few hundredths of an inch. Using a rough file might scrape off more than you intended.
5. Carefully measure from time to time.
Pro-Tip: Reposition the strings and measure often to avoid lowering it too much! Filing down to lower the strings is much easier than raising it!
6. Repeat and do it for all strings following the advised measurement. The high E string should measure 3/16 of after.
Adjusting your strings to this height will significantly improve your playing experience. It will also reduce the amount of fingertip soreness you get. You might not eliminate this finger pain thing since we need to press on those strings to sound beautiful. As a guitarist, let’s embrace this and move on with the practice!
Lowering the action of your acoustic guitar is quite easy. You just need to find the right tools, or you can even improvise! Just make sure that what you will substitute will follow the same principle above to avoid damaging your acoustic guitar.
Adjusting the height of your guitar can be quite fun too! Just make sure you are brave enough to face the possibility of buying a new nut or saddle in case you accidentally destroy it!
Just remember that lowering the action involves scraping off some parts of your guitar. Make sure that you do this carefully to avoid chopping off too much!
When properly done, you will have a lot of dust on the floor, and your guitar playing experience will be greatly improved!
After trying this yourself, I guess you can now answer how to lower the action on an acoustic guitar yourself. Feel free to ask questions and leave a comment if you liked this article. Thank you!