Acoustic Guitar Set-up

Why have your acoustic guitar set-up?

There are a number of acoustic guitar manufacturers, particularly those who make high-end guitars, who set-up their guitars really well. But to do this takes time and so a good set-up is often the part of the finishing process that many manufacturers don't give much time to. Common problems include the string height being too height at the nut, the saddle or both. A high action can also hide the fact that the frets are not completely level. Compared to an electric guitar, acoustic guitars generally use a high guage of strings. As a consequence a high action can make an acoustic guitar hard to play. But there is no reason why even a relatively inexpensive guitar can't be made to play well.

So what it included in an acoustic guitar set-up?

  • Strings are removed and frets are cleaned and polished
  • The fretboard is cleaned and oiled
  • Saddle height is reduced in height where necessary
  • New strings are installed
  • Check neck relief and adjust truss rod
  • Set height of strings in nut


£30-45 (depending whether saddle needs to be reduced in height) plus new set of strings

At the bottom of this page you will find some photographs which describe the process of setting up an acoustic guitar which has an excessively high action. Click on the first image and a sequence of photographs will open.

Book an Appointment

If you are unsure whether your acoustic guitar would benefit from a set-up, I suggest you visit my South-London workshop and I can advise you what needs to be done to get your guitar playing as well as it can. All services are provided on an appointment only basis. To book an appointment for an acoustic guitar set-up, please call or email me at my South London workshop to arrange a time to visit. I am based just a 15 minutes drive from the M25 and close to Sutton and West Sutton train stations.


This guitar came with a very high action. 4.5mm on the bass side.
And 4mm on the treble side.
This guitar also had a very high action at the nut making it very hard to play. It measures 1mm at the 1st fret. It should be 0.4 or 0.5mm at the most
The first step was to tighten the truss rod. The guitar had way to much neck relief. Once the neck was straightened the action came down somewhat.
When working on a guitar it is encased in this protective cover. (made by my mum!)
The next step is to lower the height of the bridge saddle. Once that is done the string height at the nut is reduced using nut files.
This guitar is now so much easier to play!