Learn About String Action + Setup

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Trade Secrets! Issue 214 April 10, 2014
Banjo setup tips
How do you set the tension on a banjo head? If you're more familiar with guitars than banjos, Dan Erlewine has a few quick tips for you.
Product Instructions I-3910
Basic Set-up Instructions
Erick Coleman walks you through basic set-up instructions to have your guitar playing great in no time.
Product Instructions I-5245
Correct saddle intonation with The Intonator
The Intonator finds the correct locations for acoustic flattop guitar bridge saddle placement.
Trade Secrets! Issue 164 May 10, 2012
Does this bone nut fit my guitar?
Erick Coleman answers a question that's come up a lot lately: how to find the right size replacement nut. He introduces a new Sizing Sheet that makes measuring easy for anybody.
Trade Secrets! Issue 184 February 14, 2013
Do-it-yourself banjo bridge lifter
Dave Collins at Herb David Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan shows an easy-to-make tool for swapping banjo bridges.
Trade Secrets! Issue 33 June 07, 2007
Don't be nervous about adjusting that truss rod!
Erick Coleman shows how quick and easy it is to evaluate a neck and adjust the truss rod.
Trade Secrets! Issue 132 February 03, 2011
Fine tuning a bolt-on replacement neck
Erick Coleman pulls his old Strat out of mothballs and gives it a new neck. He shows what's needed to get a replacement neck ready to play.
Trade Secrets! Issue 197 August 15, 2013
Fix a broken nut with baking soda?
"Can a broken nut can be fixed with baking soda and super glue?" Lou, a singer here in Athens, Ohio, brought this question to Dan Erlewine (along with the broken nut on his Yamaha guitar). As it turns out, the answer is yes and no...
Trade Secrets! Issue 114 May 27, 2010
Fixing a badly worn neck: super glue as both fill and finish
Somebody's wrung this guitar's neck with years of string bending -- the wood is gone from the edge of the fingerboard. The customer doesn't want a new neck, so Dan Erlewine improvises a great solution.
Trade Secrets! Issue 221 July 17, 2014
Fixing fret buzz: raising the saddles
A P-Bass with fret buzz: Dan Erlewine fixes his brother’s bass, and answers the question, “To get rid of this fret buzz, should I adjust the saddles or the truss rod?”
Product Instructions A-FAMOUSSETUPS
How the stars set up their guitars
An excerpt from Dan Erlewine's "How To Make You Electric Guitar Play Great", including celebrity setups from Jeff Beck to Jim Weider.
Trade Secrets! Issue 178 November 22, 2012
How to fit a preshaped nut on a guitar
Tips for fitting a shaped and slotted nut. Dan Erlewine tries a preshaped nut in his own Fender Strat: it's so easy "it's almost like cheating!"

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 240 April 09, 2015
How to install classical guitar strings
Learn the right way to install nylon strings so they don’t stretch for a month before you can start playing.
Brazilian luthier Rodrigo Gomes visits Dan Erlewine’s shop and sets up a classical guitar for Dan to start learning to play bossa nova.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 249 September 24, 2015
Joe Bonamassa sound check: backstage tips
Dan Erlewine visits backstage with the great blues guitarist, Joe Bonamassa and his highly experienced tech, Mike Hickey. Joe talks guitars with Dan, and Mike shares two guitar setup tips.
Trade Secrets! Issue 208 January 16, 2014
Lindy Fralin on how to set pickup height
Lindy Fralin, of Lindy Fralin Pickups, shows how he sets pickup heights. Lindy shows it's not about measuring, it's about listening. Recorded at last summer's Northwoods Seminar in Michigan.
Product Instructions I-0670-M
Metric String Action Gauge
How to determine string action with the Metric String Action Gauge.
Product Instructions I-2003
Nut Slotting Gauge Instructions
How to determine nut slot depth with the Nut Slotting Gauge.
Trade Secrets! Issue 35 June 21, 2007
Plastic nuts are high-speed and low-cost!
Dan Erlewine races the clock to show that plastic nut installations are quick and profitable!
Trade Secrets! Issue 121 September 02, 2010
Preparing a guitar for a professional recording date
Erick Coleman gives The Business to Rontrose Heathman's Les Paul to get it ready for a recording date with L.A. legends, The Hangmen.
Product Instructions I-4006
Resonator Guitar Set-up Techniques
An introduction to setting up a resonator guitar.
Product Instructions A-SLOTTEDBONENUTS
Slotted Bone Nuts Sizing Sheet
Find the right nut size for your guitar.
Product Instructions A-SPIDERSETUP
Spider-bridge Resonator Guitar Setup
A step-by-step for setting up a spider bridge resonator.
Product Instructions I-0670
String Action Gauge
How to determine string action with the String Action Gauge.
Product Instructions I-0673
String Spacing Rule Instructions
The String Spacing Rule locates string positions so that heavier strings get the wider spacing they need.
Product Instructions I-5253
Top Deflection Gauge Instructions
How to use the Top Deflection Gauge for neck resetting and saddle routing, banjo head tensioning, and assessing and adjusting neck relief.
Trade Secrets! Issue 93 August 06, 2009
Tune-O-Matic setup: is the trouble with the bridge or the neck angle?
Dan helps the local music store with a customer complaint about a Gibson Tune-O-Matic bridge setup. Who's to blame here?
Trade Secrets! Issue 111 April 15, 2010
Two 1917 Gibson L-1 archtop guitars: each with too-high action
Dan Erlewine got a blast from the past in his shop recently, and before the dust settled he got another one! He's working on two Gibson L-1 archtops from 1917, and they both have the same trouble: too-tall bridges and too-high action.
Product Instructions I-1811
Using Feeler Gauges to Control Nut Slot Depth
How to use feeler gauges to control nut slot depth.
Trade Secrets! Issue 28 May 03, 2007
Using the String Spacing Rule for guitars and mandolins
Erick Coleman uses Kevin Ryan's proportional string spacing rule for more jobs than Kevin ever expected: 12-strings, mandolins, bridge saddles... Plus: an explanation of the difference between equal spacing and proportional spacing.