Kimock post on TGP with his view of "higher action". Real good stuff. You see Jerry using his side-to-side vibrato almost constantly- this helps explain the "above and below pitch concept.
" If all it allowed for was greater variation or range in picking hand articulation that'd be enough as attack is the number one determinant of timbre.
What y'all are missing is raising the action from the pickup's perspective is LOWERING the PU's in first position and progressively raising them as you go higher on the neck.
The PU's output response to proximity isn't linear; a little closer isn't "a little louder", it's a LOT louder.
Your amp's response to that increase in voltage at the input isn't necessarily just volume tho, within that voltage swing you're also increasing gain.
As a result you can get nice clean lower position rhythm sounds and dramatically louder and/or more colorful high register single note sounds just by changing position and taking advantage of the string's increased excursion and proximity to the pickup by hitting it harder.
Also, as you raise the action, in the high register you're normally driving the intonation flat, picking up progressively more distance to compensate than the geometry allows.
Leaving the high register a little flat allows you to use more vibrato and/or a more aggressive attack without driving the string immediately sharp.
That combination of greater variation in attack and articulation, greater dynamic range, better fundamental, increased range of control of preamp color, and improved intonation for the singing melody type playing stuff is what you gain with progressively higher action.
What you lose is a guitar you can't hit that gets progressively weaker and sharper as you go up the neck.
So the high action thing is obviously a "lead guitar" strategy.
I leave the action low and kinda tight for dedicated rhythm guitar, and low and loose for some higher gain rock/blues styles, but overall, getting the action up enough to take advantage of the additional control it allows for single note color and gain vs. clean rhythm playing without having to resort to pedals and the improved intonation/expression of the high register is why you'd say it "sounds better".
It does. It just works better.
If you can play.
If you can't play, it just makes it harder.
There's no right way or better way to do anything set-up wise on the guitar.
It's all just trade offs.
Again, if anybody needs convincing: show up with your guitar and let's play.
I'll walk you through it, you'll say "oh yeah", and then do as you will.
There's a whole nuther bag of vocabulary that's super useful with the action up even a little that's worth investigating."
"Do not write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood." -Epictetus
First show: 8/16/69 (Woodstock)
Last show: 3/19/95 (Unbroken Chain breakout)
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