Why Does a Guitar Need a Setup?
Let me begin by emphasizing the need to maintain your guitar to keep it looking, feeling, and sounding fantastic. Imagine driving your automobile every day and never bringing it to service – it seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? The same is true for guitar setup.
The frequency with which you should set up a guitar depends on various factors, including moisture, temp, how often you alter the strings, how frequently you play, the brand of your instrument, and others. Most guitarists who play daily should get it set up twice a year to keep their guitar in good shape. If you play less frequently, you might be able to get away with an annual setup. On the other hand, seasonal variations will influence an idle guitar.
The sound quality of your acoustic or electric guitar will deteriorate over time. Your guitar’s tone will deteriorate as it progressively expands, contracts, and warps. Guitars are essentially comprised of wood, making them vulnerable to damage caused by temperature, moisture, string tension, and playing. Many people who are just starting to play the guitar and believe they are adequately and appropriately maintaining their instrument are surprised to realize that their guitar occasionally needs what is known as a “setup.”
What is Guitar Setup?
A setup is a total adjustment of the major components of your instrument. This is a critical set of operations that can be referred to as basic maintenance. Consider it a car tune-up; you must do it regularly to keep the instrument functioning well. If you frequently set up your instrument, you may be able to recognize and rectify any difficulties.
A setup is simply a physical examination of your instrument. Any issues will be diagnosed and resolved by the professional. While you may complete many of the operations included in a setup, you can hire a professional service person. This is a wonderful alternative if you’re starting with the guitar and don’t feel comfortable doing the setup yourself. A skilled repair expert would gladly show you what you need to do to keep your guitar in top-performing shape. If you want to do a setup on your guitar, you’ll need a few tools first. Check that you have screwdrivers, Hex keys, and a chromatic tuner on hand.
Signs Your Guitar Needs a Setup
A well-maintained and setup guitar makes playing much simpler and more pleasurable. Not only will you not have to struggle with the instrument to make a sound, but it will sound far better when you do.
The action on your guitar is either too high or too low.
This is likely the most crucial reason for getting a guitar setup. Your instrument’s “action” is just the gap between the strings and the fretboard, and there are several ways for it to be out of tune. The motion is also applicable to all fretted instruments other than guitars.
People usually want less action. You’ll have to press harder on the fret if it’s too high to create a sound. This might slow you down and make playing your instrument more difficult.
If your action is too low, your string may strike the metal frets, resulting in an irritating buzzing noise whenever you try to play one or more strings. This is fret buzz, and it is every guitarist’s worst nightmare. It is one of the simplest methods to destroy your sound.
It may be enticing to try to alter it yourself, but leave it to the experts. Take it from someone who has made this mistake in the past. You might open another bag of worms with an unbalanced bridge or spring tension issues.
Your guitar is out of tune.
I think it’s essentially unusable if your guitar won’t remain in tune. It is quite inconvenient to have to re-tune one so regularly. Some people judge an instrument’s excellence primarily on its ability to hold a precise pitch.
The truth about intonation issues is that there are several reasons why your guitar won’t remain in tune, and they don’t always have to do with quality.
Perhaps you have loose tuning pegs or intonation difficulties that you can rectify with modifications. Intonation problems can appear as a result of the environment, so it’s not necessarily the fault of the instrument or the performer. Still, it is something you can manage by paying attention to the humidity and temperature.
A guitar technician will diagnose the problem and make the necessary changes to make your instrument more stable.
The necessary adjustments to the bridge and nut
Having a bridge or nut that needs to be repaired may lead to various problems, some of which we’ve already discussed. For example, if a piece on one of these parts isn’t quite correct, such as a saddle, one string may simply refuse to stay in tune.
Some bridges need more effort than others. Since your bridge affects intonation and motion, it’s frequently arranged in a guitar setup. A faulty guitar nut can cause similar issues with tuning and fret buzz. However, did you know that a faulty nut can cause your guitar’s strings to snap? That is something you do not want to happen! You might use a filling or lubricating a nut to fix it. In the worst-case situation, you may have to remove and replace.
The neck of your guitar is bowed or warped.
Various factors might cause the neck of your guitar to distort and bend. Like the rest of the guitar, the neck is composed of wood, which is pliable and susceptible to weathering. Temperature, humidity, and pressure may all cause various pieces, including the truss rod, to move.
When changing string gauges, you must usually alter the truss rod to suit the changeover, mainly if you utilize a Floyd-Rose bridge. This will straighten out the neck of your guitar.
Aside from truss rod modifications, you may control the climate in which your guitar is stored to keep the wood from swelling or shrinking. Finding a guitar humidifier is one technique to adjust the environment. With the proper measures, you can avoid neck modifications and intonation issues.
You’ve just purchased a new or secondhand guitar.
Many guitars, especially the more costly ones, may come pre-set, but most guitars that come directly from the manufacturer will unquestionably require a guitar setup. This is especially true for a novice model, such as starter sets, which do not receive as much attention as higher-end ones.
If you buy a secondhand one, though, you will almost certainly require a guitar setup. This is because you don’t know when or whether it received one last. It’s also not a good idea to take someone’s word for it. Whether you have any reservations or are unclear about when the instrument was last correctly setup, take it to a guitar expert to see if it appears as if it may benefit from one.
Your last guitar setup was too long ago.
That old ax in the store may or may not have recently had a guitar setup, but when was the last time for your guitar?
If we’ve learned anything from this essay, some problems can occur – until something happens, like your neck begins to bow. If you haven’t been paying attention to the state of your instrument, there’s a good chance you’ll need a setup soon.
In any case, how often should you get your guitar setup? I believe that once or twice a year is sufficient if you do everything you can to care for your instrument and avoid making any modifications yourself.
If you’ve never had a guitar setup before and have been playing for a long, take it to a store where an expert can look it over. It will make a huge difference!
What is the Price of a Guitar Setup?
The cost of a guitar setup might vary depending on several factors. The location has a significant influence on the cost of one. If there are multiple guitar technicians in the neighborhood, the pricing may be competitive but cheaper than if there are just one or two specialists.
According to my experience, and it appears to be fairly universal, the most essential factor in determining the cost of a guitar setup is the type of bridge your instrument possesses. Because it requires more time and effort, working on one with a Floyd Rose-type mechanism will always be more expensive than working on one with a floating or permanent bridge. More work equals more money.
When you think about it, a guitar setup is analogous to essential automobile maintenance. On average, a setup will likely cost you between $20 and $60.
After that, when you get your guitar back, you can opt to keep up with simple cleaning between settings. You only need to get a cleaning kit and spend some time making it look nice, generally when you replace your strings.
Is Getting a Guitar Setup Worth It?
Absolutely! A solid setup will result in a simpler guitar to play and, as a result, sound better. Every note you strike will be pitch-perfect and will ring out for a longer period of time. Your guitar will also become more dependable, allowing you to avoid embarrassing live gaffes.
Eventually, a guitar is built primarily of wood. As a result, depending on the temperature throughout the year, your instrument is continually expanding and contracting, moisturizing and dehydrating. All of these minor adjustments may have a significant impact on the playability and dependability of your guitar.
To prevent these consequences and have your guitar playing at its optimum, you must make frequent modifications, either by learning to do them or paying a competent expert.
As you’ll see in the next section, you may need to address several concerns during a setup. And it’s not always easy to determine which approach is best for each. The procedure is a balancing act, with one minor change possibly causing several additional problems! As a result, it is normally preferable to leave these repairs to specialists who have a solid grasp of how a guitar works.
Even small changes in string gauge can have a negative impact on your guitar’s overall playability!
The distinction between a professional guitar setup and what you can do at home with minimal knowledge and materials is frequently night and day!
Every guitar player should take their instrument to a tech at least twice a year to ensure everything is in working order.
Many players, rather than being proactive, wait until there is an issue with their instrument, and in this post, we discussed different reasons why you should acquire a guitar setup.
Even if you can prevent some of these typical concerns, accidents may occur, and it is reasonable if one of them appears out of nowhere. However, don’t make the mistake of attempting to solve things alone. Always take it to a certified guitar technician who has the necessary equipment and abilities to polish your instrument.
By the way, setups are for pros, but everyone can keep his guitar in good condition. If you like the cleaning that came with your guitar setup, you may also learn how to make your instrument shine!