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Guitar Setup

Our Luthers set up, inspect, and adjust each instrument before delivery.

Frets: The height of the frets above the fretboard is one of the most crucial aspects of guitar setup. A fret that is even a few thousandths of an inch higher than the frets surrounding it can result in buzzing, poor intonation, or sometimes even the wrong note being played. All our guitar frets are leveled across the entire length of the fretboard, then crowned to a finer rounded point at their centerline to produce the correct intonation, then polished to a fine shine for long lasting durability through normal playing.

Fret ends (where they end at the edge of the fretboard) on lower quality or poorly set up guitars can often be slightly sharp after they are beveled at the edge, which can result in at least uncomfortable playing, and at worst, cuts on your fingers! We file all our guitar fret ends to the standard 35-degree bevel, then the edges are gently filed over, sanded, and polished. This results in a comfortable playing experience regardless of your playing style or technique.

Tuning pegs (machine heads): Poorly set up guitars often have different tensions on one or many tuning peg “buttons” (the part you actually hold and turn), so some strings feel easy to tune while others feel “sloppy.” We adjust the tension on each button to a uniform tension, so you have the same smooth tuning experience on every string.

Nut: Poorly setup guitars will often have the string guides cut into the nut with improper spacing (side to side), resulting in difficulty fingering just one single string. Varied depths of string guide cuts results in some strings requiring more finger pressure than others. The gauge of the string guide being too narrow or too wide for the gauges of strings being used results in tuning issues.

We adjust every string guide in every nut to the proper depth for easy fretting, and we use the correct file gauge to match the string sets that are installed.

Truss rod: The truss rod installed in the neck of the guitar is both incredibly useful and incredibly delicate in its adjustment. Acoustic guitar fretboards are not completely flat, they have a radius perpendicular to the centerline to make playing easier (Classical guitars fretboards are flat side to side). A well-set-up guitar also has “relief” in the neck making it slightly concave to allow for string movement without buzzing.


Too much relief in the neck makes the guitar difficult to play, with string action feeling too high in the center of the neck. Too little (or no) relief in the neck will result in buzzing during play. We adjust all our guitar truss rods to the optimum position for comfortable play and clear notes. Much like fret height, even a few thousandths of an inch can make all the difference between clear notes or buzzing strings.

Saddle: Often confused with the bridge, the saddle is set into the bridge, and is the piece of material (usually bone) that the strings go over as they leave the bridge. The placement, shape, and fit of the saddle is crucial to good sound, ease of playability, and proper intonation. Saddles on poorly setup guitars can often be very high or low, lean forward, are too narrow for the channel in which they sit, or do not make contact with the bottom of the channel across the entire length. We adjust the height of every saddle to ensure accurate string height over the frets, and make sure that the bottom of the saddle makes complete flat contact across its entire length so the most vibration (sound) is transferred through the instrument. We reject any instrument that does not have a properly sized channel for the saddle.

Strings: Often overlooked, proper installation of strings is one of the important steps we take to make sure your guitar plays well and stays in tune. There should always be enough “extra” string wrapped around the tuning peg shaft to keep the string in tune, in whatever tuning the player has adjusted to. The string should never overlap itself on the shaft. We carefully wrap the strings and make sure classical strings are tied at the bridge end correctly, and steel strings are pinned at the bridge end with direct contact under the bridge for a responsive instrument. Improper installation of strings at either the bridge end or the tuner end will often result in tuning instability, and frustration!

Fretboard: We treat every fretboard with a proprietary conditioning compound to keep the wood from drying out. This ensures that the wood will continue to bind the press-fit tangs of the frets over time. 

Finish: We make sure that your guitar is not only playable and well set up, but beautiful as well!