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.


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!

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.

Why should you change your guitar strings? They’re not even broken!

Frederik Nielsen
May 8, 2020 . 3 min read

Multitasking. For some people, doing more than one thing on an expert level is nothing more than a myth. However, multitasking does exist, although you need hours and hours of practice to become good at it.

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 16, 2020 . 3 min read

Although women by no means are under-represented in the music industry, female instrumentalists are not quite as common as we’d like them to be –

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 8, 2020 . 4 min read

A list of musicians who died before the age of 30 would be too long to write. Even going through all of the members of the infamous “27 Club” would take ages.

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 4, 2020 . 3 min read

While most people are not sure if they have one genuine talent, some people are much luckier. 

Tamara Habchi
Mar 3, 2020 . 4 min read

In most cases, parents are proud when their kids reach a developmental milestone ahead of their peers.

Tamara Habchi
Mar 2, 2020 . 4 min read

There are enough obstacles to making it in the music industry. Succeeding with a disability is nothing short of a miracle. But it’s not impossible.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

People who speak more than one language are impressive to all of us. And musicians that play more than one instrument are even more impressive.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

Despite what many people will tell you, you can earn more than decent money as a relatively unknown, professional guitarist. There are many ways to make money:

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 24, 2020 . 3 min read

Music magazines weren’t so kind to electric guitars over the past decade. Sales were down and it seemed like the guitar market would never recover.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 18, 2020 . 4 min read

The second month of the year comes with a lot of celebrations. We have the Presidents’ Day, there’s also Valentine’s Day, plus all of the birthdays of amazing people we look up to.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 17, 2020 . 3 min read

We’ve rounded up the most expensive guitars in history. Part of their value lies in the fact that they were used by some of the most famous rockstars around.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 14, 2020 . 3 min read

Guitars come in all sizes and shapes, but they’re all equally beautiful. That said, it helps to know the difference between them if you’re looking for your next instrument.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 10, 2020 . 3 min read

There has been a lot of talk about the death of rock music. Maybe you’ve heard it too and begun to wonder if it’s time to hang up your Fender for good.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 3, 2020 . 3 min read

New year, New reviews? But wait, before we officially welcome 2020, let’s look back at some of our favorite reviews of 2019.

Tamara Habchi
Jan 8, 2020 . 4 min read

In this edition of Roadie Spotlight, we’re checking out the Japanese guitar virtuoso ichika [sic] who has taken the Internet by storm with his amazing skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 31, 2019 . 3 min read

Not all stars are plastered across social media. Some manage to create a buzz without resorting to self-aggrandizing promotion techniques. 

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 24, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re almost at the end of 2019 and thought we’d round off the year with more spotlights on great guitarists that we come across online.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 20, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re once more putting the spotlight of some of our favorite artists here on the Roadie blog. Some of them are famous, others are emerging — but all of them are amazing.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 5, 2019 . 2 min read

You’re looking to put your guitar skills to work, but you’re not sure if you are good enough. The truth is you don’t have to be Slash or the next Hendrix to teach guitar.

Frederik Nielsen
Nov 4, 2019 . 3 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!