The Ultimate Guide to Acoustic Guitar String Height 12th Fret MM

acoustic guitar string height 12th fret mm

The string height is one of the most important aspects of playing acoustic guitar string height 12th fret mm. The string height, the gap between the strings and the fretboard, is the action. The proper string height at the 12th Fret is essential for a comfortable playing experience and the best possible sound. This in-depth guide will examine the significance of acoustic guitar string height 12th fret mm measuring methods and how to adapt to your requirements.

What is Guitar Action

The height of the acoustic guitar string height 12th fret mm above the fretboard is known as action classical guitar or guitar action height. How a guitar feels to play is greatly influenced by the guitar’s action. It will be uncomfortable to play the guitar if the action is too high. The string will buzz if the action is too low. It’s critical to master guitar action since it may drastically alter how a guitar feels to play.

If the action on your action classical guitar is set too high, it takes a lot of pressure from your fingers before they can contact the strings. This can slow you down when you play and make it awkward. Before examining how to measure action correctly and what should be set, let’s examine how to change action.

Why String Height Matters

Proper string height at the 12th Fret is paramount for playability and tonality. Maintaining an appropriate distance between the strings and the fretboard ensures that your fingers can press down on the strings without excess effort, allowing for smooth and accurate fretting. Moreover, an optimal string height contributes to better sustain, intonation, and overall action on classical guitar resonance.

Measuring Acoustic Guitar String Height

To determine the string height at the 12th Fret, you’ll need a ruler or a specialised string action gauge. Follow these steps for an accurate measurement:

  • Place the action on classical guitar on a flat surface or use a guitar neck support.
  • Position the ruler or gauge over the 12th Fret, ensuring it is parallel to the frets.
  • The distance between the string’s lower end and the top of the 12th Fret should be measured.
  • Take note of the measurement in millimetres (mm).

Remember that different guitar manufacturers may have different recommended string heights, so it’s essential to consult your guitar’s specifications or the manufacturer’s guidelines for reference.

Recommended Acoustic Guitar String Height

While personal playing preferences may vary, there are general recommendations for electric guitars with low action Remember that these measurements are merely estimates that can be changed to fit your playing preferences:

  • Low action: 2.0mm or below
  • Ideal for players who prefer fast and easy fretting with minimal finger pressure.
  • Medium action: 2.0mm to 2.5mm
  • It is suitable for most guitarists and offers a good balance between playability and tonal quality.
  • High action: 2.5mm or above
  • A choice for players who require more string clearance due to aggressive playing styles or heavy strumming.

 It’s worth noting that other factors, such as the guitar’s neck relief and individual finger strength, can influence the perceived playability and comfort.

What Should the Action Be on Your Guitar

The ideal action on your acoustic guitar string height 12th fret mm depends on various factors, including your playing style, personal preferences, and the music you play. Action refers to the strings’ height above the fretboard, which can significantly affect playability and sound. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine the right action for your electric guitars with low action

Playing Style:

  • If you’re a beginner or primarily play chords and rhythm guitar, you may prefer medium to low action. This makes it easier to press down the strings and change chords quickly.
  • You might opt for slightly higher action if you’re an experienced player, particularly if you focus on lead telecaster string height or fingerstyle playing. This can give you more control over bending and vibrato technique.

String Gauge:

  • The gauge of your action on an acoustic guitar string can influence the action. Lighter gauge strings require less tension to fret, so you can use slightly higher action without sacrificing playability.
  • Heavier gauge strings have higher tension and may work better with lower action to avoid excessive effort while fretting.

Guitar Type:

  • Electric guitars typically allow lower action due to their thinner necks and lighter strings. This can be beneficial for fast soloing and bending.
  • Acoustic guitars often have slightly higher action to prevent string buzzing, especially when strumming vigorously. However, this can vary depending on the guitar’s build and setup.

Neck Profile:

  • The neck profile of your acoustic string height at 12th fret can influence action preferences. A flatter neck may work well with lower action, while a more curved neck might require slightly higher action for optimal playability.

Setup and Preferences:

  • Working with a professional guitar technician or luthier is essential to set up your guitar to your liking. They can adjust the action to suit your preferences and ensure it plays comfortably.

String Height at the 12th Fret:

  • As a general guideline, the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th Fret should be around 2.25-2.75mm on the treble (high E) side and 2.75-3.25mm on the bass (low E) side for electric guitars. These measurements may be slightly higher for acoustic guitars, around 2.75-3.25mm on the treble side and 3.25-4mm on the bass side.

Preference for String Bending:

  • If you frequently use string bending techniques, you prefer slightly higher action to prevent fretting out (where the string touches a higher fret during a bend).

Climate and Humidity:

  • Changes in climate and humidity can affect the neck and action. Adjustments may be necessary with seasonal changes to maintain playability.

Ultimately, the “right” action for your guitar is a matter of personal preference and comfort. Experimenting with different action heights, consulting with a professional setup expert, and considering the above factors can help you find the best action that suits your playing style and musical goals.

Adjusting Acoustic Guitar String Height

If you find that the string height at the 12th Fret is not to your liking, there are various adjustments you can make. However, it’s crucial to approach these adjustments cautiously and consider seeking assistance from a professional guitar technician if you are still determining. Here are some common methods for adjusting string height:

  • Truss Rod Adjustment
    • The truss rod, located inside the neck, can be used to adjust the overall curvature of the neck. This can indirectly affect the string height at the 12th Fret. However, since truss rod adjustments can significantly impact the guitar’s playability and structural integrity, it is advisable to have it done by an experienced technician.
  • Saddle Adjustment
    • The saddle on the guitar’s bridge can be adjusted to alter the string height. This is typically done by sanding or filing the saddle down to reduce the height or replacing it with a taller saddle to increase the height. Making incremental adjustments and checking the playability and intonation after each modification is vital.

Nut Adjustment

  • The nut, positioned at the headstock end of the neck, can also be adjusted to affect the string height. Again, caution is necessary, as minor alterations to the nut slots can significantly impact playability. It’s advisable to consult a professional for nut adjustments.

Remember, adjusting yourstring height at 12th fret string height requires patience, precision, and an understanding of the instrument’s construction. Always err on caution or consult a professional if you are still determining.

How to Adjust Action on an Electric Guitar

Adjusting the action on an electric guitar is an essential skill that allows you to fine-tune your instrument’s playability and tone. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to adjust the action on an electric guitar:

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Allen wrenches or screwdrivers (size may vary depending on your guitar)
  • Capo
  • Ruler or action gauge
  • Guitar tuner

Step 1: Prepare Your Guitar

  1. Start by ensuring your guitar is in proper playing condition. This includes properly tuning the strings and the neck straight (with minimal or no bow).

Step 2: Measure the Current Action 2. To measure the current action, place a capo on the first fret of your guitar.

  1. Use a ruler or a specialised action gauge to measure the distance between the bottom of the strings and the top of the 12th Fret. Measure this distance on the high E (treble) and low E (bass) strings.
  2. Take note of the measurements. This will serve as your reference point.

Step 3: Adjusting the Action 5. Depending on whether you want to raise or lower the action, follow these steps:

  • Lowering the Action:
    • Locate the bridge saddle screws on your guitar. These are usually located on the bridge piece that holds the individual strings.
    • Use the appropriate tool (often an Allen wrench or screwdriver) to turn the saddle screws clockwise to lower the saddle height.
    • Make small adjustments, typically no more than a quarter-turn at a time.
    • Retune your guitar and check the action by repeating step 2.
    • Continue making adjustments until you achieve your desired action height.
  • Raising the Action:
    • Similar to lowering the action, locate the bridge saddle screws.
    • Turn the saddle screws counterclockwise to raise the saddle height.
    • Make small adjustments and check the action with your ruler or action gauge.
    • Retune your guitar and make adjustments until you reach your desired action height.

Step 4: Recheck Intonation 6. After you’ve adjusted the action, it’s essential to recheck your guitar’s intonation. This ensures that the guitar plays in tune up and down the fretboard.

  1. Use your tuner to check each string’s open and 12th fret pitch. Adjust the saddle position if necessary to correct any intonation issues.

Step 5: Play and Fine-Tune 8. Play your guitar and assess how it feels and sounds with the adjusted action. Pay attention to ease of play, string buzz, and overall comfort.

  1. Make additional minor adjustments to fine-tune the action to your liking if needed.

Step 6: Repeat if Necessary 10. Remember that adjusting the action may require multiple iterations and fine-tuning. Be patient and make small changes to avoid over-adjusting.

Step 7: Check Neck Relief 11. Recheck the neck relief (the bow in the neck) as a final step. If you’ve made significant adjustments to the action, it may affect the neck’s curvature. Adjust the truss rod if necessary to maintain proper neck relief.

If you’re uncomfortable with these adjustments or encounter issues beyond your expertise, it’s advisable to consult with a professional guitar technician or luthier. They can ensure your guitar is set up correctly, minimising the risk of damage or misalignment.

How to Adjust Action on an Acoustic Guitar

Adjusting the action on string height at 12th fret is vital for any guitarist seeking to optimise playability and tonal quality. To begin this task, inspect your guitar’s current action. Using a capo on the first Fret, measure the distance between the bottom of the strings and the top of the 12th Fret using a ruler or an action gauge, focusing on both the treble (high E) and bass (low E) strings. These measurements serve as your baseline. If you desire to lower the action, locate the saddle screws on the bridge and carefully turn them clockwise with an appropriate tool, making small adjustments. Retune your guitar and recheck the action, repeating the process until the desired height is achieved.


Conversely, turn the saddle screws counterclockwise in small increments to raise the action. Remember to retune your guitar and assess the action’s playability and comfort after each adjustment. Additionally, be vigilant about checking the guitar’s intonation and neck relief, as significant changes to the action can affect these aspects. While adjusting the action on an acoustic guitar can enhance your playing experience, it’s crucial to exercise patience and, if needed, consult with a professional luthier for more complex setups.


Understanding and achieving the proper acoustic guitar string height at the 12th Fret ensures an enjoyable playing experience and optimal sound quality. Following this guide’s measurement techniques and recommended actions, you can tailor the string height to your specific playing preferences. Remember, the ultimate goal is to balance playability and tonality, so don’t hesitate to experiment and make adjustments until you achieve the perfect string height for your acoustic guitar. Happy playing!

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