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Do you set up your own guitars?


Fractal Fanatic
Yes, always. When I had my first 5fth-hand crappy guitar (Framus), 35 years ago, there were no guitar shops at my village, and I could not afford a luthier at the capital. There was no internet, so I moved things by trial & error until it felt better. Since then I have never used the services of a luthier, except for scalloping a fretboard

I must be very good, because I am very satisfied with the results :cool:
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Yes I do.

Around 33 years or so.

I think I'm pretty good at it. At one time I started doing it for others. It went pretty well. But I stopped again as I didn't wanted that as a job.

But I help others who wants to learn it themselves to get a start.


Fractal Fanatic
Been setting mine up since early 90's. every guitar player should learn how, it is not very hard and you feel good about it when its done.


I've been doing my own setups/repairs for the better part of 20 years the only thing i have never messed with is Fretwork but I've never had an issue with any of my guitars in that regard and one day i will learn to do it.

I stopped taking my guitars in for services when i took one to get pickups put in and they a. overcharged the crap out of me and b. did the most horrible job I've ever seen for a shop.

I also can't imagine with having over 20 guitars if i had to bring them in and get them setup what that would cost.


Been doing my own setups for 30 years now. I started with truss rod adjustments, then filed a few frets. Now I’m not the least bit afraid to strip a guitar, straighten the neck, and redress an entire fretboard. Having said that, I found that some Stew Mac tools are essential, especially their diamond files. I’m a big fan of the Z file. I like my action LOW 😬
Yes, I’m good at it, and very passionate about getting as close to perfection as possible.


Yes. IMO, every guitarist should learn the basics of setting up their instrument(s). When I started playing RG's 30 years ago, and where I grew up, there were no music shops that could set up a double-locking tremolo. It was 1989. No Internet. And no money - I was but a poor lass.

I found a "special edition" of Musician magazine called "The Whole Guitar Book" (found it by chance on a magazine newsstand, and I still have that magazine in my office). It had a very detailed article on how to set up a guitar. I read it about twenty times, then after steeling myself to experiment on my guitar, I systematically applied the magazine's information. I remember being so afraid to move the truss rod! Now I do it like it's nothing at all. I've changed order of operations and the dimensions I prefer in my setup has changed over the years, but I still use the same basic process I found in that magazine.


Fractal Fanatic
Ever since I was like 15, I've been doing it myself. I simply couldn't afford to have a tech do it, so I learned it myself. Today, I'm thankful for this, since I've learned a lot and know how to get the setup just where I want it.


I live in New England so I kinda had to learn the basics early on. I do all my own setups and pup, pot etc. installs. I also will do minor fret work like pops and leveling as well as nut filing. I am about to attempt a nut replacement on one of my cheaper guitars where it was cut too low pretty soon. That’s how I learn. Major fretwork, I let the pros do it.

IIt takes awhile to collect the tools and they aren’t cheap IMO.


Yeah, ..for as long as I have been playing. When I first started playing, no-way could I afford to have anybody do anything for me; so I learned how. These days, it’s not even unusual for me to re-fret new guitars. I usually will if the frets haven’t been glued and seated properly.. But, yeah. I enjoy working on guitars. It’s not a chore, it’s something I look forward to doing, and I do so knowing that after I’m through working on a guitar it’s going to be so much better for it.

Some guitars don’t need a lot of work, some need none, some need a lot.. I’m up for that challenge if they do. :0)


Power User
I had to at a young age. Ended up doing repair work at a local music shop my high school senior year.

I do advanced fret work now including re-frets including stainless frets.

Yup....tools are expensive :-(

Electronics installs, acoustic repairs and custom paint including graphics.

It’s a passion for sure....but I seriously would rather be jamming’ my AxeIII!!


Power User
Yes, from the beginning. Usually only my own guitars but I have done some setups and repairs for friends. Pickup swaps, electronics upgrades or mods, nut replacement, compensated acoustic saddles, refinishing and hardware upgrades. Out of over a couple dozen guitars I've owned, only 4 kept the factory pickups and 2 remained completely stock.

Only times I've used a tech was for a couple of fret level jobs. That was over 10 years ago and since then I've learned the process and now have quite a few refrets and fret level jobs under my belt.

Am I any good? Hard to say but anyone who plays my guitars loves the way they feel and I usually end up working on their guitars. Those I've done work for say I should charge people for it and make some money with it. My reply is usually along the lines of - "then it wouldn't be a hobby anymore".


I’ve been doing my own setups for about 45 years now (everything except for the fretwork) due to me being very anal about tuning-stability, intonation and action (I play mostly hard-tails). After playing guitar for 52 years now, my view is that a setup is very personal and dependent on the guitar, playing style, tonal-preference and -balance.


“When I were a lad ...” we had to do everything ourselves. So I learned through trial and error. Lowering the action for speed, and realising you could go too low for bending and sustain. Raising the pickups for volume, and realising that it affects sustain and tone. So I’ve been doing it for 50 years. Am I any good? Yes, at getting the set up that I personally like, but probably not for anyone who has different needs.
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Absolutely do my own. I’ve learned I like a little more neck relief than most people do. It’s rare for me to pick up a guitar that someone else is happy with and not think, “this neck is too straight”. I’m not a fan of low action either. I also can’t stand when people wrap-lock strings, too many winds, too few winds, too tall nuts, too low nuts, saddles, bridges, etc.,


I can, but often find that my OCD gets a bit out of control and I am never content. Sorta like dialing in presets for the AxeFx haha. Gary Brawer is also 20 minutes driving distance from me. So I have him set up my guitars every once in a while.


Fractal Fanatic
All this talk about I do not have the tools or tools are expensive. I did my first fret level with a sharpie, steel wool, carpenters level with 320 grit sand paper rapped around it(still do this today) and masking tape. My first refret job, the only tools I used was a pair of end nips, claw hammer, block of wood, triangle file, sand paper, masking tape, sharpie marker. All those fancy tools make it easy, but they are not needed if you have a little imagination. Buy a cheap pawn shop guitar and have a go, if it turns out try on a little more expensive guitar.


Power User
I have been doing my own setups for a few decades. My definition includes what most techs include for a setup: adjust neck relief, bridge/saddle height and intonation. I have also dabbled with fret leveling, filing frets ends and nut slots. It’s not hard. There are plenty of books and YouTube videos that explain the processes.
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