Why is it Important to Get a Setup Biannually?

Updated: Mar 9

What is a Setup?

A professional setup consists of a series of personalized adjustments made to a guitar or bass.

These adjustments will help to maintain the best playability or “action” for an instrument. Within a setup, the term “action” is defined as “the distance from the top of a fret to the bottom of a string.”

To set the action, key adjustments are made to the neck, nut and bridge assembly.

(Pic 1, 2, 3)

Last, intonation is set by adjusting the length of each string saddle. This will keep all notes across the neck in tune with each other.

(Pic 4)

Why Do I need a Setup?

  • Throughout the lifetime of an instrument, wood will expand and contract with the changes in the environment. The result is a compromised action or tuning issues.

  • Dramatic shifts in humidity can also cause the neck to move from a concave, straight or convex position requiring neck adjustments.

  • Hardware can become loose or off-center with regular use, live performance and travel. This includes the truss rod, responsible for neck stability.

  • Paint, glue and finish coats continually cure with age further increasing variables in setup performance.

In combination, all of the above cause slight migrations in note temperament. Performing setups annually will help keep your instrument in check for years of quality enjoyment.

When do I need a setup?

A brand new instrument should always have a professional setup once it gets a new home. Customized string gauge, tuning and action adjustments can be set to further enhance a players demands or playing style.

After that, two to four times a year is recommended for the best performance out of your instrument. The latter, four times a year, is highly recommended for seasoned recording professionals and touring musicians.

Indications for a setup?

  • Fret buzz

  • Dead notes

  • High Action

  • Tuning issues

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