Setup Tips
 

Our goal as builders is to provide you with an instrument that plays well, stays in tune, and sounds great. If we would not play it ourselves, we will not sell it.

That being said, guitars do react not only to the rigors of initial shipping, but playing styles, and string gauge changes. Your guitar may need some adjustment after purchase to suit your preference.

Contact your dealer with any and all warranty or adjustment questions as they should be able to handle any small issues (unless there is something defective that needs to be handled at our factory).

 
 

Intonation
We set the intonation here, however, your particular hand pressure and where your fingers sit will have great impact on intonation. If you play "off center", meaning your fingers naturally fall somewhere other than centered evenly between the frets, you will find a guitar plays slightly sharp or flat. If your touch is especially light or heavy it will have an impact. The heavier your touch, the sharper your fretted strings will sound. The guitars are shipped with 10-46 gauge strings (basses 45-105). If you change your string gauge, the need for setup and intonation may be required.



Strings

We use Dunlop strings. 45-105 Standard Bass Sets and 10-46 Guitar Sets. Available at most shops.

Change strings often. Intonation, clarity, sustain and playability are all effected by old strings.




Tuning

Tuning issues are by far the most mis-understood area of guitar setup and maintenance. Most tuning issues are caused by an improperly cut nut. This is especially the case with guitars having tremolos/vibratos. If the string does not move effortlessly through the nut slots, "slack storage" is the result. This is where the tension is not completely the same from the tuner all the way to the bridge. There will be one tension between the tuner and nut and another tension from the nut to the bridge. Pushing down or up on the tremolo and these different tensions are then evened out, and your string will be out of tune. We cut our nut slots larger, and with a shape that encourages even tension throughout - and always use lubricant in the slot itself. An easy test to see if the nut is correctly slotted and lubricated is to tune up your guitar, then press the strings behind the nut on the tuner side. If you press and release the string it should come back in tune. If it does not, it needs adjustment. Be sure that your strings are thoroughly stretched out and settled or you may get a false read. For tremolo users, if you dive bomb down and some of the strings come back sharp, this is a definite sign of a nut in need of attention.

It is rare to come across a guitar who's tuning issues are caused by the tuning gears themselves. Heavy duty and or locking tuners will do nothing for tuning problems if your nut is not setup right. It is my opinion (and shared by many others) that lighter tuners sound way better on fender style guitars. The added mass in the heavy duty and or locking tuners really changes the resonance and sparkle.




Nuts and Intonation

Nuts and intonation (playing sharp in the first few frets) is another mis-understood area of guitar adjustment and setup.

99% of the intonation issues in the first few frets are caused by nuts that are too high and improperly cut. When the nut is too high, the added tension and pressure needed to press the string down causes the first few frets to play sharp. It is especially prevalent on the G string when playing the G# and A, as it is the thickest of the unwound strings and is more reactive to tension. This tendency towards sharpness decreases as you move up the neck. My approach is to cut the nut to behave as much like a zero fret as possible. You may find that our guitars have a slight amount of fret rattle in the open strings. This is intentional - read on.

Nut Example
We also shape the nut to have fall-off so it is deeper towards the tuner side. This gives the string the most natural travel with the least resistance and really helps with tuning issues caused by "slack storage". There will be slightly more fret rattle in the open strings, but no more than what you would have on any fretted string. The problem is that virtually all other guitars are made with nuts that are very high so our ears and hands have been trained to hear / feel no fret rattle in the open strings. The fret rattle that I speak of is what you hear acoustically and is virtually non-existent through an amp. If you have recently purchased a Nashguitar and think the nut is too low or you have more rattle than seems acceptable, chances are it is not the nut, but the truss rod needs adjustment as the neck is over-straight. That, or you are not used to our way of setting a guitar up.



Neck Adjustment
Neck/Truss rod adjustment. A neck should have slight "relief". This means that it should have the slightest bit of concave bow. Once again, playing styles do have some impact in the area. A player that is really aggressive may want a bit more relief as added string vibration can cause more fret rattle or buzz. There are many theories about just how much relief is correct. One way of telling if the neck is right is to hold the guitar in the most common playing position tuned normally (gravity will straighten the neck if you lay it flat on a table). In your playing position, press on the low (thick) E string at the first fret with your fretting hand. With your picking hand, press the last fret on the same string. See if there is just a small amount clearance in the middle of the neck under that string. Do the same test on the high (thin) E string. If there is no relief, your neck is over straight and the truss rod needs to be loosened. If there is too much relief then it needs to be tightened. If the sides are radically different, you may need to have a pro look at it to diagnose a possible twist. This is very rare.



Action
We adjust the action so that you can bend a minor third up on the high E string without fretting out. The low side action is adjusted to match the string height from the high E with a constant radius. If you play aggressively or through a really clean amp, this may need to be raised.



Neck Shift
This is a common issue with bolt on necks. Occasionally the neck shifts and the strings move closer to one edge of the fretboard. The bridge has not been installed off center. The neck has simply shifted in the neck pocket. Loosen the 4 neck bolts about half a turn and push or pull the neck back into place. Once done, tighten the neck bolts as tight as you can.



Sharp Fret Edges
Sometimes we must allow for a bit of inconvenience to gain a very important feature. Most "component" necks are dipped in a sealing and stabilizing solution at the MFG level. This is done to stop the neck from loosing or taking on moisture. The benefits of this practice is that the necks will rarely warp and thus very few necks will need to be taken back and replaced under warranty. This all sounds positive, however, these sealed necks do not sound nearly as resonant as a neck that is left unsealed. Our necks have no sealer/stabilizer so we get the optimum resonance from the neck. This means we will end up with a few warped necks once in a while and we are happy to replace those few necks in order to gain the better sound. Now to take this all a step further, we use nitrocellulose finish, most of which is removed during cosmetic aging. This does allow the neck to change in moisture content slightly over time. This little bit of change is completely normal. What will happen on some necks is the wood gets smaller (on a near microscopic level) and yet the metal frets are not subject to any change. This means a very small edge of the fret may stick out. The fix is simple. Just sand the edges of the frets with 600 sandpaper and touch up with 000 steel wool. In a pinch, an emery board will do. This may need to be done 2 or 3 times over the life of the guitar, but once your neck has lost the maximum moisture, it will not happen again. We are happy to perform the sanding and re-buffing to the edges of the neck as a warranty fix in the first year to the original owner. Please contact us for shipping details. Keep in mind that this is not a defect.



Pots and Switches
If you encounter scratchy pots or switches, get some contact/electronic cleaner spray, open the patient up and spray into the little holes near the solder posts on the pots, and the contacts on the switch. Move everything back and forth, and if needed, do it again.



Extras

From time to time when re-stringing, it is nice to polish up your frets. We reccomend using JJ's Gorgomyte.

Pickup height adjustment. We adjust with the neck pickup to a medium height, and the bridge pickup higher - much closer to the strings. Usually the treble side should be closer to the strings than the bass side to make up for reduced mass and vibration. Adjustments should be made for your own ear. If your low E string is not intonating and sounds a bit like two notes fighting each other, chances are one or more pickup magnets are too close to the string. Lowering the pickup will solve this issue.

Neck Shims

We shim just about every neck. We want the most angle over the bridge saddles as possible. Use of a shim increases tension and sustain, as well as giving us the ability to get most of the saddle adjustment screws below the bridge surface. This makes the guitar much better for those who rest their hand on the bridge for muting. If you do not want the shim, take it out and lower the bridge saddles, but you may notice that the guitar does not sound or feel as good.

More will be covered in FAQ as that gets updated.

Good Luck!









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