Why You Need To Get Your Guitar Set Up By a Pro | Hub Guitar

Why You Need To Get Your Guitar Set Up By a Pro

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What is a “set-up”? Think of it as a tune-up for your musical instrument to make sure it’s operating properly and functioning at its best.

You should take your guitar to get setup if any of the following conditions is true:

Why To Get Your Guitar Setup

  • It’s been more than a year since the last set up
  • It’s a new instrument and you’ve never had it set up
  • It’s a used instrument you recently acquired, and you’ve never had it set up
  • You are having some problems playing it
  • Notes at the Ist fret are difficult to play
  • There is visible damage, or something appears to be wrong
  • Some notes of the guitar consistently “buzz” or don’t play at all
  • Two notes separated by an octave on the same string sound out of tune; for instance, open “E” and the note on Fret XII of the same string sound off
  • The strings seem too high off of the fretboardThe often dark-wooden surface of the neck of the guitar, where one hand pushes down the strings to be plucked by the other hand.
  • You feel a “scratchy” feeling while bending strings
  • The nut has sharp edges that are uncomfortable, or you can feel the ends of the frets scratching your hand as you play.

If you get your guitar set up, and don’t notice anything different: don’t worry. Sometimes you go to the doctor and don’t end up getting diagnosed with a disease. That’s fine. Now you know!

How Much Does a Guitar Setup Cost?

Prices vary drastically by city, state and country. In America, the average rate for a setup seems to run between $50-$75 USD. This is quite a small price to pay to make sure your guitar is in good condition.

A qualified guitar repair person can help you with a few things:

Benefits of Getting Your Guitar Setup

  • Spot early warning signs of humidity problems or damage
  • Give advice for storing or caring for the instrument
  • Ensure the instrument is reliable so it doesn’t crap out on you when you need it most
  • Fix problems with the neck being warped
  • Make the instrument easier to play by lowering the action
  • Smooth or “level” the frets if there are any problems
  • Make your guitar feel better and sound better to play

How To Find a Guitar Repair Person

Most large towns have a store that sells musical instruments, and such a store can usually repair or setup guitars directly or at least ship it off to someone who can.

Be wary of the unqualified guitar repair person.

Educate Yourself

The more you learn about guitars and the set up process, the better you will be at spotting a guitar that needs work—and at identifying a qualified person to do it.

Check References

Your guitar teacher or any working musician can probably give you a good recommendation. Experienced players know who to trust with their instruments.

Look for Professionalism

Basic indicators of professionalism apply here, and you probably know how to spot them. A verifiable business presence, online reviews, and a real workshop or storefront are all signs that you’re dealing with a professional.

Get a sense of the kind of work they do

Someone who builds and repairs acoustic instruments is going to have more than enough experience to repair your acoustic guitar. But someone who works mostly on amps and stomp boxes is not going to have as much relevant experience.


Keep your guitar in good shape, and you’ll be rewarded. Learning guitar is hard enough. The last thing you need to deal with is a guitar that is difficult to play because it’s not set up well.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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