A guitar setup can be understood in two ways. First, as a series of procedures done on a guitar to adjust it to match the player’s preferences in terms of strings, action, hardware, playing style and comfort. It can also be taken to mean the overall make of the guitar – the kinds of strings or pickup it has, for example.
Many entry-level guitars like Fender’s FA-100 are already set up in a way that beginners can get started playing immediately. However, as playing comfort and sound preferences differ for each individual, a proper guitar setup may still be in order. Having your guitar set up professionally also makes it unique as it would be tailor-fit just for you.
For beginners learning to play the guitar, a good guitar setup results in the following:
It’s highly crucial for new guitarists to have an instrument that is intonation correctly. This means that a string sounds at the correct pitch at every fret. Correct intonation, aside from making songs sound right when you play them, also helps you develop your ear and distinguish the differences between notes and chords.
Adjusting the intonation is done by increasing or decreasing the length of the string at the bridge. The most accurate way to set the intonation is through the use of a chromatic tuner.
Ease of play
One of the things that affect the playability of a guitar is its action, or the distance between the strings and the fingerboard. The lower the action is or the closer the strings are to the fingerboard, the easier the guitar is to play because your fingers won’t have to press down as hard just to make the string and fretboard meet. String action can be lowered by adjusting the neck through the truss rod, bridge and saddle.
Best sound possible
The adjustments made on a guitar not only make it more playable but also make sure the guitar produces the best sound possible. It can be considered a balancing act of sorts, as tweaking any part of the guitar affects its tone. This is why setups are best done by professionals who are well-versed in the intricacies of fine-tuning guitars and making them fun and easy to play.
Overall good condition
A thorough setup includes maintenance work such as polishing and removing grime from the fretboard – which happens when the guitar previously belonged to someone else or has been in storage for a while. Setups also check for any structural problems that need to be addressed before they get worse.
A good-looking, clean and polished guitar is something you would definitely itch to play and wouldn’t want to put down, which is a plus for beginners because it would motivate them to practice every chance they get.
So, what is a good guitar setup for those who are just starting to play? The best setup would be that which achieves the points above. If you want to make the most of your practice and get the most out of your guitar, take it to a luthier or a professional guitar technician for a proper setup.