Low Action?

That's almost like a bartender saying," If you want more than a shot and a beer go someplace else!"
 
I’m not an expert on anything at all, but as a layman, I always figured that this was the aim of a low action — to get it as low as possible without buzzing. And my guess is that if there is buzzing, you’ve gone lower than is possible. If it were possible to go lower, then you could go lower without a buzz. Am I wrong?
 
Whats a little buzzing 🐝

Buzz away, ;) 🐝
 
If you get the action as low as possible with a light or medium touch, it WILL buzz if you ever have to 'dig in' & play louder passages. It's a trade off you'll have to make for easier playing.
 
Players of low action fretted instruments need a refined touch. Instrument buzz can be the result of technique.
Indeed. A lot of very advanced musicians (better than me, anyway!) prefer an action that many would consider too high. Look at the action on classical guitars! It can give more dynamic range.
 
There’s more problems than just string buzz. I’ll quote Mim’s who probably knows more about setups than anyone else.
She says on her FAQ page:

“Some problems include fingers hitting the fretboard and buzzing on the frets or saddle. But the biggest thing people don't realize is often it will destroy the tone of their ukulele. So please trust me that I will go as low as is ideal for your ukulele. But I have had too many times where I have audibly heard a lively uke go dead when someone has insisted on insanely low action.”
 
Indeed. A lot of very advanced musicians (better than me, anyway!) prefer an action that many would consider too high. Look at the action on classical guitars! It can give more dynamic range.
I would say that almost all professional musicians prefer a higher than average action to get better volume and tone from their instruments. Extra low action is really only good for people with quiet voices and don't want their instruments to drown out their singing. Extra low tension strings might work well for these people, too.
 
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Jake Wildwood takes all his ukes to 1/16th of an inch at the 12th. I have owned four-no buzzing, great tone. I think Mim is wrong on this one.
 
I don't think he will have to worry about those annoying people called customers very much. His income statement will feature nice low action however
 
There’s more problems than just string buzz. I’ll quote Mim’s who probably knows more about setups than anyone else.
She says on her FAQ page:

“Some problems include fingers hitting the fretboard and buzzing on the frets or saddle. But the biggest thing people don't realize is often it will destroy the tone of their ukulele. So please trust me that I will go as low as is ideal for your ukulele. But I have had too many times where I have audibly heard a lively uke go dead when someone has insisted on insanely low action.”
I've purchased two ukes from Mim (different brands/sizes) and I gotta say the action was perfect on both, nice and low. Maybe not the lowest it could go? But I never had a thought that it was anything other than perfect. Never measured it so I don't have the specs, but she definitely does a good setup imo.
 
Jake Wildwood takes all his ukes to 1/16th of an inch at the 12th. I have owned four-no buzzing, great tone. I think Mim is wrong on this one.
That's 1.58mm, pretty dang low.
Some will like, others not. I'm generally happy with 2 - 2.5mm. Depends on your technique. I'd expect a 1.58mm action to buzz under moderate to heavy strumming, at least for me. YMMV.
 
I also expect there will be a sound difference between 2.5 and 1.58. Maybe you like one better than the other...
I'm not sure any luthier ever designed an instrument to have that low an action, but whatever floats your boat.
 
I’m not an expert on anything at all, but as a layman, I always figured that this was the aim of a low action — to get it as low as possible without buzzing. And my guess is that if there is buzzing, you’ve gone lower than is possible. If it were possible to go lower, then you could go lower without a buzz. Am I wrong?
Getting it as low as possible without buzzing is often not the aim.
You will compromise on how dynamically you can strum or pick with your right hand and it will also dampen the overall volume and tone.

Personally on ukuleles I prefer 1.5-2.0mm at 12th fret.
Some consider this quite low.

2.0 - 2.5mm seems to be what most people feel like is the sweet spot.
But some people would even consider playing 3mm and over, as that is how Classical guitars are traditionally set up*

*- I play classical guitar in a non-traditional manner and put a lower action on it (2-2.5mm)

Below 1.5mm is when it starts feeling like you've gone too far, even if there is no buzz.

It also depends on the ukulele itself and other factors too (frets, nut, strings, neck bow/relief etc).
2 ukuleles with the exact same action measurement at 12th fret can still feel vastly different.
 
I assume the luthier's resistance to going "low as you can go" is that it is a generalized maxim to a nuanced problem. Sometimes lowered action is called for, sometimes not. As I read it, the luthiier just wants the freedom to do what is called for in his or her experience.
 
Yowling Tom’s action is just under 5mm:eek: Yes, you read that right: 5mm.
Meanwhile, volume and projection are good and so is sustain. 12th fret harmonics ring just fine. When I slide, pull- off, choke, bend and hammer-on, it rings. In short, those characteristics indicate no need to take the action any lower.
At the nut, Matt Stead’s gift card test “brakes” (binds) just past the third fret.

IMHO, 5mm action works rather well (18 Wheels And A Dozen Roses, recorded with short breaks between each section, for future collaboration):
View attachment Eighteen Wheels for Chris667.m4a
 
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