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Gibson ES-330 Setup tips


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Gentlemen (& any Ladies reading out there):

 

I've owned a Gibson ES-330L (2008, not a reissue) for about a year and a half. It has been a wonderful instrument for me. But, as I am continually on the quest for the sounds in my head, and as I cannot refer to saddle adjustments anymore to keep my guitar in tune the higher I move up the fretboard, I've taken the first steps to redo the setup on this beauty -- Antique Red, black dog-ear P90s, trapeze tailpiece, ABR-1 bridge...

 

Until now, I kept the factory setup because it played well enough (not unbelievably, though). But I've always had the feeling that when the time came to redo the setup I would opt for higher action because it would bring out the much warmer, janglier, reedier, more acoustic tones that a complete hollowbody guitar is made for. After restringing my instrument, I moved the action higher and my gut was right. Assuming I can make other adjustments, the tone on this 330 will be a massive improvement, to my ears.

 

I am aware that this kind of setup will increase the tension on the guitar's neck and that notes up and down the fretboard will most likely ring sharp.

 

So my question is this: How much relief do I want to give the neck before I get to the point where adjusting the saddles will take care of the rest? I've already made a quarter turn counterclockwise and am letting it sit for a day to set. If I find this isn't enough, how much further should I go without damaging the guitar?

 

Any suggestions, tips, advice are very much appreciated.

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What is the best way to measure for that amount of relief (.3 mm)?

 

Capo on the first fret, fret where neck meets body, measure between top of seventh fret and bottom of low E string.

 

But if you're looking for advice, take it to a tech... a really good one and have a full setup done. Probably not the guy over at guitar center.

 

Why?

 

Every guitar comes out of the factory with a "middle of the road" setup. Very rarely, are the frets perfectly level and nuts are never perfectly cut... yes, even on those Gibsons. :lol:

 

A great setup will let your guitar reach its full potential and since you already seem very happy with, I'm sure that you'll be blown away after a pro setup. A full setup should include nut work, fret level and polish, neck relief, intonation and action height adjustment.

 

It won't be cheap but definitely worth every penny.

 

:thu:

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^ Agreed. Nut action in particular usually needs to be setup for the individual player before it plays as well as it possibly can. The slots are usually left a little tall to allow some adjustment to taste by the end user. Having the slots cut just right can really help the intonation below the 5th fret as well.

 

It can be pricey, but once it's done you won't have to have it done for a long time aside from the occasional seasonal truss rod adjustment.

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