Guitar setup is crucial because it lets you get the most out of your guitar. It is unlikely that you will buy a guitar that will be perfectly set up right off the shelf, so you will probably need to have it set up for it to reach its full potential. Here we discuss guitar setup and why it is critical for getting a great-sounding instrument.
Professional Guitar Setup is Key!
Professional guitar setup ensures your electric, acoustic, and bass guitar will perform in top shape, be in tune, and all the little things will be personalized to your liking.
Guitars are made from wood, which means they are susceptible to changes due to humidity, temperature, and other factors like improper storage. It directly affects the instrument’s playability, sometimes so severely that the guitar is almost unplayable. It is where setup comes in!
What Does a Guitar Setup Include?
The guitar setup is (usually) a simple procedure that a guitar technician or a luthier performs, ensuring the guitar is adjusted to its perfect shape. A guitar setup means the string action will be set correctly, the guitar will be tuned, and you will enjoy playing your instrument.
A usual guitar setup most often addresses the following:
- Changing the strings
- Cleaning grime from the body
- Cleaning and oiling the fretboard
- Cleaning and checking the nut
- Checking for loose frets/fret buzz and polishing the frets
- Cleaning and adjusting the tuner heads
- Adjusting the neck (tightening or loosening the truss rod)
- Adjusting the height of the pickups and checking the electronics
- Adjusting and fine-tuning the string height
- Bringing the guitar into intonation by fine-tuning the bridge saddles
When to Get a Guitar Setup?
Buying a guitar with a perfect setup is not very likely, and it is especially true for second–hand guitars that have not been played for years or have not had a setup done in a long time. When you buy a guitar, it often comes with an old string set. Naturally, you will want to change them to the string gauge you play, and why not have all the other things checked and adjusted as well?
You don’t need to get a setup every time you change your strings, but as a general rule, you should take your guitar for a setup once or twice a year. A professional guitar tech or luthier will check all the things listed above, and you will continue to keep your guitar in top shape.
Can All Guitars Benefit from a Setup?
YES, all guitars can benefit from a professional guitar setup: an acoustic or an electric guitar or an expensive or an inexpensive one. A professional setup makes the guitar perfectly fit for you and your playing style.
We don’t recommend you try and set up your guitar at home, no matter how many YouTube videos you’ve watched. If something goes wrong, you’ll still have to take your guitar to a professional, so why not do this in the first place: avoid messing stuff up and save yourself the headache and extra cost, all the while ensuring your guitar will be set by a professional who knows what they are doing.
Conclusion: Great Guitar Setup is King!
Every guitarist has their playing style, and their guitar should be adjusted to fit their hand. But an excellent guitar setup also means everything on the guitar gets adjusted, so there is no buzzing, string breaking, or other issues. After a great setup, the intonation and sustain will be optimized, your guitar will sound better, and you will enjoy playing it more!
Pro Tip: After getting your guitar set up by a professional, you need to use the same string gauge to keep it in tune and intonating well!