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Old 08-14-2013, 06:12 PM   #1
the singer 22
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Guitar setup

Hi, I'm setting up a les paul style knock-off guitar called an Ovation Ultra GP played by Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss.

I've recently dabbed into the world of guitar set up and have a few q's for everyone.

What is the order to setting up a guitar?
new strings>truss rod>action>pickup>intonation?

Does setting the action effect the stress of the neck causing it to warp more or no?
How can you tell when your neck is warped/How do you fix it/What tools do I need to fix it?
Is it normal for you strings to be closer to the neck at the first fret then gradually the action gets higher at you get to the high frets or is that something wrong w/ my neck?
I attached a picture here of the bridge on my guitar. The 2 screws from the bridge(or tailpiece idk) going into the body control the action correct? What do the screws on the side of the of the bridge/tailpiece going into it do?
Which pick do I set height for first? and do you have any tips for it?

Also if you have any other tips for setting up guitars feel free to tell!

Thanks!
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Old 08-14-2013, 06:45 PM   #2
Roc8995
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the singer 22
What is the order to setting up a guitar?
new strings>truss rod>action>pickup>intonation?

Usually, yes. Keep in mind that based on how much you need to adjust the truss rod, you may need to adjust it, wait a few hours, then adjust again. Truss rods often take a while to settle, sometimes a day or two to really stabilize if they've been moved significantly. You can also reverse pickups and intonation if you want, there's not any real interplay between them but it makes more sense to adjust the tone after the guitar's been intonated, since an out of tune guitar might be distracting.
Quote:
Does setting the action effect the stress of the neck causing it to warp more or no?

Other way around. You mostly adjust the action by adjusting the truss rod. Raising or lowering the bridge is a finer adjustment and will not cause the neck to move.
Quote:
How can you tell when your neck is warped/How do you fix it/What tools do I need to fix it?

Measure. http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...ad.php?t=602241
Quote:
Is it normal for you strings to be closer to the neck at the first fret then gradually the action gets higher at you get to the high frets or is that something wrong w/ my neck?

Think about how frets work. It's necessary to have more clearance as you go up the fretboard. If there were not, pressing the first fret down would hit all the other frets after it. So yes, there should be a bit less relief at the first fret. However, too much difference is undesirable and can make it hard to play. Read the setup thread, it goes over proper relief measurements.
Quote:
I attached a picture here of the bridge on my guitar. The 2 screws from the bridge(or tailpiece idk) going into the body control the action correct?

No. They affect the action, but to say they control it is wrong. The truss rod is where you need to do your major action adjustments. It's important to get the neck relief right first, otherwise raising and lowering the bridge is just going to give you buzz or high action at one end of the neck. Action isn't just dictated by one adjustment.
Quote:
What do the screws on the side of the of the bridge/tailpiece going into it do?

Take a look, you can probably figure it out yourself. Try to understand what is going on mechanically here; I don't mind answering questions but I bet you could work this one out yourself. You're going to be a lot better off if you can start to understand how a guitar works.
If not: They move the tailpiece forward and backwards. If the saddles can't intonate properly within their range, you'd move those two screws to get them into a different place where they'd intonate.

Quote:
Which pick do I set height for first? and do you have any tips for it?

It doesn't matter. If you spent most of your time on one pickup, it makes sense to set that one first, and then match the second one to it. In most cases, though, you just tweak both until they sound good and the outputs match/blend well.
My tip - people get hung up on "the correct height" for pickups, which doesn't exist. You don't need to call the manufacturer or your shop owner or your aunt's psychic to find out the stock height for your '83 Kramer Baretta. Use your ears. Don't be afraid to sit down with a screwdriver and play the guitar and fiddle for an hour. Don't be afraid to raise one side of the pickup more than the other. If there were a "right" pickup height they wouldn't be adjustable.
Quote:
Also if you have any other tips for setting up guitars feel free to tell!

Read through that whole setup thread, and watch a youtube video or two of a setup.
There are a lot of different approaches to a setup. Once you understand how a guitar functions mechanically, you can start to be specific to your own requirements instead of just copying what other people tell you.
To that end: go do it. If you know enough not to start wrenching on the truss rod or stripping screws, it is extremely difficult to irreversibly damage a guitar by setting it up. Just trying all of these things and seeing what happens is way more valuable than asking about ever minute detail. You'll figure it out. If you don't, come back and we'll help you out. But get started! It's easier than you think.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:35 PM   #3
KG6_Steven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
It doesn't matter. If you spent most of your time on one pickup, it makes sense to set that one first, and then match the second one to it. In most cases, though, you just tweak both until they sound good and the outputs match/blend well.
My tip - people get hung up on "the correct height" for pickups, which doesn't exist. You don't need to call the manufacturer or your shop owner or your aunt's psychic to find out the stock height for your '83 Kramer Baretta. Use your ears. Don't be afraid to sit down with a screwdriver and play the guitar and fiddle for an hour. Don't be afraid to raise one side of the pickup more than the other. If there were a "right" pickup height they wouldn't be adjustable.


While there may not be a "correct height", there is such a thing as getting the pickups too close to the strings. That's something that does need to be mentioned and it goes along with that "using your ears" wisdom. Raising a passive (magnetic) pickup too close to the strings can cause string vibrations to be dampened. If you use your ears, you'll definitely hear it. With active pickups, it doesn't matter how close you get them - at least with the ones I've installed in the past.

Other than that, good advice.

Last edited by KG6_Steven : 08-14-2013 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:47 PM   #4
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Good addition. While there is no one correct height, there certainly are some incorrect ones. They should be obvious, so just use your ears, but it's good to be aware about that upper limit.

Active pickups should be very close. EMG says to put them as close as possible to the strings without causing interference to your picking or physically hitting the string. That goes for any active pickup with an EMG type design Blackouts, Dragonfire, etc.)
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:36 PM   #5
J_W
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Action adjustments are not done with the truss rod, truss rods are for adjusting the bow of the neck and shouldn't be used to adjust string height. Unless you actaully need to adjust the truss rod, I wouldn't touch it. You can either look down the neck and use the strings as a straight edge or get an actual straight edge and lay it down the neck to check to see what it's doing. Then you can figure out if you need to touch the truss rod.
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