How To Set Up A Guitar

To set up a guitar, you should first know your guitar’s gauge strings and where the bridge is.

Then, you need to determine if there are any truss rods in place or not.

How To Set Up A Guitar

Next, you will have to install the saddle and the nut.

After that, you have to make sure that everything sounds right. If it doesn’t sound right, you may want to adjust the action with an adjustable tremolo arm.

Finally, you can always polish your guitar.

Guitar Setup 

1. Measure Gauge Strings

Measure your strings by using string gauges.

String gauges come in various sizes, but they all measure the same distance apart. The most common gauges include 14 and 16-gauge lines.

Other string gauges you might find available are 18 and 20-gauge. These extra-large strings require more tension when strumming them at the lower register.

This is because the larger the size of the string, the higher its pitch. Therefore, larger strings also produce a deeper tone than smaller ones.

2. Bridge Location

Bridge location refers to where the strings cross over the guitar’s body.

Most guitars have their bridges located on one side of the neck.

However, some have bridges located on both sides.

Some other notable differences between these types of bridges are whether they are fixed in position or movable. Fixed-position bridges are much easier to change than those that move back and forth.

Once you have moved the bridge forward, you would have to loosen the screws holding it down before raising it back up again. It’s best to choose a type of bridge that is easy to access.

3. Adjusting The Action

The action determines how far from the fretboard’s surface each note plays.

Lower actions allow for faster playing and higher notes.

Higher measures provide slower playing and lower pitches. You can usually adjust the action yourself by loosening the screw that holds the saddle plate in place.

By relaxing this screw, you can raise the saddle plate off the fretboard. Once it is presented, slide the saddle down until you hear a prominent note.

4. String Height

The strings’ height is determined by the length of the vibrating portion of the string. There are two main types of heights which are referred to as high and low settings.

A high setting allows for a fuller sound, whereas a low setting produces a thinner tone.

The ideal location depends on many factors such as the style of music you play, personal preference, etc.

5. Truss Rods

Truss rods are used to keep the neck straight during adjustments. They are sometimes installed on acoustic guitarsOpens in a new tab. but are not required.

This is especially true on electric guitarsOpens in a new tab.. Electric guitars do not have necks like traditional acoustic guitars. Instead, they use pickups to amplify the vibrations made by the strings.

As long as the strings remain appropriately tuned, there shouldn’t be any issues.

6. Nuts

Nuts are used to hold the strings in place.

They help prevent the strings from slipping out of tune. Some stringed instruments don’t require nuts, while others require them.

How To Set Up A Guitar (1)

7. Saddle & Nut Placement

Saddle placement refers to the angle of the saddle relative to the nut. Ideally, the saddle is positioned about 1/8th inch closer to the 12th fret instead of the 11th.

This is because the 11th fret is too close to the bridge. When adjusting the saddles, check and double-check to ensure that the string does not slip out of place.

You should tighten the screw that holds the string in place if it does.

8. Tuners

Tuners, also known as tuning machines, drumheads, or needle eyes, are used to regulate the intonation (pitch) of the strings.

Tuners work by pressing the strings against the drumhead.

Then, an adjustable bobbin moves along the shaft that connects with the head.

Changing the amount of pressure applied to the drumhead changes the instrument’s pitch. For example, if the string is pressed harder, the pitch will rise.

Conversely, less force is needed when lowering the tension. Another essential thing to remember is the different types of tuners.

While some tuners only allow half-step intervals, others allow full-step breaks.

Also, some tuners only attach to specific instruments, so always read your manual before purchasing one.

9. Bridge & Body Shaping

Suppose you are having trouble hearing your guitar because of body echoes. In that case, it might be time to consider raising the body.

First, raise the body so that the top is even with the bottom of the soundhole. It may be easier to raise the body after installing new frets.

10. Frets

Frets are wooden strips that are used to create the fingerboard. Each fret extends outward from the fingerboard at an interval distance apart.

Fretboards come in various shapes and sizes, depending on your own type of guitar. Most frets have grooves cut into them, making them easy for fingers to slide over.

You can adjust the pitch by moving each fret forward or backward. However, this requires loosening and tightening the screws that secure the frets.

11. Pickups

Pickups Opens in a new tab.are transducers that convert electrical signals into audible tones.

Some are designed specifically for guitar applications, while others can be used for other musical instruments.

Most pickup designs include magnets, coils, and cones.

Pickups usually come mounted on the backside of the body near the bridge. To hear a particular note, you must turn the volume knob down.

12. Pedals

Most electric and acoustic guitars feature pedals.

These devices are used primarily for effects such as reverb, chorus, distortion, tremolo, wah-wah, etc.

Pedal configurations vary based on the desired result. However, the most common design includes a preamp, fuzz box, delay, and amplifier.

13. Headstock

The headstock is located where the neck meets the body. It has two holes on either side of the headstock, where the strings pass through.

Strings are tightened using either a truss rod machine or by hand using a string-puller tool.

String pulls can be purchased online or at local music stores. A truss rod is typically threaded through the headstock and neck to control the length of the neck.

14. Neck & Truss Rods

Neck wood is commonly made out of maple, mahogany, rosewood, walnut, etc.

If you notice any significant cracks, dents, etc., it’s probably best to replace the neck. Many players use a truss rod to help stabilize the neck.

They are available in lengths ranging from 2 inches to 4 inches. If you want to change the position of the truss rod, then you need to loosen the nut and unscrew it.

Once off, you simply screw in another truss rod. The best part about these rods is they are color-coded.

So, once you get your first three truss rods installed, you know exactly where everything should go.


To conclude, if you’re thinking about buying a guitar, do some research beforehand. This will save you money and frustration later on.

Also, before purchasing a used guitar, check it thoroughly. Make sure it’s not damaged and free of defects.


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