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Do you set up your own guitars?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Maggot Brain, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. JeffMcLeod

    JeffMcLeod Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    :lol:
     
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  2. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    I was also a Toyota technician for 2 years, best and worst cars to be a tech/mechanic... They are pretty easy to work on but rarely need work! Working at a Toyota dealership 99% of the work was simple service, no big tickets... The cars are too reliable haha!

    Hyundai and Ford? You'll be working all day no problem!
     
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  3. Maggot Brain

    Maggot Brain Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, very good points indeed! I don't want to offend anyone that pays or has someone else do a setup, I just look at it from the perspective of if you can learn, remember and play 10s to 100s of songs on a guitar then you probably posses the skills necessary to perform the set up. The biggest factor is the scare factor, worrying you'll mess something up and I imagine that is the number one reason some people hesitate to make their own adjustments. I do want to be encouraging and reassure others that it is quite easy, even truss rod adjustments. You'll be fine if you read and research the process of every component then once you understand how every part contributes to the playability of your guitar the more you'll realize if something is off or getting out of spec. Truss rod isn't scary but I do read that is intimidating to a lot of guitarist. As long as your guitar is relatively within spec, it shouldn't take more then a slight adjustment, you won't hurt it. If you go wrenching on it, past the threshold of adjustment then sure I can see damaging the neck but again I think with a little reading and understanding anyone can do it and become confident.
     
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  4. yladrd61

    yladrd61 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I set up all of my guitars I am especially meticulous with my vintage style trem bridge Stratocaster's. However if it needs fret work or a new nut I take it to my friend Dagna at Silesia Guitars, she is one of the best in the business and treats your guitar like it is a member of her family.
     
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  5. scottosan

    scottosan Active Member

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    Intonation should really be set by the player, since some fret heavy and some fret light. It really is unique to the player
     
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  6. ExpatZ

    ExpatZ New Member

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    The only work I don't do on my guitars are fret replacement and neck/headstock repair.
    Could probably do the latter as well but I am too lazy to bother with that much effort and am more than happy to pay for a pro job.
     
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  7. Fast_Eddie

    Fast_Eddie New Member

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    I set my own guitars up, I've been doing so for about 30 years as I didn't have much money growing up and couldn't afford to pay someone to do it. And I'm OCD about how my guitars feel and play so I learned how to do it right fairly quick. I check the nut to make sure it's not causing any buzz and then lube it with Big Bends, check the tuners and tighten them if necessary, condition the fretboard if it's Rosewood and just give it a thorough cleaning if it's Maple, put a tiny bit of relief in the neck if needed, lower the saddles as low as they'll go until there's buzz and then I'll raise them incrementally until it's gone. If the action is still too high after that I'll look into the neck angle and see if a shim is in order (this process is for Strat-type guitars with bolt-on necks obviously). Sometimes I'll have a nice low action with a little buzz that can't be heard through an amp and that's just fine, I've learned to live with a certain amount of buzzing as long as you can't hear it when you're plugged in.
    The only time I'll take it into the shop is when there's fretwork to be done and I'm in the process of learning how to do that myself also.
     
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  8. rolijen

    rolijen Well-Known Member

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    I use this simple site, https://ezguitartech.com/ mainly for the suggested relief, action and pickup height tables. I find it a great starting point and then season to taste.
     
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  9. Mike J

    Mike J Member

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    Except for a fret leve,l I'll do my own setups. I picked up a cheap First Act guitar so I could try a fret level and the results were a disaster. I am so grateful that I wasn't stupid enough to try that on my PRS when I only THOUGHT I knew what I was doing!
     
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  10. JonSick

    JonSick Active Member

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    I would say it depends. While at one stage I was really into guitar repair and maintenance, I don't really do much past general maintenance. If I'm doing something like pickup changes and the like, it generally needs to be scheduled quite simply as I'm way too busy.

    More often then not, if I'm struggling to get a guitar set how I want it, or if I just run out of time for things, I'll put it into the shop.
     
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  11. Cockney_in_Texas

    Cockney_in_Texas New Member

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    I do my my own setups, I have done the easy ones like the Gibsons with Tune-o-matic bridge, strays with fixed or floating bridge. The only guitar I had set up by a professional luthier was my Ibanez because of the FloydRose style tremolo, but that was back in 2005 and I think I paid $125. Since then I have become comfortable with many aspects of owning electric guitars including changing out pots, switches, pickups, tuners doing fret leveling and polishing. If you want to get comfortable really working on a guitar, buy a cheap budget guitar in the style you prefer, and then go through making it better.
     
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  12. Achilles83

    Achilles83 New Member

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    I used to pay but a luthier in my area who does billy corgan and Jeff tweety's guitars offered a class for 300$ to learn how to do a setup and redress the frets and included doing a redress in the class. He normally charged 400$ for the redress. Took class last summer and it was outstanding. Setup three electrics and did then neck on an old JS700 that brought it from being a painful reason of why I jumped to get a perfect PRS Out of frustration during college to being a great guitar again.

    I think much like bike riding it's important to be in touch with you axe and understand how the setup works so you can adjust and deal with things in the fly. We covered everything from truss rod adjustment and types of truss rods to bridge adjustment and intonation and action and the nut. For the redress we covered that whole process and the tools to do it yourself. I have since redressed my very first guitar and it came out nicely. As you can guess my two ibanezes benefited the most, my PRS was spot on minus a neck tweak for the change of seasons and when my new EBMM 2020 Majesty 7 arrived he happily gave it a look over for free and spotted fret issues with the stainless frets up high so we sent it back to factory and they sent me a new one with a thank you and apology.

    forming a relationship is never bad because I also know if there's anything I can't handle I have absolute faith that he can handle anything. The things he was working on on the side were incredible.
    For what it's worth if youre near Chicago lookup Geoff Benge and tell him Adam sent you. He's in Roscoe Village and has quite a following despite the Chicago Music Exchange and it's repairshop being a 15-20 minute walk away.
     
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  13. Losper

    Losper New Member

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    I own about 20 guitars across all the top end brands, and for years I took them to a local tech for setup. Cost between 50 and $100 bucks every time. During the pandemic, I decided to learn via YouTube videos. I invested in the tools (gauges, rulers, etc.), and now I do my own. Once you understand the methodology and get over the fear of fucking up your instrument, it's very doable.

    I don't do fret dressing or anything like that...but I am getting into maintaining the nut, changing tuners, etc.

    Good luck!
     
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  14. Uncle Fester

    Uncle Fester New Member

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    If I am broke as Fk, then yeah I have to set up my self.
    My local store charges about $50 for setup, and that is fine, the store has to pay the employee and light bills and a zillion other things. People; do not begrudge a music store their rates or prices,
    maintaining a retail store is damm expensive, and when the Amazon or UPS driver delivers to your door they will not be offering any advice that you may need. Support your local store so they will be there when you need them.
     
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  15. TheCount0212

    TheCount0212 Active Member

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    Ditto:agreed:
     
  16. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    (One more time, with feeling!)Assuming no twisted neck or proud frets and a properly cut nut, with the guitar tuned to playing pitch (i.e. if you play in drop B, setup in drop B), begin by setting the saddle height for frets 17-21(2) so that the strings play buzz free at the lowest possible height. (Lower the saddle until it buzzes, raise until clear.) I adjust strings 6 and 1, then I approximate the radius with the other saddles, then test the other four strings making minute adjustments as/if needed. When all strings are clean go to the lower frets and neck relief. Play the strings from fret 1 to fret 16, increasing relief (loosening trussrod) to relieve buzz or decreasing relief(tightening trussrod) to lower the string height, so tighten, by fractional turns, until it buzzes and back off until it doesn't. Once you have acceptable relief, i.e. no buzz and easy action, set your intonation and you're done.
    This is the opposite order of Fender's setup directions. It is based on performance and not measurements, hence, I don't take any. It works because the neck is immobile between frets 17 and 22. The trussrod only affects lower frets. By setting the upper end first, you know any buzzes are coming from too little relief. This method works for most guitars, with trussrods.
     
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  17. idw357

    idw357 Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I do all my own setups, including Floyd Rose bridges. But I won't touch the electronics. I have a guy I trust to do that.
     
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  18. MemphisMarshallMan

    MemphisMarshallMan Active Member

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    I do my own but I dont play tremelo'd guitars, so its fairly easy.
    The other guitar player in the band has such complex guitars he has to take his to a guitar tech.
     
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  19. trax1139

    trax1139 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I wonder if the guys saying 70.00-75.00 is INSANE has ever owned a small business, paid a crew an average wage (about 20.00/hr.), actually met payroll on Friday -WITOUT FAIL-, paid health insurance., property and liability ins., workman’s comp ins. (mandatory on some cases), rent, electric, gas, water, and MANY other things. AND had the pleasure to lay in bed wide awake at 3:00am on the 14th of each month wondering where you’ll get the money to make the Federal Payroll Tax Deposit tomorrow! That famous 6.2% that’s withheld from your paycheck. Oh...and if you get to pay yourself, don’t forget your own 6.2% AND guess what! You have to match everyone’s 6.2% including your own. So..doing anything for 15.00-20.00 bucks ain’t “cuttin it”.
    BTW... I haven’t paid 35.00-40.00 for an oil change in ages.
     
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  20. DaDoc

    DaDoc Well-Known Member

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    I do my own setup work, and pretty much everything else except when it gets too deep, like structural stuff or refretting.

    Most guitar techs want a minimum of anywhere in the neighborhood of $25-$50 bucks to do a simple setup, and then all too often one has to re-do it when they get it home anyhoo, I've had guys put the action too low, deck my trems when I didn't ask for them to do so, why can't they just ask what I want rather than assuming what they like is what everyone else likes!?

    I've saved a lot of $$ doing my own, which leaves me with more dinero to buy new gear with! :D
     
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