Do you set up your own guitars?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Maggot Brain, Apr 8, 2021 at 8:40 AM.

  1. Edgar Frog

    Edgar Frog Well-Known Member

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    I've done all my own work since day one.
     
  2. Beltalowda

    Beltalowda Member

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    I set up all of my guitars, too. There are a few 'beyond general setup' tech things I'm not quite ready to tackle yet, namely cutting new nuts and extensive fret work. I'll do some minor fret work or adjust a nut slot as necessary, however. My gf got me some nut files for the holidays so eventually I'll order some blanks and practice because I have a Les Paul Jr type guitar that I've been slowly modding over the years that needs a new nut and I'm determined to do it myself. I also have an old Teisco Kay that was one of my first guitars and therefore carries some sentimental value that I hope to cut my refret teeth on when time, patience, and nerves allow.
     
  3. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    I actually expected less of you to do it yourself but fascinated by everyone's 2 cents.

    I agree with the "no one can set it up quite like yourself" but I don't knock the "save my time" aspect others have also.

    With my 5 guitars I have with me now, if it weren't frigging $75 I wouldn't mind dropping them off and getting them ballparked by a tech and fine tuning myself BUT how little work it really is ain't jiving with that price. I'd pay $15-$20 a guitar which I think is 100% fair 99% of the time, I know there is always those occasional PIA ones that need extra attention.

    Now those that have tech/luthier set ups, what are you paying? No judgment here, I know time is money, I'm a mechanic but admit I'll pay another for jobs I don't feel like doing on my own vehicle. Can I do it better myself? I'll atleast have that peace of mind but sometimes I just don't care to do extra "work", I use the money I earned, a great tool sometimes!

    I was really disappointed to find out my favorite local shop charged that much... I've been in the shop when a parent comes in needing a child's guitar restringed. The owner straight up over explained the work involved to justify to the mother the $75 price. I really wanted to butt in and tell the mother I'd do it for free outside, my conscious still bothered I didn't as she accepted the $75 price for a simple restring.
     
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  4. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    This made me LOL haha
     
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  5. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    Some good points here, I'll tackle general set up and basic repairs but will definitely take to a luthier for refretting. I've got some needle files and smoothed up sharp fret edges, some basic fret leveling but I try not to mess too much with frets. I'm a mechanic by trade so I have that urge to tinker, tune and repair. I'd love to eventually to all work myself but won't lie, sometimes I just don't want to deal with it lol.

    Basic truss rod, action and saddle adjustment is no biggie tho.
     
  6. donwagar

    donwagar Active Member

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    sure, always have. Setups, electronics, I think those are pretty basic skills. When it comes to fret work, I'll smooth the edges, but anything else it goes in.
     
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  7. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    if your guitar's aren't completely out of whack, a simple fine tune takes maybe what? 30 minutes max? Maybe 10 min average? Check neck relief, adjust if needed, check action heighth and string buzz, adjust appropriately, check intonation and adjust accordingly. Play over it and make sure everything is solid, maybe fine tune something and off you go!
     
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  8. PaulHikeS2

    PaulHikeS2 Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I've only been playing for a couple years, and from day one I decided to do my own setups. After learning what a setup is, I realized I didn't know enough to be able to tell someone how I want it set up. Being able to see first hand and in real time what specific changes do to the playability of the guitar has been an invaluable tool for me in learning both how to play guitar and how I like my guitar set up. Now when there is any issue with playability, I can just fix it on the spot.
     
  9. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    Yes, worded simple and perfect.

    A properly set up guitar can make such a drastic difference, if not the most important detail because a guitar set up exactly how you need will make a guitar feel like it plays itself. Chords sound so full and in tune, intonation is tight and creates the musicality of melody, leads chords. You have to fight to play a poorly or out of whack guitar, reason I made this thread because even myself I took for granted how important a set up is.

    A lot of guitars I onced loved I started to dislike playing, they didn't feel right, chords were out of tune, fret buzz, lack of sustain, notes just sounding dead. I then realized the guitars I felt had "mojo" were just simply set up properly. I fine tune my set ups for the upper registry where I solo and lead the most, notes just jump out and scream after some fine tuning.

    I've under emphasized pickup height also, I have learnt how important that is too, especially with single coils.
     
  10. BlueX

    BlueX Member

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    Since the only good music store/shop in my town closed I learned how to set up my guitars myself. I was really uncomfortable with truss rod adjustments in the beginning, but I learned that too. Youtube is helpful for this: not only written instructions, but videos show how to.

    Now that I can do all of the set up, I actually enjoy that. It's a good way to get to know your gear inside out, and I do enjoy playing a guitar I have cleaned, changed strings, and set up.

    I also understand better things like string action, intonation, pick-up height, etc., and how that influence both sound and how it feels to play the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021 at 3:11 PM
  11. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it really adds to the bond between you and your guitar
     
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  12. geddy

    geddy Active Member

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    I do my own currently with the exception of new nuts and frets...except when I take them to a professional. Sometimes it's worth an expert touch; I dont live near my preferred expert anymore, but he is good. Also depends what you mean by a setup I guess. I personally think that the £60 charge (prob not far off your US price) is perfectly fair. He's running a business, not doing a favour for a friend. Businesses come with overheads.
     
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  13. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Well-Known Member

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    Yes. I learned to do this in my teens since I live 35 miles from the nearest decent music store in Riverside, CA. Necessity is the mother of all inventions...or being poor. LOL
     
  14. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    I agree a 100%. I´m an engineer and usually I like to do things by myself. In my guitars and ¨toy cars¨ generally I´m up to do things by myself, but in my daily driver I´d probably hire someone to do it.

    And for me setting up my guitars is kind of therapeutical. one thing I can recommend to you all, best 20 bucks ever spent on guitar tools:

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. jimmyjames

    jimmyjames Well-Known Member

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    This applies to every vehicle, tool or item that you enjoy using. A full understanding of it's workings brings the complete satisfaction of ownership :yesway: (Always read the manual too :naughty:)
     
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  16. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    :rofl:
     
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  17. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    100%!!!

    While I agree that business has overhead, a typical oil change at the shops I've worked at averaged between $35 and $45 all said and done. That includes oil, filter and labor and there is a hell of a lot more work going into changing oil on a modern vehicle.

    While it's apples to oranges I still think the integrity of the argument is there. So for $75 all the tech is doing is replacing strings, possibly adjusting neck relief, adjust saddles and set intonation... Unless the guitar is EXTREMELY out of whack, that whole process should take MAYBE 10 minutes if he approaches it flat rate and has all the proper tools and a workbench and knocks it out as quick as possible (with attention to detail). I'd pay $20 max to have someone else do that and thats still kinda crazy in my opinion. Set up and string changes should be to guitars as oil Changes are to cars, it's a low profit service that brings customers and potential up sales into the store. They tell me $75 for this basic maintenence? Craaazy imho... Idk but I find it absolutely insane. I know you pay for the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the tech but not on a basic maintenance, he's not rebuilding the thing. I can see asking premium prices on nearly anything else, re-fretting, soldering/electrical work, modifications, custom nuts and miscellaneous upgrades... Strings and set up? Basic, simple, easy routine maintenance? Use that to get people in! When they bring their guitar(s) in for quick set ups etc you now have the opportunity to recommended an upgrade "oh man, your guitar would sound great with these (X) pickups", "you're tuning would be so much more stable with (X) tuners", "this guitar would sound so great thru (X) pedal and or (X) amp" "lucky for you I have all this at the ready, if you interested this is what I can do (price) installed and ready to rock"

    I've worked in the auto repair industry and like any sales oriented market you gotta get some upsales to make money. I've never had a music shop try to upsale me other than GC's insurance plan.

    I got kinda off topic but some things I've been thinking about that was kinda related.

    Another thing I've noticed at a lot of small shops is they offer a complmentry set up with the purchase of a guitar. I think it would very beneficial to set up every guitar offered for sale, even consignment because so often I'm checking out a guitar and it just buzzes, frets out and plays awful and I immediately lose interest. That would be like a dealership selling used trade ins with a complimentary inspection and wash with a purchase of said vehicle... Nah, the car gets immediatel inspected, repaired/tuned up and washed before being listed (Usually)...

    Just thinking out loud with you guys.
     
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  18. GregM

    GregM Well-Known Member

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    Read the manual? Omg, I thought as males we were supposed to wing it, yell and curse, have another beer and go back and try again.
    What's this manual thing you speak of?
     
  19. jmp45

    jmp45 Well-Known Member

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    I do it myself since the beginning. Setup, action, truss, intonation really isn't that complicated. I picked up a 2 or 3 cheap Agiles for fret leveling and dressing. If you have the right tools it's not too tough to tackle. I do suggest getting some cheap guitars to practice on before you bench your Gibsons. I've done fretwork on quite a few in the stable.

    I had an SG special that had fret nibs that would cut your hands ;) I took it to a guy that's very big in our state for this work. He dropped the case lid on the guitar and gouged the top. Did a good job on the frets but that was enough for me to learn and do it myself. Go to Stewmac and drop some $, watch some videos and read and get a guitar you are ok to learn on without worrying about destroying it. If you're going to play for life you might as well learn to maintain them.
     
  20. speyfly

    speyfly Well-Known Member

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    Been doing my own setups since I started playing. At a young age I was fascinated with electric guitars and how they worked. I was lucky to have befriended an old guy (I was 15 at the time) and professional musician that worked in a guitar shop. He took me under his wing and showed me how it was done. Some 50+ years later I still enjoy doing my setups and maintenance.

    Getting to know your gear is of upmost importance and setups are just a small part of playing music.
     

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