Guitar Setup


Guitar Set-Up: Get Into The Action

Having your electric or acoustic guitar properly set up and adjusted is way too often overlooked when you want to learn electric guitar skills.

One of the best places I have found to dig into this vital aspect of having a guitar that will bring out the best in you for years to come is this: Learn and Master Guitar Set-Up. Do check it out when you have the time.

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Here’s the thing: You would more than likely think I was making it all up if I told you how many times people came to me asking about problems they had with playing their beginner guitar – and it just boiled down to an inferior or non-existent guitar setup.

“I can’t do a barre-chord for my life”. “It hurts playing the guitar”, or “This guitar is killing me”, people would say. Then, after a few simple tweaks, it was time and time again like a burden was almost magically lifted from their shoulders!

Having a guitar that is well adjusted will many times relieve you of so much extra strain and discomfort that it is almost unreal. The opposite, having a badly adjusted guitar, is a real confidence and motivation killer. Yes, it is many times that bad…

A more expensive guitar will come better adjusted from the factory and/or the dealer. Some times you can even have the guitar tailored and adjusted for your specific playing style and comfort.

Here are the most common factors in order to set up a guitar so that you will stay motivated and continue playing on a regular an on-going basis.

Set up your guitar – the basics

guitar set-up

Before doing anything else, you should have your neck checked. First, you will need to have the guitar frets checked. Any loose or uneven frets may give you a host of problems further down the road.

Usually, this is not a problem. You will now put on a fresh set of guitar strings (after you have cleaned the fretboard of course :). The string gauge – how heavy or light your set of strings are – will determine the set up. Most beginners will in general use fairly light strings as these are easier to play.

The next step is to check that the neck is straight with the strings tuned to concert pitch. Almost straight, that is – you will need just a tiny neck relief in the neck (think of the guitar neck as being like a very wide and extremely shallow “valley”). If you press down one of the outer strings on the first and 12th fret, there should be just a tiny fraction of a gap between the string and the fret somewhere in the middle – around the 6th fret.

When you get hold the info at the page I mentioned, you should have no problem with doing this yourself. I would however ask you to be careful unless you know what you’re doing. The neck truss rod found in electric and acoustic steel string guitars will need to have just a quarter of a turn at the time most of the times. Go gently and use the proper guitar setup tool!

When the neck is set up properly, you may adjust the height of the bridge. On an electric guitar this is very easy. An acoustic guitar will need to have the bridge saddle manually adjusted. Again, this is not hard … when you have the right tools and know how.

The final step – if needed – is to adjust the depth of the nut (found between the guitar tuners and at the first fret). Here you will definitely need proper tools and knowledge. You do not want to file away on a guitar nut or cut the slots too deep!

What a relief!

This may seem like a lot of work and perhaps even something you will never manage yourself. Yes, often times you will need to have your guitar checked by a qualified repairer.

However, you can save quite a bit of time, hassle and money by knowing what to look for and what you can manage yourself. The guitar setup guide I mentioned is perfect for that, as well as teaching you proper guitar maintenance.

And rest assured – a properly adjusted electric guitar may well be worth a small investment in time or money.

I’d love to hear your comments and experiences about it!

Spotlight Series Guitar Set-Up with Greg Voros

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19 Responses to “Guitar Setup”

  1. Heath Says:

    Just discovered and enjoyed this post about setting up a guitar. An update will be nice if you ever have time, cheers.

  2. subliminal ear training Says:

    I have questions related to your informative post about guitar set up. Would you mind answering them if I ask here or shall I ask on email? Looking forward to more great content, thanks!

  3. admin Says:

    Thanks for your comment. Feel free to drop me an e-mail :-)

  4. Erland Says:

    Thanks for keeping me up-to-date on the importance and procedures of setting up a guitar properly!

  5. Lacie Batch Says:

    Never found anything about setting up guitars like I was looking for. Now I found it, thanks to the folks here!

  6. song raps Says:

    Searched for this information on Bing and just wanted to say thanks for the excellent read about adjusting and setting up a guitar. I would have to agree with you on this important topic, thanks!

  7. Tor Says:

    Thanks for this write up about setting up a guitar properly. Good stuff about a very important topic for beginners as well as more experienced guitar players!

  8. Sam A. Says:

    Helpful info about proper guitar set-up indeed, saved me valuable time. Thanks!

  9. willy leu Says:

    Thank you for the info on setting up a guitar properly. Valuable for any guitar player!

  10. Kelly Wakeham Says:

    Guitars are utilized in a whole range of music variations such as classical, rock, nation, additionally to the blues. Every utilizes the fundamental abilities too as chords and methods particular towards the genre.

  11. Jeffry Leadmann Says:

    Another informative post about the importance of having a proper set up done on your guitars. Couldn’t agree more!

  12. Fred Maters Says:

    Learning about guitar adjustments and a proper set-up of the instrument … now that’s a topic I feel strongly about! A good playing guitar makes this stuff so much more enjoyable :-)

  13. Kjell Wold Says:

    Thanks for a great post about essential guitar adjustments and proper set-up!

  14. Mia B. Peterson Says:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and views on how to get more mileage and fulfillment out of your guitar. Setting things up properly – plus taking good care of the instrument of course – seems like a very logical way to achieve this.

  15. Adrian L. Skinner Says:

    This is a great article about the importance of having the guitar properly set up. Thanks for sharing!

  16. vizio Says:

    Good blog layout, will bookmark your post about Guitar Setup and also add your rss feed to my feed readers! Many thanks for a very good read!

  17. easy guitar songs Says:

    I also want to learn setting up a guitar. I usually asked the help of my friend when I need to set-up my new guitar. I asked him to teach me but he has no time to do it or I must say not so patient to teach me :). Good thing I found your blog. This will really guide me. Thanks!

  18. marek g Says:

    Nice article about proper set-up of guitars. I can really use this!

  19. Trent G. Says:

    Nice piece of writing about proper guitar set-up. Appreciate it a lot. Please keep posting more about this issue!

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