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-   -   Should I get my guitar set up? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=546647)

FiggyPudding18 05-12-2019 06:38 PM

Should I get my guitar set up?
 
Picture of string action:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/169497...posted-public/

Hi all, I bought my first guitar three months ago, a Martin D15M. I know some people say you should get your guitar set up right away, but admittedly that did not make sense to me--how could the action get messed up on a brand new guitar already?

Well, I've gone back and forth about this. I'm currently taking a break from playing for a couple of weeks because a strain that kept getting worse in my fretting hand index finger. I'm pretty sure the main reason this happened was just overuse, practicing "scrunchy" thumb chords that scrunched the index finger repeatedly and maybe pressing down too hard.

I'm now considering the idea that maybe my string action could be better as well. I measured the action using a Baroque string action ruler and got 2.75 mm at 6th string, 12th fret, and 2.25 mm at the 1st string, 12th fret.

I fingerpick and strum on this guitar. Do you think it's worth getting set up?

Thanks a lot :)

charles Tauber 05-12-2019 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FiggyPudding18 (Post 6060348)
how could the action get messed up on a brand new guitar already?

1. the setup was poor from the factory
2. the setup was for some "average" player who might not be you or how you play
3. it can be a long way from the factory to the retailer, with very different environmental conditions along the way or at the final destination.

Quote:

I'm currently taking a break from playing for a couple of weeks because a strain that kept getting worse in my fretting hand index finger. I'm pretty sure the main reason this happened was just overuse, practicing "scrunchy" thumb chords that scrunched the index finger repeatedly and maybe pressing down too hard.
"Back in the day", I played 5 hours per day. I never had hand problems.

That you have hand problems suggests improvement in technique/ergonomics is required and/or improvement in the setup of your instrument.

Quote:

I measured the action using a Baroque string action ruler and got 2.75 mm at 6th string, 12th fret, and 2.25 mm at the 1st string, 12th fret.
Do you think it's worth getting set up?
That's higher than "typical" low action.

There is more to a setup than simply string height at the 12th fret. If you find it harder to play than you like, and you are experiencing hand problems from playing, start with a setup to make the instrument easier to play.

FiggyPudding18 05-12-2019 08:29 PM

Thanks for the response Charles.

phavriluk 05-13-2019 07:12 AM

been there
 
I've found that lighter gauge strings help me quite a bit, and seeing as there's no banjos nearby when I'm practicing and playing, I can ignore theoretical criticism of doing that. As a student, I find it more important to set up the instrument for my needs before any consideration is given to comments in forums about 'ideal' strings for 'ideal' tone.

For example, first thing I did after bringing my shiny new GS Mini home was to change the strings from the medium-grade strings it shipped with to 'custom light' strings. Still sounded great to me, and more importantly, played a whole lot easier. Especially with the frets leveled and string height at the nut corrected.

redir 05-13-2019 07:30 AM

You should probably take the guitar in to a good tech and have it set up. You would want to decide on a gauge of strings first. The numbers you provided fall within and acceptable range of action but it could be that way for a lot of reasons. For example you didn't mention the relief. If the relief is excessive then simply adjusting that might lower the action and make it more playable. Otherwise it's not at all uncommon for even good factory guitars to need an additional setup, particularly at the nut it seems.

They come out of the factory set up somewhere in the middle. Some people like high action some low. Light gauge strings typically require higher action and switching string gauges might raise or lower action. So they set up the guitars so that you can pick and choose and not have any problems.

Ben-Had 05-17-2019 03:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FiggyPudding18 (Post 6060348)
Do you think it's worth getting set up?

Yes. I do setups om new Martins all the time. Invariably, I find the relief is set high, the string height over the 1st fret is high and the action is high. Sounds like yours is too.

FiggyPudding18 05-19-2019 11:46 AM

Thanks for the opinions all, I did take it to get set up by a good luthier the other day...should have it back to see the results within the next week and and a half!

personatech 06-16-2019 02:54 PM

So..... how'd things turn out for you? Guitar playing better? Hand strain gone?

D-utim 06-16-2019 06:52 PM

Your guy must be super busy or really slow. A week + is crazy for a set up.

ManyMartinMan 06-17-2019 12:03 AM

I expect at least a week for my tech. Good one’s are busy if you live in populated areas.

D-utim 06-17-2019 04:20 AM

I live in NYC.

redir 06-17-2019 07:16 AM

7-10 days is my waiting time thought I typically get it done faster.

FiggyPudding18 06-17-2019 11:55 AM

Hey all, thank you for encouraging me to do this! I asked for the action to be as low as possible without string buzz, to which they responded "string buzz will never be a problem if the setup is done right" or something to that effect. Very reassuring! Sure enough I got it back in about a week and a half with super low action! I've been mostly into fingerstyle type stuff lately so it has been perfect. This, combined with some supplements that may or not be working (turmeric, fish oil) and some more awareness through this experience of what causes my finger pain (playing thumb over chords way too much, pressing down too hard/finger placement, playing all day nonstop, etc.), I'm pleased to say I am back playing a bunch! Occasionally I still overdo it, pretty much played all day yesterday and could feel a little bit more soreness, but I just have to be smart when practicing.

So glad I did this! Thanks again!

FiggyPudding18 06-17-2019 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by D-utim (Post 6088328)
Your guy must be super busy or really slow. A week + is crazy for a set up.

I would guess the former, I saw their "line" of guitars that they were working through. Seemed like they had like 20 before me. I think they also do the whole honor system thing if you need it by a certain date they'll take care of those people first. Regardless, I was very impressed by the setup!

Pura Vida 06-17-2019 12:43 PM

Glad your setup worked out!

My guy is available for drop-offs on Tue/Thur, and he returns a setup in one week. He does great work. On two occasions, he's turned them around in two days (drop Tue, pick up Thur): 1. due to a sketchy eBay purchase (wanted to make sure there were no issues before the return period elapsed) and 2. a new guitar setup for my 13yo daughter (he didn't want her without her new guitar or that long).


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