How to Adjust String Height on Guitar

Updated April 17, 2017

Adjusting the string height, commonly called "action," is done by raising and lowering the bridge of your guitar. You also can adjust the string height on your guitar by turning the string height adjustment screws located on the bridge. Recommended string height measurements general are adjusted to 2/64, 3/64 and 4/64 inch. The most common height is 3/64 inch. Set the string height at 2/64 inch for quicker action. Adjust the string height higher if you play slide guitar. Properly tune the guitar prior to adjusting the string height.

Mark measurements with a pencil on a small piece of paper. Mark measurements at 2/64, 3/64 or 4/64 inch. Stand the paper next to the strings to see whether the strings need to raised or lowered.

Adjust the height of the bridge, which is located near the saddle at the bottom of your guitar. Turn the screws on the bridge clockwise with a flathead screwdriver to raise the height of the bridge. Turn the screw counterclockwise to lower the height. Raise the bridge just enough so the strings don't buzz against the fret as you play.

Stand the piece of paper next to the high E string. Adjust the height of the individual string with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Turn the screw located on top of the high E string to the right to raise the string or left to lower it. Watch the string height as it adjusts to the measurement mark on your paper. Raise or lower the string until it is even with the mark on your paper. Repeat this step on the rest of the strings, aligning them with the mark and turning individual height-adjustment screws to adjust the height.

Play a few chords to test the string height. Raise a string a little higher if you hear a buzz coming from the string. Re-tune your guitar after the string height is adjusted.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Paper
  • Pencil
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About the Author

David Shaw has been writing professionally since 2006. He has featured music-related articles in "Connections" and "Axis Magazine." Shaw attended Florida State University where he majored in communications and he was granted a certificate of completion from Full Sail Real World Education for the recording arts program.