Guitar Setup 101 - Introduction

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Welcome guitar slingers, to this behemoth of a tutorial on guitar set-up!

Proper guitar set-up is something that everybody know is needed, but few know how to do. It’s sort of like the mechanics of a car. We all know how to drive one, but if it need adjustments or repair, very few of us knows what to do, and consequently have to leave the car at a repair shop, often ending up paying a hefty sum. The same is true for guitars. You might know how to play, but do you know how to fix something that needs fixing?

In the same way that many people think they know all there is to know about their cars, they tend to think the same about their guitars. However, that is seldom the case. So, even if you by looking at the headlines think that this is a topic you know all about, still read the text and watch the video, and you might find things that you were not aware of, or even things that you were misinformed about.

Furthermore, knowing how to adjust and setting up your instrument is what truly makes it your own. You then have the skills to adjust the guitar to your individual playing style and preference, rather than a guitar-tech’s, often-arbitrary set up. Throughout this tutorial, I will stress the importance of individuality, and all measurements should be seen as starting points, and references, from which you find your own perfect set-up.

I strongly urge you to read all the accompanying text thoroughly, since in part the text will act as cliff-notes to what is said in the video, but for certain parts, such as intonation, truss-rod adjustment and the physics of the guitar, I will dwell much deeper into those subjects in the text than in the video, or the video would end being all talk and no “shop” =).

A note on the contents of this tutorial. I will NOT go through things such as electronics, pick-up change and other electric modifications to the guitar. As mentioned in the video, there is a total jungle of possible mods out there, and I could easily spend all of 2009 only doing tutorials on various mods for the guitar. These things I urge you to go Google for, or if you have any specific questions, contact me through the Infinite Guitar website.

With that said, here is a short overview of what this tutorial contains:

1.) String Change: Cleaning, and the different variations of tuners available and how to string the guitar correctly.

2.) Truss-rod Adjustment: How it affects intonation and playability, and how to set a proper relief for your guitar.

3.) String Height: How to set it properly, and its relation to relief and intonation (yeah, you will find that pretty much everything affects intonation).

4.) Intonation: What it is, and different ways of adjusting it, compensated top-nuts and more.

5.) Pickup Height Adjustment: How it affects tone and intonation, passive vs. active pickups.

6.) Nut Height: How to check it and its importance.

7.) Tremolo Equipped Guitars: How they work, and how to do setup and maintenance work on tremolo, and neck.

Since each part is quite lengthy, they will be divided into several videos. So for some videos there will be more extensive text explanations, and for some parts more like cliff-notes.

With that said, grab your guitar and your tools, and move on to the first part!