Acoustic Guitar SetUp

Why have your acoustic guitar setup?

There are a number of reason why you should have your acoustic guitar setup properly. High-end acoustic guitar manufacturers generally setup their guitars well. But to do this takes time and so a good acoustic guitar setup 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 with an electric guitar, acoustic guitars generally use a heavier gauge 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.

Older acoustic guitars also have a tendency to, what is often referred to as, “belly”. This is where the area around the sound-hole drops a little and the bridge area is raised. A tell-tale sign of this is that the bridge has started to tilted forward. As a consequence the strings have too high an action.


So what can be done to achieve a good action? 

Normally a good action can be achieved by:

  1. Reducing string height at the nut.
  2. Adjusting the truss rod so that the neck is as straight as possible.
  3. Reduce the height of the saddle.

It is also possible to remove the neck and reset the neck to body angle. But this is a time consuming and costly process and only worth doing on expensive guitars.


So what it included in an acoustic guitar setup?

  1. Strings are removed and frets are cleaned and polished
  2. The fretboard is cleaned and oiled
  3. Saddle height is reduced in height where necessary
  4. New strings are installed
  5. Check neck relief and adjust truss rod
  6. Set height of strings in nut

Cost:   £40-100 plus strings (price depends on whether all six items need to be addressed)

If you would like to see an example of a setup I recently carried out on a Martin acoustic, please see my recent work page.

If you would like to have your acoustic guitar setup, please contact me to book an appointment.