As a general rule, a guitar setup typically consists of: Adjusting the truss rod to correct for the amount of bow in the neck, setting the action (height of the strings above the fretboard), and setting the intonation (compensating for the instrument’s inherent tuning inaccuracy by adjusting the string lengths).
But that seems easy when you put it this way. Sure there is way more to it than it sounds, doesn’t it? Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Let’s take a look at the process as a whole so we can understand it better. This guide is intended to work on both acoustic and electric guitars, but some of the steps will, of course, vary depending on the instrument.
Changing the strings
If you’re a guitar/bass player, you know that changing your strings is a necessary part of maintaining your instrument. But did you know that changing your strings is also the first step in any guitar setup?
That’s right – whether you’re doing a simple string change or a full-blown setup, the first step is always to remove the old strings and install the new ones. And while it might seem like a simple task, there’s actually a right way and a wrong way to do it.
If you want to ensure that your guitar is always in top playing condition, then it’s important to learn how to change your strings correctly. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- First, start by removing the old strings. Use a string winder to speed up the process, and be sure to loosen the strings before you remove them from the tuning pegs.
- Once the old strings are off, it’s time to clean the fretboard. Use a soft cloth or cotton swab to remove any dirt or grime from the frets and fretboard.
- Now it’s time to install the new strings. Start with the low E string, and be sure to wrap it around the tuning peg a few times before securing it. Then do the same with the A, D, G, B, and high E strings.
- Once all of the new strings are in place, it’s time to tune them up. Use an electronic tuner or pitch pipe to get each string in tune, and then adjust the string tension until the guitar is in tune with itself.
- Now that the strings are changed and in tune, you’re ready to start the setup.
Adjusting the action is one of the most important parts of any guitar setup
When it comes to setting up a guitar, adjusting the action is by far the most important part. The action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard, and it determines how easy or difficult it is to play your guitar.
If the action is too high, the strings will be too far from the fretboard, making it hard to press down on the frets and causing your fingers to hurt. On the other hand, if the action is too low, the strings will buzz against the frets, making it hard to get a clean sound.
There are a few different factors that result in the desired action (which varies depending on the player’s preferences), but the most common way involves adjusting the truss rod, the nut profile, and the bridge/saddle height.
Saddle height on electric guitars (starts for example) is usually adjusted by tightening or loosening the screws on the top of the saddles using a hex wrench.
Once you’ve adjusted the action, you’ll need to intonate your guitar. This is a process of setting the string length so that each string plays in tune with itself. If your guitar isn’t properly intonated, it will sound out of tune no matter how well you play. To intonate your guitar, you’ll need an electronic tuner. First, pluck each string one at a time and adjust the saddle until the tuner says that the string is in tune. Then, gently stretch or compress the string until the tuning is perfect.
Checking the intonation
There are a few different ways that you can check the intonation on your guitar. The most common way is to use an electronic tuner. You can also use a chromatic tuner, which will show you the exact pitch of each string.
If you don’t have an electronic tuner, you can still check the intonation by ear. First, play the note at the 12th fret of the low E string. Then, compare that note to the open string. The note should be the same. If it’s not, the intonation is off.
You can also check the intonation by playing harmonic intervals. For example, play the 12th fret of the low E string and the 14th fret of the A string. These two notes should be an octave apart. If they’re not, the intonation is off.
Once you’ve determined that the intonation is off, you’ll need to adjust it. This is usually done by adjusting the length of the strings by tightening or loosening the screw at the back of the saddle, using a Stratocaster as an example.
To adjust the intonation, first, loosen the string until it’s slack. Then, turn the screw at the back of the saddle until the note at the 12th fret is in tune with the open string. Finally, retighten the string and repeat for all of the other strings.
Adjusting the truss rod is critical
This simple operation is critical to keeping your guitar’s neck in the right shape.
The truss rod is located inside the guitar neck, and it’s responsible for keeping the neck straight.
Over time, climatic conditions and string pressure can cause the neck to warp and bend, and that’s where the truss rod comes in. By adjusting the truss rod, you can keep the neck of your guitar in the proper shape, which will help keep your instrument playing its best.
There are two types of truss rods: adjustable and non-adjustable. Most modern guitars have an adjustable truss rod, which means that you can tweak it to get the perfect neck tension. On a non-adjustable truss rod, however, you’ll need to take your guitar to a professional to have it adjusted.
Adjusting a truss rod is a pretty simple process, but it’s important to be careful. First, remove the strings from your guitar. Next, locate the truss rod nut, which is usually located at the base of the neck near the body. Using an Allen wrench or a socket wrench, loosen the nut until it’s loose enough to turn with your fingers.
Now, turn the truss rod clockwise to tighten it or counterclockwise to loosen it. As you turn the truss rod, you’ll feel resistance; stop when you reach the point of resistance. Do it slowly, a quarter of a turn at a time, and allow the neck to adjust to the new setup before continuing.
Adjusting the height of the pickup on the guitar setup
Maybe you’ve noticed that your guitar doesn’t sound quite right, or that it’s hard to get the right tone out of it. Maybe you’ve even had to replace a few pickups.
No matter what your situation is, adjusting your pickups is a relatively easy task, and one that can make a big difference in your sound.
The first thing you need to do is identify which pickup or pickups you need to adjust. Pickups that are way too close to the strings will hinder their vibration due to excessive magnetism. On the other hand, pickups too low or far away from strings will not have an adequate volume output. Test each one of them against a VU meter and use your ear judgment to understand if they need adjustment so the instrument sounds how you’d like it to.
Once you know which pickup or pickups need to be adjusted, it’s time to get to work. The only thing you need to do is tighten or loosen the screws that regulate the pickup height. Be careful not to remove them entirely, as you may not be able to get them back in.
And that’s all there is to it! Adjusting your pickups is a simple task that can make a big difference in your sound. So if your guitar isn’t sounding quite right, or if you’re having trouble getting the right tone out of it, don’t be afraid to give it a try.
The importance of the nut on guitar setup
It is important to get the nut right on any string instrument. The nut is responsible for the spacing of the strings, and if it’s not properly set up, your guitar will never play in tune.
There are a few things to consider when setting up the nut on your guitar. First, you need to make sure that the nut is the right size for your guitar. If it’s too small, the strings will be too close together and will buzz when you play them. If it’s too large, the strings will be too far apart and it will be difficult to play in tune.
Once you have the right size nut, you need to set it up so that the strings are spaced properly. This can be done by using a ruler or measuring tape. Place the ruler or tape against the fretboard, and measure from the top of the nut to the bottom of the fretboard. Adjust the nut until the spacing is correct.
Once the spacing is correct, you need to set the depth of the nut. This is done by holding a string down at the first fret and measuring from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string. The distance should be about 3/32″ (2.38mm). If it’s too deep, the string will buzz when you play it. If it’s too shallow, it will be difficult to keep the string in place when you’re tuning it.
Once you have the depth set, you need to cut the slots for the strings. You can do this with a file. Be careful not to make the slots too deep, as this can cause the strings to buzz. Make sure that all of the slots are the same depth so that the strings are spaced evenly.
Making sure the bridge is in the correct position
One of the most important things to check when you are setting up your guitar is the bridge. The bridge is what helps determine the intonation of your guitar, and if it is in the wrong position, your guitar will not be able to be tuned correctly. There are a few things that you need to check to make sure that the bridge is in the correct position.
The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that the bridge is centered on the body of the guitar. You can do this by looking at the bridge from the front of the guitar and making sure that it is evenly spaced between the two edges of the guitar body. If the bridge is not centered, it will cause the strings to be off-center and will make it difficult to tune the guitar.
The next thing to check is the height of the bridge. The bridge should be slightly higher than the top of the fretboard. This will help to ensure that the strings are able to vibrate freely and produce a clear sound. If the bridge is too low, it can cause the strings to buzz against the fretboard and produce a muffled sound.
The last thing to check is the alignment of the bridge. The bridge should be perpendicular to the fretboard. If it is not, it will cause the strings to sit at an angle and will make it difficult to tune the guitar.
How to properly restring your guitar.
Now that the setup has been taken care of, it’s time to restring the guitar.
- Remove the old strings from your guitar. Loosen the tuning pegs and carefully pull the strings through the bridge and body. If you’re not planning on reusing the old strings, cut them close to the tuning peg so you don’t have a lot of excess string hanging around.
- Clean the fingerboard and bridge. Use a soft cloth or brush to remove any dirt, grime, or dried-on sweat from the fingerboard. You can also use a pipe cleaner or a similar tool to clean out the bridge saddles.
- Install the new strings. Start by threading the string through the hole in the tuning peg. Then, wrap it around the peg a few times and tighten the peg until it’s snug. Repeat this process for all of the strings.
- String the guitar. The easiest way to do this is to use a string winder. Start at the bottom of the guitar and work your way up, winding each string tight as you go. You can also tune each string to pitch as you go if you want to save some time later on.
- Cut the excess string. Once all of the strings are installed and tuned, cut off any excess string that’s sticking out beyond the tuning pegs. Be careful not to cut too close to the peg, or you might accidentally loosen it and cause the string to come loose.
In conclusion – what does a guitar setup consist of
A guitar setup is a process of adjusting the action, intonation, and electronics of your guitar. This is usually done by a qualified technician, but if you are comfortable with your guitar and have a good working knowledge of how it works, you can do it yourself. While a professional setup is always recommended, if you are on a budget or just want to try it out, doing it yourself can be a fun and rewarding experience. Just make sure to try it out on cheaper instruments to gain the necessary experience before attempting it on instruments you depend on.