Setups and maintenance

All guitars need setting up periodically to ensure that they deliver their full potential.

For acoustic guitars, the principal checks relate to action - fret height and wear, truss rod setting, and the condition of the nut and saddle. There's a whole bunch of ways that the sound can be improved. For example, fret wear is to be expected and can be tolerated for a while. Sooner or later, though, fret stoning and dressing will be needed to prevent incipient buzzing - or even a partial refret. Badly cut nuts and saddles can cause dull tones or 'tizziness',and worn or badly fitting bridge pins can also deaden the sound. There are a range of suitable materials, including ebony, walrus and (pre-ban) elephant ivory, and horn, but high quality bone takes some beating. It's also important to check the neck joint and the top for any movement. All guitars will move according to temperature and humidity - central heating and car boots make uneasy companions! A certain amount of movement is therefore to be expected, but needs to be kept under review. Sooner or later, many old acoustics (including most Martins) need a neck reset to ensure a playable action.

For acoustic-electric and electric guitars and basses, a range of additional checks on the electrics are also necessary. Old pickups may sound great, but they can buzz and hum badly, or go open- or short-circuit. Proper shielding of pickup and control cavities is often a good idea. Pots and switches can also become scratchy, or noisy and some makers fitted pretty poor quality components, which can usefully be replaced. Electric guitars tend to be more demanding than acoustics in terms of playability because most owners like a 'fast action'. Intonation setting will depend upon the string gauges and action. The use of tremelo units (especially long throw models) and and string locking systems mean that a host of other setup parameters need to be checked.

Please contact me if your guitar has a developing problem or needs a healthcheck.
New ebony bridge and bone saddle
New ebony bridge and bone saddle

Collings neck assembly diagram
Collings neck assembly diagram
Floyd Rose tremelo
Floyd Rose tremelo
Martin OM-18V action
Martin OM-18V action
Martin 0-18 - neck reset needed!
Martin 0-18 - neck reset needed!