By: Brad Finley
No matter how well your guitar plays when you first bring it
home, you will come to find it doesn't play exactly the same way
after a time (sometimes even a small period of time). In some
cases the instrument's action and feel is pretty much to your
liking, but you still want to make adjustments to fit your
particular playing needs. Whichever the case, you will want a
guitar set-up to make the guitar play the way you want it to.
Guitar set-ups are something you can do yourself (if you have
the time and tools) or a good tech can accomplish this in about
an hour. In some cases you might be well versed in acoustics but
you don't know how to setup an electric guitar and you want your
first one to sound and play as good as the acoustics you own. In
other cases, you might be a died-in- the-wool blues player who
has just bought a great hollow-body and you are looking for a
basic jazz guitar set-up. Don't be discouraged, most guitars
need a set-up sometime during their lifespan (often times more
then once) and sometimes these guitar set-ups require mechanical
skills you do not have.
Every tech would agree that the most basic part of guitar
set-ups is adjusting the truss rod. This is done for setting-up
strings for the right height and play, or 'action' (according to
your particular tastes, of course) and adjusting string
intonation for accuracy. What you ultimately want is just the
right amount of movement in the middle of the fret-board so your
strings can vibrate freely when plucked, but not be too loose.
Whether it is a classical guitar set-up or the completely
opposite end of the spectrum and you're getting your jazz guitar
set-up, how much play or action you want is really up to how you
play, and how you want to play. And if you change the gauge of
your strings, you might want another guitar set-up to
All of the above is achieved by adjusting the truss rod in the
guitar's neck. This would be for a basic electric guitar set-up
In a basic electric guitar set-up, you will also be checking
your pick-ups. If they are not close enough to the strings (or
too close) or they are corrupted in anyway this should all be
dealt with during guitar set-ups. If you own an acoustic guitar
with a pick-up, say built into the bridge, all the electronics,
battery check, dial controls can also be checked during a basic
Frets are another story entirely; from classical guitar set-ups
to electric guitars, to every type in between, your frets need
to be smooth and tight. A set-up is the perfect time to get
those frets filed so they are smooth or re-glue any loose ones.
Be warned though, this is where you could rack-up the cost in
guitar set-ups, as fretwork can get costly.
Irregardless if it is a basic electric guitar setup, acoustic
or a jazz guitar setup, professionals should be charging around
$35.00 for guitar set-ups. As mentioned before, fret leveling
and re-gluing will increase the price. But set-ups are well
worth it if you want to really get your guitar playing sounding
the way you want.
About the author:
Brad Finley is senior editor of MyGuitarWorkshop - Free Guitar Lessons.
Website provides free guitar lessons and instructions for all
level guitar players. Click for more Free Guitar Lessons