Acoustic Guitar Setup – How to Set up an Acoustic Guitar 🎸 | Guitar Lesson

hey I'm down car and today we're gonna

talk about how to set up an acoustic

guitar and we are talking with an expert

here mr. Ben Armour BAM good to see you

man good to see you though Ben is the

Lee luthier at Sweetwater's guitar

workshop Ben here we are your bench nice

bench by the way thank you so when you

get a guitar what is the first thing you

do you know it needs a repair well the

first thing any qualified like repair

tech is gonna do is they have to inspect

for physical damage present you know

customers coming in off the street they

might not have known that there was some

damage to the guitars but specifically

the bridge and the headstock area so the

very first thing that any tech is gonna

do is they're gonna look over the guitar

and make sure that there's no physical

damage before you go any farther so it's

a visual inspection of the entire guitar

a document and a physical damage that

you see and then you know that you're

safe to kind of go to that next step

okay so the next step to me is always

humidity so humidity and an acoustic

guitar is it's it's what swells the top

and shrinks the top so that's affecting

your action it's affecting how a guitar

sounds it's how a guitar plays so when

things are cold your he is running your

house is drying the action is gonna come

down the wood is shrinking that's when

we have cracks that's when the biggest

complaints are my guitar buzzes now your

your top is actually shrunk it's come

down and your action came down with it

so you'll also have sharp Fred ends

you'll have cracks and the fret board

cracks into the top so like that's the

scariest is dry when things are really

wet you can actually start to see braces

pop out the side the top belly's up your

actions really high in your guitar is

muffled we're looking for about 45

percent we put a hygrometer in every

guitar and we measure the guitar right

right so okay so you check the humidity

and then the next step is the next step

is is to start looking at the guitar and

I start up the nut end on the guitar so

you're going to take the guitar you're

gonna be looking at nut heights

you're gonna site down the neck to look

for a relief so is it back boat is it

straight is there's the neck and relief

yeah and then you're trying to start

moving down the guitar you're gonna be

looking at the bridge looking at the

saddle you're really looking for is

there anything wrong with that guitar

like do I see anything out of place

adjusting your nut height affects your

height at your saddle also so we're

gonna start here and make sure that's

correct and then you start moving down

so okay yeah so that's kind of the whole

soup-to-nuts inspection part of it and

we've got a guitar here we're gonna go

through the checklist on it let's do



okay so take us through it please

all right well again like we said

earlier we're going to start with the

physical inspection of the guitar we're

just gonna make sure that there is no

damage that the customer didn't know

about it that we were unaware about next

thing we're doing we're gonna get this

thing tuned up



so already we heard a problem I don't

know if you noticed it but one of the

complaints that it's here for right we

have an open buzz so we know that we

have an issue this end of the guitar

already now we're gonna take a look at

the relief of the neck absolutely no

relief in this guitar move up to the

knot here we're going to give it the old

tap test we're looking for a bounce at

the first fret the numbers are really

small it's about six thousands if you

really want to get into it and a close

number these are all pretty good now

we're gonna move down actually gonna

take some height measurements at the

twelfth fret and all these numbers get

recorded so that we know exactly where

the guitar was when it came in and we

know exactly where the guitar is when it

left so if they're not happy where it

was when it came in we know we don't

want to be there with some new numbers

so we're into we have no physical damage

we noticed a problem here if they're not

already so to really go any farther

we the neck is back bowed we're gonna

have to make a truss rod adjustment most

like any nut basically righty-tighty

lefty-loosey Reds a single-action truss

rod and you know it's only working in

one direction so we were going to loosen

up this neck okay so you're loosening at

this point yep so the necklace back

bowed meaning that it was coming up this

way right

so relief is going down straight line is

a straight line so we want it we want

about six eight thousand really really

we're trying to get to so I'm gonna back

it off too far so that when you tighten

the truss rod that's your final movement

you never want your final movement to be

going but loosening a truss rod because

then the neck still has a chance to move

so you always want to tighten the truss

rod is your start from a loose fossa

segment it's the same concept of when

you put strings on right so you tune up

to the note you don't tune down to a

note so Ben I notice when you're

adjusting the truss rod it's not moving

very much what's your philosophy there

yeah you really want to do about a

quarter turn at a time mhm and really

every adjustment that you do to the

truss rod is also affecting your your

being in tune anymore so you do a

quarter adjustment and then really you

should be going back and re tuning the

guitar just to make sure that you are in

perfect balance when you're done now

we're going to take another look at that

relief that is looking much better so

now that you've set the relief is it

check the final numbers is that the next

yep it's time to see where all the

numbers are at now that the neck has

been properly set great we're going to

measure at the nut we will record each

and every nut measurement the low E is

at twenty-seven thousand that is seven

thousand more than I would like to see

we are at 22 and 16 so we have a couple

that are out of whack this is too high

and that's good would be causing that

intonation problem at the first fret so

what we're gonna do is when are we gonna

get the right gauged file and where

you're going to address that right here

and now put the string off to the side

and we're gonna take a couple swipes

with the file

whatever doing work adjusting height you

really want to go slow because you can't

go back if I go too low we're talking

about a new nut and new nuts are longer

than a set up so i justed it it's really

about 20 thousands plus or minus 4

thousands is about industry standard for

nut Heights so what we're trying to do

here is just get to a comfortable level

we're at 25 I'm a thousandths away we're

gonna take two more swipes and we're

gonna have that set so when you're

filing it's not just a simple file at

the angle of the peghead it's a bit of a

roll now you want to keep the front

really nice and tight in the back you

can kind of swoop it open that's called

a splay angle and that's so the string

goes through smoothly


we are good so the other problem that we

had was that g-string

would the open so we're just gonna take

a visual look and see what's going on

the slot my height was good so I know

that's not the problem

they could be filed incorrectly could be

too tight it could be chipped off in the

front so really what I'm looking when I

move the string is you're looking for

really subtle things but you can see

where the string is resting so when I

look at that you can see that the front

is chipped away so my height was a

little bit too high so I have enough to

work with so right now I just have to go

grab the right engaged file and we have

to reestablish the front as the leading

edge it's there's a lot going on in here

it looks easy but there's really a lot

going on down here with how a guitar

plays I'm already hearing the string

going out clear still have a really good

height or relief is set my nut height is

set now I'm down to the twelfth fret to

measure the action in plain position the

neck goes into a little bit more relief

gravity's involved the strings go away

so if you can always put the guitar in

playing position yeah and then we're

gonna just visually take a look at the

12th fret it's really we're ready to

take the strings off that's the next

step now we can safely remove the saddle

a saddle on an acoustic guitar properly

fit when you flip it over it shouldn't

fall out now if you had a pickup in the

guitar you need it a little bit looser

so but it is a pressure sensitive

transducer there at Paizo so you need

that really smooth fit when it's an

acoustic it really should be a little

more tighter you have this nice tool

here now in my head I kind of had to

remember how much we had to remove


so we're gonna move over to the granite

block what this tool is doing is making

sure that the bottom of the saddle is

completely flat we can just run it down

they're always good to take some scotch

brite or something else to the top of

the saddle and what I'm looking for burs

is it chipped you know this is the time

when it's out to really take a look at

those things take a look at the overall

condition of the bridge does it need to

be conditioned with actual oil in this

case it looks in great condition the

humidity is really good on this guitar

nothing needs to be done to the bridge

but it's when you take those strings off

take the saddles off it's a great time

to really take care of those problems

that you can't ones the strings are on

there so now we believe our action set

will know want to get those strings on

our relief has been set actions been set

up to nut so now it's really it's kind

of time for some cosmetic stuff I'm a

guitar so you need time to get all the

sweat and grime and gunk off the fret

board the scotch brite is my preferred

steel wool does great and we're just

gonna come down what I always tell my

guys is it almost try to polish that

fretboard and then you'll take care of

the frets so you pushing down pretty

hard so I am a little crazy when it

comes to fretboard oil and that I don't

want to use too much too much oil will

go down into your fret slots if you're

really crazy about it you're gonna

actually start to affect the glue bond

between the fretboard

and the neck inches okay it's used

sparingly but when needed you can see

that it brings back to like the black

luster so also know they're really good

time to take a look at your tuners

simple Pat tests will let you know if

there's something loose the post can

always rattle a little bit but you're

really looking for these they're a

washer this is the back loose so I'm

going to inspect the screws I'm gonna

make sure everything's nice and tight

these are great

I think the final part of any setup is

to make sure that the customer is happy

with the product take care of that took

care of that actually corrected neck

relief the back where it's supposed to

be and this guitar is ready to go for

for another year

nice work then nice work


Ben thanks so much for doing this man we

really appreciate it yeah thank you down

for the play all right and thank you for

watching hope you've enjoyed this hope

you've learned something about how to

set up an acoustic guitar if you have

any questions you can start at

Sweetwater calm