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As a group, do you think we're too perfectionist about setup?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Teleman1985, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    If I put the time into playing that I spend here....
     
  2. BartS

    BartS Friend of Leo's

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    If your just using a guitar to practice the guitar doesn't have to be in perfect working order. When I was a kid as long as it had 5 or 6 strings on it that would get the job done. If your wanting to record or even gigging it's probably more important.

    I set up my guitar everytime I change the strings. I can change strings and do a setup in about 20 miniutes so its just not that big of a deal to me. If I don't have anything important going on when my strings start to feel dead I just put a folded paper towel under the strings and saturate with wd 40 and clean my strings and that brings them back to life. I can keep a guitar good enough to practice that way for about a month or two.

    When you do set one up it might as well be spot on. I mean string hieght on most guitars can only vary by maybe 3/64 of an inch and still be playable. Truss rod adjustment, intonation, nut slots and everything else is pretty non negotiable. Either it's right or it's not.
     
  3. rokdog49

    rokdog49 Friend of Leo's

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    That's what my wife says too.
     
  4. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This. What he said. There is no "correct" setup. No such thing. A tech who busts out a set of gauges, and makes a guitar match a bunch of numbers on a sheet of paper, then says it's done, is doing the owner a disservice.

    My setup works for me. I know how I like my guitars. That's how I make them play. Another player might not like it. When I pick up a guitar I didn't set up, I almost always hate it. It may be set up "perfectly", but it ain't my setup. I find Fender's suggested tech setup totally unacceptable. That's just one example.

    Learning to do your own setups is the best thing you can ever do for yourself. Because once you figure out how all of those parts work together, and how to adjust them to spec numbers, then you can start experimenting. That's where you'll find the magic. Factory setups are meant to make the guitar feel "ok" to as many different players as possible. They are a compromise.

    A setup should be tailored to your personal playing style. Are you a strummer? A fingerpicker? Do play soft? Do you play really hard? Somebody who does a lot of big bending on a small radiused Fender will require a very different setup than somebody who just plays jazz chords on a 335.

    If your tech doesn't ask you a dozen questions, and watch you play for awhile before he gives you a setup to try out, he's cutting corners and doing a half assed job. He's not giving you the best setup for YOU. Also, no set of numbers in a book can give you the best setup for you. When you find your ideal setup, it will be the best day of your guitar playing life.
     
  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I bought some tools from stewmac and did my own setups from reading and watching videos and generally got along pretty well doing my own work. Then I got a guitar that I just couldn't play. I researched the subject very well, because it was a D-28 Marquis and I didn't want it sreewed up. I drove 350 miles round trip to have the guitar setup professionally. It was worth the trip, in more ways than one. I have learned from that guitar. When I would have a guitar that was giving me a problem, I would play the Marquis and it always managed to tell me what I needed to do. The guitar plays perfectly, I would play it a while, get the feel of it and then transfer it to the guitar I'm working on, when I got the same feeling, I knew I'd accomplished what I'd set out to do. After a while though I really don't need to compare anymore, I just know now. In my opinion setting up and electric guitar is easier than an acoustic because it's a lot easier to correct your mistakes. Well, not always.;)
     
  6. MattW1970

    MattW1970 TDPRI Member

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    Id strongly second that......

    -imo I think a lot of players think CONSTANTLY obsessing about impossibles like intonation and setup...etc....helps their playing a lot....and although getting that stuff reasonable is advantageous......most of the time it doesn't make much difference to their playing/tone/sound

    -I think that mentality applies to a lot of levels not just guitar....getting things reasonable is good....obsessing about perfection is bad.....I am much happier when I don't worry about perfection...and I think it shows in overall better playing....counterintuitivly perhaps
     
  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've gotten much less obsessive about setup over 34 years of playing, though the first 32 years were pretty extreme.
    But, the tiniest buzz at the 15th fret is totally unacceptable!
    When I worked as a tech in a busy little guitar shop near a subway station in Brooklyn, you could drop off your guitar (for a setup) in the morning and pick it up later that day. I requested a minute with the player to see them play and ask a couple of questions to determine a target relief, and then do the same when they picked it up to make sure it worked for the way they played, possibly raising strings if there was any buzzing. Any buzz at all at any fret was unacceptable to me, but I would allow it if they requested it over allowing me to touch up any high frets. There may be something missing in the playing experience if you've never played a guitar that had no problems; and it seemed to me (in the 90s) that most players had little if any experience with problem free guitars.
    My recent more relaxed attitude about my own guitars involves allowing a slightly higher action, not buzzing strings. (Not that I was ever obsessed with low action!) If there is a single note that slightly buzzes away sustain and tone, or frets out when bent, I will probably drop dead or have a nervous breakdown if I don't fix it.
    Do not allow the tiniest buzz at any fret!
    It is not an obsession!
    A tiny buzz indicates that there is something wrong with the guitar!
    All laughing at the insane obsession aside, a tiny buzz can unexpectedly become a dead note from one day to the next if you subject your guitar to any extreme atmosphere changes (mostly in dry winter conditions), there is no reason I know of to stop adjusting string heights before buzzing has been eliminated.
    The only thing as death threatening as buzz is a pickup that's too high on the bass side (and I keep them pretty low there), causing loud bassy bottom strings. Guitar smashing stuff, that.
    If anything, the internet has caused me to lighten up a bit, or maybe it's because I can no longer see well enough to spot the problems without using more tools.
     
  8. MattW1970

    MattW1970 TDPRI Member

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    -on string buzz.....imo.....its WAY OVERBLOWN on especially on electric guitar....acoustic guitar its a LITTLE BIT more of an issue.....but unless the music you make is playing one note at a time with no chords....its often not noticeable on a recording....the weather....which constantly changes effects things more than people wanna realize.....

    -my first "fix" for a lot of "issues" is a new set of strings...id also add...a screwdriver and an allen wrench...the HUGE majority of the time is all the tools you need to adjust/setup your guitar.....

    -if you are having any kind of fretwork done more than every 10-15 years or so even for the very dedicated player.....you might wanna reconsider...

    -I know many will disagree.....to each his own....just relating my experience
     
  9. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I wouldn't say I'm obsessive about it but on the other hand when I pick one of them up to play if it's not the way I like it I can tell pretty easily. Here's in Colorado with the dryness and the seasonal changes tweaking is kind of an ongoing process. I normally play .010-.046s and I like my action fairly low so all of them need some regular attention from time to time.

    I've got a combination of homemade stuff along with a collection of tools I keep together that I use to get the job done. I adjust the truss rod, spot check the saddle heights and then check up and down the neck for any bad frets. Then all that's left is to check and tweak the intonation if needed and usually I'll spot check my pickup heights too. Every once in a while one of them doesn't sound quite right to my ears so I probably spend as much or more time tweaking pickup heights as I do on the other stuff. All it takes is about half and hour to work through it all with one of them so it's no big deal.

    I like them to "feel" right and "sound" right but I don't measure stuff down to a 64th of an inch or obsess over a lot of little things. To me the guitar tells you whether it's right or not the minute you plug it in and play it.
     
  10. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    People do tend to stress over getting the action as low as possible. One Mr. Ron Kirn gave excellent advice on string height. Let 'em down 'til they buzz, then raise 'em up 'til they don't. I like that solution better than anything else I've ever tried.
     
  11. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm not too fussy myself. Oh I'll mess with a guitar if it needs it but I don't get out a micrometer or feeler gauge. Just a tuner for the intonation and feel for the rest.

    Now that I've said that I have a 65 ES-330 getting refretted now. Maybe when it's done I'll change my mind on a pro setup.
     
  12. MattW1970

    MattW1970 TDPRI Member

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    That's sound advice from the voice of experience
     
  13. Telepathist

    Telepathist Tele-Afflicted

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    I had my American Standard Tele set up by a pro and it played a thousand times better. Guess it had been on the rack at GC too long!

    Recently got a new USA Nitro-Satin Strat, and having the "perfectly" setup Tele as a reference, adjusted the truss rod myself (I like a pretty straight neck), lubed the nut slot for the G string and now it plays just about as good as the Tele.

    The action is slightly lower on the Tele due to the luthier deepening the nut slots but the Strat has 9's instead of 10's for strings so I don't notice much difference in playability.

    The intonation on the Strat is every bit as good as on the professionally setup Tele. I might work on the Strat's bridge a little to improve it coming back into tune after using the tremolo bar. I see no need to have it setup professionally.
     
  14. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

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    Less reading, more doing. :D

    And what Bob said.:cool:
     
  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It's news to me that there's any other way, maybe that shows how out of the loop I am.
    The whole idea of specifications sounds like a management tool for weeding out apathetic factory workers.
    Judging by the playability of new guitars hanging in GC, well...
    The only thing I'd add to raising them 'till they don't buzz, is evening out the overall radius so none are higher or lower at the bridge. If the heights are in an inconsistent arc, there's probably some low spots from playing habit induced fretwear.
    The last time I adjusted a truss rod I had to get some greasy feeler gauges from the garage, being unable to see the relief with my eyes. Bummer.
    Oh well, can't adjust solid lifters by eye either.
     
  16. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well, count me among the disagree-ers. I need fret and nut work at least annually on my main instruments. Usually around 200 gigs a year, plus playing on my own time, wears stuff out. I like my nuts cut really low. Just changing strings a few times week can wear out the slots over the course of a year, so that open strings start buzzing badly. I like fresh strings for every gig, so they get changed a lot.

    It's also no trouble at all when you play that much to get divets and flat spots in your frets in a fairly short amount of time. Which can cause excessive buzzing, and mess with your intonation.

    I once tried a new guitar that was one piece. The whole thing was a one piece body and neck unit. It was made of an alternative material, not wood. It was a pretty dang cool guitar, but it made me wonder about refret possibilities. So I called the company and asked about it. The guy on the other end said "Why would you ever need to refret a guitar?". I said "Well, they eventually wear out, unless you're using stainless". He said "That's a myth, I've been playing for thirty years and I've never worn out frets". I said "Then you must not play very much".:lol:

    I didn't buy the guitar. I wear out frets and nuts all the time. All depends on the player. If a guy plays a few hours a week at home, a set of good sized frets might last a lifetime. If a guy plays a few hours a day, 200 or more days a year, the lifespan of frets is exponentially shorter.

    I ordered a custom bass two years ago with stainless steel frets. I wanted to try them out. I think going forward, that everything I have that ever needs frets is going to get those bad boys. Two years into owning that bass, I've done three short tours, lots of local gigs, and a bunch of session work with it. There isn't the tiniest mark or change to any of the fret wire. None. I'm a believer.
     
  17. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    "greasy feeler gauges from the garage"... I dug some of mine out to use and they were all rusted up or I couldn't see the numbers...

    I don't think I've ever bought a "guitar specific tool".. I make do with my current assortment of workshop hand tools..... ;)... I use my poor eyes and feel mostly.... it's a guitar not a car engine....

    a snark?... is that a guitar tool?... ;)
     
  18. Shiro

    Shiro Tele-Meister

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    Setting up a Guitar is much easier than setting up a Rocket.

    Learning how to setup my guitars was well worth the effort. It is not that difficult, and it's really nice to know that any guitar you pick up you can make the adjustments to suit you.
     
  19. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I bought a used Squier CV Strat a little while ago, and the setup was terrible. Really high action, intonation issues. I guess the kid who owned it had messed around with it.

    I asked my lead guitarist if he could set it up for me. He loves doing that stuff, and I've never learned how. It cost me a case of beer, and the guitar is much better.

    Now I'm noticing that my Squier CV Tele is buzzing on the low E. I think I'll call my friend again.

    Basically, I don't think about stuff like that until it bothers me. Then I get it fixed. Perhaps I should be paying more attention. :D
     
  20. mlove3

    mlove3 Tele-Afflicted

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    "Guitar players in general need to spend a lot less time worrying about gear and a lot more time practicing/composing."

    YESSS!
     
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