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When should you recheck your guitar setup?

posted Oct 25, 2013 01:21:45 by MichaelWamback
Most guitars are reasonably stable creatures, so there should be no need to check your setup on a frequent basis. Unless you suddenly notice something different, common sense dictates:

(1) When changing string gauge

Heavier gauge strings will exert more tension on the neck than lighter gauge strings when tuned to the same pitch. If you switch gauge, for example from .009 to .010, you will need to recheck your neck setup and possibly adjust your relief and action height to maintain your ideal setup.

(2) When changing string brands

Believe it or not, not all .010 gauge strings sets are created equal. Some use a stiffer core wire than others, or are composed of different material. Different brands may produce subtle differences in terms of intonation. If you change your brand of strings, it's a good idea to double-check your setup.

(3) When shipping the guitar

Extremes of climate can have in impact on guitars. If you ship one, particularly by air, it's best to let it settle for a couple of days after arrival and then recheck the setup.

Setups can be affected by significant changes in temperature and humidity. Temperature causes metal (truss rods, frets) to expand and contract, whereas humidity does the same to wood. You should check your setup after any drastic climate changes.

Other than that, it's never a bad idea to double check your action and intonation every so often. I usually double-check mine about once every 12 months.

Note: The subtle changes in action are not necessarily going to produce a noticeable result on a guitar with a medium or higher action. On guitars with a very low action, the difference between buzz and no buzz can be 1/1000th of an inch, so even the most minor changes can cause issues. You should also never check intonation with anything other than a new set of strings. Old strings can become unstable and make it impossible to set intonation accurately.

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