I’m sure this is bleeding obvious to all of you however what a difference having a guitar properly set up makes
i got my Yamaha Pacifica 112v off eBay and apart from changing a string and tuning it have never had anyone look at it. Took it to a local guy yesterday who works from his own house (great reviews etc). I stopped in for a while and straight away he was like ‘have you struggled a bit with this?’. As I’ve never played any other guitar I had nothing to compare to, it’s hard enough just learning open chords.
He let me play on his Fender Strat made in Japan and as soon as I plucked it I could feel how much ‘easier’ it was to play. He told me that the action at 12th fret should be around 1.5mm. Mine was sitting at around 4mm!!
I agree. Getting a guitar set up makes all the difference. My guitar hurt my fingers when I first got it several years ago so I stopped playing. I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago and my fingers started hurting again so I took it to my local shop. He looked at it and said he could adjust it. Wow. What a difference. My fingers still hurt a bit but, they are getting tougher and the pain is minimal. But I can tell the difference in the action. So much more fun to play.
I’ve now got my Les Paul properly set up, but it took a few experiences with local guitar guys to get it right. Something I discovered was that while there are people who can indeed set up neck relief, intonation, bridge height, and basically clean your guitar and polish frets etc, there are far fewer people who can level frets, properly file nuts, etc.
Having all my frets properly levelled and really good first fret action has made a huge difference to the playability of the guitar. It’s money well spent. It is interesting to see how much work a relatively expensive new guitar needs to sort the action ‘out of the box’.
I’m a huge advocate of every guitarist being able to do this themselves. The tools required are minimal and knowledge is readily available on YouTube. This is really basic level maintenance on par with changing strings.
It varies because you can get duds even when you’re paying big money. Most of the time you will still do a basic setup to taylor to your preferences because everyone likes their action differently. But the instrument should be playable right out of the box and have a properly cut nut and really well leveled / dressed / polished frets at the least. Lots of companies PLEK their higher-end guitars nowadays which is an automated leveling and dressing process. I think Gibson started does this on every instrument, even the ‘cheap’ Tribute line.
True, but for the sake of paying fifty quid to someone who has been doing it for years, versus me having a go at the frets on a £700 guitar, it’s definitely something I’d pay for, personally. I’m all for diy, but I pick my battles. I’d quite like to get a real old cheapy and experiment.
I just recently took my new Taylor acoustic to the local guitar store for a setup. I was mistakenly under the impression that since it was a “Taylor” it should be fine out of the box. When the tech looked at it he was like “wow, this would be great for a slide, I can definitely help you with this”. A couple of hours and $36 later ($30 for the setup and $6 for a new bone saddle) I had a guitar that played so much better.
I had heard that it helps and I expected it to be a little better but I could not believe the huge difference it made. I had been struggling with the F chord but not any longer. Open chords are easier, quicker and cleaner now. It takes so much less pressure to play chords it makes things easier, even finger style is easier. I just wish I had done this sooner.