String Action refers to the height of the strings above the fingerboard – most typically measured from the top of a fret to the underside of a string. The conventional way to describe it is to refer to the distance between the top of the 12th fret and the underside of the 6th string and the top of the same fret and the udnerside of the 1st string. Using this approach, it is a convention that “Standard” action is “4/3” that is there are 4mm between the top of the 12th fret and the underside of the 6th bass “E” string and 3mm between the top of the same fret and the underside of the 1st treble “e” string.
Common set-ups include
- “High” 4.3/3.3
- “Standard” 4/3
- Medium Low 3.6/2.7, and
- Flamenco 3/2.1
Individual players may choose to have slightly different actual set-ups.
Why doesn’t everyone just have the lowest possible action? The answer is because the lower the action the more likely a string is to touch a fret when it is vibrating making unwanted noises – noises ranging from very obvious “clacking” to more subtle – and quite unpleasant – “zinging”. Some players tolerate the noise – the Flamenco style (and ambience) is so percussive you can hardly notice a bit of string buzz. Some players have a very light plucking/strumming style and so don’t tend to produce that much noise, at least at medium action. However, many classical players want to play as loud as possible (when the music and the venue demand it) and so their more assertive plucking style will give rise to unwanted noise unless the action is Standard or High. A more subtle point is that many guitars give a broader range of tones when played loud than when played softly and so the higher actions allow for a greater tonal as well as a greater dynamic (volume) range.
All Hanika guitars can be supplied with 2 saddles: one giving a high string action (approx. 4.3mm on the bass side) and the other a standard string action (approx. 3.8mm on the bass side). The high string actions have been selected to meet the requirements of German players of whom a significant proportion elect for a string action which would be considered very high indeed by many other players. The high saddle is for them.
The lower saddle gives an action close to the generally accepted standard for classical guitars (not much less than 4mm on the bass side) but even this will still be considered high by many players.
At Hanika Guitars UK, we can readily adjust the string action on one or both of the 2 saddles supplied if the customer wants it to be lower. Just phone.
(The above applies to all Hanika classical and cutaway models. String action on Hanika flamenco guitars is set low as is always required on flamenco instruments.)