Some great advice for new guitar musicians.
A good setup makes acoustic guitars sound better and more comfortable and satisfying to play. Even moderately priced acoustic models under $300 can benefit from a professional guitar setup.
What’s great about acoustic guitars is that they can be adjusted according to your liking and tonal preferences. Mid-priced guitars are particularly fun to set up because there’s plenty of room for improvement. Get your guitar set up and it will feel like it’s been customized just for you.
What can you expect from a professional acoustic guitar setup, and can you do it yourself? If you have experience with guitar setup basics such as adjusting the action and intonation or changing the strings, then you can definitely work these out on your own. If not, then it would be best to leave the setup to a luthier or experienced guitar technician.
Here’s what your instrument will go through in a guitar setup:
Assessment of the guitar
For adjustments to be correctly done, you should first know what the issues are so a proper assessment or evaluation is in order. By evaluating the condition of the guitar, you would be able to see the issues that affect its tone, playability and structural integrity. Assessments are made on the string height, glue joints, neck joint and neck relief, strings, tuning machines and other components.
Adjustments at the neck, nut, saddle and bridge
Depending on the condition of the guitar and your string height preference, adjustments will have to be made on the neck via the truss rod, as well as the nut, saddle and bridge to bring the string height lower or higher. Replacing the strings can also be done at this point to make the guitar sound and play better.
Setting the intonation
Though acoustic guitars may come from the factory or workshop already tuned, they may go out of tune in transit. Tuning the guitar would be a must before playing it. It’s also a must after changing strings and making adjustments to the neck. Intonation checks involve listening for fret or string buzz and false notes. In some cases, this would also require reassessing the neck, bridge and other components that affect a guitar’s tuning.
Checking the electronics
Acoustic guitars that come with a pickup-preamp system would also need to have their electronics checked to make sure everything is in good working order. Active pickups, batteries, tone and volume controls, batteries and even the nuts and screws that keep the electronics anchored to the guitar are also assessed, repaired or replaced if necessary.
Checking the other parts of the guitar and the hardware
Tuning machines and pegheads, frets, the fretboard, strings, joints, bracing and other parts of the guitar also undergo evaluation to see if they’re in good condition. Fixes and reinforcements to these parts can make the guitar more sturdy and comfortable to play, enhancing the overall playing experience.
Guitar setups aren’t just done on new guitars. Setups should also be done to address the different changes your guitar goes through over time. And as you develop your own playing style and preferences, you can have adjustments made to match what you like in terms of strings, whether you’d like a different pickup system installed or if your playing habits necessitate a set of higher-gauge strings.
Another great thing about having your guitar checked by a pro is that you would be able to see potential issues and have them fixed before they become bigger problems. So before you strum or pick away, give your guitar some TLC and have it set up professionally.