Why Do Acoustic Guitars Have High Action

Almost all of us started our career as guitarists with an acoustic guitar. Therefore, if you have been playing an acoustic guitar, you will agree that an acoustic guitar has a high action when compared to an electric guitar. So, what’s the reason behind it? Is this something bad? And will it affect your playing style? These are the questions that we all ask at least once in our life. So, do you know why do acoustic guitars have high action?

The reason to manufacture an acoustic guitar with a high action is to enhance the resonance created by strings. A higher guitar action allows more room for acoustic guitar strings to vibrate. This is what offers a clear and soothing sound to your acoustic guitar and avoids buzzing sound while strumming your favorite chord.

However, if you wanna know more about high acoustic guitar action or even if you want to lower the action of your acoustic guitar by affecting the sound, follow this article to the end. Here, we will help you understand every single detail about acoustic guitars and their action.


Acoustic Guitars High Action: What You Need To Know

People often judge the high action of an acoustic guitar as poor manufacturing quality. However, things do not stand like this. Unlike an electric guitar, the sound of an acoustic guitar is created by the sound box. The sound box generates the sound with the help of vibrations, and this is why the action of an acoustic guitar is kept high.

If the action is low, the vibration will reduce as the strings will collide with the fretboard more often. So, to offer more resonance and clear sound to your acoustic guitar, the action is kept high. By no means is the high action of an acoustic guitar the result of poor manufacturing.

What Is The Good Action On Acoustic Guitar?

On an average acoustic guitar, the action on the High E string is 2.0mm, and on the Low E string, the action should be 2.8mm. This is what you will find in most high-quality acoustic guitars. So, if the action of your guitar is between 2.0mm and 2.8mm, your guitar is perfect for performances.

However, if the action is getting too low or high, you must check it. In most cases, when either the strings are old, or the neck is bending, the action of the guitar changes to either high or low. If this is the case, you’ll find it hard to play guitar.

So, if you feel an irregular increase or decrease in the guitar action, check it and resolve these issues for perfect acoustic sound.

Why Do People Demand A High Action Acoustic Guitar?

One of the main reasons why most professional and intermediate-level guitarists prefer a high-action guitar is its vibration and resonance. In a low-action guitar, it is true that you will not find any issues while pressing or bending the strings, but the room your strings get is negligible.

However, in a high-action guitar, the space between the fretboard and the strings is a bit high, which offers your strings more room to vibrate. This increased vibration offers more resonance and a clear sound to your guitar.

Along with it, in a low-action guitar, the strings bounce back a lot towards the fretboard, eventually producing a buzzing sound. This is something that you would never like to have with your guitar. So, these are some of the core reasons why some guitarists prefer to have a high-action guitar.

Why Does Guitar Sound Well With A Higher Action?

It is true that a guitar with higher action will sound a lot better than a guitar with lower action. A guitar with high action offers your strings more room to vibrate, and the high tension helps to improve the resonance of the guitar too.

On the other hand, a low-action guitar has low string space to vibrate, and the bounce-back ratio is high, which creates a buzzing sound. Not to forget that with a high-action guitar, you can strum as hard as you want, and it will offer you a nice richer tone.

All in all, if you play a high-action guitar, you will sound well with more string space and higher resonance.

Is A High Action Guitar Good For Tapping?

Well, if you are looking for a guitar for tapping, a high-action guitar is not for you. For tapping, it is required that the strings must fully touch the fretboard, and then you should tap to produce the finest sound out of your guitar.

However, if you have a high-action guitar, then, first of all, you will find it hard to press the string against the fretboard perfectly. And, if you succeed in doing it, you will have to tap so hard that your fingers will start hurting after a while.

So, it is always suggested that if you want to produce music by tapping, get a low-action guitar. However, there are some professionals who prefer a high-action guitar for tapping too, but this comes after years of dedicated practice. Therefore, if you are an intermediate-level guitarist, get a low-action guitar for tapping.

Why do Cheap Guitars Come Up With High Action?

Some of the most common reasons behind the high action of cheap guitars are lack of technique, fast manufacturing, and the use of low-quality materials for manufacturing. It is true that cheap guitars are always produced in bulk, and the producers only care about quantity, and this leaves behind the quality of the guitar.

Along with it, those working in a cheap guitar manufacturing unit are not so experienced that they craft everything perfectly. People in such units are assigned various tasks. Some of them are there to cut wood, some apply glue, and some are there to put on a string. There are no experts out there.

Another thing that affects the action of cheap guitars is poor material. The wood used in such a guitar is so cheap that, in some cases, it starts bending during production, making the guitar action even worse. Also, in cheap guitars, you will find no truss rod, so no matter how high or low the action is, you will have to deal with it for the rest of your life.

What Should Be The Average Nut Height On An Acoustic Guitar?

In most of cases, the average nut height is not more than 0.030 inches from the fretboard. For many top-notch guitars, this is the perfect and mostly used nut height. With this nut height, the strings have the perfect room to vibrate, the action is good enough to play music, and above all, the buzzing is minimal.

However, the nut height can vary depending on the guitarist. You can lower or increase the height of your guitar nut. To increase the height of your nut, you will have to put a wooden or plastic bar below your nut. And, if you want to reduce the size of your nut, then remove the strings and start shimming until it reaches your desired height. 

Can You Become A Good Guitarist While Playing On High Action Guitar?

Certainly, you can become a good guitar player while playing a high-action guitar. If you know it or not, almost all professional guitarists once started with a high-action acoustic guitar. For beginners, a high-action acoustic guitar is used to help them practice hard so that they can play on all types of guitars.

In the early days of guitar learning, if you practiced on a low-action guitar, it would be hard for you to play on a high-action guitar in the future. However, those who start with a high-action guitar feel no issues while playing on a low-action guitar. So, there is no doubt that playing a high-action guitar will transform you into a good guitarist.

How To Know If The Action Is Too High To Play?

The best way to check the action of a guitar is by measuring it on a millimeter scale. Simply measure the gap between the fretboard and the strings, and you will know if the action is high or not. However, if you have no scale at hand, then the way to know about a guitar’s high action is by playing it for a long duration.

Playing on a considerably high-action guitar will be hard if you play for a longer duration. So, if you are an intermediate-level guitarist and it feels hard to play the guitar, it may be due to the high action of the guitar.

Along with it, when you are playing the guitar with irregularly high action, the strings will start to buzz. When the strings are too high, it becomes hard for a guitar player to press the strings against the fretboard. If this is the case, the strings will either not produce any sound, or they will start to buzz. These are some of the most popular ways to know if the action of your guitar is too high to play.

Is Turning A Truss Rod Hard?

Not at all. Turning a truss rod with a proper tool is never a hard task to perform. A truss rod is an easy-to-move thing that rotates both clockwise and anticlockwise to help you reduce or increase the action of your guitar. However, if you are finding it hard to rotate the truss rod, there can be many factors behind it.

One of the main reasons why a truss rod is hard to rotate is when it reaches its limit. And rotating it after it may result in a broken guitar neck. Another reason is that the guitar was in contact with water. The wood of the neck has expanded, resisting the truss rod from rotating. So, if your truss rod is not rotating easily, consult an expert and get your issues resolved.


To conclude, we can say that the article offers a proper guide about acoustic guitars and their high action. Above, you will find every single detail about acoustic guitars and why they have higher action than other types of guitars.

Along with it, if you do not want a high-action guitar, we have listed some of the best ways to lower the action of a guitar. Choose the way that suits you best and help yourself to lower the guitar action. However, if you need any additional help, let us know. We are here to assist you. 

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