#1
Hi guys,

So, on Sunday I went to guitar center to order a guitar that NO ONE has in stock, Epiphone Masterbuilt AJ-45. In fact I almost bought it from musicians friend or sweet water because I couldn't play it beforehand anyway.

The only guitars that I've played that I've loved were Gibsons. I've liked a few masterbuilts and was about to order the Masterbuilt 500MCE (also no where in stock) . and THEN I saw the Masterbuilt AJ-45 with the sloping shoulder ...I thought "round shoulder.. might be EVEN closer to a Gibson.. maybe I'm an idiot and the shoulder will make no difference.. but I wanted a guitar already.

Actually, when I was there they had a J-15 on sale for $1,250.. if I don't love this guitar out of the box, .. I'm running the AJ-45 back and buying the J-15.. I almost did it right there but I just don't think that $1,250 makes sense for a first guitar (even for a grown man) .. but now I'm thinking, if I don't love the AJ-45, .. for another $500 does THAT make sense?

ANYWHO, here's my question,.. If I gave it to the local store I'd have to pay full price bc i didn't buy it there (and the GC is not really THAT convenient for me to pick up after setup.. No GC is) I've been reading about stetting up my own guitar.. and I'm comfortable with truss rod adjustments on my current guitar.


The only thing that scares me is sanding the nut...

Sanding the saddle just seems like it will be a pain to keep popping it in and out but I can do it..

Should I try to do my own setup? (I've been playing for about 8-9 months)

THANKS!!!
#2
You shouldn't need to do any saddle or nut sanding on a new guitar from any reputable brand. A truss rod adjustment, maybe. But nothing else. If I bought a brand new guitar for any more than like 150-200 bucks and it needed saddle or nut sanding right off the bat, I'd return the guitar, never buy anything from that brand again, and shit talk their QC every chance I got from then on.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
#3
Oh.. I was under the impression that set up, including saddle height, is something every new guitar needs. I guess I don't need a setup at all (other than the relief, which im very comfortable with).

That's AWESOME! I wasnt looking forward to parting with the guitar while it gets setup. (The main reason I want to do it myself )

Thanks!
#4
Quote by the_bi99man
You shouldn't need to do any saddle or nut sanding on a new guitar from any reputable brand. A truss rod adjustment, maybe. But nothing else. If I bought a brand new guitar for any more than like 150-200 bucks and it needed saddle or nut sanding right off the bat, I'd return the guitar, never buy anything from that brand again, and shit talk their QC every chance I got from then on.


I don't know about that particular make and model, but many of the ones I have tried (which is a lot!) have needed a set up, including saddle height adjustment. Some shops, eg my mate's, will adjust action height on new guitars as and when they get time; they also do it on ones that they have sold. I don't know whether GC go to that trouble. One problem is that one size doesn't fit all in action height. For example, Martin deliberately set their's high, at bluegrass height.

Saddle height adjustments aren't difficult if you know what you are aiming for and understand the logic of it.
#5
Many better instruments are shipped with a good set-up, but bear in mind that this will be an "average" adjustment and picky (and experienced) players may like minor tweaks.
Don't go in thinking it's wrong....I've never touched my Taylor.

Secondly, if you want to try this.....Go to the excellent Frets.com site and read the tutorial on instrument set-up.
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/pagelist.html#Musician

This will give you the standard measurements and then you can compare your instrument and see if any work needs to be done.
Be aware that doing a complete set-up really requires special tools; a set of nut files, for instance.
"Sanding down the saddle" is something that must be approached carefully and the base must be kept absolutely square.
There is normally no need to touch the truss rod on a new guitar but the article will show you how to check the neck relief.
#6
i had read that you can do the saddle with some sandpaper as opposed to special tools..

anyway, i guess the message is that i probably wont need a setup.. which is good news
#7
You won't need a setup unless the guitar comes shipped with a poor setup, in which case you should return it, rather than try salvaging it.
#8
Got it.. This is why a little knowledge is dangerous. Thanks for saving me guys.

I've just seen a thousands web sites about how important it is to do a proper setup on a new guitar. They probably assumed that people know this isn't always the case.. but one should never assume that I know anything

Thanks for setting me straight!
#9
Quote by Stevuke79
Got it.. This is why a little knowledge is dangerous. Thanks for saving me guys.

I've just seen a thousands web sites about how important it is to do a proper setup on a new guitar. They probably assumed that people know this isn't always the case.. but one should never assume that I know anything

Thanks for setting me straight!


That advice makes sense in the context of an electric guitar, where the hardware allows for non-destructive adjustments, but for acoustics you want it well built and setup from the start.
#10
Quote by reverb66
You won't need a setup unless the guitar comes shipped with a poor setup, in which case you should return it, rather than try salvaging it.


I think that's a hard call. Two things come to mind:

1) The next one might be even worse than the current one. Do GC actually do set ups, or do they just ship them as they come?

2) If the current one had a good neck angle, I liked the tone, and there were no obvious defects, I would keep it regardless of set up. "Well built" is not the the same as "well set up", because set up is easily and cheaply fixed, something like bad neck angle or bad tone isn't.

I personally would get the guitar, check it out, and pay for a set up if I liked everything else about it - especially the neck angle! This is the kind of things that often comes up when guitarists are contemplating a purchase, and my advise is always the same. - Budget for a decent set up.
#11
almost every guitar i've bought has needed a setup to play the way i like it. if it sounds good, that's the important thing. when you can afford $40 and have spent a little time with the guitar, get the setup done by a pro. but first figure out what gauge strings you like, whether you like high, low or sort of medium action. figure out what you do and don't like about playing the guitar, and get what you don't like addressed.

unless you're a really handy sort of person, maybe this time you could let a pro do it.

want to learn about setups and stuff? go here
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/pagelist.html
but remember, a little knowledge....
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#12
Thanks Patti.. yeah.. I think this thread has taught me I shouldn't sand my own saddle and such.

So based on what you said.. this is now my net take away .. when it comes tomorrow (very excited) I will check the setup and play it .. I'll take it to the store if anything needs adjustment (which before this thread, I thought was a given. I thought they cam unset up so that you can do it yourself.)

I actually have tools and have been "checking the setup" on my borrowed guitar.. not bc id change much, but just to learn.

So this way I get to use my fancy tools and feel smart .. AND if it needs anything I wont kill the guitar!
#14
just play it. get strings you may prefer if you don't like the strings on it - which, btw, can be old or just crappy strings - and then give everything a week to totally settle in and for you to get used to the guitar.

my husband does a lot of setup stuff and is building guitars, so we have all the tools to measure everything, but i don't bother. whatever the numbers say, all i care is does the guitar feel good when i play it. the numbers don't matter to me. i had a composite acoustics cargo, and the neck angle isn't 'right', but it felt good when i played it so i didn't worry about it.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#15
Quote by Tony Done
I would also ask the tech to give you an opinion on the neck angle.


Thank you! I will - I wouldn't have known that btw.
#16
Quote by Stevuke79
Thank you! I will - I wouldn't have known that btw.


You might already know all this, but I'll explain it anyway for the sake of lurkers.

The geometry of acoustic guitars deteriorates of time due to the effects of string tension. - They go banana-shaped. It can happen in a year or two, or it can take decades, but it eventually happens to most guitars. This is initially fixed by lowering the saddle to get the action down again, so the more more saddle is showing to start with, after set up, the more latitude there is for making adjustments. - A lot of saddle showing after set up is indicative of a high neck angle. On more expensive guitars, the neck can be reset to get back to a high neck angle once there is no more saddle left to lower, but this is expensive, about $500 for standard dovetail jointed necks, so wouldn't be cost effective on a less expensive guitar, even if it could be done. Neck angle varies on virtually all makes of guitars regardless of price, so it is something I now always check on prospective purchases,except for Taylor.* Just as an example, I went into the local hock shop a few days ago, and pulled a nice looking dread of the racks, solid cedar top, supposedly decent make. It didn't look very old, but the line of the frets was pointing halfway down the bridge, and there was no way the saddle could have been lowered enough to get a decent action. They were asking about $280 for it, I would have given $20 to use for some experimental neck resetting.

*Taylor use a fully bolt-on neck and shims, so the they can be reset in a few minutes y anyone with some wrenches and the right shims. I'm not a big fan of the Taylor sound, but I love their building methods.
#17
I played a lot of acoustics yesterday at GC from $2k+ Martins & Taylors and some cheap stuff and in between. My favorite was an Epiphone Masterbilt. And I have a history of despising "normal" Epiphones, Chinese-made electrics, based on a couple negative experiences. Great bang-for-the-buck IMHO.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#18
Quote by krm27
I played a lot of acoustics yesterday at GC from $2k+ Martins & Taylors and some cheap stuff and in between. My favorite was an Epiphone Masterbilt. And I have a history of despising "normal" Epiphones, Chinese-made electrics, based on a couple negative experiences. Great bang-for-the-buck IMHO.

Ken


I'm excited about it!!
It should arrive tomorrow
#19
just came today! yay! fun!

I still sound like shit but the guitar sounds great!
#20
Quick question.. I'd start a new thread but I may be totally off. The guitar came today and I noticed the saddle seemed WAY low (to me, but what do I know.)

And I was just reading about neck resets when you can't lower the saddle anymore...

Keep in mind this guitar is brand spanking new. Does this saddle look short?

I don't know if it's relevant, but the relief right now is basically zero. I'm not adjusting the truss rod though until I know if this is a keeper.


image sharing sites
#22
Based on player preference, there isn't anything necessarily wrong with zero relief, as long as it is monitored, a stiff enough neck, and prevented from going into a negative bend.
My God, it's full of stars!
#23
Quote by Tony Done
Assuming the action isn't too low, I personally wouldn't take that guitar at any price.

In other words, this has to go right back to the store?

I just want to make sure I understand what you're telling me.
The action is not too low.

But my concern is that I will NEVER be able to lower the saddle (without sanding the bridge which I don't want to do.)

I also checked the neck angle.. the plane of the fret-board intersects the bridge at about 0.5mm-1mm below the top.

The low e-string is 7/16ths of an inch above the top.

So please confirm for me, is this thing going back?
#24
I just took another measurement of the fretboard plane.
It's closer to 0.5mm below the top of the bridge.. maybe even less.

I'm using a ruler with a rounded edge.. so when it makes contact it's hard to see just how low it is. (iit ALMOST goes right on top).. but it's definitely SLIGHTLY below.
the 7/16'ths of an inch on the E string is pretty exact.

Guys, I am SO GRATEFUL for your help. Let me know if this has to go back.
#25
And the action is NOT low.

Low E-string: 2.25mm
High E-string: 2mm (maybe SLIGHTLY higher)

I think that's the top of the acceptable range.. so if anything the action is HIGH.

Guys, thank you so much - again, I would love to know if i have to give this (****ING THING) back.
#26
Just to update, I'm feeling kind of proud of myself.. and sad. Sad because at the moment I have no guitar

I took it to guitar center .. and 3 reps looked at the guitar and said it looked fine but tech should look at it just in case.

The tech took one look and said: "If it were me I would DEFINITELY send it back." I had gotten the 5 year warranted (and it was still within 30 days).

So I feel VERY smart right now! But for the next 6 days, I am without a guitar

But guys, that's pretty cool right? For a dummy who's only been playing for 8 months?
#28
Thanks Tony!

You guys are awesome! And once again, im so appreciative.

I can't wait till 1 week from today when the new guitar arrives!

love to you all!!
#29
Quote by Stevuke79
Just to update, I'm feeling kind of proud of myself.. and sad. Sad because at the moment I have no guitar

I took it to guitar center .. and 3 reps looked at the guitar and said it looked fine but tech should look at it just in case.

The tech took one look and said: "If it were me I would DEFINITELY send it back." I had gotten the 5 year warranted (and it was still within 30 days).

So I feel VERY smart right now! But for the next 6 days, I am without a guitar

But guys, that's pretty cool right? For a dummy who's only been playing for 8 months?


That as the right thing to do. You should feel VERY smart! Don't settle for subpar.