Magazine article Guitar Player

Quick and Easy Setup Secrets: Get the Most from Your Guitar Tech by "Speaking Repairman"

Magazine article Guitar Player

Quick and Easy Setup Secrets: Get the Most from Your Guitar Tech by "Speaking Repairman"

Article excerpt

ALL TOO OFTEN A customer comes in and says something like this: "I can't play any chords in the first three frets without the notes buzzing out. I raised the bridge a whole bunch and the problem still didn't go away."

Now, you have really high action, and still can't play a clean cowboy chord to save your life on account of your back-bowed neck.

Another common refrain is: "I'm constantly adjusting my trussrod, but notes in the upper register are still fretting out!"

What can you do?

Here are some very general guidelines for improving your guitar's setup. This is not meant to be a full setup guide, but simply the first step towards understanding the important relationship between the trussrod and bridge height, as well as some DIY tips before you hit the shop.

If your guitar buzzes between the nut and the 7th fret, loosen the trussrod to relieve the buzzing. Start with a quarter to a half turn, check your tuning, and see if your chords ring better. If the buzzing is past the 12th fret--closer to the end of the neck--you want to raise the bridge to clean up the buzz.

Of course, the opposite is also true. To lower your action, tighten the trussrod until the strings just start to buzz in the first five or so frets then back off just a hair. Next, lower the bridge until you have too much buzz up the neck then go back up a hair to eliminate that. This is obviously much easier if you have a bar-style (i.e. Tune-o-matic or Gretsch-style) bridge where you can adjust the bass or treble side with a thumb screw. …

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