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Do I need to Setup a New Guitar?4 min read

The joy of a new guitar!

Woohoo, it finally arrived! That awesome guitar or bass guitar went from a cool image on a sales website, to a cardboard boxed gift from the Guitar Gods.
So you open it, and it looks awesome!!!
Now let’s play those first chords.
You plug it in, and…..it sounds rather dull.
What the heck?
Upon further inspection, you notice some more things off.
The pickups are very low. Yes, that can be adjusted, but what’s this?
Plastic still on the body? Ok, for protection I guess, but, what?
That action? Oh, my, this action is way to high?
You notice that this guitar is not properly adjusted? It is bought from a decent factory and it is a decent brand.
So what is wrong and have you been fooled?

Is this normal?

This may have happened to you. You bought a guitar online and it is delivered without ANY adjustments whatsoever.
But don’t worry, you are not fooled by any means.
There might be a couple of reasons why they leave the guitar like it is. The only thing they might do is to put some strings on it.
And this might be a good topic to start with.


We all have different preferences when it comes to strings. Some want .08s, others want .11’s.
That is already something they cannot predict in the shop. To add to that, sometimes, depending on the guitar, a different string gauge makes a different feel when playing, so even if you are used to .08, that new guitar may play smoother (in your perception, as this is always a personal thing) with .09 or even higher.
That brings us to the next thing.

The strings….

Yes, after you change the string thickness from low to high or vice versa, you still need to do more to setup your new guitar. The neck could react to the different strings by arching more or less, and the overall action could need some adjustment too.
So, the bridge height, which was adjusted for those thin strings, may now be to low and the strings could hit the frets.
The third topic.

The strings….
how to start a band

Well, just kidding, but not really. A guitar can be shipped with strings or not. There is a certain tension on the neck in either situation (or lack thereof).
It will also depend on the journey the guitar has to make.  Chances are, it was shipped across the ocean or transported on a large truck. It is obvious that it goes through different climate changes. Because a guitar is made of wood, it will react to it. So even if it was set up properly, with some fresh strings, it will not be in tip-top shape when it arrives at your home.
You can imagine that the different environments have a huge effect on the guitar itself. Then, when it arrives at your home, chances are that it needs to breathe for a little while.
It needs to adjust to its new environment and could use some rest. The wood of the guitar will then, after adjusting, be in optimal shape for your room for example.
But what are the chances that our room is the same environment as where it was adjusted from the start? In a factory repair room, with a different temperature, humidity and such.

Final Steps

The last thing is also a personal thing. Even a guitar that is set up properly, it could be the best way for someone else, but not for you.
You might want the pickups a little lower, or the action a little higher. Or, like mentioned before, you want different strings than the ones from the factory. This is an easy thing that you can do by yourself. You need to adjust it to YOUR personal liking.

There you have it, a couple of reasons why your guitar needs some TLC when it arrives at your home.
But this is positive, right? You have the chance to adjust it to your liking. It will become your guitar, so change whatever you like.
And of course, you always have the opportunity to go to your local guitar shop or find a friend who can help you adjust some things. Youtube has some great resources for the basics, and if you really need some professional help, you can always go to your local guitar store. They sometimes have a package with fresh strings and basic guitar adjustments.

You should really check out these great guitar lessons. From beginner to advanced, you will love these awesome online guitar teachers!

Good luck
And as always, keep creating awesome music and share it with the world.

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