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What tools do you use to set up your guitars??

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  • What tools do you use to set up your guitars??

    For those of you who do your own set ups and such....what tools do you use? and what purpose do each of those tools serve?



    What's the best way to eat a frog? Put one leg over each ear.<br><br>

  • #2

    Stew Mac string action gauge - to measure low and high E string heights at 0 fret, 12th fret, 24th fet, as well measure relief at 7th fret with capo on 1, fretted on 17.  That's the main tool.  I used to use a set of feeler gauges, but the Stew Mac gauge is a lot faster, easier and more precise.

    Screwdriver to adjust inonation on the saddles.

    Hex wrenches for the truss rod and saddle height.

    Excel - I log all measurements every time I do a setup on each guitar, so I can narrow down what I like and hit it exactly every time.  When I start to feel the setup is off, I refer to the measurements and I know what I'm doing.

    Big Bends Nut Sauce - put a little on each nut slot when changing strings.

    Occasionally - maybe once per year - I'll clean the fretboard w/ lemmon oil (not sure what brand, but it's made for guitars - I've had a bottle forever I use it so rarely).

    <div class="signaturecontainer">Multiple award winning blues/rock/country at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zeyerband.com">http://www.zeyerband.com</a> or <a target="_blank" href="http://www.reverbnation.com/zeyer">http://www.reverbnation.com/zeyer</a>.<br>Check my solo (instrumental rock) projects at: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.reverbnation.com/vincedickinson">http://www.reverbnation.com/vincedickinson</a><br><br><br>&quot;Music is like the English language - it's just full of rules that need to be broken or you aren't hip.&quot;</div><br>&quot;It doesn't take talent to upgrade your playing. It takes patience&quot; - Kenny Werner


    • #3

      Mostly a bunch of different screwdrivers and allen wrenches for adjusting pickups, tremolos, intonation, bridge saddles, etc.

      Small files for fret ends and nut slots.

      Analog needle tuner for setting intonation.

      Socket wrench for tightening pots, tuner bushings and output jacks.

      Needle nose pliers for cutting off strings and bending down the sharp ends.

      Graphite powder for lubing nut slots.

      I could use feeler gauges, a calliper and a straight edge, but I do all of that by feel.

      The only really specialized tool I've ever considered was a puller so I could remove Strat and LP knobs without marring the surface around them, but I always end up using expired credit cards as a shield and prying them up with screwdrivers on the rare occasion I have to take one off.


      • #4

        ^ ByrdoEmpires post is unbelievably OCD ^

        There comes a point when it's like voo-doo priests worshipping a magic talisman.

        Its a **** guitar.

        Hex wrenches for the truss rod and intonation if something suggests it needs it, clippers to cut the strings off. About every half decade or so (or as needed), contact cleaner in the pots. Around then, usually needs a fret dress. I don't use any 'measuring tools' since I set up my guitars to feel right for me, not what some **** on the internet claims to be theoretically best.


        On acoustics, it's a bit different since there's saddlework involved but your typical 'acoustic guitar forum' denizen will be as bad- if not worse- than the post above when it comes to instrument fetishism and the comically irrational beliefs they have... for example, people expressing a sincere, deep fear of taking their instruments out of climate and humidity controlled rooms for fear that even a single minute out of a theoretically optimal enviroment will cause the joinery to explode and the top to splinter into a billion pieces.


        • lz4005
          lz4005 commented
          Editing a comment

          Speaking of OCD, I had a guy send me a set list in excel once. Which was a little strange, but not that odd, I guess, but there was a 2nd page where he had tracked every time he'd changed strings on each of his 10 guitars for the last 5 years.

          That was spooky.

          Not that a little record keeping is bad. I have a list in my phone of which strings work best on different guitars because I forget the names/numbers sometimes.

      • #5
        Allen keys for truss rod & saddle height, screw drivers, fine files for nut work, feeler gauges, Stew Mac straight edge tool for checking fret level, tuner for intonation, pencils for graphite lube in the nut.
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        • #6
          Screwdrivers and hex keys work for most of it. An electric tuner for intonation, of course. I can get it to feel right pretty easily. Living in South Florida, there's not a lot of climate change to create the need for many adjustments, so a setup stays good for a while.
          <div class="signaturecontainer"><b>Guitars:</b> 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)<br><br><br><br><b>Pedal Chain:</b> BBE Green Screamer -&gt; MXR Distortion III -&gt; Boss CE-5 -&gt; EH Stereo Pulsar -&gt; Boss DD-20 -&gt; BBE Boosta Grande<br><br><br><br><b>Amps:</b> Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5<br><br><br><br><a target="_blank" href="http://soundcloud.com/andrewalderman">SoundCloud</a></div>


          • lz4005
            lz4005 commented
            Editing a comment

            The most important tool is the knowledge of what kind of setup best suits you.

            There is a huge variance in what works for different players. Particularly things like neck relief and string height.

            That's why I hate it when people say they want to take their guitar in for "a setup". Like it's the same thing for everyone. Great setups have to be individualized to the player.


          • billybilly
            billybilly commented
            Editing a comment

            I'm not going to list all mine as most have been mentioned but I will mention my favorite...

            Automotive Swirl remover, great for making the body glisten and perfect for polishing frets.

            Not mentioned... Do soldering irons count?  I set my pickups up with them.  Every boy with his toys should be able to change their own pickups.

        • #7
          Every single tool from stew mac
          Big rocks got stacked on top of each other. Is this proof of alien life? Yes it is


          • peskypesky
            peskypesky commented
            Editing a comment

            for my Strats and Tele:

            feeler gauges (to measure neck relief and string action)

            capo (to help with measuring neck relief)

            truss rod wrench (to adjust neck relief)

            hex wrench for saddle height screws (to adjust string action)

            tuner (for setting intonation)

            small philips head screwdriver (for adjusting saddles/intonation)


            for my other guitars, the action is set by raising or lowering the entire bridge instead of individual saddles.



        • #8

          Yes, but when you buy them from Stewmac at a 1000% markup because they're called LUTHIERS gauges, it feels a bit better inside...


          • Dr. Scottie C
            Dr. Scottie C commented
            Editing a comment

            Great posts guys....keep them coming.

        • #9

          Capo, Allen wrenches, feeler gauges, ruler, Phillips screwdriver, tuner.

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          • Rich4Once
            Rich4Once commented
            Editing a comment

            I set the action by feel, too.

            I have a notebook where I write down music related stuff. It started out for tax purposes, i.e. pay, distance, expenses, etc. but a couple of years ago, I added a page called "string change record". I did it because I couldn't remember how long it had been since I'd done it on some guitars. I tend to switch around and don't always know remember old they are. It's handy to know, in the event that I start having a lot of changes on a particular guitar, I can check it for issues. I also write down why they were last changed, i.e. break, losing tone, won't hold tuning, etc.