Hello and welcome to the guide to setup and maintain your guitar. I hope you find this article informative and fun.
Before you start:
If you are a beginner or an advanced player, you may feel uncomfortable with some of these procedures. If this is the case, have it done by a pro, it may cost a bit but it will be worth every penny in terms of feel and playability.
What you will need:
01. Cleaning oil
02. Lint free cloth
03. A capo
04. Relevant truss rod hex key/ allen key/ wrench
05. A set of your preferred strings
06. Cross head and flat screwdrivers
07. Set of small allen keys
08. Feeler gauge (avaliable from DIY shops)
10. String winders
11. A tuner
12. A small cleaner brush.
Utilisation of these pieces of equiptment will make the job a lot easier.
Step 1: Clean Your Guitar
First up, remove your old strings. If your guitar has a vibrato unit, you made need to use the appropriate block/spacers/ to keep in in place when the strings are removed.
Wipe off any finger marks, sweat residue etc from the body and neck. Pay particular attention to build ups of grime and sweat etc (these are usually found close to the frets and pick ups.)
Remove all dust from around the hardware, pickups and controls using a soft brush (a shaving brush works well.) If you want to do this quicker, use a can of compressed air to blow away dust, hair and other small objects that may scratch when you wipe it over for the final time.
Step 2: Fit New Strings
For standard machine heads:
Run the string through the bridge, over the saddle and then pull it through.
Thread the string through the peg, pulling the ball end/bullet as far as it will come. Leave some slack between the bridge and the peg.
Keeping the slack tension with your right hand, wind the string on so that each succesive wind goes underneath the last (use your thumb and index thinger to the guide the string whilst keeping tension with your other fingers.)
For Locking pegs:
Just pull the strings through tight then either tighten the locking mechanism or just wind on and let the peg tighten itself
Trim off the excess
For slot head pegs (on some fenders):
Pull the string through the bridge until the ball end/bullet will come as far as it will come. Pull it relativley tight and line it up with the correct machine head.
Trim the string leaving about 3 inches behind the relative machine head.
Insert the string into the peg slot, and push the end right into the post. Then bend the string down and around the bottom of the post. Then simply wind, trying to keep one coil above the other.
Tune your guitar using the tuner.
After you have replaced your strings, remember to stretch them after tuning and then tune up again.
Step 3: Neck Relief And Truss Rod Tweaks
Guitar necks should have a slight curve to them. So it curves slightly away from the strings.
On cheaper guitars, necks seem to need constant adjustment, even expensive ones too, but usually some never need it.
With you guitar in the playing position, put the capo on the first fret, then hold down the 6th string at the 16th fret. Measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret at the 8th fret. You can use a feeler gauge, but if you dont have one, you looking for approximately the width of the high E string which is about 1/64 of an inch.
If it is not at 1/64 inch, the you will need to adjust your truss rod.
If the distance is greater than the desired measurment, tighten the rod for less relief.
If the distance is less, loosen the rod for more relief.
Dont make any single adjustment of more than one quarter turn at a time before re measuring. When you think its right, strum a couples of chords, then re check.
Please note that truss rods, unlike strings, do not need to settle.
Step 4: Setting The Action
The playing action is the gap between the underside of the string and the top of the fret. It determines how much you push the string down. Some dont like it low because, it makes buzzing noises! Some like it low as it is effortless to fret notes. And vice versa. But if you dont like how your action is..... adjust it:
Measure at the top of the 17th ftet.
Fenders suggested action are as follows:
Neck radius - 7.25"
Bass side - 5/64"
Treble Side - 4/64"
Neck radius - 9.5" - 12"
Bass side - 4/64"
Treble side - 3/64
Measure at the top of the 12th fret
Gibsons reccomended action is:
Bass side: 5/64"
Treble side: 3/64"
To adjust these, Fender saddles require a small allen key, whilst gibsons sport a tune o matic which you only need to rotate a thumb wheel.
Remember to slacken the strings first.
Step 5: Pickup Height
Something over looked by may plays is something that helps get the best tone from you guitar.
Standard single coil - Bass side 5/64" - Treble Side 4/64"
High output single coil - Bass side 7/64" - Treble Side 6/64"
Humbuckers - Bass side 4/64" - Treble Side 4/64"
Thats about it!
Hope it helped. Thanks for reading.