Why do cheap guitars have high action?

The Mystery Behind High Action on Cheap Guitars

Guitars are an essential part of many musicians’ lives. They come in all shapes, sizes, and prices, but one thing that often confounds guitar players is the high action on cheap guitars. What is action, you ask? Action refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard. The higher the action, the harder it is to play the guitar. So why do cheap guitars have high action?

To understand the answer, we need to delve into the world of guitar manufacturing. Cheap guitars are often mass-produced in factories, where precision and attention to detail are not always a top priority. The result is guitars that are not properly set up, with high action being one of the most common issues.

Another reason why cheap guitars have high action is due to the materials used. Cheap guitars are often made with cheaper woods, which can cause warping and twisting over time. This warping can cause the neck to bend, leading to high action. Additionally, cheap guitars often have cheaper hardware, such as bridges and nuts, which can also contribute to high action.

So what can you do if you find yourself with a cheap guitar with high action? The first step is to have the guitar properly set up by a professional luthier. This will involve adjusting the truss rod, which is responsible for controlling the amount of relief in the neck, as well as adjusting the bridge height.

Another option is to upgrade the hardware on your guitar. This can include replacing the bridge, nut, and tuners with higher quality components. This will not only improve the action, but also the overall sound and playability of the guitar.

It’s important to note that high action is not always a bad thing. In fact, some guitar players prefer high action because it allows for a more expressive playing style, with a greater range of dynamics and tonal possibilities. However, if you’re a beginner or simply looking for a guitar that’s easier to play, then it’s best to avoid high action guitars or have them properly set up.

The Benefits of Low Action Guitars

Low action guitars are easier to play, with a smoother and faster feel. This makes them ideal for players of all levels, from beginners to advanced players. Additionally, low action guitars have a more consistent tone, with less buzzing and fret noise.

Another benefit of low action guitars is that they are less prone to wear and tear. With high action guitars, the strings are more likely to rub against the frets, causing wear and tear over time. This can lead to dead spots on the fretboard and an overall decline in playability.

Finally, low action guitars are often more comfortable to play for extended periods of time. With high action guitars, the player must put more effort into playing each note, leading to fatigue and discomfort over time.


In conclusion, cheap guitars often have high action due to mass production and the use of cheaper materials and hardware. While high action can be desirable for some players, it is often a hindrance for beginners and players looking for a more comfortable playing experience. If you find yourself with a cheap guitar with high action, consider having it set up by a professional luthier or upgrading the hardware.

Low action guitars offer a more comfortable and easier playing experience, with a smoother and faster feel. They are also less prone to wear and tear and have a more consistent tone. So next time you’re in the market for a new guitar, consider the action and choose wisely!

This blog post was written by ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI.