If you're a new player who just took home his very first electric guitar, you might have noticed that it feels a bit ... off. Don't worry, your guitar is not broken, it just needs a good initial setup. In fact, guitars are rarely shipped in ready to play condition as it is up to players to fine tune them to their own liking. But before you head to a professional to set it up, you can actually do most of the work yourself with the tips below.
1. Truss Rod Adjustment.
Virtually every modern electric or acoustic guitar has an adjustable-truss-rod, which runs the length of the guitar's neck to keep it straight for a better playing experience. All you need in order to properly adjust your guitar's truss rod is a hex key/ wrench and a screwdriver. When you loosen it, the strings will pull your guitar's neck into a 'concave bow," resulting in a high pitch. Tightening it bends the neck backwards into a 'back bow,' bringing its strings closer to the fretboard. Tightening the truss rod is ideal for shredding soloists.
2. Bridge Height Adjustment.
This goes hand in hand with truss rod adjustment. On an acoustic guitar, you may have to sand or shim the bridge saddle. On an electric guitar, this is just a matter of twisting appropriate screws. To do this, you will need a hex key or screwdriver for an electric guitar and a stationary belt, calipers or a shim stock for an acoustic guitar. Once the truss rod has been adjusted properly, simply lower or raise the bridge's screws to adjust the height of the string.
3. Check the Height of the Nut.
After proper adjustment of the truss rod as well as the bridge, it is now time to check your nuts. To accomplish this, you will need to have a shim stock for raising the nuts; a complete set of nut files; X-Acto knife and an electronic tuner. Play each string open if your bridge and truss rod are perfectly adjusted. If any open string buzzes, its string slot is low and shimming up of the nut must be done.
4. Inspect the Electronics.
A good setup must entail checking your guitar's electronics to ensure that your switches do not crackle, snap or pop. All the screws and nuts that anchor the electronics of your guitar should be properly tightened. Tools required for this task include an adjustable open-end wrench or socket wrench, screwdriver, and an electronic contact cleaner. All you have to do is to remove the plastic cavity plate on the back of your axe, then plug in and find out where the noise originates.
5. Get a Professional.
If anything seems Greek, you are free to look for help from a guitar pro. However, it is completely possible to do basic guitar setup if you follow all the steps outlined in this article. Be sure to carefully explain to your guitar repair professional everything you would like done to your guitar.
6. Keep Your Guitar Clean.
A clean guitar is irresistible to pick up and play. Ensure you keep your guitar as clean as possible in order to enhance its durability and efficiency. The tools you need include chamois or cotton cloth, Windex and a guitar polish.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
How do you setup a new guitar?