Getting a guitar “setup”

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by MapleTwang, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    The FedEx and UPS warehouse field hockey leagues are brutal.
     
  2. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    only when they're feeling charitable.... :p

    r
     
  3. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Fender style (i.e. screw-on) necks need to be reset more often than not, right out of the factory, IME. Most never are. Shipping is not necessarily (and I would argue not probably) the reason for that (not that the shipping services don't stink, though).

    With poly finishes on cheap guitars, I usually don't even bother loosening the screws or the strings to do it. I'll just give it a tweak with everything in place. I do take extra care with lacquer finishes, though, as they can chip very easily (and tend to be on more expensive guitars). On those, I do loosen the screws a hair, and tweak more gently.
     
  4. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Time has a monetary value as well.

    Further, no offense (I was in the same boat) your questions show you have ZERO knowledge of a guitar or how it works.

    There is no shame in finding a good shop and paying for setups.

    Here's a clue - someone who has done 10k setups will (not might, will) do a better job than all ya'll who have done 50 or 100 or 1000.

    If the OP isn't into DIY then it's just wasted time to learn, with sub-optimal results.

    I pay for setups. Happy to. Then my free time for guitar can be spent writing and playing. Over time my shop has kindly explained some basics to me, and I can tweak pickup height and tilt, adjust pole pieces, raise and lower a bridge/saddles, adjust for intonation. But that's just basic, I don't know, survival? If I notice something really bad at rehearsal or a show, I can tweak on the spot or later at home, and not have to run the guitar in every time. Or if I'm being really picky with a pickup I can futz away, listen, record and adjust.

    Anything else? I love my guitars and my time is always limited. Better to have the pros do the heavy lifting.
     
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  5. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can buy a new guitar for the price of a few setups these days. A re fret can be more expensive than a new neck. This makes no sense to me.

    I think that the guy setting your guitar up should at least be at a certain level of playing ability. ie, not be tone deaf, be able to hear and bend to pitch and play what you want to play on the guitar. Especially up around the 12th fret on up.

    You often see pro setup guys that play at beginner level. I don't see how they can achieve optimal results in the setup if they are playing at a basic level and unable to bend to pitch.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  6. newminglewoodblue

    newminglewoodblue Tele-Meister

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    If you took it to "Eric's Guitar" in Noho you're in great hands. If not, now you know of a very reliable/honest/kind/quality repair shop in LA. Regarding should you do it yourself, the answer I agree with has to do with the value of your time. Not just to perform a setup, but the time required to become at least as proficient as the guy you're paying (he does dozens or more every week no doubt). That WILL take some time. For me, I'd rather use that same time to learn songs, blister thru scales and arpeggios and try to apply that to music theory. I also use some of that time to learn DAW and program drum & bass tracks to jam with. However, I am very proficient at setting intonation, which requires little skill but alot of patience & a good tuner. In short, do what you want. Doing what you want is what's best for you.
     
  7. Toast

    Toast Tele-Meister

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    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  8. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Meister

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    Well worth it, especially when done by a talented professional.
     
  9. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Afflicted

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    Whether you do the setup yourself or not is not important. I can tweak a guitar and do a pretty good setup to my liking, but I'm no (and will never be a) pro.
    But the customer is always right, and I'm my own customer.

    To me it does... the neck is the most important part you play, replace the neck and you have a partscaster instead of an original. Replace the frets and you have a refretted guitar.

    Of all the people that work on my car some don't even have a license yet (too young), others just suck at driving... None of them are professional drivers, none of them will win a competition in driving/racing/... I might even drive better than some of them, but I'm a lousy car technician.

    Beethoven didn't even hear the standing ovation of the audience when his ninth symphony premiered... So do you have to hear to write (or play) great music? Obviously not.

    And to top it all of, look at the Fender website: "Leo wasn’t a guitarist, and legend says he didn’t know how to tune a guitar either. This obviously didn’t deter him from creating the most popular electric guitars in the world."

    No, I don't believe you have to be a pro player to be a good technician. It doesn't hurt (and it might be very useful), but it is not needed at all.
     
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  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    While I don't disagree with what you are saying I don't think in terms of resale when working towards a nice playing and sounding guitar so ending up with a partscaster or re fretting a guitar that needs it doesn't bother me.
    I also think that in order to dial a guitar in the best you need to be able to play it well enough to get the best out of it. Measurements theory and manuals can only get you so far. If you are tone deaf and unable to do large bends with vibrato how would you know if the guitar still had limitations due to its setup you just performed? I suppose you could have a routine of bending at a certain fret to check which is what most setup guys do I think but doing that won't give you optimum results like you can achieve yourself fine tuning things over a few days playing it.
     
  11. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Afflicted

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    Refretting a guitar means keeping the neck you love... that's why I'd rather refret, not resale value.

    There's only one person that can tell what the perfect setup is: the player... If a third person - even a very very very overskilled one - sets it up for you, it's just not your setup. It will only fit you if either your preferences are very similar or if he knows exactly what you want.

    In my opinion, a good setup is just a technique that can be learned to a non-musician. The tweaking is something the player has to do for himself, and you can just get better as you have more and more experience.
    The better you know what you want, and the better you can communicate that to the technician, the better he will deliver.
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    this is an important factoid....


    there are setups.. like the 75.00 job mentioned above which is tantamount to the basic tune up on. a car, then there is the "big leagues" which are NOT 75.00 and more like getting your car set up for the 24 hours of Daytona... and usually require a give 'n take between the tech and the guitarist....

    If you learn how to do it yourself, and it's not particularly difficult, you can "nurse" your guitar into optimum playability AND allow for -variables at you travel..

    and the reason ALL guitars require the "big kahuna" of setups with a fret leveling is because, unless you have purchased a very high level guitar and its promoted as coming with the fret leveling, and/or Plek job, yours has not had it...

    It Is impossible for the frets to be pressed into a fingerboard and have them all seat to the same exact same depth... it just cannot happen.. and even if it could.. the way the wood expands and contracts over the ensuing months as it settles in will distort the fingerboard subtlety, so subtly, that you cannot see it, and few have the skill to measure, but it can interrupt the playability of a guitar... GET THE FRETS LEVELED...

    and the reason most more pedestrian guitars are shipped with a rather crude setup is because it IS a personal thing.. it would be like buying a new pair of shoes, with them "broken in" for the cobbler's feet.... they might be broken in, but just not for you... Or like buying a custom tailored Armani Suit, custom tailored to the Tailor's physique... :rolleyes:

    Over the almost two decades of participating in this forum, I have seen guys go nuts with a long list of marginal at best mods, touting them all as earth shockingly superior to anything else... and argue incessantly that a setup including a fret leveling just should not be necessary on a new guitar... that's absurd... the fret leveling should be number one... every time... and if you know how.... look at how much you save over your lifetime of guitar acquisition ...

    rk
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019 at 3:25 PM
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  13. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I do understand why people would rather pay for a setup than invest the time/money it takes to do one. There are things I outsource.

    On a personal level, learning to do my own guitar work really has paid off. Your tutorials really helped me there, especially with leveling. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but with the right tools it’s extremely easy. I taped, leveled and crowned my Tele last night in less than an hour.

    My experience with “pros” has been that most aren’t that great, which is what pushed me to do my own work. Not to say there aren’t very talented people out there - I’m sure there are many that would put my work to shame. I just haven’t found anybody like that locally, even though they all seem to come highly recommended when you ask around.
     
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  14. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    Expect a new nut. Yes, I'd drop the dime and have this guy work on it as long as he's reputable. He'll probably want to talk with you about playing style, etc. Worth every penny.

    My tele is also a '75 and when I bought it, I knew it needed a fret job--which I didn't want to do myself (at the time). Older Fenders are tricky in that respect as the frets were originally pressed in sideways. Didn't hesitate--sent it off to a quality luthier and got back a very nice guitar.
     
  15. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Good thread, for me it seemed nuts (lol) not to learn on my Tele.. the only thing non-reversible is the nut & frets. I haven't gone at the frets or anything like that but Fender has pretty good instructions and if you've got tools and even basic skills it is not hard to do all the neck & saddle & pickup height setup on a Tele, and if you do anything wrong it's just a matter of turning a screw/bolt the opposite direction until you adjust out your mistake. You can at least do that before deciding whether or not it needs nut adjustment or fret leveling. I think a Tele should be seen as a lot less intimidating to do basic setup on compared to an acoustic where more of the adjustments are non-reversible.

    I adjusted the nut on mine as well. I haven't bought any fret tools, my Tele is a MIM and I suspect it would benefit from a good fret leveling but there is nothing on it that really absolutely demands it. There is one place on the neck that seems to be the limiter on lowering the action more and is also the limiter on just how hard I can bang on the guitar with my right hand, but it's low enough to play very easily. There are no spots on the neck where bends choke out or anything like that.
     
  16. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    BTW, I now do all my own setups, including fretwork. My "practice" guitars were a) a '78 Takamine "Martin D-18 copy" and an Epiphone, bottom-of-the-line Les Paul (with bolt on neck).

    Didn't ruin anything and both turned out to be very nice and very playable guitars--the Takamine is still my go-to acoustic that sits next to my chair.

    And @Ronkirn is right: level the frets. It's likely not been done on that guitar since it was new--and even then, probably only a cursory leveling by Fender.
     
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  17. MapleTwang

    MapleTwang TDPRI Member

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    What?! I truly hope not. I'm not about to authorize taking the original nut off and replacing. I hope he'd say something to me before he did that. He didn't mention that at inspection :) So hopefully just messing with the saddles etc. Would really really hate having to replace the nut. Frets are at 60% so hopefully that means the nut isn't too worn down. Blah.
     
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