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Violin action height.
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January 26, 2020 - 8:05 pm
Member Since: March 3, 2019
Forum Posts: 63
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Hello, I’m curious to see where people tend to set the action height and what they find to be more pleasing.  Maybe the fiddlerman himself could answer this question as well :D I’m adjusting the violin I just fixed and it got me thinking about the subtle nuances. 


January 26, 2020 - 11:09 pm
Member Since: March 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 334
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Pardon my ignorance...I’m curious as to what “action height” is?

West Sussex, England UK

January 27, 2020 - 4:13 am
Member Since: September 27, 2019
Forum Posts: 374
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I carve my bridges to show about 3 mm under the halfway stop (where the 12th fret would be on a guitar). This is probably a higher action than some would prefer, but it suits me. For [email protected] : "action" is the clearance of the strings above the frets of a guitar; I cannot recall the equivalent violin term.

The following document may be of interest to you:

"Making The Violin" PDF

Violins do not suffer fret buzz like a guitar can, but insufficient string clearance can adversely affect intonation of fingered stops, and too much will make playing uncomfortable and bowing hyper-sensitive to angle.


"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

Sacramento, California

January 27, 2020 - 4:45 am
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1275
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If the action is too low, the G string in particular may buzz when played loudly on a stopped note -- the vibration may be large enough to hit the fingerboard. But I like a relatively low action anyway.

String height is typically measured at the end of the fingerboard. On my viola, I have my A string 3.5 mm above the fingerboard at the end, and my C string 5.5 above the fingerboard at the end. That's half a millimeter lower than what is typically recommended for a viola, but not so low as to cause intonation problems and buzzing lower strings. The lower action is especially helpful for me because I have very short fingers.

(A typically recommended violin clearance at the end of the fingerboard is 3.5 mm for the E string and 5.5 mm for the G string. Most factory violins arrive with the bridge cut a bit too high, probably because you can cut the bridge down but can't raise it without getting a new bridge.)


January 27, 2020 - 11:41 am
Member Since: December 23, 2017
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AndrewH pretty much nailed the answer I would give.  To add some confusion, perlon strings need more room than steel strings and light tension strings of all types need more room than medium tension.  Heavy tension need the least amount of room.  

Fast players therefore often use steel heavy tension strings.  

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed. —William Gibson


January 27, 2020 - 6:27 pm
Member Since: March 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 334
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Just didn’t know that was called the action.

I’ve cut a lot of bridges and I have these templates that give the standard clearances.  Irv helped me out awhile ago when I had a g buzzing.   Cut a new bridge with just a little more clearance to correct it.

Fort Lauderdale
February 5, 2020 - 10:38 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 15673

One version of action is the angle of the fingerboard relative to the instrument. The distance over the fingerboard is very relevant but when someone says that your action is too low, you may need a neck reset or similar.
If the angle is greater you can have the strings close to the fingerboard and still have the downwards pressure, and power that is attractive with a higher action.

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but the one who needs the least."

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