How to Set Up A New Guitar in 7 Steps

by Frederik Nielsen, Feb 10, 2020 . 3 min read

How to Set Up A New Guitar in 7 Steps

So you’ve been splashing the cash at the local music store and want to know how to set up a new guitar? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re about to walk you through how to get ready to rock in seven simple steps.

Ready?

1. Get the Right Tools

You’ll need some basic tools to set your new guitar up. You may have to fiddle with the truss rod, bridge, nuts, pickup, and strings, so make sure your toolkit is in order.

Here’s what you need:

2. Adjust the Truss Rod

Do the tap test by pressing the strings towards the fretboard one by one to gauge how much space there is in between them. If there’s too much or too little relief, then you need to adjust the truss rod. Use the Allen or socket wrench to tighten or loosen the truss rod accordingly.

3. Adjust the Bridge Height

Another way to adjust the action of the strings is to manipulate the bridge. Once you’ve adjusted the truss rod, you can raise or lower the vertical screw(s) on the bridge to change the string height. Use the screwdriver for the screw(s) and the ruler to measure the string height.

How to Set Up A New Guitar 2

4. Adjust the Nut Height

Although most guitar nuts are properly manufactured, one or two of them can sometimes be slightly off. Play each string both open and at the first fret to see if any of them are buzzing. If they do, then you need to shim the nut up and deepen the other nuts. Use the nut files for that.

5. Check the Strings

Your new guitar probably came with new strings, which is nice. But new strings need to be “broken in” so to speak. They’ll also expand and contract depending on the temperature inside and outside. Tighten or loosen them accordingly and use the wire cutters to trim off the excess.

6. Adjust the Pickup Height

You can compress the signal and boost the mid-range by adjusting the pickup height on an electric guitar if you have a soft touch. But if you go full ham, then it’s a good idea to lower the pickups instead. Use the screwdriver to adjust the pickups to suit your style of playing.

7. Set the Intonation

Okay, we’re almost there. The last thing on our to-do list is to check the intonation. For that purpose, you’ll need a tuner. Bonus points if you already have a Roadie 2 because that’ll cut your tuning time down to seconds. Otherwise, play each string and tune according to a reference source.

Ready to Play?

Congratulations! You’ve now set up your new guitar and are ready to bust out some tunes. Now it’s time for you to find your unique sound and go out to jam with some other musicians.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Tuning is crucial. And it turns out, no one is more obsessed with tuning than a guitarist. Guitar players check their tuning excessively and for good reason. If a single string is out of tune, it can completely ruin a song (as well as your reputation).

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 4, 2020 . 4 min read

Bob Dylan has been a staple of music and culture for over 50 years. He’s considered by many one of the greatest songwriters to ever live.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 30, 2020 . 4 min read

“Stolen Dance” is a song by German pop duo Milky Chance. It was released in 2012 and became a viral hit on YouTube (it presently has well over half a billion streams).

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 20, 2020 . 3 min read

Some guitarists tend to focus solely on improving their left hand. The dirty little secret is that the left hand can only be as good as the right hand allows. Good hand synchronization is imperative for any guitarist.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 17, 2020 . 3 min read

Released in February of 1970, “Fire and Rain” has been a staple of fine songwriting for 50 years.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 15, 2020 . 5 min read

Guitarists are a dime a dozen. Unique guitarists are not. And then there are those who stand in the rarified air of having their unique guitar playing styles widely imitated.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 14, 2020 . 4 min read

Is it really over?! Well, not quite! Roadie 3 is now available on Indiegogo with exclusive perks for a limited time!

For most of you, Roadie 3’s launch on Kickstarter on May 20, 2020, is not new news. 

Hussein El Annan
Jul 7, 2020 . 3 min read

As guitar players, practicing is the most important tool we have to get better. I hate to break it to you, but there is no way around this one.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 6, 2020 . 6 min read

There are two kinds of bass players: the born ones and converted ones. The latter are the guys who start off on guitar and transition to bass later. Born players, on the other hand, start playing bass without any previous music experience or knowledge.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 4, 2020 . 4 min read

Some say that few things match the gift of giving. Sharing and giving usually does good to all parties involved. People love presents, and guitar players are no exception. So to help make the right impression, here are the top ten gifts your guitar-player friend will love.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 3, 2020 . 6 min read

Earlier this month, we witnessed a historical mass day of observation – Blackout Tuesday. Many called it the largest modern showing of solidarity in the fight against racism that the Black Lives Matter organization has ever seen.

Donna Maurer
Jun 23, 2020 . 3 min read

John Lennon was one of the most beloved songwriters of his generation and was taken from us way too soon. Lennon is well-remembered to this day, not only as a musician but as an activist and a counter-culture icon.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 19, 2020 . 3 min read

Practice makes perfect, but there’s always room for improvement. If you want to become a master, then you need some effective habits to improve your guitar skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 16, 2020 . 3 min read

Released in 2013, Counting Stars by OneRepublic is one of the most successful singles produced by the band. Due to its simple chord progression, the song can be played by both experienced and inexperienced Ukulele players.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 12, 2020 . 3 min read

Although the lockdown is slowly easing up in many parts of the world, we’re still not at the stage where we can all jump around and frolic in the wild. So how will you spend the last months and weeks of the quarantine?

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 9, 2020 . 3 min read

We’ve previously covered 5 of Today’s Best Fingerstyle Guitarists so you could find some inspiration among the greats. Now it’s time to look at some popular fingerstyle guitar songs that you can try out at home.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 3, 2020 . 3 min read

Did you see that? The start of our campaign was explosive! In under 10 minutes, we reached 100% of our funding goal and so far raised over $290K in the first 14 days alone! 

Tamara Habchi
Jun 3, 2020 . 2 min read

Although many parents have found the iPad to be a good substitute for parenting, there are those who believe that DIY crafts make more balanced human beings in the long run.

Tamara Habchi
May 28, 2020 . 4 min read

Roadie 3 has finally launched on Kickstarter in the most explosive way possible!

Tamara Habchi
May 21, 2020 . 2 min read

‘’Let It Be’’ was the last single released by The Beatles while Paul McCartney was still in the band. Currently, the song is part of the Great American Songbook.

Frederik Nielsen
May 12, 2020 . 3 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!