How to Setup Your GUITAR for Beginners (Strat Edition)

hey what's up you guys Marty Schwartz

here with Marty music and today we're

gonna talk about a basic overview of

setting up a Fender Stratocaster now

this may shock you but I am NOT an

expert when it comes to setups and

luthier type of aspects and repairs and

all that so it was a good opportunity to

get a hold of my buddy Hunter hunter van

houten you got to check him out I've got

links for all his stuff in the

description below great guitar player

luthier makes his own guitars great

player great dude as well and he's gonna

jump in and talk to us about what you

need to know so let's uh let's get a

hold of him let's see what's up

all right Hunter it looks like you've

got the famous Fender Stratocaster right


so for obviously setting up a strat I'm

sure there's like some specific things

to the strap that we want to kind of be

aware of and where when we're starting

absolutely the most important with the

strat is going to be our floating

tremolo system that you're gonna see on

pretty much every strat this is the most

important part of the Stratton I'm gonna

walk you through how we balance this

with the rest of the setup including the

neck and the nut of the guitar so yeah

let's jump in so for this strat setup

there are a few tools that you're gonna

need when you're setting up this guitar

first of all you're gonna need a

screwdriver with a Philips head you're

also gonna need an Allen wrench as well

a capo that's about it so these are a

few simple tools you know that you can

easily purchase online or at your local

hardware store if you don't have already

lying around your house if I just like

gave you my old strat and said can you

just set this up for me what's the like

proper order of steps to take yeah yeah

so first of all I want to really look at

where the strings are sitting as far as

like how straight my neck is versus my

floating tremolo with the strat I'm

always taking the floating tremolo into

account when I'm making adjustments

because it's like I said it's a

balancing act between your trim system

and your action

neck other guitars not necessarily so

you'd probably start with the neck more

so and then go from there but since this

is floating we want this to sit we want

to get our bridge sitting right where we

want it first and then we're gonna want

to move to the neck that's the way I

like to work on strats some people may

start on the neck and then go to the

trim system but I find that it makes

more sense and you're gonna be making

less adjustments if you start with the

trim getting it sitting parallel and

then from there making adjustments on

the neck pickup height you can do that

any time that's not really I wouldn't

recommend doing that at the end though

now after you've gotten that string

height where you want it to sit we want

to make sure those strings are in tune

or tuned to pitch because if the tension

isn't correct on the strings then the

trim system is going to be you know

further up or further back based on the

attention because of those strings

pulling so we've got to have the guitar

tuned up to the proper pitch so it's

important that you do that first

I do remember now if you put like 11 on

you're gonna have to you know the bridge

has to be different than if you put like

nines on right right absolutely a lot of

what comes into play there as well are

going to be the springs in the back of

this floating tremolo system and it's

basically like a balancing act that you

have to do between the saddles the

springs the bridge the claw arm and the

actual overall tension of the guitar

strings like if you do have the heavier

gauge on it is going to float that

tremolo system up further than it should

be and when doing this we want the

tremolo system to be as parallel to the

guitar body as possible so on this

guitar this specific guitar you can see

how it's floating

but it's up a little bit too high a

little higher than we'd want it which is

causing the strings to raise off the

fretboard and giving us higher action

than we're going for it's going to make

it harder to play you know for this

specific player he wanted his strings

lower to the fretboard

so I'm gonna bring this down and how we

would go about doing this is we're gonna

take off this backplate you're gonna

need your Phillips head screwdriver and

you're gonna remove each of these screws

and inside the actual guitar you're

gonna see your floating tremolo system

usually they come with three to five

Springs total it's all based on the

individual player how many Springs you

actually want inside of the guitar

that's based on the tension of your trim

arm so if you want more tension on it

you know you'd up your Springs the

amount of Springs inside the guitar if

you want it to be more you know

loosey-goosey you'd want to go with less

Springs on the actual floating trim

system the floating trim system is what

we want to start with first on this

guitar because I can see that it needs

adjustment right away

yeah next we would go into the actual

straightness of the neck it's kind of

where we're moving around from part to

part to get it to sit just right it's

not like other guitars where you can

jump in you know setting the neck

straight and then you go from one to the

other it's kind of at all it's all

moving parts so what you're going to

need for this is you're going to need

your Phillips head screwdriver and this

is called your claw right here and

you're gonna see these two screws that

actually go into the body and here's our

three tremolo Springs we could tell when

we were looking at the actual bridge

that it's risen a little too far off the

body we want it parallel like I said

what I'm going to do to to get that to

come back down is I'm going to tighten

those strings which in turn is gonna

create more tension pulling our trim

system back towards our body so let's do

that now I'm only gonna go quarter turn

adjustments right now so let's keep

tightening like I said just micro

adjustments is all you need you don't

need to crank down on it we're just

gonna tighten and check tighten and

check all right so we're getting a

little better now a little more parallel

to the body so this trim system now

after tightening the springs is closer

to where we want it to be it's sitting

more parallel to the guitar body it's

not risen too far up a lot of problems

with the strats are with the trim system

you'll see a lot of players there's will

actually start to pop up as time goes on

because you lose tension and those

strings so this is an easy fix that you

can do to help with the overall setup so

our next section is gonna be our saddle

setup and what you're gonna need for

that is a capo just a simple capo any

kind of capable do we're gonna want a

capo at the first fret and we're gonna

basically use the strings themselves as

a straight edge here that way you don't

have to have a straight edge ruler in

order to do this and this allows for you

to actually see where the guitar action

is sitting so if you capo on the first

fret you're going to be able to check

the height of the saddle at the twelfth

fret so we can tell that our saddle is

sitting a bit too high right now because

our string is much higher off the 12th

fret than we want it to be so we're

gonna bring all of these down we're

gonna check our high E and our low E and

then we're gonna bring up down we we

actually need to bring them down quite a

lot so the radius of the guitar neck is

nine and a half inches that's the

curvature of the neck itself we want our

strings at the bridge to match that

curvature of the neck that's going to

make it way easier to play we don't want

them flat so what we're gonna want to do

is we're gonna want to take an Allen

wrench one of our little Allen wrenches

here they come with most guitars that

you're gonna get most manufacturers

include these if not you can always get

them online for very cheap but we're

gonna take our little allen wrench we're

gonna adjust each of these saddle pieces

and if you don't have a radius gauge I

recommend just doing a quarter turn on

each saddle piece so we're lowering this

a little bit because the action is a

little too high on this guitar and we're

making just quarter turns on each saddle

piece I've got myself into big trouble

with all this little area here this is a

tough one actually especially if you

don't have a radius gauge but that's

where it comes into to having you know

or to just turning

small micro adjustments on each saddle

piece and you're also gonna have to try

the the strings out individually after

you've made those micro adjustments

because sometimes when you make the

adjustments you'll notice that you know

all the other strings are great you

don't have any buzz and then that one

like the you know the D string or g

string is you know buzzing on you and

you know so you're gonna have to raise

it just slightly but yeah you're gonna

want to try and keep that curvature of

the actual strings just to make it you

know play smoother play better as I'm

making these micro adjustments I'm just

adjusting like I said a quarter turn and

we're gonna see where that gets us that

might be too much but I know that this

guitar with where it was sitting we are

a little too high on the action alright

so now that we've made all of our micro

adjustments on our saddle and we were

using our capo on our first fret to

check the actual height of the strings I

can see that at the 12th fret we're

looking pretty good now our string

height has adjusted I brought it down

I'm hopefully not going to get any buzz

when I play but that's where we have to

just check and make adjustments

accordingly yeah so no buzz even higher

up the neck yeah this is great

so these adjustments are working we're

bringing things down it's feeling a lot

smoother feeling a lot better next an

adjustment that may be hard for some of

you to make without files but once again

it's easy to learn how to do is we're

gonna look at the nut of the guitar and

when it comes to the nut this is where

your string action can be lowered as

well a good way to check this is to a

little trick if you don't have any of

those feeler gauges is to push down on

your third fret and we're gonna see

where our string height is on our first

fret and we don't want it to be

touching our first fret we just want it

to be right above our first fret and

that's gonna tell us if we need to bring

our nut slots down if we need to file

those down any more than they already

are because a lot of times you can set

up the actual overall guitar but our nut

height might be too high and could still

create problems so what we're gonna do

is we're gonna check by pushing just

push down on your third fret not too

hard but just enough to where there's

tension and we're gonna be checking our

first fret just to see how much room we

have and it looks like this guitar is

it's pretty good overall so I'm happy

with that here so next for this guitar

we're gonna want to check the truss rod

now if you don't have a straightedge at

home there's a little trick that you can

do by using the strings as a


you're gonna want to take your capo

you're gonna want to adjust that put

that on your first fret and you're gonna

want to take your finger and you're

gonna want to push it on the last fret

and what's that what that's going to do

is that's gonna create a straight edge

using your string so we're gonna come

down to our eighth fret so we're gonna

look at the string height that our

eighth fret while pushing down on our

last fret and I'm gonna see the height

of the overall string here and that's

gonna tell me how much relief this neck

hasn't it and what I mean by relief and

what the trust we trust rod actually

does is as we tighten the truss rod it's

going to either cause the neck to bow up

or cause it to come down so if we

tighten it the bar is going to raise if

we loosen it it's gonna lower and this

is basically a you know another handy

thing to know when you're setting up

your guitars so what you're going to

need for this is you're going to need a

capo and you're also going to need an

Allen wrench you're going to want to

check your allen wrench sizes to try and

get the right size a lot of guitars will

either have the adjustment at the

headstock and or the base of the neck

which you would then have to take the

neck of the guitar off but this one has

it on the headstock so what we're going

to do is we're going to take our allen

wrench and we're gonna make micro

adjustments on our tres rod and we're

gonna either straighten the neck or

we're gonna we're gonna loosen it

causing that truss rod to back though

now I like to keep the strings on for

this to check our string height but then

when we're making adjustments we're

gonna want to loosen these strings

because to have full tension on our neck

while we're making adjustments on the

truss rod can be problematic so we're

gonna loosen them first before we make

the adjustments but in order to see what

adjustments I need to make I'm gonna

check once again after looking at my

Heidi and my low E we're pretty close

but we could take some of the relief out

of the neck I know this specific players

playing style and I know that the action

is a little too high for him so I'm

gonna take a little bit of this relief

out so in order to do that we're going

to just go quarter turns with our allen

wrench but like I said it's really

important that we loosen all the strings

before so after we loosen these we're

gonna make the adjustments all right and

now we're going to take relief out of

the neck so in order to do that we're

going to turn our allen key to the right

and tighten it that's gonna cause our

neck to bow up a little taking that

relief out because relief refers to how

much were we're actually adding to the

neck as far as the back though all right

now we're going to tighten things back

up and it's handy to have a tuner with

you as well so you can quickly tune up

to pitch all right so now that we've

tuned our guitar up to the pitch we're

going to actually check our relief and

our neck we're gonna we're gonna put the

capo back on our first fret and we're

going to take our finger once again and

place it on our last fret and check the

height of the

String at our 8th fret and that seemed

to help us out a lot actually just a

quarter turn is really all you need a

quarter turn at a time with your truss

rod adjustments and now this is probably

the most common adjustment you can make

because you know with the seasons

changing and weather and such whatever

climate you live in you're gonna see

your neck probably you know with the

strings on probably take the most change

throughout the year so that's a really

easy adjustment and a very important

adjustment to make you know maybe twice

a year maybe even more than that to your

guitar depending upon how much change

you get and your overall whatever

climate you're in thanks again to hunter

Van Houten from Van Houten guitars for

giving me a little insight because you

know I really don't know how to do this

stuff also be sure to support Hunter and

check out what he's got in the

description below thanks again if you

like more of this kind of stuff just let

me know in the comments also appreciate

you subscribing right here to the

channel thanks again hope to see you