This always puzzled me as a guitar playing teenager. I read an interview with Slash where he told a story about him jamming with an incredible guitar virtuoso way before his G n R days back in California :). He jammed for a while and the guy said ‘Man, you can really play. But you gonna sort you’re intonation out!’. Slash said at the time he didn’t know what he meant. Neither did I. But as Slash put it, ‘when you bend a note, you gonna really bend it up to the note you’re after’.
So… its about keeping all your notes in tune. Not just the open strings. Bent notes, notes high up the neck, everything sound better when its in tune!
What is a ‘guitar Setup’?
A setup includes the checking and adjustment of;
- string heights at the nut,
- neck relief (truss rod adjustment)
- action (Height of strings from the fret board)
- vibrato unit
- pickup balance (height, etc)
In addition the fret board is oiled, nut slots and other string contact points lubricated if necessary and vibrato unit contact points lubricated where applicable. A setup also usually includes a clean and polish.
Most new guitars are set with the action way too high. Most people want a lower action for easier playing and this, along with better sound and easier playing, is the main reason to have a guitar setup!
Setup can cost anywhere between £30 (most guitars) to £60 (guitars with a Floyd Rose). So if you bought your guitar for £50, its really not worth getting it setup. However, If you’ve bought a guitar which, brand new, would cost over £300, I’d always get a setup done straight away.
Here’s the guy who does mine. He’s called Frasier, tell him I sent you! http://www.fcstrings.com/