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Complete Set Up Guide

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by SkinnyMan1825, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    I appreciate these are probably easy to find on the internetz. But if someone would be so kind to either provide a step by step guide to setting up a guitar or a link with good information I'd very grateful.

    I'm probably asking a lot but I'd like to know

    -which order you do things in (what comes first last etc)

    -how to do each step

    -how you check to make sure things are correct (ways to measure etc)

    In case it matters, I don't play very fast but I don't like to bend and I play 11 gauge strings. My tremolo has been set to the body so hopefully any details regarding that can be omitted.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ghostwolf

    ghostwolf Mod Admin

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    hope this helps.

    doing a general setup for the string gauge of your choice.

    1. check the string height at the nut.

    fret the individual string at the third fret. look between the bottom of the string and the first fret. any more space than a business card would fit into, the guitar will likely be hard to fret, and will most likely play sharp. a properly cut nut will allow the strings to just barely touch the first fret when fretted at the third fret. if needed, using the properly sized file, lower the slots.

    2. check the amount of relief in the neck.
    fret the 6th E string at the first fret, and the 17th, using both hands. check the area from the 7th-9th frets. generally, this space should be roughly equal to the thickness of a matchbook cover. tighten (turning clockwise) or loosen (turning counter clockwise) the truss rod in 1/8th to 1/4 turns at a time until it looks right. when tightening, it's a good idea to give the neck time to settle in before making another adjustment, although smaller tweaks shouldn't need much time to take effect. never force the truss rod. when they break, you're done...

    3. set the string height at the saddles.

    this is a matter of personal taste and feel. just be sure the saddle is level, slanted saddles can cause a vibrating string to buzz.

    4. set the intonation for the strings
    tune the guitar to pitch. fret the string at the 12th fret. compare the fretted note to the 12th fret harmonic (the harmonic gives less overtones than a plucked open string, making the comparison easier). if the fretted note is sharp, lengthen the string by tightening the screw holding the saddle to the bridge. if the fretted note is flat, shorten the string by loosening the saddle screw, which will move the saddle closer to the neck. NOTE: before adjusting the saddle length screws, it's a good idea to loosen the string first. it makes the saddle easier to move, and avoids scratching the bridge plate with the height adjustment screws.

    your guitar should now be set up to your preferences, don't be alarmed should the guitar need a minor tweak on the neck relief once it's set up. it shouldn't be a major tweak, but wood can, and will, continue to change subtly for a day or so after a setup.
    also, any change in gauge will possible require a slight adjustment of the trussrod, or the intonation, although nothing as large as the initial setup.
     
  3. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    thanks that's really, really good. my friend has an old beat up jackson that doesn't get played that he wants set up so i think i'll attempt that before risking stuffing up any of my own guitars :)

    just to clarify, the height of the action is set by the individual saddles?
    should each string be at the same height?
    and will the same principles apply to the bridges on my les paul and maton electric?
     
  4. ghostwolf

    ghostwolf Mod Admin

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    basically, the strings heights should follow the radius of the fretboard. the same height for each, with variances made for the differing thickness of the strings.
    with a strat, the saddles are adjusted individually to set the height, using the two allen socket screws in each saddle. with a Les Paul type bridge, the two thumbwheels are used, again, try to keep pretty much the same height on all the strings.
     
  5. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    Awesome thanks again!

    So far my Gibson and similar guitars I just have to "see saw" that bridge to get all the strings height correct?
     
  6. barbrainy

    barbrainy RIP

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    If you want a more detailed set-up guide, PM me and I'll send you Ron Kirn's PDF booklet.
     
  7. NEStrataholic

    NEStrataholic Senior Stratmaster

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  8. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    The first guitar I'm gonna attempt to do is a Washburn or a Jackson.

    I own a fender Mia strat, a Gibson les paul studio and a maton ms503. Eventually I'd like to be able to work on all of them.
     
  9. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    Oh and thank you for the links.
     
  10. SkinnyMan1825

    SkinnyMan1825 Strat-O-Master

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    Probably be a dumb question but no one mentioned pick up height, I assume this is completely separate from the general setup. Is it as simple as closer to the strings equals more gain?
     
  11. barbrainy

    barbrainy RIP

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    Ah, pick up height is also a big part of getting sound you're happy with.

    Too close to strings = the condition known as Stratitus; this is where the magnetic pull of the pickups affects the vibration of the string causing unpleasant sounds.

    All pickups will have a 'sweet spot' in height that you are happy with; on strats it's easy to adjust the height, so just have a play yourself - you'll hear the difference very easily. A lot of people will say lower is actually more likely to get the best 'tone' from strat pickups than higher.

    Ron Kirn's guide does cover this. I'll email you it later on.

    Fender's set up guide also covers it, and gives standard heights to start the pickups at (as in you can then adjust to your taste)
     
  12. NEStrataholic

    NEStrataholic Senior Stratmaster

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    Pickup height will affect the sound/tone as well as tuning stability and can make intonating the guitar nearly impossible. The magnets are strong and can pull on the strings and create havoc while tuning a guitar. You'll hear a warble when playing a string (usually a wound string and most often the low E 6th string) and your tuner may never settle down. That link gives good Strat heights and you can tweak from there. The Fender order is right and just use Dirk Wacker's measurements instead of Fender's.

    Also, always tune, intonate, and check heights of strings to frets or pickups with the guitar in playing position (on its side), not flat on its back. This is important because you don't want gravity affecting your measurements.
     
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