If you’re buying your first guitar, adding another to the collection or wanting to maintain the guitar you’ve had for years, you’ll need to setup your guitars properly. Knowing how much should a guitar setup cost is going to be the first thing you want to look out for when shopping around.
Yes, you can do this yourself with some skill and online guides or videos, however, the best way to ensure your guitar is set up correctly, is to have it professionally setup.
A standard guitar setup should cost you no more than fifty dollars.
Personally, I’d recommend going to a reputable independent guitar shop, or professional luthier if you can find one. IF you offer to pay a little extra, they will likely allow you to watch the process, so you can do it yourself next time.
This for me, is the ideal way to go, get a professional to show you how to do a full guitar setup once, and then do them yourself after that.
If you’re getting a new guitar, you’ll need to get it setup. Many high end brands typically ensure that whatever retailer is selling their products already has this done, but cheaper brands won’t.
How much is a basic guitar setup?
A basic guitar setup should cost no more than 50 dollars, likely in the 25-40 dollar range.
The type of guitar you have may impact the cost, as it may take longer for the tech to perform the setup.
For instance, a basic acoustic guitar new from the factor will be an easy, simple setup.
An old Ibanez with locking nut and tremolo bridge, that’s been in storage, were it isn’t climate controlled will need A LOT more work than average, and therefore cost a little more.
How much is a bass guitar setup?
A bass guitar setup should be no more than the cost for a 6-string guitar setup, 25-40 dollars is normal.
If the shop wants to charge you extra because you have a bass guitar, find a different shop.
A bass guitar needs the same basic setup as a 6-string, and should not take longer or be more complex.
If their posted rates suggest otherwise, they’re being a little shady, and you should probably look elsewhere for your guitar needs.
Even a 5 or 6-string bass should not be anymore expensive to setup compared to a guitar.
Is a guitar setup worth it
Yes, having your guitar setup correctly is an absolute necessity. A complete setup will ensure you don’t have awkward string action, that the intonation is correct and there are no underlying issues with your guitar (a setup is also an overall inspection of your guitar’s structural integrity).
It is important to perform regular maintenance tasks on your guitar. a proper guitar setup is something that every guitar should have, at least every few years.
A complete guitar setup isn’t something you’ll need to do all the time, however, if you’re getting your first guitar, or adding to your collection, I would recommend having it setup up.
Improper intonation, bridge adjustments and truss rod adjustments are some major factors in your guitar working correctly.
If you’re not paying attention to your guitar’s regular maintenance you can dramatically cut down on it’s playable lifespan.
Having the proper adjustments made when they’re needed is the best way to get started off on the right foot with a new guitar.
Is it worth getting a cheap guitar setup
Yes, in fact it is arguably more important to setup a cheap guitar correctly as they are often less precise.
The lack in precision means any minor shift or overlooked area during manufacturing can lead to a more noticeable problem than if you had the same issues with a high end guitar.
For example, the truss rod may not be as high quality on a cheap guitar. This means that your neck adjustments may need to be performed more often.
Further, when the truss rod is out of alignment, it will have a greater impact on the action of the strings.
This can also be said about many of the other areas a guitar setup will cover.
It may seem silly to pay the cost of a guitar setup on a cheap guitar, but any problems will be more apparent and problematic on a cheap guitar.
Every guitar needs a regular setup, even cheap ones.
How long should a guitar setup take?
A guitar setup should only take about an hour. It may take longer if the guitar has concerning problems, is unusually dirty or needs extra attention.
If a guitar setup take longer than a couple hour there is likely a larger issue and should proceed with caution.
Most reputable shops can perform a complete setup in about an hours time.
What does a full guitar setup include
A full guitar setup should include:
- Full guitar inspection (including electronics)
- Tightening any lose hardware
- Polishing metal parts and frets
- setting/adjustment of action
- Intonation check
- Nut check
If you’re also getting new strings, which a setup would be an ideal time to change them, the setup should put them on and ensure they are stretched and settled.
Guitar setups may include more steps and check depending on where you bring your guitar, however, this is a basic list of what you should expect as a minimum.
You also should only have one price to pick from, there shouldn’t be tiers of setups you can choose from.
For example, you shouldn’t be able to choose from a “basic setup” or upgrade to the “complete or premium setup” for more money.
In my opinion, that screams “We want more money from unaware novices”.
It shouldn’t be all that difficult to find a reputable shop or artisan luthier to perform a total setup for your guitar.
Again the cost of a guitar setup should not run you more than fifty bucks. If you pay a little extra they’ll likely have no problem with you watching and maybe even explaining as they do the setup.
A guitar setup is an important part of maintenance, whether it is for cheap guitar or high end guitar.
A guitar setup doesn’t necessarily have to be performed by a professional. I do recommend at least watching a pro do it once (in person) before you tackle the task yourself.
However, if you’d like to look into guitar setups to save you the cost of having it done by a tech, here’s a little guide on truss rod adjustments, which is probably the hardest part of a guitar setup.
And the video to go with it