New Guitar Setup - Why Am I Afraid?

Freeman Keller

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I didn't bother to read all the responses, but here is how I approach every guitar that crosses my workbench.


It is available as a pdf and the spreadsheet is available but I have to email them to you. The pdf makes it easy to print out what you need and take out to the shop.
 

unixfish

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OK. Writing about this calmed my mind - a lot. Maybe that is why I like coming here. I had done the heel truss on my Baja and Strat, so I knew this would be easier.

I got out the feeler gauges from the garage, wiped off the 0.010 gauge, and started adjusting the truss. It took just about a quarter turn until it got down to about 0.010. I then lowered each saddle a half turn.

At this point, I am going to let it ride a day or two before I tweak anything further; just let everything settle.

The guitar feels better - slinker - easier to play. I may be able to lower the action a bit more, but we'll see. I had the intonation pretty good before I started, but I know I will probably need to adjust it again. Another day, after things settle.

I am about ready for new strings. I will probably wait to adjust height and fine tune intonation when I do that (unless intonation starts to bug me).

Thanks for letting me vent my fears a bit. I miss having my Dad to bounce things off of. Back in 1984, he described how to replace the clutch on my 76 Chevy, and I dove in without any further help. I just needed to talk about this a bit.
 

unixfish

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First, get all the silliness I deleted out of your head.

You can have the vendor set up a guitar or do the job yourself. Either way, the job will never be finished. Seasons change. Temperature and humidity change, even indoors. Relief changes. Even the length of the neck changes with temperature and humidity. That means tuning changes. The conditions in the shop are different from home so you’ll still have a little touching up to do even after a good setup. New guitar or old, the job’s the same. I put the guitar down on a bath towel so screws and springs don’t roll off the bench. I support the neck, even on a Fender. And I do what needs to be done. Even my custom shop guitar needed a tweak a week after I got it home. And it needed a tweak again toward the end of winter and another tweak at the beginning of summer. And another in the fall. The E and B strings tell me when it’s time and the low E string tells me how much needs to be done. I can’t imagine taking a guitar to the shop for basic maintenance that anyone with rudimentary mechanical skills should be comfortable doing. But that’s me.

I've taken a guitar for a setup a few times, and never really been happy with the results. I get it. I just need to talk my self down a bit and start the job, then I think "what was I worried about? This is easy."

The curse of the occasional mechanic.

Last weekend, I had to fix my son's tail light. I pulled the assembly, and huh - bulb was shattered. Then I found the red filter cover had come loose and was banging around. It took me 40 minutes of playing with it, then make a stabilizing tool to finagle the plastic piece into place and clip it back in - inside a hole too small for two of my index fingers. Two spots of super glue to hold it in place, and back on the car.

So why did a guitar have me worried? Ugh.
 

Jupiter

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Yeah you got it buddy!

Already solved, but a trick I have used in similar situations is JUST START, and let my brain start problem-solving from that point. Sometimes I will even lie to myself (“I’m just gonna turn the truss rod a tiny bit, that’s all” or even “I’ll just get it on the bench and MEASURE the action, just to SEE” 😅) if that’s what it takes to break the ice jam. Over the years I have learned that once I just pick up the tool, another part of my brain takes over.

I sometimes use the same trick to get myself under the barbell at the gym.
 

unixfish

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Yeah you got it buddy!

Already solved, but a trick I have used in similar situations is JUST START, and let my brain start problem-solving from that point. Sometimes I will even lie to myself (“I’m just gonna turn the truss rod a tiny bit, that’s all” or even “I’ll just get it on the bench and MEASURE the action, just to SEE” 😅) if that’s what it takes to break the ice jam. Over the years I have learned that once I just pick up the tool, another part of my brain takes over.

I sometimes use the same trick to get myself under the barbell at the gym.

This is exactly what I needed. Just start.
 

kuch

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I got a new Tele back on October of 2021. I am noticing that as it settles in a bit, it needs some adjustments. The neck relief is a bit more than it should be, and then I will probably need to adjust string heights and intonation after the relief is addressed. I've done this before on my other guitars - but the Tele is new, so I'm afraid to touch it.

Why?

That is the question I ask myself. Why am I so afraid to adjust a new guitar? I think it comes down to the used car quandary - you don't want to inherit someone else's problems. New items should just work, right? I don't need more projects. Once I start adjusting things, my mind starts to obsess about "What else is wrong? Did I buy a lemon? Is this broken?" The answers are "Nothing, No, and No." But those questions still eat away at my brain in the back of my head.

This mindset of mine annoys me. Adjustments should not be projects. I could just leave my guitar alone, and it would be fine. My issue is more I don't find enough time to play, and when I do, I want to play - not work on my guitars. I could send it out for adjustments and setup, but it would take longer to drive it somewhere than it would take to just do it. I should not be afraid - these are quick and easy adjustments. I just have this mental block about getting them done.

So, how do you make yourself do something you are dreading / not wanting to do so that you can enjoy your time with that item?

Oh, that reminds me, I still need to do city taxes before the middle of next month. That is a properly painful process that is poorly documented and error prone. Yay.

Playing a guitar that is set up the way you like it is such a joy. In the 90's I was able to start collecting the musical instruments I like to have and play. A little while later, I realized that some guitars, etc would play and feel so much better if I set it up the way I wanted it. So I made it a goal to learn what I could to make it happen. Ever since I've set up all of my guitars, even my most treasured Martins. But that's me.

If you want to start on the path or just want some general knowledge about tele's, click on the link:
 

Boreas

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I didn't bother to read all the responses, but here is how I approach every guitar that crosses my workbench.


It is available as a pdf and the spreadsheet is available but I have to email them to you. The pdf makes it easy to print out what you need and take out to the shop.
Freeman,

I don't know about the spreadsheet fie, but you can now attach PDF files directly in a post.
 

dreamingtele

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I used to be afraid of touching new guitars. Then I thought, what the heck, It’ll rather be me that tweaks it for the first time rather than another person.

When I got my ES-330, brand new, it was the most money Ive spent on guitars and I was really hesitant on tweaking the truss rod, but I really need to as I’m gonna put 11-52’s on it.

So i just took a deep breath and went to work.
 

Colo Springs E

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I am mechanically the most 'disinclined' person you'll ever meet. But I think nothing of turning the trussrod a 1/4 turn, or raising or lowering saddles or wraparound tailpiece. Necks need adjusting periodically.
 

That Cal Webway

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I got a new Tele back on October of 2021. I am noticing that as it settles in a bit, it needs some adjustments. The neck relief is a bit more than it should be, and then I will probably need to adjust string heights and intonation after the relief is addressed. I've done this before on my other guitars - but the Tele is new, so I'm afraid to touch it.

Why?

That is the question I ask myself. Why am I so afraid to adjust a new guitar? I think it comes down to the used car quandary - you don't want to inherit someone else's problems. New items should just work, right? I don't need more projects. Once I start adjusting things, my mind starts to obsess about "What else is wrong? Did I buy a lemon? Is this broken?" The answers are "Nothing, No, and No." But those questions still eat away at my brain in the back of my head.

This mindset of mine annoys me. Adjustments should not be projects. I could just leave my guitar alone, and it would be fine. My issue is more I don't find enough time to play, and when I do, I want to play - not work on my guitars. I could send it out for adjustments and setup, but it would take longer to drive it somewhere than it would take to just do it. I should not be afraid - these are quick and easy adjustments. I just have this mental block about getting them done.

So, how do you make yourself do something you are dreading / not wanting to do so that you can enjoy your time with that item?

Oh, that reminds me, I still need to do city taxes before the middle of next month. That is a properly painful process that is poorly documented and error prone. Yay.

Ha! I know exactly what you mean.

And because of that evaluation process, I will never buy an online guitar again.

Playing the instrument in person diminishes that mindset and such.
And you sure can evaluate all the important factors of construction and alignment!

.
 

unixfish

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Playing a guitar that is set up the way you like it is such a joy. In the 90's I was able to start collecting the musical instruments I like to have and play. A little while later, I realized that some guitars, etc would play and feel so much better if I set it up the way I wanted it. So I made it a goal to learn what I could to make it happen. Ever since I've set up all of my guitars, even my most treasured Martins. But that's me.

If you want to start on the path or just want some general knowledge about tele's, click on the link:

That was one of the links I checked before I started. That link, and a couple YoobityToobity videos to "just make sure".
 

middy

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giphy.gif
 

ChicknPickn

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Detective Harry Callahan put it best: "A man's got to know his limitations." Good question going into any repair, modification, etc., is "What's the worst that could happen?"
 

unixfish

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I just did one more small tweak. Less than an eighth on the truss, half a turn down on the saddles, another quarter down on the middle two. Maybe I introduced a small buzz in the middle two strings? Maybe? If anything, a quarter turn up on the middle two after a couple days. Intonation is still good - maybe even better now.

I am not trying to slam the strings down to "full low" mode, but make it so my style does not induce string buzz. I'm actually enjoying this process now; it's quick and easy now that I got my nerve / groove back.
 




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