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In this article I walk you through the steps for adjusting the action on your electric guitar. The basic design for both acoustic and electric guitars are the same, so for the most part you can follow my instructions on how to adjust the action for acoustic guitars. However, acoustic and electric guitars have different bridge designs, so in this article I cover how you adjust the bridge on your electric guitar to lower the action to your liking.
Lowering the action
If you need to make any adjustments to the nut on your guitar you can follow my guide on how to remove the sitar sound from your guitar, in that article I walk you through the basic steps for adjusting the nut on your guitar.
Now for the bridge, at the bottom of your electric guitar you will see the metal saddle that adjusts your string height. There are different types of bridges for electric guitars so I’ll try to sum them up into two types- The Tune-o-matic bridge designs that you see on Les Paul style electric guitars, and then the Fender Stratocaster Tremolo style bridge.
- ·The Tremolo style bridge: At the bottom of the guitar you will see your fine tuners; they sometimes look a bit like springs sticking out the top part of the guitar saddle. There will be one screw for each string giving you a total of six screws to adjust. You will need a small Allen wrench (also called a Hex key) to raise or lower the action. Place the tool inside the top of the spring like screw to adjust the action.
·The Tune-o-matic Bridge: This type of bridge requires a Flathead screwdriver to make your adjustments. You will see the two screws on the side of the bridge plate; the two screws will raise or lower the entire bridge saddle. Sometimes the bridge will be designed where you can adjust them just by using your fingers to turn the screws.
No matter which bridge design you have for your guitar, all you need to do is turn the screw clockwise to tighten the screw and lower the action, or turn it counterclockwise to loosen the screw and raise the action. How far to turn the screw all depends on how you like to play the guitar. I recommend making very minor adjustments when you start out; maybe a turn or two for each string, then test it out to see if you like how it feels.
The bass side of the guitar- that is the side with the thicker strings, sometimes can be adjusted and raised a bit higher so that the strings don’t buzz when you pluck them. You will need to play around with the action a bit to find the perfect string height. I also recommend that you write down how many times you turn the screw so that you can undo any mistakes that you make.
If you want really low action one method is to take a quarter and slip it under the string near the 12th fret so that the quarter rests on the top of the fret, then lower the action until the string is touching the quarter and fine tune the height of your guitar strings to your liking, then simply remove the quarter to test the string height. Placing the quarter on the frets helps to prevent fret buzz.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing the adjustments yourself you can always take your electric guitar in for your local guitar tech to do it for you.