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What is a guitar set up?


Consider it a service for your guitar, much like a car that has regular servicing, over time a guitar will need certain adjustments to keep it in shape. Because guitars are made of wood, it’s likely it will change with time as well as being affected by room temperature and humidity and over a period of time - depending on how your instrument is stored it could take a year, could be 20 years before you notice a difference. Either way, you know a set up is required when your guitar does not sound or feel the way it did when it was fresh off the shelf. Having your guitar setup routinely protects your investment for the future, which is why at Surrey Guitar Repair, a guitar setup is the most common request.


Most experienced guitar players want to get their new instruments setup to suit their style, that’s why its important to bring a new guitar along to get it set up to suit your style of play. If you are not so experienced, that doesn't matter. A professional guitar set up will ensure you find it easier to play those barre chord changes or that Jimi Hendrix riff.


Here is the process of a typical guitar set up at Surrey Guitar Repair…


Truss Rod

The truss rod is essentially a long metal rod that is inserted into the neck of the guitar and fixed (on electric and steel string acoustics). Tightening or loosening the truss rod will flex the neck and allow curvature to be applied to the neck, altering its characteristics and its playability. Using a precise straight edge, your neck will be reset to a flat position as the first part of the set up process. DO NOT TAMPER WITH YOUR TRUSS ROD - It has been known, on many occasions, that inexperienced individuals have over tightened the truss rod leading to neck breakages.


Action Adjustment, Nut & Saddle

Depending on your playing style, the aim of adjusting the action is to lower or raise the gap between the strings and the crown of the frets. It is first adjusted at the nut then at the saddle for further tweaking. For fast solo players a lower action is preferred, for those mainly finger picking & strumming a mid to low height is best.


Electrics Checked

Where applicable, all electrics are checked to make sure they are in full working order. A switch cleaner may be used to remove old dirt and grit. In the event there is a fault, you will be notified and the option of repair will be available to you (an added fee may apply).


Pick Up Height

This is sometimes personal preference to the guitar player but the height of the pick ups are reset to their original height (factory setting) where required.


‘FRET SPARKLE’

Frets are cleaned and buffed up to a mirror finish. Any scratches found will be removed with a file & wire wool. Your frets will look and feel like new!


Fingerboard conditioned

To ensure maximum protection and longevity of the fingerboard, a deep clean is performed using a formulated wood conditioner. Unlike many oils used by guitar repairers, the cleaner used at Surrey Guitar Repair does not leave a ‘greasy’ residue on the fingerboard.


New strings

Guitar strings that have lost their integrity (worn where pressed against the fret) or have become oxidized, rusty and dirty will not return to pitch properly. Each set up includes new strings which will be either Martin Custom Lights (for acoustics), D'Addario .10’s/.09’s (for electrics), and normal gauge nylons 0.28 (for classical guitars). You are welcome to provide your own strings if you wish.


Intonation

This is usually the final stage of a set up. Each string is tuned then checked with a precise electronic tuner at the 12th fret, harmonic to fretted note. Each string is adjusted accordingly then the guitar is tuned.



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