UnderGround Forums
 

SoundGround >> Setting up your guitar


8/25/04 4:58 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 25-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9498
 
I told someone on another thread I would TTT this from another thread, but damned if I couldn't find it! So here we go.Much of this will apply to both acoustic and electric guitars, but for the sake of simplicity, it will be based on an electric guitar set up. *DISCLAIMER* If you FUBAR your guitar as a result of following or not following these guidelines, it's your own damn fault, don't come a cryin' to me. If you are a maladroit who shouldn't even own a screwdriver, much less touch a guitar with it, leave it to the pros. ;) OK, let's assume you do not have a floating trem bridge such as a Floyd Rose for now, or if you do that it is properly adjusted to sit level when the guitar is in tune. We'll address that later. Tune your guitar to the pitch you will be playing at, If you plan to downtune ever, tune to the LOWEST tuning you will be using as this will allow functional action at both lower and higher settings. Holding the guitar in playing position(not flat on a bench or table)hold the g string down at the first fret with your usual fretting hand and at the 15th fret with the thumb of your picking hand. Still holding the string down, stretch your picking hand index finger up to seventh fret and push the string down, checking the gap between it and the top of the fret. You're basically using the string as a straightedge. IMO, a neck should be nearly straight, but if there is barely a business card thickness of clearance at the 7th fret, that's OK. Any flatter and you need a good 6" ruler to look for high spots. (con't)
8/25/04 5:11 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 25-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9499
Let's assume the neck has too much relief(gap in the middle) when you check it. Tightening the truss rod will straighten it(we hope!). On MOST guitars, a clockwise turn of the rod will do this job, but be careful, there are exceptions. Your best bet is to always make small adjustments and check your work often so you don't get in trouble. The adjustment nut will usually be at the headstock just past the nut, or at the body end of the fingerboard. Some guitars require that you unbolt the neck to get to the truss rod adjustment Which is a huge pain in the ass, but there you go. In any case,I recommend SMALL turns(maybe an eighth of a turn) and then check your straightness. Some guitars want to have the strings loosened a bit before tightening the rod. Do so if the rod feels very tight when you turn it, you don't want to break it! Of course, if when you check the relief, the neck is completely flat or backbowed(string sits right on 7th fret when you do the first test) you'll want to loosen the rod a bit. Again, small increments are best until you see a slight gap in the middle. Tomorrow, we'll look at the nut to make sure it isn't causing us action or tuning problems, as well as getting the correct bridge height for our playing style! I'm going to bed now. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Racer"sleepy"X
8/25/04 9:36 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 25-Aug-04
Member Since: 03/28/2002
Posts: 10049
Great info there RX, keep it coming.
8/26/04 12:23 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Shootozen
11 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 26-Aug-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 3277
good info- thx
8/26/04 5:10 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 26-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9519
OK We now have the neck in pretty good shape, let's move on to the nut, the biggest cause of tuning problems. First, some analysis. does the string make a "tinking" sound as it is being tuned,even with new strings? does tuning slip sharp for no apparent reason or flat when a string is bent? This can be because of binding at the nut cause by the slots being too narrow for the string. Proper width slots are one of the most critical things to the tuning and sound of a string.But before we do anything about it we need to check the clearence over the first fret to see if we have any room to play with here. This is an easy one: fret just past the second fret just hard enough to touch it. Look at the space over the first fret, it should be possible to move the string slightly ie; not resting on the first fret, but the tiniest of gaps. As long as the string is not resting on the first fret we have room to work. If the space over the 1st fret seems excessive, we have room to improve both the action and the intonation in the first few positions. I prefer to use gauged nut files available through www.stewmac.com. You can get just the files you need for your string set for about the cost of a setup or two, and they last a VERY long time. With the guitar in tune(to maintain neck relief) and laid on a padded surface(kitchen table with bath towels,heh heh) you cut each slot to the correct depth leaving just enough clearance above the first fret(described above). The nut slots should roll away from the string at the headstock side of the nut, but only slightly. You want to spread the load of the strings pressure on the nut over the width of the nut, not just on the leading edge as this can cause string breakage and cause shorter string or nut life. Now that the neck and nut are properly set, it's time for the bridge. Some guitars have a bridge with overall height adjustment, some have individual saddles, and some have both. If you have a Gibson Les Paul style bridge you can lower it until the strings touch at the highest fret and see if you need to file any saddles deeper to match the radius of the fingerboard. Once the curve from E to E string matches the fretboard you can set the action. I recommend starting at about 4/64ths of an inch from the bottom of the strings to the top of the 12th fret. a 6" ruler that reads in 64ths makes this an easy read. From there you can lower the treble side of the bridge in small increments, retune, and make sure you can still bend note all up and down the neck without them "choking" or fretting out, as it is often called. cont.
8/26/04 5:20 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 26-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9520
For a strat style bridge, it's a bit tougher to match the radius of the fingerboard. I like to use a 1/16" drill bit as a feeler gauge because it's tough to be consistant string to string with the ruler. Once you have your starting point, you can lower the high E string to the point of fretting out, raise it just enough for clean bends, and then looking across the stringsfrom the low E side, try to get a constant radius from one side to the other that matches the fingerboard. you can also get radius gauges from stewmac that make this a lot easier. Tomorrow, my nutty approach to intonation adjustment!
8/27/04 11:10 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 27-Aug-04
Member Since: 03/28/2002
Posts: 10060
Perfect man. RX, could you include a paragraph on strings as well, ie: amount of winds, tensions,  that sort of thing. I may not have to buy that book for a little while longer.
8/27/04 6:51 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 27-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9548
You bet,Beav. That's in the next "chapter". I'll be back LATE tonight.
8/28/04 2:47 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 28-Aug-04
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 9556
UHG, feel like shit. Next chapter tomorrow. Sorry.
1/9/05 2:15 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 09-Jan-05
Member Since: 03/28/2002
Posts: 10381

ttt.

 I thought I remembered a chapter on setting up an acoustic too, was that at different thread?

 

1/9/05 6:30 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 09-Jan-05
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 10613
Haven't seen this one in a while. Gimme a couple hours and I'll come back and extend it.
1/10/05 9:16 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 10-Jan-05
Member Since: 03/28/2002
Posts: 10382
thanks rusty, but RX deserves the credit for this one.
1/10/05 12:38 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 10-Jan-05
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 10627
Intonation adjustment is a relatively simple process on most electric guitars. Here is a method that makes it even simpler: 1.Before bringing the strings up to pitch, move all saddles to their furthest adjustment away from the neck. 2. tune up guitar and check intonation by comparing the open string to the 12th fret tuning. The 12th fret should be flat compared to the open note. move the saddle a small amount toward the neck,retune,and check intonation again. Do this until the notes are the same,open and 12th fret. THEN play other notes up and down the string. They won't be perfect, but should average out pretty well. The reason for starting out with the saddle way back is that it prevents the tuning up and down that starting at a random point causes. you adjust and tune up only, better for the string and quicker. It also prevents deforming a tuned portion of the string by starting too far forward. 3. Now confirm that intonation is good between the nut and first fret. If the first fret is sharp when the open string is in tune, there may be an issue with the nut slot.
2/20/06 2:00 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Shootozen
11 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 20-Feb-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 5210
Racer, if you have to file the saddles to height like for an LP...what kind of file do you use?
2/20/06 10:20 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Shootozen
11 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 20-Feb-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 5215
up
2/22/06 10:38 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ponyboy
15 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 22-Feb-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 8330
Nice tip on the saddles. They would probably be binding a bit because of the angle if you had to go the other direction.
1/1/07 6:20 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 01-Jan-07
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 15747
ttt for now
2/11/07 5:58 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 11-Feb-07
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 15950
To the TOP,baby!
2/13/07 1:10 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
evilsorta
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 13-Feb-07
Member Since: 11/26/2002
Posts: 4638
riight on..i hate setting up my jem....
2/14/07 12:57 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 14-Feb-07
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 15968
evilsorta, I'll do a thread on setting up locking trem tricks soon.
2/14/07 5:44 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
evilsorta
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 14-Feb-07
Member Since: 11/26/2002
Posts: 4645
cheers mate, the fuckers at my local guitar store charge me $40-50 bucks everytime to restring and set the fucker up....i think it's because my jem is fluro pink.
2/15/07 9:33 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ponyboy
15 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 15-Feb-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 10016
First thing on a locking trem is to check whether you can get enough string length for intonation. Then you start looking around and find that the tremolo pivot posts are nearly cut through and the posts have slowly migrated toward the nut. There's a lot many people don't see at first glance that determines whether a successful quality setup can be performed or whether it will require a bunch more labor than originally thought.
2/15/07 11:29 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Racer X
53 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 15-Feb-07
Member Since: 05/17/2001
Posts: 15971
"Then you start looking around and find that the tremolo pivot posts are nearly cut through and the posts have slowly migrated toward the nut." Very good point. The Ibanez basswood guitars like the RG series are very suseptible to this.
2/27/07 11:00 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 27-Feb-07
Member Since: 03/28/2002
Posts: 12709
Hey RX, I've got a 6120 w/bar bridge. Its pretty dry in my place during the winter and I've been keeping it in the case when I'm not using it, don't have a humidifier in it though. I picked it up tonight and I"m getting a little fret buzz on the lower three strings between the 8th and 12th frets. I've tried holding down the strings with my fingers when I make a chord, but it doesn't seem to help much. Any thoughts? I'm recording this weekend so any advice is appreciated.
2/28/07 10:27 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ponyboy
15 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 28-Feb-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 10062
Have you relatively recently gone to a lower string gauge?

Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.