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Apr 5, 2024 - 8:54:54 PM

MikeM

USA

179 posts since 3/27/2007

I know some pickers like medium and high actions but what about low actions? I’ve seen some comments by some great players that they have really low actions. Does your tone suffer from a low( and playable) string height/ action???

Apr 5, 2024 - 9:25:42 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5739 posts since 1/5/2005

Too low: when the string(s) buzz against the fret(s).

My PERSONAL prefs, on MY banjo: approx 3 mm between string and fretboard @ 12th fret. It's pretty much a totally personal pref thing - what works for me might not at all work for someone else OR for their banjo.

In my twisted way of thinking: high action begs for string fretting accuracy to become inaccurate with string bending/choking > sideways pressure < instead of straight down.

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 04/05/2024 21:42:58

Apr 5, 2024 - 10:25:47 PM

3387 posts since 3/30/2008

From some guitar & banjo repair, set up books I've read over the years a common suggestion for playable string height at the 12th fret is 3/32, 4/32 & 5/32. Anything below or above this range can cause issues. The different heights could depend on the style of playing, (e.g. single string lead, fingerpicking or strumming).

Apr 5, 2024 - 10:34:33 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

541 posts since 3/24/2020

I like Barts 3mm minimum. At the 12th. I sometimes go a little lower for shorter scale banjos and alternately go a little higher for heavy hitters.

Apr 6, 2024 - 3:46:59 AM
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DSmoke

USA

1443 posts since 11/30/2015

You didn't mention what type of banjo and music you're playing. I setup and play Irish trad on tenor banjos and in my world you want it as low as possible without buzzing. My standard is .080" at the 12th fret which works well for most people. If the player is a "heavy picker" it might need to be slightly higher. My personal banjos are at .060 to .070.

Apr 6, 2024 - 9:25:34 AM
Players Union Member

tonygo

USA

134 posts since 12/29/2022

quote:
Originally posted by MikeM

I know some pickers like medium and high actions but what about low actions? I’ve seen some comments by some great players that they have really low actions. Does your tone suffer from a low( and playable) string height/ action???


It seems to me that one can not get their finger off a string faster than a string wants to return to its resting place. The result is a muddy note. I have heard it on some banjo players with high actions and it happens to me if mine is set high or gets higher from tensioning the head.

Apr 6, 2024 - 10:32:55 AM

BEEFUS

USA

539 posts since 10/11/2006

What you often get with too-low action is reduced note definition and reduced sound projection.
I love to play with 3mm action, but if I try that with the full band in a noisy club, I find the banjo doesn't punch through.
that said, the action doesn't have to be high. 5-6 mm should be fine.

beefsus

Apr 6, 2024 - 12:01:02 PM
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2968 posts since 9/18/2010

My banjo string height used to be about 3/32" at the 12th fret, and that was fine for what I was playing with medium strings. Then I started playing in a band with people who could play loud, and I couldn't play loud enough without buzzing. It was at that point that my action became too low. I also changed to light strings, and now my action height is 1/8" across the 'board.
So, it depends on the banjo, the strings, the bow in the neck, the player, and the situation. Simply saying "as low as possible without buzzing" means nothing unless it is applied to an individual player and considers the particular instrument, strings, neck bow, and situation.

Edited by - sunburst on 04/06/2024 12:05:33

Apr 6, 2024 - 3:38:34 PM

MikeM

USA

179 posts since 3/27/2007

Thanks for all the comments. Interesting.

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