Dare to Think!


Monday, October 7th, 2013

I would like to start a series of posts on how we do a basic setup on most guitars. We assume NO-LIABILITY for any damages caused by anyone following anything in these articles. The posts are for informational purposes only.
The first article will deal with neck adjustments.
Before we start any setup, the guitar is first tuned to pitch. It is given an overall inspection where the following items are looked at: Structural integrity, bridge glue joints, fret seating position in f/b slots, fret condition, any neck warping, separation at neck joint, neck curvature, headstock integrity, cracks and separation of top/sides/back, internal rattles, nut and saddle condition, and most importantly tuning machine integrity. If the tuner has broken/missing parts or slips during tuning, doing a proper setup will be almost impossible. It is important to address any structural issues before attempting a good setup.
The next step is adjusting the neck.

  1. Tune the instrument.
  2. Capo first fret over all strings.
  3. Position guitar in playing position for accurate readings.
  4. Press down the #6 string (bass E) at the last fret of the f/b for electrics & at the 14 fret on acoustics.
  5. Use a ruler or action gauge to measure the action at the fret closest to the neck center. 0.010”-0.020” is considered normal relief. (Can be purchased atwww.stewmac.com or www.lmii.com .)
  6. If the action is too high (too much up-bow / inward bend), the instrument needs a truss rod adjustment. If the guitar does not have a truss rod, then it can be addressed through compression fretting.
  7. Before doing an adjustment, we locate the truss rod nut. It is above the nut in electrics and inside the sound hole for acoustics.
  8. Next loosen, clean & lubricate the nut screw and threads before making the actual adjustments. Small brush works best to remove any buildup.
  9. Tighten the nut until snug. Put a mark (marker/pen/scribe) on the nut as a starting point reference.
  10. Tune instrument to pitch while in playing position.
  11. Using a straight edge (for viewing relief), tighten truss rod nut till the edge lies as straight as possible on the fret tops. Problematic frets now become more visible. They should be addressed for optimal playing.



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