What's the Ideal Action Height For A Classical Guitar?

14 minutes read

The ideal action height for a classical guitar is typically around 3mm at the 12th fret for the high E string and 4mm for the low E string. This measurement ensures that the strings are close enough to the fretboard for easy playability, but not so low that they buzz against the frets. It is important to find a balance between low action for easy playability and high enough action to avoid buzzing. Additionally, the action height can vary depending on personal preference and playing style.

Best Classical Guitars of May 2024

1
Cordoba C5 CD Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Iberia Series

Rating is 5 out of 5

Cordoba C5 CD Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Iberia Series

  • PERFECT ENTRY LEVEL GUITAR: Ideal for aspiring classical guitarists, as well as anyone looking for the warm sound of nylon strings and comfortable playability
  • BEGINNER FRIENDLY NYLON STRINGS: Lightweight and comfortable to play, nylon strings are much softer than steel strings, ideal for beginners
  • 52mm nut width
2
Yamaha CG102 Classical Guitar, Spruce Top, Natural

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

Yamaha CG102 Classical Guitar, Spruce Top, Natural

  • Nylon Strings
  • Spruce Top w/Nato Back and Sides
  • Upgraded Tuners
  • Natural Color
3
Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar, Full Size, Natural

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar, Full Size, Natural

  • Spruce top
  • Meranti back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard & bridge
  • Gloss finish
4
Yamaha Student Series CGS103AII Classical Guitar, Natural

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Yamaha Student Series CGS103AII Classical Guitar, Natural

  • Spruce Top
  • Meranti Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
  • Natural Finish
5
Fender Squier SA-150N Classical Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Picks, and Austin Bazaar Guitar DVD

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Fender Squier SA-150N Classical Acoustic Guitar - Natural Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Picks, and Austin Bazaar Guitar DVD

  • CLASSICAL TONES: SA-150N gives an authentic playing experience as it delivers rich and warm tones reminiscent of traditional Spanish guitar music.
  • PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS: It is built to withstand the inevitable bumps and knocks that come with learning, allowing beginners to focus on honing their skills without worrying about damaging their instrument.
6
Fender Acoustic Classical Guitar, with 2-Year Warranty, Small Beginner Guitar (3/4 Size) with Nylon Strings (Easier on Fingers), Includes Guitar Bag

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Fender Acoustic Classical Guitar, with 2-Year Warranty, Small Beginner Guitar (3/4 Size) with Nylon Strings (Easier on Fingers), Includes Guitar Bag

  • One right-handed Fender Acoustic Guitar and one Gig Bag
  • Smooth Tuning: The modern 3+3 headstock makes for an easy playing acoustic guitar and gives an intricate symmetrical design
  • Starting with Nylon: Combines the easy playability and quintessential sound of nylon strings with the comfort of a narrower string spacing for a best-of-both-worlds feel
7
Cordoba Protégé C1 Matiz Classical Guitar in Pale Sky with Color-Matching Recycled Nylon Gig Bag

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Cordoba Protégé C1 Matiz Classical Guitar in Pale Sky with Color-Matching Recycled Nylon Gig Bag

  • Bring your music to life in full color with the Protégé C1 Matiz!
  • A fresh take on the traditional aesthetic of the nylon guitar, the Matiz series combines maple accents and traditional tone woods in 4 eye-catching colors: Aqua, Coral, Pale Sky, and Classic Blue.
  • Spruce top and mahogany back and sides provide the projection and warmth associated with a nylon string guitar, while the maple headplate, bridge, and full-scale fretboard give the C1 Matiz an all new look with a lively tonal response.
8
HUAWIND 39 Inch Classical Guitar Full Size Acoustic Guitar Nylon Strings Guitar for Beginners Adults

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

HUAWIND 39 Inch Classical Guitar Full Size Acoustic Guitar Nylon Strings Guitar for Beginners Adults

  • 【Nylon Strings】: This 39-inch full size classical guitar is equipped with 6 nylon strings. Compared with steel strings, nylon strings are softer and easier to play for beginners or younger players. Very suitable for adults who like guitars.
  • 【About String】:The strings and wood of the new guitar need some time to adjust to the tension. So when you first start to use the guitar, you need to tune frequently. This situation will continue for a while until the tuning stabilizes.
  • 【Easy to Tune 】:You can tune this guitar by yourself before you play it. Tuning it is very easy! With the 15 geared professional tuning machines, the tuning is fast and standard. The tune will hold longer.


How to adjust the action height on a classical guitar for easier barre chord playing?

  1. Loosen the strings: Before adjusting the action height on a classical guitar, it is important to loosen the strings to avoid any damage to the instrument. Use a tuning key to gradually loosen each string until they are no longer under tension.
  2. Locate the saddle: The saddle is a small piece located at the bridge of the guitar that is responsible for adjusting the action height. It is usually made of plastic or bone and can be easily removed for adjustments.
  3. Remove the saddle: Carefully lift the saddle out of its slot using a small tool, such as a screwdriver or tweezers. Be sure to keep track of its position and orientation so you can easily put it back in the correct place.
  4. Add shims: To lower the action height, you can add shims underneath the saddle. Shims are thin pieces of material, such as cardboard or rubber, that can be placed underneath the saddle to raise it slightly. Experiment with different thicknesses of shims until you find the desired action height.
  5. Reassemble the guitar: Once you have adjusted the action height to your preference, carefully place the saddle back into its slot and re-tighten the strings using the tuning key. Tune the guitar back to standard pitch and test out some barre chords to see how the adjustment has affected playability.
  6. Fine-tune as needed: If the action height is still too high or too low, repeat the process of adding or removing shims until you achieve the desired playability for barre chords. Be patient and take your time to ensure a proper adjustment.


What is the best method for adjusting the action height on a classical guitar for optimal playability?

To adjust the action height on a classical guitar for optimal playability, it is best to follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the strings: Before making any adjustments, it is important to loosen the strings to relieve the tension on the neck of the guitar.
  2. Measure the action height: Use a ruler or feeler gauge to measure the distance between the top of the 12th fret and the bottom of the string. The ideal action height for a classical guitar is typically around 3-4mm on the bass side and 2-3mm on the treble side.
  3. Adjust the saddle: Some classical guitars have an adjustable saddle that can be raised or lowered to change the action height. Use a small screwdriver to adjust the saddle height according to your measurements.
  4. Check the nut height: In some cases, the nut may also need to be adjusted to achieve the desired action height. If the nut slots are too high, carefully file them down with a nut file to lower the action.
  5. Re-tune and test: Once you have made the necessary adjustments, re-tune the guitar and check the playability by fretting notes and chords at various positions on the neck. Make any additional adjustments as needed to achieve a comfortable and optimal playing experience.
  6. Repeat if necessary: It may take some trial and error to find the perfect action height for your playing style and preferences. Don't be afraid to make further adjustments if you feel that the action height is still not ideal.


What is the proper way to measure the action height at the 12th fret on a classical guitar?

To measure the action height at the 12th fret on a classical guitar, follow these steps:

  1. Place a capo on the first fret of the guitar.
  2. Press down the string at the 12th fret.
  3. Use a ruler or feeler gauge to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the 12th fret. This distance is the action height.
  4. Ideally, the action height on a classical guitar should be around 3-4mm for the bass strings and 2-3mm for the treble strings. Adjust the saddle height or nut height accordingly to achieve the desired action height.


How to measure the action height on a classical guitar?

To measure the action height on a classical guitar, you will need a ruler or feeler gauges. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Lay the guitar flat on a table or workbench, ensuring the strings are tuned to pitch.
  2. Measure the distance between the top of the 12th fret and the bottom of the strings.
  3. The recommended action height for a classical guitar is typically around 3-3.5mm on the bass side (low E string) and 2.5-3mm on the treble side (high E string).
  4. Use a ruler or feeler gauge to measure the distance and adjust the height of the saddle or nut if needed.
  5. Make small adjustments and recheck the action height until it meets your desired specifications.
  6. It may be helpful to consult with a professional guitar technician if you are unsure about making adjustments yourself.


What is the best way to determine the ideal action height for a classical guitar?

The best way to determine the ideal action height for a classical guitar is to consult with a professional luthier or guitar technician. They will have the tools and expertise to accurately measure the action height and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the guitar plays and sounds its best.


If you are unable to consult with a professional, you can try adjusting the action height yourself by carefully following online tutorials and guides. However, it is important to proceed with caution and make small adjustments gradually to avoid causing damage to the guitar. Additionally, factors such as string gauge, playing style, and personal preference can also affect the ideal action height, so it may take some trial and error to find the perfect setting for your guitar.


What is the impact of age on the action height of a classical guitar?

Age can have an impact on the action height of a classical guitar, as the wood of the guitar can change and warp over time, affecting the overall setup and playability of the instrument. Older guitars may have a higher action height if the neck has shifted or if the top of the guitar has sunk, resulting in more tension on the strings.


Additionally, as players age, their fingers and hands may become less flexible, making it more difficult to play a guitar with a higher action height. This can impact the player's ability to play certain chords and perform intricate finger picking techniques.


It is important for guitar players to regularly check and adjust the action height of their instrument to ensure optimal playability and comfort. Older guitars may require more frequent adjustments and maintenance to keep them in good playing condition.

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