Adjusting the Height of the Pickups


After adjusting the action and string height, you should adjust the height of the pickups. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic field can cause undesirable distortion.Another by-product of a pickup being too close to the strings is that it can kill your sustain. The strong magnetic field will pull on the string causing it to stop vibrating prematurely. When checking the distance between the pickup and the string, always do so with the string pushed down at the last fret (the fret closest to the pickup). This is where the string will be the closest to the pickup. This is when you make your measurements and settings. Measure from the top of the pickup to the bottom of the string.

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Adjusting the Intonation

First of all, I would like to say that most acoustic guitars do not have adjustable saddles, the solid bridge is fixed and therefore, if the intonation is out, you may just have to live with it.

The intonation refers to the guitar being in tune with itself. The frets of the guitar have been placed at a specific place depending on the guitar’s scale. A guitar’s scale length  (or any fretted instrument) is the distance between the nut (or the open string) and the bridge’s saddle. In order to accurately determine an instrument’s scale length, measure from the front edge of the nut to the center of the 12th fret and double the result. This measurement not only determines where the frets are placed for proper intonation, but also has a profound effect on string tension and tone. I will give you an example:

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Adjusting the Bridge

The bridge ( sometimes called the saddle ), is not only adjusted for height, but also to level the bridge with the neck.

But before we get into the differences in adjusting them, first let’s discuss what we are trying to achieve.

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Adjusting the Truss Rod

How to Adjust the Truss Rod:

There are normally two basic places to access the truss rod to adjust it. By the headstock, and this one is usually under a cover between the strings:

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Checking the Neck

I am in hopes that your frets are in fair shape. If they are badly worn, you may want to have them replaced. If you have been experiencing fret buzz and your frets are badly worn, this may be the reason for it and not the action of your guitar.

A quick reference for checking the neck’s alignment with the bridge is to place a carpenter’s square on the frets of the neck and see if it lines up with the bridge (as seen below).

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How to Set-Up the Action on Your Guitar

This will be a series of lessons due to the amount of material covered. Below is links to each one in case you only need a specific lesson. I hope this helps. So, let’s get on with it!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am very finicky about the action on my guitar, but for good reason. Why work harder than you have to? With a properly tuned and set-up guitar, you will be able to play as good as you are capable without the hindrance of high action strings, bad fret buzz, and bad tuning. I also recommend that you do all of the steps in the sequence that I have them. One step affects the other, so if you do them out of sequence, you may have to redo some steps again.

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