DIY GUITAR SETUPS
By PETER HODGSON
There’s a reason the great techs earn a living from setting up and repairing guitars: it’s tricky, exacting work that can really benefit your instrument. But many techs will tell you there’s a lot you can do yourself. We asked pro tech Joseph Price for some pointers on how to set up your guitar and get it singing sweetly.
ROUGH-IN THE INTONATION
Get the outer E strings to the correct height first, then adjust the rest of the strings to conform to the radius.
'Intonaton’ refers to the guitar’s ability to be in tune across the whole neck - this is achieved by moving the bridge saddles forward or back when comparing fretted notes to open strings with a tuner. Ever notice that a chord might sound perfectly in tune on the lower frets but when you play up higher it can sound out of tune? That’s an unfortunate byproduct of how standard guitars are designed, and there are various methods to combat it - such as the True Temperament system - but in most cases, intonation will always be a bit of a compromise.
For this step, get the intonation for each string roughly correct while the guitar is laying flat on the bench. To do this, tune the string up to pitch, then play the fretted note at the 12th fret. If the fretted note is flat, move the saddle towards the headstock. If it’s sharp, move the saddle backwards, away from the headstock end. Re-tune the open string after each adjustment and check again.
The final step is on the way - keep an eye on australianguitarmag.com.au in the coming days!