How to Adjust the Action on Your Acoustic Steel Guitar

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  • Writer:Alice
  • Time:2022-04-07

Getting the optimal sound out of your acoustic steel guitar takes practice and a little trial and error. You want to nail down that specific sound that tells the story of your playing skill while also maintaining the quality of the overall instrument. Finding the perfect balance of guitar action adjustment can be a real challenge.

Guitar action, in other words, is the height of the guitar strings over the fretboard. That distance makes the instrument comfortable to play against your fingers and determines if you get any buzzing sounds as you strum or pluck the acoustic steel guitar strings. Here is a quick guide to adjusting your guitar action.

How to Judge If the Action Is Too High or Too Low

An acoustic steel guitar is incredibly rewarding to play, but you want a sound that enhances your performance instead of ending like an amateur. The best way to ensure you get that quality sound is to double-check your guitar action and placement. It is important for you to check if the strings are too high off the fretboard or too low against the fretboard.

  • Too Low

The easiest way to tell if your acoustic steel guitar action is too low is if you are getting an unwanted buzzing while you play. This will be because the strings are so close to the fretboard that they resonate louder and make the soundboard echo, creating a longer-lasting buzz.

  • Too High 

When your strings are too high, you cannot hold down the strings as well against the fretboard. This places more demand on your fingers and can result in sloppy playing because of the extra effort.

The Steps to Adjust the Acoustic Steel Guitar Action

There are a few different ways to adjust the action of your acoustic steel guitar. This is the most common method to work reliably, especially when you are in a pinch and need to get on stage quickly. We highly suggest doing this on your own the first time and taking your time so you get a feel for the instrument as you move the string tension.

  • Preparation

Gather up your tools. You’ll need a spanner wrench, ruler to judge the height from the fretboard, and tuner to ensure everything is sounding the way it should.

  • Test & Measure

Play the individual strings and listen for buzzing. The adjustments you make on your acoustic steel guitar do not have to be uniform, especially for older models. There is a good chance you will only adjust, tighten, or loosen certain knobs.

  • Adjust the Action with a Spanner

Use the spanner wrench to adjust each knob one at a time. This also involves adjusting the truss rod. This is the metal bar inside the guitar neck that runs the length of the fretboard. You access it from either inside the soundhole or the top of the neck.

  • Measure the Action Again

When you have found a height that works well for your desired action sound, take out your ruler and write down the measurements. Over time, you will instinctively know where to make this measurement, but for now, writing it down helps the next time you want to make an adjustment.

  • Test the Performance and Tune

Now that you have the right action, try playing your acoustic steel guitar. If everything sounds correct as far as buzzing and playability, then tune your guitar, and you’ll be all set. 

The Benefits of Using AW430 Alice Acoustic Guitar Strings

When you do decide to adjust the action on your guitar, it may help to purchase a set of Alice AW430 strings. These Alice acoustic guitar strings create a bright and clear timbre that sings out above annoying buzz action. The plated steel strings are more than durable enough for most styles and are available in super-light or light weights. What’s more, the strings have enough strength to withstand fast swapping by many types of pickups. Therefore, these Alice acoustic guitar strings perform so well that you can play them in concerts without any doubt.

The main features of Alice AW430 are:

l   Plated steel plain string

l   hexagonal steel core

l   copper alloy winding

l   anti-rust coating


Guitar action adjustment is a messy but inevitable task for every guitarist. For those who haven’t figured out the steps to finish this task, just follow the instructions in this article to achieve an improved tone and comfortability while playing your guitar.

Since 1999, Alice has been a professional manufacturer and developer of incredible musical instrument strings. Our team can find any solution you need for your guitar or style. Check our numerous high-quality instrument accessories now by visiting our website or sending us a note.  Our professional team members are always happy to answer any questions you may have about strings!