The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (2023)

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (1)

One of the most bedeviling aspects of guitar playing is the maintenance procedure known as a “setup.”

What’s involved? Will it really make your guitar play better? And is it possible to do it yourself, or should you leave it to a pro?

A setup is actually a series of procedures, many of which fall under the categories of “basic maintenance” and “fine adjustment.” Much like a car’s seasonal tune-up, a setup should be performed to address the changes a guitar undergoes over time, with adjustments made to the instrument in order to match your preference of strings, pickups and playing habits. A setup can also reveal potential problems before they become major headaches.

The following 12 steps are considered absolutely essential in a basic setup. What’s more, these are the same steps—presented in the same order—as the ones taken by a professional repair shop.

We’ll briefly discuss each procedure and tell you what tools are required. Then, we’ll tell you how to perform them. We’ll also include a rating system to indicate the level of ease: from4 STARSfor easy to1 STARfor those jobs best left to the most experienced players.

1. Adjust the Truss Rod

Virtually every acoustic and electric steel-string guitar built after the mid-Seventies has an adjustable truss rod, which runs the length of the neck and counteracts the tension of the strings to help keep the neck straight. Loosen it and the strings pull the neck into a concave bow, resulting in higher action—i.e., the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Tighten it, and the neck bends backward—this is call back-bow—against the natural curve the string tension imparts, moving the strings closer to the fretboard.

The adjustable end of the truss rod—either a male or female nut—can be found in one of a few places. On an electric guitar, it is usually beneath the truss-rod cover on the headstock or at the body end of a bolt-neck. On an acoustic guitar, it can typically be found within the body of the guitar, at the neck-body joint. Note: Classical guitars, which use nylon strings, don’t have truss rods.

TOOLSSmall Phillips-head screwdriver (to remove the truss-rod cover), appropriate hex key or wrench (almost always supplied with a new guitar). Bolt-neck axes with concealed nuts require removing the neck and using a surrogate body and a neck jig—this is a job best left to a pro shop.

HOW TO DO ITWith the guitar strung and tuned to pitch, press one of the strings both at the 1st fret and at one of the frets near the neck-body joint. The string is now forming a straight line between the two frets. By doing this, the nut and bridge—the other two arbiters of action (besides the neck)—have been eliminated from the equation.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (2)

If the neck is perfectly straight, there will be a tiny gap—just enough to slip a piece of paper or business card through—between the string and the frets in the middle of the neck. If the neck has too much bow, or relief, the gap will be wider, and so the truss rod must be tightened. If the neck is back bowed, the strings will lie flat against the frets, and the truss rod must be loosened.

An experienced repair tech might simply sight down the neck (PHOTO 1) or use a straightedge (PHOTO 2) to take a precise measurement of neck bow. When adjusting the truss rod (PHOTO 3), turn the nut in minute increments—say, quarter turns—checking the relief frequently, and use as little torque as possible.

D.I.Y. FACTORAdd one star if you’re confident, mechanically inclined or have seen a pro perform the adjustment. Subtract a star if you’re spooked at the thought of screwing up a perfectly good guitar, and subtract another if you own a bolt-neck guitar with concealed nuts.

2. Adjust the Bridge Height

A guitar’s action can also be adjust at the bridge. On an electric guitar, this is a matter of twisting the appropriate screws; on an acoustic guitar, you may have to shim or sand the bridge saddle.

TOOLSA machinist rule, a screwdriver or hex-key (electric guitar), calipers, a shim stock or stationary belt sander (acoustic guitar)

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (3)

HOW TO DO ITOnce the truss rod has been properly tweaked, simply raise or lower the bridge’s vertical screw, or screws, to adjust the string height (PHOTO 4). Action is measured most often with a machinist’s rule (PHOTO 5) as the distance between the string and the top of the 12th fret. On the treble side (top three strings), 3/64ths of an inch would be considered low action, whereas on the bass side 4/64ths or 5/64ths would be low. Double those numbers and you’ve got moderately high action.

(Video) The '5-STEP SETUP' every guitarist should know!

As mentioned, adjusting an acoustic guitar’s bridge height requires some surgery to the bridge saddle. Unless you have experience with this modification, leave it to the pros.

Once you’ve adjusted the truss rod and bridge, it’s time to test the guitar for clear tone. PlayFIGURE 1in 1st positing as shown, then transpose it up to 5th position, 9th position and so on, until you’ve covered every note on your guitar.


The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (4)

Also play whole-step bends (FIGURE 2) across the entire fretboard.


Listen for buzzes as well as false notes—for instance, fretting an E note or bending to what should be an E and hearing an F.

Excessive buzzing and widespread false notes mean that you’ve either dropped the bridge too low or excessively counter-bowed the neck. If so, go back and check your work. One or two false notes on an otherwise well-adjusted guitar indicate an improperly crowned fret, something best corrected by a skilled tech.

D.I.Y. FACTORElectric guitar,★★★★; acoustic guitar,

3. Check the Nut Height

With the truss rod and bridge fine-tuned, we enter the final phase of action altering. Although these days, the vast majority of nuts are well made, even some expensive production guitars can slip through the cracks with nut slots cut a bit too high or too low.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (6)

TOOLSA compete set of nut files, shim stock for raising the nut, X-Acto knife and other miscellaneous tools for removing the nut, electronic tuner

HOW TO DO ITIf your bridge and truss rod are up to snuff, play each string open, then at the 1st fret (FIGURE 3).


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If any open string buzzes, its string slot is low and the nut must be shimmed up. Of course, this means the other slots must be deepened to compensate for the higher nut. If all is clear, check the pitch with an electronic tune. A high slot will cause the notes at the 1st fret to sound 10 to 15 cents sharper than they should. Again, the slots must be deepened. This is serious surgery. A set of nut files is an investment for a dedicated luthier, and cutting properly shaped nut slots takes an artisan’s touch.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★You need not only moderately expensive tools but also a specialized skill. The good news is most guitars don’t need nut adjustments. If they do, it’s a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime procedure.

4. Check the Electronics

Do your switches snap, crackle or pop? Does it sound like someone’s frying bacon every time you do a volume swell? A good setup includes checking a guitar’s electronics. For amplified acoustics as well as electrics with active pickups, this means a battery check (and, if necessary, replacement). Also, all the nuts and screws that anchor the guitar’s electronics should be tightened.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (8)

TOOLSElectronic contact cleaner (available at any electronics store), various screwdrivers, socket wrench or adjustable open-end wrench

(Video) Acoustic Guitar Setup – How to Set up an Acoustic Guitar 🎸 | Guitar Lesson

HOW TO DO ITSimply remove the plastic cavity plate on the back of your axe, then plug in and listen for the source of the noise. (On some guitars, you might have to poke beneath the pick guard to get to the guts, but with a gentle touch you should be able to access the offending component.)

The can of contact cleaner should have a nozzle extension that allows you to spritz any point where dirt or oxidation is causing a noisy connection. Also, spray into the volume and tone pots at their openings, next to the solder lugs and directly onto all switches. Rapidly flick each switch—or twist each knob—back and forth, and then play for a while, listening for persistent noises. Repeat as needed. Nine-volt batteries can be tested with the old tongue test: if its terminals tingle on your tongue, the battery is fine.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★Just don’t spray the cleaner in your eyes.

5. Change the Strings

All of the adjustments discussed so far should be done prior to changing strings. The only time you would adjust the truss rod, bridge height and nut slots with new strings on your guitar would be when changing to a different gauge. Otherwise, use two sets—one for adjustments and one for playing.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (9)

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (10)

TOOLSHeavy-duty wire cutters to trim excess string length; otherwise, use your fingers to wind excessive string length into coils.

HOW TO DO ITOn most electric guitars and some acoustics, the strings simply slip through the bridge or tailpiece and are held in place with string tension on the ball end of the string. Most steel-string acoustics use bridge pins to hold the strings in place, and it’s important to 1) align the slot in the bridge pin with the string, and 2) pull up on the string as you push down on the bridge pin. Nylon-string guitars require that the string be brought through the bridge, back around, and then woven in an under-and-over knot, as shown inPHOTO 8. To wrap the strings properly around the tuning posts, follow the step shown inPHOTO 9.

Pass the string through the tuning post, saving about an inch of slack, as inPHOTO 10A. Hold the “speaking length” of the string tightly and bring the loose end around the post in the direction opposite to the one in which it will wrap around the post when tightened (PHOTO 10B). Wrap it tightly around the tuning post, beneath the speaking length, then wrap the free end over and around the speaking length (PHOTO 10C) and give it a downward tug (PHOTO 10D). Now bring the string up to pitch. Finally, clip your strings with a wire cutter, or coil them neatly.

Once your guitar is tuned close to pitch, give each string a gentle tug along its entire length, including the section between the tuners and the nuts and between the bridge saddle and tailpiece. Give each string a series of whole- and half-step bends along its entire length as well. Steel-string acoustics and electrics will settle to within 20 cents of their correct pitch using this method, and nylon-string guitars will require only one or two more tunings over a two-hour period before settling into pitch.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★Easy to learn, easy to do.

6. Check the Tuning Machine Hardware

When tuners are under tension, they can feel firm. Remove the strings, though, and suddenly you’ll find more loose nuts and screws than a whorehouse on a funny farm.

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TOOLSA couple of small screwdrivers, an adjustable open-end wrench or a socket wrench, 3-in-1 oil

HOW TO DO ITSimply wiggle the parts around a bit. Most tuners have a nut on the face of the headstock and a small screw on the back. Gently tighten these screws with the appropriate size screwdriver.

Also, look for a small screw on the crown of the tuning button (not every tuner will have one). Tighten or loosen it to adjust the tension of the tuner.

If your guitar has open-gear turners—that is, if you can see the gears—add a drop of light oil to each mechanism. A drop down the shaft of a closed-gear tuner won’t hurt either.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★Just be gentle. These small, fine-threaded parts damage easily under excessive wrist or arm pressure torque.

7. Clean and Polish the Frets

This is basic housecleaning, not major fret surgery, like a “crown and polish.” Cleaning and polishing takes only five minutes, but afterward your guitar will look and play like new. If your fret wire exhibits major gunk, read ahead to step 8 for tips on removing it.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (12)

TOOLSA metal polish, such as Nevr-Dull, paper towels. Note: Do not use abrasive polishes like automotive buffing compounds or steel wool unless you really know what you’re doing.

(Video) The Complete DIY Guitar Setup Tutorial

HOW TO DO ITOpen the can of metal polish and pull out a small wad of the chemically impregnated fibrous cloth. Rub across each fret and watch the dullness disappear. Wipe up any excess with a paper towel or rag.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★If you can wipe your nose, you can polish your frets.

8. Clean and Oil the Fretboard

Just like polishing the frets, this is easy-to-do housecleaning-level work.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (13)

TOOLSLemon oil or light wood oil, Windex, cotton rag, a guitar pick or a Popsicle stick

HOW TO DO ITIf your frets and fretboard are severely filthy, begin with a little Windex to dissolve the worst dirt and grease. Use a guitar pick or a sharpened Popsicle stick to dislodge the grime that cakes against the frets and directly beneath each string. Then apply a light coat of lemon oil and wipe away any excess with a paper towel. If your acoustic guitar has an unfinished wood bridge, as most do, apply a little oil there from time to time too.


9. Inspect for Structural Problems

Just as string tension can hide loose tuning gears, it can hide loose joints and cracks. Bolt-neck electrics occasionally suffer from lose neck-joint screws, and braces within an acoustic guitar sometimes break or come unglued.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (14)

TOOLSMedium Phillips-head screwdriver, inspection mirror, small flashlight

HOW TO DO ITIf you’ve got a bolt-neck electric, give the neck a twist. If it wiggles, tighten the bolts at the neck-body joint. Set-neck electrics—both solid body and semi-hollowbody—rarely develop cracks, but now’s the time to go hunting. Check problem areas such as the neck joint and the section of the headstock behind the nut. Acoustic guitars are best inspected with an automotive or dental inspection mirror and a small flashlight. Don’t be shy about reaching into the sound hole and feeling around for loose or squeaky braces. If you find something suspicious, get thee to a luthier.


10. Adjust the Pickup Height

Here’s a little-known modification that can really customize the response of your electric guitar. Bring the pickups closer to the strings if you have a very soft touch or if you want to compress your signal a bit with a slightly fuller, more midrangey tone.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (15)

For players with a heavier pick attack or for those seeking wider dynamics and a more “airy” tone, lower the pickups slightly. Adjusting the height of each pickup also helps to balance the output between them. Angling the pickups—most often, sloping them down toward the low E string—may help to even out the response across the strings.

TOOLSSmall screwdriver, amp (to monitor your sound)

HOW TO DO ITFirst, get one pickup to sound the way you want. Plug in, jam along with a favorite CD, and try adjusting that pickup’s height up or down, using the height adjustment screws on either side of the pickup—not the pole pieces on the pickup itself. Some pickups with strong magnetic fields can cause a fluttering out-of-tune-ness when they’re positioned too close to the strings, so listen carefully as you adjust, and be sure to play along the entire fretboard after every tweak.

Then, adjust for pickup-to-pickup balance by fretting the 1st and 6th strings, individually, at the highest fret. (There is about the same distance from the bridge to the bridge pickup as there is from the highest fret to the neck pickup.) Play each string as you switch between pickups. The sounds of the pickups should be nearly identical. Conversely, you can bring one pickup closer to the strings if you want that one to ”jump out.”

Finally, adjust for string-to-string balance by playing the 1st and 6th strings together at different points along the fretboard (FIGURE 4); the strings should have equal volumes at all points. Again, to achieve this balance, you’ll usually end up angling each pickup away from the thicker strings a bit.


The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (16)

(Video) How to Measure Your Guitar's Action Using StewMac Measurement Tools

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★You’ve got the power to voice your guitar the way you want it to sound

11. Set the Intonation

Having correct intonation means that a string sounds at the correct pitch for each fret along its length. Intonation is adjusted at the bridge by increasing or decreasing the string’s length.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup (17)

TOOLSScrewdriver (for electric guitar only), accurate chromatic electronic tuner

HOW TO DO ITWith a fresh set of strings tuned to pitch, play each string at the 12th fret. Check its pitch with the electronic tuner. It should be the same as that of the corresponding open string.

If the fretted note is sharp, adjust the saddle so that the string’s speaking length is longer; if it’s flat, adjust the saddle to shorten the length.

An adjustment of about 1/16th of an inch will make a noticeable difference. Note: If you own a guitar with a floating tremolo system, such as a Floyd Rose, leave this job to a good repair tech. Of course, most acoustic guitars have nonadjustable saddles.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★It’s not too difficult on most electrics. But subtract all four stars if you’ve got a floating tremolo system or if you’re working on an acoustic guitar.

12. Clean and Polish

The finishing touch! A cleaned and polish guitar just begs to be picked up and played, and that’s what it’s all about

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TOOLSCotton or chamois cloth, guitar polish, Windex

HOW TO DO ITFor major filth, a little Windex will work wonders. Then, simply grab your favorite guitar polish and get busy. A little goes a long way. One or two spritzes into a rag will handle each major surface. And keep the polish off the fretboard, unless it’s lacquered, and off any movable parts.

D.I.Y. FACTOR★★★★Cleanliness is next to rock godliness.

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(Video) MARTIN GUITAR - How to Setup your Guitar, Step-by-Step


What is the order of the following steps for setting up an electric guitar? ›

Some steps to a basic setup:
  1. Play your instrument. Plug it in and play. ...
  2. Evaluate the Neck and Truss Rod Adjustment. ...
  3. Adjust Bridge/Saddle Height. ...
  4. Check the Nut. ...
  5. Check electronics. ...
  6. Remove Strings, Tape off Pickups, Polish Frets, and Oil the Fretboard.
Jun 1, 2020

What does a full guitar setup include? ›

A “setup” is regular maintenance that's done on the guitar that involves multiple services such as replacing strings, adjusting the neck, and raising or lowering the string height.

How high should action be at 12th fret? ›

Measuring at the 12th fret (as in the photo), the action height should be 2.6 mm for Steel String Acoustic guitar, 1.8 for electric, 2.0mm for bass and 3mm for a Classical.

Should I adjust action or truss rod first? ›

In any setup on a guitar with an adjustable neck, the first step will always be to adjust the truss rod. A guitar neck that is properly adjusted will have a slight amount of relief (not completely flat), which is what allows each fretted note to have a clear shot to the bridge at all points of the neck.

How do you tell if a guitar is setup correctly? ›

The best way to check is to play a harmonic at the 12th fret (pluck the string with your fretting finger touching the string but not the fret) and then compare it to the same note fretted at the 12th fret. If the guitar is intonated correctly, the two notes will be the same pitch.

What order should I string my acoustic guitar? ›

in the order, A, B, D, G. Now that you have some tension on all the strings, and they are sitting correctly on the saddle and the nut, you can give them a stretch. This is an essential part of the process. If you don't stretch your strings, you will find it virtually impossible to tune the guitar.

What is a full 22 point setup? ›

A 22 point guitar setup is a comprehensive and customized adjustment of a guitar's intonation, action, and electronics. A typical 22 point setup includes a check and adjustment of the truss rod, neck relief, string height (action), nut height, nut slots, bridge height, pickup height, and intonation.

Is it worth getting a guitar setup? ›

And why is it so crucial? In short, a guitar setup ensures that your electric, acoustic or bass is performing at peak condition, keeps little things from going out of whack and personalizes the instrument to your preferences. Guitars are made of wood, an organic, sometimes temperamental, material.

How many guitars should a guitarist have? ›

Generally, one electric guitar, one acoustic guitar, and one classical guitar are enough to satisfy your needs and cover all styles of music. If you have varied interests, you may want to add new guitars to experiment with different types of pickups configurations, body shapes, and different necks.

How do I know if my electric guitar action is too high? ›

If the intonation is off, the action is too high, the guitar buzzes when you fret a note, strings stop vibrating and buzz as you bend them, frets feel sharp, or neck appears warped, then your guitar definitely needs a set-up.

Does higher action give better tone? ›

The “action” of your guitar — meaning the height of the strings off the fretboard — definitely affects your guitar tone. The higher the action, the more open your instrument sounds. High action can often increase sustain and give your notes a nicer resonance than a lower action.

How do I know if my fret is too high? ›

A fret rocker is a tool that allows you to compare the height of any three frets at a time. If the fret rocker can rock back and forth at any time, like a teeter-totter, the fret in the middle of the rocker is too high.

What is the hardest way to play guitar? ›

1. Barre chords. We promise we're not winding you up when we say that barre chords are the hardest guitar technique. The reason most guitarists can do them is because they're essential, not because they're easy.

What is the first thing A beginner guitarist should learn? ›

Playing open chords

Open chords are one of the first skills a beginner guitarist will learn. Master just three, and you can play a whole host of popular songs. Aside from attending guitar lessons, following a chord chart is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the basics.

What order should I learn guitar first? ›

But this is a great basic order to master them in.
  • Reading Standard Music Notation and Tablature. ...
  • Open Position Notes. ...
  • Essential Music Theory. ...
  • Basic Open Position Chords. ...
  • Strumming Patterns. ...
  • Tuning By Ear. ...
  • Barre Chords. ...
  • Pentatonic Scales.

What happens if you loosen truss rod too much? ›

If your truss rod is too loose, it will result in a concave neck bow, (action too high) and a truss rod that is too tight will result in a convex neck hump (action too low and causing fret buzz). The truth is that the truss rod is a simple device that has one purpose: to counter the pull of the strings.

Do you tighten truss rod with strings on? ›

You only need to loosen your guitar strings before adjusting your truss rod if you want to tighten the truss rod. Tightening the truss rod creates extra tension on the strings, which can cause problems. What is this? If you want to loosen your truss rod, you don't need to loosen your strings.

Can you adjust truss rod too much? ›

If you adjust the truss rod too much, it can cause the neck to warp. This will result in the strings sitting too high or too low on the fretboard, and can make the guitar very difficult to play.

What should string height be at first fret acoustic? ›

Check The String Height At The 1st Fret

Again, using the feeler gauge, measure the gap between the top of the 1st fret and the bottom of the 6th string; the gap should be . 022" +/- . 002".

How do you tell if a guitar needs to be Intonated? ›

Guitar intonation explained

An excellent way to check that is to play an open string and then play the same string at the 12th fret. If the note at the 12th fret is out of tune (more than a few cents off) from the open note, you probably need to adjust your intonation.

Why is the first fret hard to play? ›

If you have been playing for a while, and have a pile of songs and pieces you can't play without breaking down, the tension locked into the muscles of the hand and arm from starting to learn at the first fret is the primary reason.

What is the secret to playing guitar? ›

Consistent practice and repetition of different notes and chords can help you develop your ear, learning to correctly identify notes and patterns in your playing. Learning to play guitar becomes much easier when you are able to pick out which notes are in a song, what key that song is in, and what chords are involved.

How do I get insanely good on guitar? ›

Here are a bunch of different things you can do to get your guitar skills to another level.
  1. Learn how to bend. ...
  2. Record yourself. ...
  3. Practice a technique every day. ...
  4. Try to make music with two notes. ...
  5. Don't practice bad habits. ...
  6. Know what you're going to practice. ...
  7. Buy a new guitar pedal. ...
  8. Learn a cover song.
Apr 5, 2018

How do I make my guitar sound professional? ›

Capturing a good guitar tone isn't always easy.
  1. Get industry-quality every time (steal this framework)
  2. Tip 1 – Use a Cardioid Dynamic Microphone.
  3. Tip 2 – Position the Microphone Close to the Amp.
  4. Tip 3 – Find the Right Tone on the Amp.
  5. Tip 4 – Adjust the Position to Adjust the Tone.
Apr 23, 2021

Which string to change first? ›

Most of the time, do it one string at a time. It doesn't matter what order you change the strings in, but if it's your first time, we strongly advise you start with the 6th string (the thickest string), as this is the easiest one to change.

Which guitar string should you change first? ›

You want to start by stringing the low E string, and then the A string, then the D string, and so on. Winding the string is fairly simple once you have it threaded through the tuning peg. You should also try to wind the string so that it wraps itself below the initial part of the string.

Which guitar string should I tune first? ›

Always tune the low E string first, remembering to start off flat and tune up to the desired pitch - if you overshoot, slacken off below the desired pitch and start again. Do this for each string in turn.

How much should I pay for a guitar setup? ›

Generally speaking, a professional setup costs around $50, but it could be upwards of $100 if there's a lot of work to be done. New strings are usually part of the setup process, since the gauges of the strings affect intonation.

What makes a more expensive guitar better? ›

Though most people won't really be able to tell the difference, expensive guitars typically use higher quality hardware, including knobs, pickup selector switches, bridges, nuts, and tuners.

Should you play guitar every day? ›

It is important to practice the guitar regularly in order to improve your skills. One of the most common guitar practice tips is that you should practice every single day for a year to become a better guitar player.

What chords should a guitarist know? ›

The 7 essential most used beginner chords ALL guitar players should learn first are E major, E minor, A major, A minor, D major, C major and G major. With these chords, you'll be armed with the power to play literally thousands upon thousands of different songs. NO SHORTCUTS!

What is considered a good guitarist? ›

Good Guitar Player: A good player with lots of technical skills or only focuses on emotion. Focuses to achieve something. Emotionally or technically, like playing lots of notes, or using necessary chords to make emotional rhythmic pattern (like major chords).

What happens if guitar pickups are too high? ›

If your pickups are too high, they may not be picking up the sound to the best of their ability. Having your pickups set too high can cause intonation/tuning issues. Because pickups are essentially magnets, when they are set too high it can cause the string to be pulled downwards.

What guitar action is too high? ›

How High is too High Action? Any action that you find uncomfortable to play can be considered too high. But anything over 3-3.5mm (0.117″ – 0.138″) at both the high and low E strings would be considered by most guitarists to be high action on an electric guitar.

What happens if your guitar action is too high? ›

If your guitar's action is too high, your fingers need to push the strings down really far before they come into contact with the strings. This can make it awkward to play and slows you down.

What happens if guitar action is too low? ›

If the action is too low, then the strings will rattle against one or more of the frets as they are played. Because the strings and the guitar neck do not follow a straight parallel line, this problem is sometimes more apparent on one part of the guitar neck and the other. Some players prefer a very low action.

What is the proper string height on an electric guitar? ›

For electric guitar action, in our opinion, a good default string height at the 12th fret is typically about 6/64th of an inch (2.38mm) on the bass side and 4/64th of an inch (1.59mm) on the treble side.

Why do people want high action on guitar? ›

Advantages of a higher action:

allows the player to strike the strings harder without creating fret-buzz. allows the player to strike the strings in such a way as to make the strings vibrate "forward-and-back", without creating fret-buzz. This creates a fuller sound, as it makes the soundboard vibrate more.

What is the finger fret rule? ›

When you fret a note, keep your finger as close to the fretwire as you can. This ensures that there is a good break angle against the fret, which results in a note that rings out cleanly. Placing your finger too far away from the fret will result in buzzing or muted notes.

What grit is best for fret leveling? ›

Leveling frets

Start with 220-320 grit depending on how much material needs to be removed. Finish with standard 400-grit sandpaper, using double-stick tape to hold it to the block.

How do you get rid of fret buzz on high frets? ›

Here are five reasons why your strings are buzzing:
  1. Fret in the Right Place. Make sure you're fretting notes at the proper spot just behind the fret. ...
  2. Apply the Right Amount of Pressure. ...
  3. Avoid Strumming Too Hard. ...
  4. Consider the Strings. ...
  5. Check the Setup.

What is the order of tuning a guitar? ›

Guitars, however, are typically tuned in a series of ascending perfect fourths and a single major third. To be exact, from low to high, standard guitar tuning is EADGBE—three intervals of a fourth (low E to A, A to D and D to G), followed by a major third (G to B), followed by one more fourth (B to the high E).

What order should I learn electric guitar? ›

A Checklist of Things Every Guitarist Needs to Learn
  • Reading Standard Music Notation and Tablature. ...
  • Open Position Notes. ...
  • Essential Music Theory. ...
  • Basic Open Position Chords. ...
  • Strumming Patterns. ...
  • Tuning By Ear. ...
  • Barre Chords. ...
  • Pentatonic Scales.

Is it cheaper to build your own electric guitar? ›

Is building a guitar yourself cheaper? Looking strictly at the cost of the parts and materials the answer would be a soft yes. Barely, though there is potential there. But (there is always a but), if you take into account the cost of tools there is a good chance you have already surpassed the cost of a cheap guitar.

How do you hammer an electric guitar? ›

Pluck the note, and then tap your middle finger down sharply on the same string a fret or two up from the first fretted note. There—you've now sounded two notes even though you only plucked the string once. You've done a hammer-on.

Which guitar tuning is easiest to play? ›

Open G tuning is easy — all you need to do is detune the sixth, fifth, and first strings by a whole step. This tuning is great for rhythm or slide guitar playing in major keys.

Which string should you tune first? ›

Always tune the low E string first, remembering to start off flat and tune up to the desired pitch - if you overshoot, slacken off below the desired pitch and start again. Do this for each string in turn.

What should I start with acoustic or electric guitar? ›

People all over the world have learnt on both electric and acoustic guitars but the more common way is to learn on acoustic guitar first. This will give you greater finger strength and force you to have the discipline to learn chords for songs with strumming in them.

What are the first 3 chords to learn on guitar? ›

The first chords to learn on guitar are Em, C, G, and D. Let's get started in “first position” or “open chords.” These chords are played close to the nut and utilize a number of open strings. The next chord you should learn is C, or C major. For this chord, you only need to strum the top five, highest-sounding strings.

How many hours does it take to learn electric guitar? ›

Using the chart above as a guide, we can estimate that achieving an introductory level of guitar proficiency (to perform simple parts and songs) requires a little more than 150 hours of practice. A devoted college student can achieve this much practice over the course of the summer break.

How many hours does it take to master guitar? ›

On average, it takes about 300 hours of practice to learn the basic chords and feel comfortable playing the guitar. If you practice for two hours a day – every day – it will take five months to master the basics. If you practice for an hour every day, it will take you ten months.

Is it OK to learn electric guitar first? ›

Electric guitars have thinner strings and therefore are a great choice for beginners because they require less hand strength. Players with small hands might also prefer an electric for its slimmer neck, which warrants an easier grip and shorter reach.

Can I teach myself electric guitar? ›

So, yes, you can successfully learn guitar by yourself. However, it will go faster for you and save you some trouble if you use good resources. And some things about learning guitar will go smoother with a skilled teacher. But it is entirely achievable to learn guitar on your own!


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