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  #16  
Old 06-18-2019, 10:07 AM
Big Band Guitar Big Band Guitar is offline
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I have always done my own setups.

I like my action a little higher than factory setups.

As far as the saddle goes I shim with credit card and paper strips till it is just right then measure with a micrometer to fit a new one.

The last was a new Eastman and the off the shelf replacement was just right about 3/32" taller than the factory one. Like I said I like my action a little high. A bonus is no one asks to play my guitars.

Nut slots, I had a tool made that rides on the frets and holds a piece of hacksaw blade ground to a sharp point. The blade is set to cut 0.050" higher than the fret plane. A little pencil dust in the cut gives a bottom when I cut the string slots. A set of gas nozzle broaches makes a good slot final gage.

When I built my banjo I used a zero fret and a 1/16' piece of brass as a string separator / nut.

I would post a picture but can't figure it out.
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  #17  
Old 06-18-2019, 11:10 AM
TokyoNeko TokyoNeko is offline
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When it comes to adjusting the truss rod (for neck relief) or adjusting saddle heights, I can do that.

Everything else, I don't trust myself to mess it up, so I gladly pay $50-75 to get a setup done from a trusted tech.
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  #18  
Old 06-18-2019, 11:23 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Originally Posted by TokyoNeko View Post
When it comes to adjusting the truss rod (for neck relief) or adjusting saddle heights, I can do that.

Everything else, I don't trust myself to mess it up, so I gladly pay $50-75 to get a setup done from a trusted tech.
This. Cutting the nut slots, initial relief, leveling the frets (if one fret is proud, it determines the action for all of them) are all things that I'd rather leave to someone experienced in them. Given that a setup is something that I seldom need (the last times that the Froggy or Ye Olde Mac were setup was in the early 2000s. I have had them looked at, and still are good. Both get a seasonal truss rod tweak.), paying a pro seems to be a no brainer.

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  #19  
Old 06-18-2019, 12:24 PM
B. Adams B. Adams is offline
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Originally Posted by Big Band Guitar View Post
I have always done my own setups.

Nut slots, I had a tool made that rides on the frets and holds a piece of hacksaw blade ground to a sharp point. The blade is set to cut 0.050" higher than the fret plane. A little pencil dust in the cut gives a bottom when I cut the string slots. A set of gas nozzle broaches makes a good slot final gage.
I, for one, would really like to see a picture of this device.
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  #20  
Old 06-18-2019, 02:04 PM
personatech personatech is offline
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Originally Posted by Ed66 View Post
...I've found the best sequence is to make sure your truss rod is adjusted to the proper relief, make adjustments to the nut and finally the saddle.
Thanks. Yours seems to be similar to the approach taken in this video that inspired me to seriously consider doing my own setups. In this vid, the luthier first tackles the saddle prior to the nut (using a capo on the first fret):

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  #21  
Old 06-18-2019, 07:04 PM
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vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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Originally Posted by beninma View Post
The nut is just not that hard if you read how to do it and get the tools.
It's not that it is hard ONCE you know what to do. But that's the rub. But unless you're doing a lot of guitars good nut files cost $$. My tech only charges me a pittance for adjusting my guitars' nuts. The adjustments for a pro just takes seconds. And the trick is to get the nut slots *just* low enough for clearance for ease of play... But one file stroke too many and you're looking at buying a new nut and starting over.

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It honestly feels to me like it's harder to be precise sanding a saddle.

When you work on the saddle everyone tells you to just hand sand it on a piece of sandpaper. No jig or tooling to force you to hold it level and sand it evenly in all directions. Oops.. you just lowered the treble side more than the bass side. Oops, the bottom of the saddle is no longer perpendicular to the bridge. Etc, etc, etc...
I'm exactly the opposite. You can use anything with a 90 angle as a jig and just coat the bottom with a sharpie market to insure that you sand it evenly. If you're using anything as a square jig it's simple to keep it even by periodically rotating the saddle which helps you check to see if you're keeping it square. If you have a lot to sand, just take a measurment for a rough sand and when you get to that point, then use the sharpie. To make sanding easier I use a piece of gaffer tape attached to the side of the saddle as a "handle" so that it moves smoothly and evenly across the sand paper. I've successfully fit 3 bone saddles with zero previous experience. I'm not sure what the big deal is.
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  #22  
Old 06-18-2019, 08:58 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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I think OP would be well-served by taking the road trip, getting the instruments professionally set up, and have a comprehensive conversation with the person who did the work. And offer to pay for the conversation. Lots to learn, all easily overlooked. Being well informed from the beginning is really valuable.
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  #23  
Old 06-19-2019, 08:38 AM
DanR DanR is offline
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I've done my own set ups on my electric guitars. Basically, this involved tweaking the neck relief and setting the bridge height along with adjusting the saddles for intonation. I've never messed with the nut and any fret work was left to a pro.

An acoustic set up usually involves tweaking the nut, saddle and neck relief and maybe some fret work. Work on the nut, saddle and frets involves removing some material and I would much rather a pro do that as he would have plenty of experience at those endeavors.
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  #24  
Old 06-19-2019, 08:51 AM
beninma beninma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
It's not that it is hard ONCE you know what to do. But that's the rub. But unless you're doing a lot of guitars good nut files cost $$. My tech only charges me a pittance for adjusting my guitars' nuts. The adjustments for a pro just takes seconds. And the trick is to get the nut slots *just* low enough for clearance for ease of play... But one file stroke too many and you're looking at buying a new nut and starting over.
A few hundred for good tools is nothing when you look at the $$$ value of the guitars that get listed in signatures here. A new nut is $20 for insurance. Comprehensive books on the subject (and lots of others) are $10.

"I'm not comfortable with doing it" is 100% legit. "It's too expensive to get tools" is silly if you've got thousands of dollars worth of gear, especially if a single setup starts to run up towards $100 in your area.
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  #25  
Old 06-19-2019, 09:21 AM
619TF 619TF is offline
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Originally Posted by beninma View Post
A few hundred for good tools is nothing when you look at the $$$ value of the guitars that get listed in signatures here. A new nut is $20 for insurance. Comprehensive books on the subject (and lots of others) are $10.

"I'm not comfortable with doing it" is 100% legit. "It's too expensive to get tools" is silly if you've got thousands of dollars worth of gear, especially if a single setup starts to run up towards $100 in your area.
It's NOT silly when you consider the hundreds you'll spend on the tools to use them just a few times and a few other factors. Sure the instrument may be worth "thousands" but the setup at $100 or so is completely unrelated to the cost of the guitar and one could argue that such a valuable guitar shouldn't be messed with by any non-pro tech to begin with (consider the hundred you pay for a pro setup as the "insurance" of a positive/non damaging result). Your argument is similar to saying one should go out and spend $5,000+ on car mechanics tools for a $50,000+ Tesla because it's "only a fraction of the cost" of the car and despite the fact that the owner may not have the skills or technical ability to actually do the work anyway.
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  #26  
Old 06-19-2019, 09:26 PM
personatech personatech is offline
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Originally Posted by phavriluk View Post
I think OP would be well-served by taking the road trip, getting the instruments professionally set up, and have a comprehensive conversation with the person who did the work. And offer to pay for the conversation. Lots to learn, all easily overlooked. Being well informed from the beginning is really valuable.
Thanks - an excellent suggestion!
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  #27  
Old 06-20-2019, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Blueser100 View Post
Lots of good advice. But be careful about info on You Tube videos, there's a lot of wrong information out there. A couple of reliable sources are Stew Mac and frets.com. They have guides and photos that provide some guidance on the correct way to setup your acoustic guitar.

https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Onlin...tructions.html
Second this ^^^
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  #28  
Old 06-20-2019, 08:34 AM
Big Band Guitar Big Band Guitar is offline
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Originally Posted by B. Adams View Post
I, for one, would really like to see a picture of this device.
I can't post a picture here. I got the plan for the tool from a Frets Magazine back in the 1970's. I had a machinist friend make it for me.
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  #29  
Old 06-20-2019, 09:01 AM
mercy mercy is offline
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Everything in the embedded video is wrong, dont do it that way. You can do a saddle and relief but you wont be able to do the nuts correctly. It takes a lot of experience because it isnt just getting the nut slot a bit higher than the fret. Correctly done, the nut slot is supposed to be curved shape so that the string lays in it all the way to the departure off the nut. Of course you could buy some blanks and spend time setting the maximum height with feeler guages and then practice getting the curve correct but how are you going to know if its correct?
Ill do the bottom end adjustments but not the nut. It will go to the best tech I can find.
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  #30  
Old 06-20-2019, 09:56 AM
beninma beninma is offline
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Originally Posted by 619TF View Post
It's NOT silly when you consider the hundreds you'll spend on the tools to use them just a few times and a few other factors. Sure the instrument may be worth "thousands" but the setup at $100 or so is completely unrelated to the cost of the guitar and one could argue that such a valuable guitar shouldn't be messed with by any non-pro tech to begin with (consider the hundred you pay for a pro setup as the "insurance" of a positive/non damaging result). Your argument is similar to saying one should go out and spend $5,000+ on car mechanics tools for a $50,000+ Tesla because it's "only a fraction of the cost" of the car and despite the fact that the owner may not have the skills or technical ability to actually do the work anyway.
You can never gain any technical ability in anything if you're afraid to try.

Tesla is a super ridiculous analogy cause no one is talking about $5000 worth of tools here, the tools are cheap and don't have any associated maintenance costs and take less space than a shoe box to store.

And there is nothing proprietary or secret about a guitar setup, unlike a Tesla. Tesla won't give you a manual, won't sell you parts, and will fight you tooth and nail if you try to have anyone but them touch your car. And a Tesla probably has 10,000x the # of parts a guitar has, and has many items that if not assembled correctly can kill you. Nothing you do to a guitar is life or death. (Meanwhile probably more of us *should* go ahead and learn to do some basic car maintenance.)

But the main point is if you're afraid to try you can't learn, and if you're in that boat you might want to be careful telling everyone else it's too hard to learn. This kind of attitude in general is why no one is handy at fixing anything anymore. Everyone thinks you have to be a professional with years of training to do anything and everyone should stay in their lane and only do whatever they went to school for.

Good thing the people who actually invented guitars and all the associated gear didn't have this attitude back in the day.

Stuff like angling the nut slot is no more difficult than holding a knife at the correct angle on a stone while you sharpen it. It's just not that hard to learn.

Also so many of us here have had bad experiences with techs. They don't warranty their work. 99% of them are not factory authorized to work on the guitar. They give you no guarantee of their work. 2 out of the 3 setups I paid for they never even bothered to touch the nut. A lot of places act like they're afraid to touch your guitar and try to talk you out of having them do anything. Mostly cause most of us can't tell them in plain language what they want and they're afraid they're going to change the setup and then we don't like it. And there aren't that many of them and a lot of us would have to drive a long way or ship guitars to have stuff done!
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