Took my new guitar in for a setup. What’s your experience with luthiers vs DIY been?

So yesterday I dropped my new Fender Tele off at a luthier for a setup. Fortunately he wasn’t too far from my house. I’ll get it back in a week.

I set up my Squier strat myself, and it made a huge difference. That was just truss rod, bridge action and intonation though. What can be done with a screwdriver or allen key. I did the same on my Tele but the nut felt way too high on the Tele and I thought I’d try a pro rather than have a crack at shaving nut slots myself. I’m looking forward to what a pro setup vs my amateur work will be like.

Got me thinking. Did you get your guitar setup or not? Did you DIY or get a pro to do one? Anyone compare their own work vs the pro (or are YOU the pro).


Hi JK. I had an acoustic guitar that the action was a fraction high on and brought to a Luthier in Chicago for a set up. This was an old guy with a small shop and honestly it was the best $50 I ever spent as the guitar played like a dream when I got it back.
On another note When I took it in he picked it up and played it and I have never seen anyone play a guitar like him in my life. I think my guitar was pretty upset that it had to eventually come home with me :joy:.


I purchased a relatively cheap acoustic guitar (Fender CC-60s) and out of the box it definitely had some issues. Past the 12th fret on the B string I couldn’t get a clear note. I took it to a local shop that just does repairs/set ups and for $50 they got it playing really well with their set up! I was nervous cause I didn’t know them at all and this was my first and only acoustic guitar but it turned out well.

That being said I’ve been nervous to send my Gibson LP to get set up as it’s much more expensive. I don’t have any issues with it but I do feel that it may benefit from an expert adjustment. I’d probably be nervous no matter what though.

I’m planning on learning this stuff my self since I have 3 electric guitars so plenty of room to make mistakes I just haven’t gotten around to it.

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The last three guitars I’ve bought got inspected and professionally setup by the guitar tech prior to dispatch from my go to store. In saying that it was the standard professional setup as wasn’t in a position at the time to specify my exact preferences. They do offer another service which has always intrigued me if its worth the cost, the PLEK service. I’ve always wondered if anyone on here has had a PLEK service.

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Have changed the strings previously on my Pacifica but thought I would have it set up properly. This has really helped especially with the full F chord! Can recommend Paul at who are local to me.

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I’ve done both. After much research and discussion I changed the action via minor truss rod adjustment, and I’ve also taken numerous of my guitars to luthiers for a setup. Been happy with the luthiers work generally, and happy with my truss rod adjustment.

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I do a lot of my own set up. My experience is that the Luthier costs more and does a much better job.

I still do the basic stuff, but if I think it needs more or isn’t getting where I want it with my own tinkering, I would not hesitate to take it to the Luthier.

Money well spent, no doubt. I just like to tinker with my stuff.


This is a great question. I see people that can’t play three chords ask about setting up their guitars. It’s crazy!

Answer #1:
My last few guitars have been bought from, which promotes that fact that their guitars come set up in their warehouse here in So Cal. So far that has been the case. Great high value guitars. Great players. I can’t recommend these guitars strongly enough.

Answer #2: One of my “expensive” guitars, my Gretsch, had a warble when I played 1st position chords. D major was a nightmare. I shopped around for local guitar techs and found a super cool guy near me that did a bang up set up. $50 I think. I follow him on facebook as well. Glad I found him in case I need him again.

Bottom line: How are you or I as a guy making scratchy noises on a guitar going to know if our nut needs to be cut in a little bit more or any other number of things? It’s crazy, get a pro set up if you are in doubt, or get guitars that come set up to spec from the dealer.


Something I find interesting, now that I think of it. I have only bought used guitars. All of them have been owned, played and sold by others.

Two were an absolute mess, one needed some fret leveling (that was likely a factory thing) and a basic set up and the most recent seems good.

So in my N=4 study, 3 out of 4 guitar players didn’t understand guitars enough to realize that a simple and inexpensive professional set up would have made the instrument they eventually abandoned play like a dream!

Even the 4th, a very experienced player, had kept an after market NuBone nut on it that the prior owner to him had put on. He liked the action, but… the string spacing was all messed up and irregular. Go figure. He sent the original bone nut with it, so I put that on and it is perfect.

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$50 for a setup! What a dream. Here it was AU $135 plus strings (about $85 US…). Seemed to be the going rate around here after I did a couple of price checks.

This guy seems to know what he is doing, and @Eddie_09, same kind of thing happened where he played it like Jimi Hendrix, but casually as if doing nothing while inspecting it, and I hope my jaw didn’t drop too obviously from amazement.

@CT Somewhat of a similar thing with this guitar, further down the neck was fine after my adjustments but 1st and 2nd fret were a bit iffy.

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Usually i change my strings myself. Once i tried to change the string height on my pacifica, but that taught me a thing or two about intonation. Even so that i had to take it to a luthier to get it right again. This time, i have that same pacifica set aside for a makeover and overall learning project.

So i’m going to mess about with that one. But my other guitars, beside changing the strings, get handled by a luthier.

For instance, my Ibanez has grown some fretbuzz recently around the 7th fret. I’m absolutely not comfortable with fiddling with the truss rod, so it’s off to the luthier we go. I’ve made an appointment and she’ll be in the hands of a pro.


Initial and first set up after purchase, normally a few months after bedding, done by my local man. General running maintenance and adjustments then by me. Best purchase in recent years for changing strings was one of these :sunglasses:

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I’ve not but certainly considering it in a few months time for the acoustic. The electric I don’t feel needs it as I can’t say I’ve got any gripes with feel at all.

It’s only a consideration on the acoustic at the moment as it’s still bedding in and there’s an element of me getting back used to the difference in playing an acoustic again, but I’m thinking there’s little tweaks that could be made. Intrigued by many others comments here about the difference it can / does make, assuming you find the right person I suppose!

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I’d not touch setup on my acoustic. That was done by a luthier and improved playability noticeably.

On my Epiphone LP, I had a go at the basics ie relief, action (bridge adjustment), intonation. Subsequently also took it to the luthier, who said the set up wasn’t bad.

I too wouldn’t do anything invasive ie filing a nut-slot or bridge.

Seems like my luthier is high-value based on USD 50 and AUD 135. As I recall the set up was ZAR 600, new strings included.

Now I have the new PRS. I haven’t done any checking of relief and action, but do know a couple of strings need to be adjusted to improve intonation. I also haven’t changed the strings and feel a little nervous as it does have the PRS floating tremolo system.

Studied YT videos and seems as if one can just take all the strings off as per usual. So nothing different in that regard. But still feeling a little nervous. I shall probably post a question before I do anything, just to build confidence.

As for my luthier’s play grade, last time I visited he was learning a version of Steve Vai - For the Love of God (2021 Upscaled Version) - YouTube and was telling me about various challenges to play it and get the tone dialed in using his Kemper.

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A PLEK service is expensive but it does make absolutely sure that the neck is set up properly and the frets are mirror polished, the rest of the setup is usually very nicely done.
Watch this for a better idea:



Yeah it’s £150 in the UK. The guitar company I use tends to run promos every now and then on new guitars offering free plek service.


Who’s that? I’m in the UK also might be interesting as I’m likely next year to have to downsize and replace a few with one really nice one!

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Peach Guitars. It’s a great store, worth having a look at their website every now and then as every guitar over £300 is individually photographed to see if anything catches your eyes. They run events from time to time to in their saloon as well. This month they had an evening with Paul Reed Smith for charity.


My local guitar shop has a PLEK machine. Amazing in itself for a country region - probably only a handful of PLEK machines in Australia. A PLEK machine is a serious investment at around $AUS250K.
But these guys sell nationwide, and are pretty reputable, so they obviously deemed it a worthwhile investment.
These guys PLEK all their guitars, included, upon purchase. Cost for your own guitar is $AUS299, so roughly 3x the price of a basic setup. Thinking about getting my LP done.
I’ve seen theirs in operation. Absolutely amazing to watch, and from others who’ve had it done, worth every penny.
Now, who’s got my $300? :rofl::rofl::rofl:

Cheers, Shane


One thing I tell may patients, those who I treat for Parkinson’s disease, is that sometimes you don’t know how much better you can be if you don’t try to adjust the medication (there is more too it, of course, but this is a guitar analogy).

Largely, as @CT mentions, us beginners don’t know how much better the guitar could be.

We don’t yet have a feel for what the guitar should or could play like. So with any new or new to you used guitar, it is probably worth running it by a Luthier and see if anything should be tweaked.

I will do that with my new (used) acoustic soon, after I play with it more. It seems fine, but it will be worth the small fee to get it looked at.