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Guitar set up


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  • Guitar set up

    How much do you guys normally pay to have a guitar set up and what do you normally pay? I found someone but he has an ego the size of a rock star and just gets on my nerves so I'd rather not give him my bussiness

    I'm also living in central NJ so if anyone has suggestions for a good luthier it would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    I guess I'm fortunate in that the only setups I've ever needed would be considered minor setups.

    I've had approx. four guitars setup over the last 3 or 4 years and the only thing needed was to have the saddle replaced with bone, the strings lowered a bit by sanding the new saddle down a fraction of an inch, and a couple times I've had to have the nut slots filed to lower the action at the lower frets.

    I'm also fortunate to have found a very good luthier who doesn't charge much and almost always does the work while I watch and wait. He usually charges me right around $35 and that price includes the price of the new saddle. I'm pretty sure this price is a little lower than average......my guess would be the standard minor setup would average closer to about $50 for the work I just mentioned. And.....I'm sure if I had needed fret work done, the price would've been a little more.

    All of the above can be done by you, yourself, with a little practice. Some very good information about all of this can be found at: www.frets.com

    I live in central Ohio, so I have no idea how these prices would compare to prices in New Jersey. Hopefully someone here from that part of the world will chime in. If you find a luthier you like and trust, stay with him....they're not all that easy to find.
    Three Dreads......2 Martins and 1 YamahaA fiddle, a mando, a uke, eight harmonicas, a Zoom H2, a Panasonic recorder, coupla penny whistles, an Italian made Titano accordion, three handguns, at least a dozen chess sets, more power tools than Bob Vila, and one old Westclox "Big Ben" wind-up alarm clock that still works! Oh, BTW, I forgot to mention my ocarina and maracas.


    • #3
      Echoing Opa John's advice about DIY setting up, it really isn't much of a job. Get a little reading about it under your belt and you'd probably do a pretty good job of it. Courage is not required.
      Be back when I get back. TTFN.


      • #4
        Do your own. It's not difficult.


        • #5
          Don't know of anyone in NJ, but I paid $60 for my last setup. I had the string-slots lowered, the intonation corrected at the saddle, some proud fret ends rounded over, new strings and a general cleaning.

          I enjoy hiring people who excel at what they do.


          • #6
            Hi Rat and welcome to HCAG. First, lets define what a "setup" is (or should be). I think it involves the following steps (more or less in order).

            1) Measure the present setup - nut and 12th action, relief. Ask the owner what he/she likes, how he/she plays, what they think is wrong. Watch them play. Note if there is anything funky (buzzy frets)

            2) Determine the condition of the guitar. Make sure it is properly hydrated and has no structural issues.

            3) Take the old strings off. Make a note of what was on it (guage, composition, coating). Clean the top of the guitar around the bridge and fretboard.

            4) Check the frets and deal with any issues - sharp ends, crowning and dressing, cleaning. Clean the fretboard.

            5) Look at the pin holes - decide if they need reaming, slotting and/or ramping

            6) Put a fresh set of strings on.

            7) Set the relief based on the players style.

            8) Measure the nut action and deal with it. Easy if its too high, will probably require a new nut if too low (which we'll talk about cost in a minute).

            9) Measure action a 12 and deal with that. Again, going down is relatively easy, up will require a new saddle.

            10) Double check 6, 7, 8. Check intonation. If it is significantly off a new saddle will be required. A lot depends on the players style.

            11) Writed down all of the measurements, date, type of strings, etc. I like to do this on the string box and put it in the case - that way they have a record and know what kind of strings are on it.

            OK, costs. That should take about 2 hours. If you pay the tech $25 an hour (not enough in my opinion) that would be 50 plus new strings. A bone saddle would add $25 if made from scratch, a new nut around $40. Repairing any issues adds more, of course.

            I get really scared if the tech doesn't ask any questions, particularly if they just grab a truss rod wrench and "give it a little tweak". A well set up guitar is such a joy to play - it is worth the money. And if you want to learn to do it, there are several really good articles on the 'net, including a couple that I have written on this forum.


            • #7
              In my area they get $60-85 plus strings.

              Last time I paid for a set up on my two electrics the guitars came back buzzing, with a ding in one of them that was the first ding ever in my American Deluxe strat.

              Also told them not to oil the fret board but they did it anyway.

              A lot of shops give the job to the new kid who is learning on your instruments. I learned to do my own. Or you can just get a Zager with it already done
              Good Day. I said Good Day!


              • #8
                I do my own. The tools paid for themselves years ago.