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The term "action" refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard.
If the action is high then it takes additional effort to play chords and notes. Low action can make it easier for the instrument to be played, but being too low can result in buzzing or rattling of the strings unless the instrument is perfectly set up.
Changes in action are typically controlled by the height and setup of the bridge, but can also be impacted by the nut.
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