Acoustic Guitar Set-up

The single most important issue when buying an acoustic guitar is that it has it been set-up properly. Most guitar manufacturers now make even their budget guitars to a good standard and, with a detailed set-up, these instruments can perform to an excellent standard.

What exactly does “Set-up” mean?

For any fretted instrument to work properly it is important that the string height (gap between the strings and the fingerboard) is set correctly and that the frets are level and finished to a high standard.

What is included in a set-up?

Frets – We make sure that the frets are level, polished and crowned to a good standard. We also check that there are no sharp fret ends.

Bridge Saddle - We check that the saddle fits correctly in the bridge slot and that the saddle height is not too high; we also check that the radius and curvature of the saddle is correct to match the fingerboard. This may include small adjustments to correct intonation.

Nut - We make sure that the string spacing is good and that the string slots are not too deep. It is also important that the string break angle matches the head stock angle.

Truss Rod - It is important that truss rod curvature is adjusted so that the strings have enough relief to move freely without creating fret buzz. This is a very important part of any set-up and can be easily overlooked or misunderstood.

Machine Heads - We check that the machine heads move freely (lubricate where necessary) and can easily hold a string to pitch when tuned.

Strings – Most budget/student guitars are supplied with low grade strings. All of our student guitars are fitted with D’Addario strings (classical guitars either Pro Arte or Augustine).

A professional may require a particular string height for their playing style, however most guitarists want the action as low as possible without creating fret buzz.

The string height on our steel string acoustics at the 12 fret is usually set at Bass String 2.3mm and the Treble E 1.8 and on Classical (nylon string) Guitars Bass 3.25mm and Top E 2.7.

Some classical guitarists prefer a slightly higher action Bass 4mm and E top E 3.2.

The above is only a guide; a lower action may be possible on some guitars without causing problems

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