Guitar Set Up Guide

Am introduction to setting up your guitar

Before you start a set up of an electric Guitar, there are a few checks that you need to do, to see what needs to be done in the set up.
You need to make sure that the guitar has strings on so you can see what you need to change on the guitar to make it sound better.
You have to check the action of the guitar, look at the high of the strings from the frets and the pick ups.
Look at the bridge and the saddles to see what high they are set at.
Have a play of the guitar and see what you donít like about the way it plays. If you are setting up your own guitar it has to be set up how you want it. Once you have looked at the four above checks, you can start to set your guitar up to play how you want it to play.
Hopefully the next 5 Steps will help you to get the sound and feel you want out of your guitar.

Step 1 The Strings

Most people tend not to think about the strings, but you will find that the strings you use and the way you put them on the guitar is imprtant to the final sonud and feel of the guitar.
The first thing you have to do is to take off the old strings and find a set of strings you enjoy playing. There best way to put new strings on is as so, if you thread the string through the bridge and place it in the nut, then measure about two machine heads worth of string away from the machine head you want to place the string on to and bend it at a 90 degree angle. Tighten the machine head while pressing the string down onto the headstock, you should get about three rap rounds for the bottom E string and will gradually get more the thinner the string gets. Get off any excess string, this stops the excess string hitting the strings and affecting the sound, doing this will also give your string a professional and pleasing look. You now have to tune the guitar up so you can see what needs to be done on the rest of the guitar.

Step 2 The Truss Rod

There are a few different types of truss rod you may come across.

1. The Fender type
As you tighten the truss rod the neck will bend and give you a smaller action, and you slacken the truss rod your neck will loosen, giving you a bigger action.

2. The Cheap aluminium type
This is just a cheap version of the fender type cased in a rectangle metal case, not as good and tends not to work as well

3. The Gibson type
Instead of bending the wood like the Fender type, the Gibson type of truss rod squeezes the wood making it bend in or out.

4. The Ibanez type
This works in the same way as the Gibson, it is just made in a different way. It is two rods welded at one end and the end of one end is welded to a collar, which is screwed on to the bottom rod.

How to adjust the Truss rod

It is fairly simple to adjust your truss rod. You will have to make sure that your new strings are in tune and you will have to work out if you need to tighten or slacken you truss rod. If the gap between you strings and frets is too big you will have to tighten you truss rod (turn it clockwise) if your strings rattle or touch your frets then you will have to slacken your truss rod (turn it anti-clockwise). This will take a few tries and you will have to keep checking if your strings are still in tune.
Adjusting the truss rod will help you to get a good action and string height, but itís not just the truss rod, itís also the bridge that effects the action.

Step 3 The Bridge (trem)

There are also a few different types of Bridge (trem) you will come across. The three main types are,

1. The Gibson type is the easiest of the three to use as it is just a curved piece of metal with the saddles on it, which can only be adjusted up and down by two screws, one on each side.

2. The Fender type is a bit more complicated to use. It is like the Gibson as it can only be moved up and down by adjusting two screws, one on each side, but the saddles are individual and can be moved one at a time to get a better sound and for easier tuning.

3. The Floyd rose type is different to both the other types as it is not attached to the body, it rests on two grooved screws,

These screws help to make the bridge move up and down. A Floyd rose can be adjusted like the fender, the saddles are individual. Floyd roses also have find tuning which help for a better sound, and closer tuning.

How to adjust the Bridge

The bridge and the truss rod are a partnership, if you adjust one you will have to adjust the other, this may take some time, but it will be worth it if you want a good sound. You will first have to remove the strings and take the bridge off the body. When it is removed give the bridge and body a good clean this will help your bridge work better and easier. Now add a small bit of wax to the screws and bridge to lubricate it a little, again this will help the bridge work better. Now place the bridge back on the body, re-string and re-tune. Check the action again. The next thing to do is to adjust your bridge. If your strings rattle on your frets the action is too low, the best way to this is to raise each saddle till the rattling stops then set them to a good height for you. If your bridge is too high from your frets, you will have to adjust the saddles again. The best way to do this is to lower your individual saddles till your strings rattle on the frets and raise it till they stop. Check the tuning and then check the action again, you may have to do this a few times to before you get a good sound and action. But trust me when you have found the right height you will be able to hear and feel the difference.

Step 4 Intonation

To get you guitar to sound good all over the fret board, you will have to make sure that the intonation is good. The way to check and do this takes time, but is well worth it. You start off by making sure that all the others adjustments are 100 percent perfect, your bridge and truss rod are set so your action is good, and that the guitar is in tune. If everything is good then you can start. You have to tune the 12th fret harmonic and 12th fret to the same note as the string. For example the E strings 12th fret and 12th fret harmonic has to be tuned to the open E string, and so on. If the note is too flat you will have to move that strings saddle back, and if itís to sharp you have to move it forward, you can move the saddles by tightening or loosening the screw, thumb reel or Allan key at the back of the bridge. Once again you will have to adjust, check and tune a few time before you get it right. But again itís worth it for a good all round sound.

Step 5 The Pick-ups

The most common types of pick-ups
All pick-ups can move up and down, but not all of them can move in more ways.

1. Gibson type these pick ups are sloped as the neck and head stock slope backwards,

2. Humbucker type some have two screws but some have three or four, this allows you to slope the pick up in a Gibson fashion.

3. Fender type can slope diagonally as well as up and down, most only have two screws but telecasts pick-ups have three.

How to adjust the pick-ups

When you come to adjusting your pick-ups, itís up to you, the way you play and the sound you want. You donít want the pick-ups too far away from the strings or you wonít get any sound, but you donít want them too close or your strings will touch and rattle. All you have to do is play around with the adjuster screws till you get a sound that is good for you. For the best sound, all the strings have to be the same distance from the pick-ups. It also depends on the action you have just set your guitar at.

Set up by Daniel Norman
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