News

Lessons

Series

Songs

Books

Access

Tour

About

Search

String Action Explained

Action, the height of the strings above the frets, measured at the 1st and 12th frets. Action at the 1st fret is primarily affected by the depth of the slots in the nut, while action at the 12th is influenced equally by the nut and the saddle.

String Action Explained

Action, the height of the strings above the frets, measured at the 1st and 12th frets. Action at the 1st fret is primarily affected by the depth of the slots in the nut, while action at the 12th is influenced equally by the nut and the saddle.

Checking the Action at the Nut

With any fretted string instrument such as the ukulele. Grab string four, the "G" string on a C tuned ukulele - the string closest to your nose in playing position, right behind the nut and press it down the fingerboard right in front of the nut. Your looking to see if there is too much of an going angle down.

Then — press the string down at fret three. You then look for how much clearance there is between that string and fret (1). If the nut is at the ideal height there will be very little space, and I mean very little space between the string and fret (1).

To check if you need to lower the nut. First, measure the height of the fret (1), the "crown" height. The nut should be higher than fret (1) by about "0.2mm". There are two great tools called a Step Gauge for Ukulele and GrooBar Nut Slot Assist Tool available for ukulele from HOSCO Luthier Tools that you can use to get precise measurements. And a YouTube video: Step Gauge and GrooBar™ for Ukuleles from the company , Hosco that makes these tools.

Links and Resources

  • HOSCO: Step Gauges for Ukulele (H-SG-U) • This product page contain detailed information on using this tool as well as videos.
  • HOSCO: Groobar™ -Nut Slot Assist Tool (H-GB4U) • This product page contain detailed information on using this tool as well as videos.
  • Action and playability, Mya-Moe Ukuleles - link ( from Mya-Moe site: In the absence of specific information about the musician, we adjust our ukuleles to a medium-low action (about 0.080" at the 12th fret). The #3 string has a slightly higher action allowing for its larger diameter.
  • Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies • A store that caters to you – the guitar/bass builder and enthusiast. Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies is located in the North East area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • How To Adjust Ukulele Action At The Saddle, by Got a Ukes's Barry Maz - link
  • Lowering Action at the Bridge on Ukulele, by Frank Ford* - link
  • Checking Nut Action, by Frank Ford* - link
  • Lowering Action at the Saddle, by Frank Ford* - link

Tools

  • String Action Gauge, Stewart-MacDonald - link

    Measure string action (the height of the string above the fret) at any point by placing the gauge behind the string. The string height markings are at increments of .010" (ten thousandths of an inch). When the bottom of a mark aligns with the bottom of the string, that measurement is the string height at that point. The markings themselves are .005" thick, so referring to the top of a mark instead of the bottom adds .005" to the measurement. In this way the progressive string height scale measures in .005" increments.

Frank Ford is a world renowned luthier - repairman and has some of the best information available on-line.

Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com

Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get ALL the benefits of a Premium Access Subscription such as Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site, and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.

If you're anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overloaded with everything and everybody on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once, and you're done.

The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee there is more than enough material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That alone is more than the cost of this plan.

Premium Access - This premium gives you Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources and related assets. As well as ALL books by Curt Sheller as FREE downloads.

Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt

NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.


Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!

curtieAnim.gif rw.vg.gif

Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II. 34 years ago. Man, does time fly.

“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”

LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, Luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!

Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often. I really do need to get out more ;-)