Doing guitar and bass setups… and I’m getting pretty comfortable with it


Be excellent to each other...
Aug 5, 2005
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A few years ago, while researching setting up my own guitars, I stumbled across a website on the subject by Bryan Kimsey. The information he provided was invaluable, and the fact that he measured the guitars vital statistics using automotive feeler gauges, which allowed a significantly higher level of accuracy and repeatability, than doing it with a steel ruler calibrated in 64ths … made the whole thing do-able for me. The parallax error using a ruler, simply cannot compare with the repeatable accuracy of using feeler gauges.

I have significant experience in rebuilding motorcycles… and using feeler gauges, micrometers, dial gauges and vernier calipers to measure stuff extremely accurately, is second nature, de rigueur and necessary.

His website also explains in detail that it is just as important to evaluate the players technique and playing style, as that has a significant impact how you actually setup their guitar, to accommodate their playing style.

So, after endlessly practicing on my guitars, and slowly gaining more understanding… I am now confident using his technique and suggested tools, that I can now within 15 minutes, measure and evaluate a guitar for neck relief, nut slot height, saddle height, intonation, fret level and smoothness… and know quite definitively whether or not I can make it play better. BTW, I’m in no way a luthier, so I can’t do anything beyond setups.

So, I have done all of my guitars (my hand made book-matched fingerstyle guitar, my strat and my Artist LP really 100% play like butter) and basses and my daughters’ guitars, and then finally broke away from our family and did my first outside job… the beater acoustic guitar of one of my old band leader mates. When he got it back, he was astounded how well it played. Honestly, before, it played like a dog. I didn’t want money, he’s a mate… so a bottle of single malt arrived. Then I did his Strat, he loves it, and another bottle of single malt arrived. And I just finished his Epi LP, and saw him and his wife at the dog park… and he raved about it.

I think, when I retire, I might be able to just tinker and do it as a side-line.

I practiced doing setups on these... not the classical though
The other Family....jpeg

and then my first foreigner...
setup Jims cort acoustic.jpg

then his strat...
setup Jims strat.jpg

and just now his Epi LP...
setup Jims epi LP.jpg


DFO Veteran
Nov 5, 2005
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Prescott AZ
Yeah, I love tinkering on guitars, basses etc... fortunately my dad was an electrician so I was always good at soldering and doing guitar electronics/pickup replacement.

Phil McNight on youtube has some really good instructional videos.

I am tackling my GF's 3/4 ACOUSTIC UPRIGHT BASS next! Gonna be fun... just gotta be fearless!

Here is a really good vid from Phil on filing down those nasty fret edges (sprouts).