Learning to setup a guitar

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Thread: Learning to setup a guitar

  1. #1

    Join Date: Jun 2006
    Location: Earth
    ME: 02 NAMM Jackson RR
    MA: Takamine 12
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    Learning to setup a guitar

    Inspired by DonBot's post...

    I really should learn how to setup my own guitars. Are there any good resources (books, videos, etc.?) I'd really be interested in books that had step by step info, so I could have that with me when I do the setup.

    Also - what tools do I need?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Lake District, UK
    ME: RGD2127z/Apex 100
    Rig: Diezel Hagen/Zilla's

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    This is relevant to my interests.


  3. #3

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Manhattan
    ME: Warmoth Warhead
    MA: Blueridge BR-40
    MB: Dingwall ABI, Kubicki
    Rig: Budda SD30

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    Dan Erlewine's "How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great" (or something like that) is a great resource.
    Too much focus leads to tunnel vision
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  4. #4

    Join Date: Feb 2009
    Location: Fort Collins, CO
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    This book is pretty thorough:

    And, the info on the tech page at ibanezrules.com is excellent as well.

    IBANEZ RULES!! tech - setup

    Reading through that book when i worked at the shop and following Rich's setup tips are the 2 main ways I got good at doing setups. That, and just doing it. Like everything, it gets easier/better the more you do it.


  5. #5

    Join Date: Feb 2010
    Location: Wisconsin
    ME: Ibby CST,CT,UV pwh
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    Yep, all I have ever read was Rich's set up page. Other than that it was just a matter of ripping the guitar apart and hoping like hell I could get it back together. When I did it I realized it wasn't so bad.
    Good set of allen wrenches (t-handle) both metric and standard
    a good nut driver.
    Proper sized phillips head screw drivers.

    Things I wouldn't worry about to start off with (but you hear a lot about).

    1. String height that is measured out. Don't worry about your strings being to the exact mm that you've maybe read about. It doesn't matter.

    2. Like Rich's set up page says...Don't worry about turning your truss rod, you won't break it unless you turn it like you're meaning to.

    3. shimming. Learn how to set up the guitar as is first. Once you've got that down, then you can tweak things a little more by shimming.
    Guitars are like pringles....You can never have just one!

  6. #6

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Manhattan
    ME: Warmoth Warhead
    MA: Blueridge BR-40
    MB: Dingwall ABI, Kubicki
    Rig: Budda SD30

    iTrader: 12 (100%)

    Tools I have that are useful:
    -This thing (which covers a lot of the allen head requirements and some of the screwdriver requirements): CruzTOOLS Groove Tech Guitar/Bass 10-in-1 Multi-Tool: Shop Accessories & Other Musical Instruments | Musician's Friend
    -Large and small Philips head screwdrivers (truss rods, pickup screws, strap buttons, pickguard/control plate screws, neck screws, intonation adjustment)
    -Large and small standard screwdrivers (pickup adjustment, stoptail/TOM adjustment, some old truss rods)
    -Allen wrenches, as many sizes as you can get in both metric and imperial (truss rods, pickup adjustment, saddle adjustment, Floyd adjustment)
    -A variety of sockets, socket wrench, variety of nutdrivers (tightening down potentiometers/tuner bushings/hex nuts, some truss rods like PRS, Rickenbacker, etc.)
    -locking pliers (holding soldering things in place, tightening hex nuts)
    -soldering iron
    -skinny metal rod for spokewheel truss rods
    -Dremel (widening pot holes/grinding down screws to fit inside straplocks, sanding, polishing)
    -needlenose pliers
    -bent-nose pliers
    -wire strippers
    -Planet Waves neck support

    Tools I wish I had that are useful:
    -Radius gauges (for setting saddle heights)
    -Feeler gauges (for checking pickup heights and action)
    -that little stand with two movable alligator clamps to hold things in place while soldering
    -a better neck support/desktop pad system (Fender and a few others make them)
    -Heat gun (for heat-shrink tubing)

    Non-tools that are useful
    -Lemon Oil
    -Guitar Polish
    -Shop towels
    -Painter's tape
    -Flexible, positionable light (Ikea makes a super cheap one that I get a lot of use out of)

  7. #7

    Join Date: Feb 2010
    Location: Laramie, Wyoming
    ME: Jackson AT Pro
    Rig: Rivera K Tre

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    Psssssssshhhhhhhh, this is the easiest thing ever.

    -Take old strings off
    -Clean board
    -Put new strings on
    -Balance trem if there is trem
    -Adjust truss rod
    (^Tuning between every step here)
    -Replace battery (even though it only has 20 hours of use) because you are a man and use man's pickups and you also sniff corks and can hear the delicate harmonics better with a new battery
    -Look at strobostomp on floor
    -Look back at guitar
    -Look at strobostomp again and briefly contemplate intonating
    -Decide you are OK being a little out of tune

    Only time you ever have to worry about string height at the bridge with regards to having to adjust it individually per string is Vintage Trems, "hardtails", or bass bridges. Unless if there is something drastically wrong with the string height at the bridge on Floyds or TOMs I never bother adjusting it individually. I just make sure the posts are at the same height off the body on the treble and bass sides.

  8. #8

    Join Date: Feb 2010
    Location: Laramie, Wyoming
    ME: Jackson AT Pro
    Rig: Rivera K Tre

    iTrader: 15 (100%)

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    -Dremel (widening pot holes/grinding down screws to fit inside straplocks, sanding, polishing)
    I would advise using a simple hand reamer for widening pot holes from 5/16ths to 3/8ths. I've used a simple $7 "Grizzly" one of Amazon on two or three guitars and it works perfectly. Its pretty easy to mess something up with dremel.

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