Electric, Acoustic and Bass Guitar Setups

Setups

Selborne Guitars can set up your electric, acoustic or bass guitar to suit your preferences and playing style.

‘Setting up’ a guitar is the process of optimising it for comfort, tuning and playability. If your guitar strings feel too high off the fretboard, if the guitar doesn’t seem to play in tune at all positions on the fretboard, or if something just doesn’t sound or feel right a setup can often solve the problem.

All guitars benefit from a regular setup. Even brand new guitars require setting up. The average player might do a setup a couple of times per year. If you play or gig often you may need more frequent setups. However often you do it, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ guitar setup and a lot depends on the style of music you play, what you are used to and the type of guitar you have (you would have very different setups on acoustic and electric guitars, or on electric and bass guitars).

Some of the factors that might mean your guitar setup needs adjustment include: not having done a setup for a while (or perhaps ever!); changing string gauge; changes in temperature and humidity which cause wood to expand and contract; regular playing resulting in wear or movement of parts; and changes in your playing style over time.

Regardless, regular attention to your guitar’s setup can help ensure that it’s always comfortable and enjoyable to play.

Prices

Standard setup: £49

Includes truss rod adjustment, saddle and nut height adjustment, nut slot cutting to match string gauge, tremolo balancing, intonation adjustment, pickup height adjustment, tailpiece height adjustment, machinehead tightening, jack bolt tightening, lubrication and re-stringing

50% off our fretboard care package with a standard setup

Full setup: £95

Includes everything included in a standard setup, plus fret levelling, crowning and polishing, re-seating frets if necessary, and fretboard care package

Neck angle correction (bolt-on necks only): £79

Includes fitting of a maple shim custom-made for your guitar’s neck pocket, and a standard setup

Installing a new bolt-on neck: £110

Includes machinehead installation, neck fitted and correct angle established, and standard setup

*There is a £10 surcharge for guitars with a Floyd Rose tremolo (or similar) and for 12-string guitars due to the extra time and effort required to balance, intonate and/or tune them

** Prices do not include the cost of parts or new strings

CASE STUDY

Returning a Telecaster to its former glory

A customer brought me a modified 2001 Fender Telecaster suffering from tuning and intonation issues and fret buzz, and in general need of a bit of TLC. He also wanted to remove the middle pickup (which was a modification), returning it to its original two pickup configuration. A set of Bare Knuckle Yardbird pickups had been purchased and were ready to be installed.

An initial assessment of the instrument identified a defective machinehead and, as the customer suspected, a number of worn frets which were causing the fret buzz. As a result, we replaced the machineheads (which were over 20 years old and the worse for wear) with a like-for-like set to maintain the aesthetics and character of the guitar, and decided that a full fret dress was in order. The fret wear causing the buzzing was relatively minor so a full re-fret of the guitar was unnecessary.

Having removed the neck and made an appropriate truss rod adjustment, I protected the fretboard, levelled and re-crowned the frets and finished by polishing and buffing the frets to a shine. This rectified the fret buzz issue and gave the frets a new lease of life. I also cleaned and oiled the heavily soiled fretboard.

Next the electrics – I removed all the old parts and installed the new pickup set, making sure to re-ground all the necessary components including the bridge. A new scratchplate was installed (the old one had been cut for three pickups), which required carefully hand-drilling screw holes in it for the neck pickup.

During the installation we agreed that some of the chrome hardware was too ‘new’ looking and conflicted aesthetically with the aged appearance of the machineheads and new control plate. After a bit of experimentation on a similar chrome item I had to hand, I confirmed that I could approximate the aged look by using a combination of sandpaper and wire wool. I did this to the Tele’s ‘ashtray’ bridge plate and to the guitar’s screw heads, its neck plate and its jack socket. The result was a much more coherent look overall.

Finally, I checked that the electrics were working as expected, re-attached the neck, and re-strung the guitar. I set up the guitar and was able to produce a much lower, buzz-free action. A strobe tuner (accurate to within +/- 0.1 cent, or 1/1000th of a semi-tone) enabled vastly improved intonation. I set the new pickup heights to Telecaster factory specifications and invited the customer over for a test play.

At the customer’s request, I had also photo-documented the entire process as a memento of the changes undertaken. I am happy to say that he was very pleased with the results achieved.

Key benefits

Fret buzz eliminated

Action lowered and intonation improved

Greater tuning stability

Aesthetic enhancement (new scratchplate, aging of hardware)

Upgraded pickups and electronics

Photo diary for customer

Removing the old electrics

This photo, taken during fret levelling, shows the uneven wear that comes from years of use

The neck after fretwork, cleaning and hydrating

New machineheads being fitted

Old scratchplate used as a template to drill screw holes in the new one

Final tweaks to the setup

The finished article

Old scratchplate used as a template to drill screw holes in the new one

Final tweaks to the setup

The finished article

Book a setup

Contact us to book one of our competitively priced guitar setups for your acoustic, electric or bass guitar.

If your guitar feels difficult to play (strings too high above the fretboard?), suffers from intonation problems, or if you’ve recently changed string gauge, the nut or saddles, your guitar needs a setup.

Perhaps you need to get your favourite axe gig-ready, or need to set up different guitars differently for different styles of music. Or maybe you just want to give your guitar a seasonal service to keep it in tip-top condition. Whatever your requirements, Selborne Guitars can help.

We offer volume discounts on setups so if you have more than one instrument in need of attention now is the perfect time!