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skilsaw

How common is needing a neck adjustment on a new guitar?

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Two weeks ago I picked up a new L5 for my son for Christmas.

So for the last 2 weeks I have been testing it and seeing if these fingers that haven't touched a guitar in 25 years still know their stuff.

 

The point is, the low E and A strings started to buzz.

This is where I like warranties. Returned it to the store, told them what was wrong and left it for 4 or 5 days. They'll adjust the neck for me, no problem.

 

My question is this. How common is it that the neck on a new guitar needs adjusting?

 

I guess that's a good thing about guitars spending some time on the salesroom floor. They can stablize while pimply faced brats with dirty fingers play them.

 

Herein lies the challenge. The cheaper the guitar, the more likely it will need to be set up. But the bargain basement guitars from big box stores have nobody to tweek them. That is probably part of the reason so many cheap guitars kill a person's desire to learn to play and end up gathering dust at the back of the closet.

 

So how often do new guitars right out of the box need to be set up?

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I would say at least once or twice. There should be a truss rod adjustment tool in the case, it's not that difficult to do. If you don't know how I'm sure that somebody at the store could give you a quick tutorial.

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I hate to say this, but it's my experience that likely any new guitar will need a setup. Or an old guitar that's traveled a bit to get where you pick it up.

 

I've gotten "mail order" guitars from Sweetwater where they proclaim - and I'll not accuse them of fibbing - they check each instrument before sending it. The box looked like it had been opened and so-checked. Yet the strings were flat on the frets when I got it.

 

So... on a day trip to the closest guitar store when an instrument I was interested in was coming off the truck... ditto. Strings on frets on several brands.

 

In fact, that particular store appears to have kinda gone to pushing Taylors on grounds that the bolt-on necks are easier to reset in a relatively high, dry climate than Gibsons or Martins. No thanks, as far as I'm concerned, but... the store guy made a good argument.

 

I think it has to do with changes in climate/humidity/temperature and even probably altitude in affecting wood in guitar necks.

 

I'm guessing that in theory, at least, a "better" guitar should be somewhat less affected but - wood is wood.

 

We've had here some complaints from guys getting Gibsons in the U.K. with fret sprout and/or need of setup of guitars even seen in stores - which I find a horrid situation but...

 

Meanwhile I have some rancher friends whose early 1950s Gibsons, a flattop and archtop, sing as well or better than ever and need little care beyond keepin' 'em outa the rain and snow.

 

For what it's worth, taking it back to the store one way or another was a wise thing to do. If there's something wrong...

 

m

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It is very likely that a guitar that has been shipped will need a new setup and truss rod adjustment, especially this time of year or when it has experienced wide temperature/humidity/altitude changes. The question now is: how often will you need to make adjustments? Newer guitars may need periodic adjustment until the necks stabilize. Some guitars need adjustment a couple of times a year, some none at all. But just because a neck adjustment is periodically needed, it doesn't at all mean the neck is bad. What you need to be careful of are twisted necks or necks that need very frequent adjustment. If the neck has nibs and the nibs do not line up with fret ends, there is a good chance the neck is twisted. If frequent adjustments (every week or month) are needed, it likely means the neck wood was not properly aged.

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...

So how often do new guitars right out of the box need to be set up?

I would say at least once or twice. ...

Since I next to always switched to heavier string gauges, twice meets pretty much my experiences with NOS guitars being significantly older than one year when I bought them. Doing rework another time usually did the trick on guitars at least half a year old when buying. All of my "fresher" instruments called for more rework, typically within about 15...18 months. In case of staying with string make and tuning, they are stable for years after that.

 

... There should be a truss rod adjustment tool in the case, it's not that difficult to do. If you don't know how I'm sure that somebody at the store could give you a quick tutorial.

I agree.

 

Being patient and careful are the very points for avoiding serious damage. In general, doing only a small fraction of a turn at once is recommendable. It may take several days or weeks until the adjustment will take effect to its full extent.

 

In case of your L-5 neck which is of very sturdy design and construction, you may get it from now until Christmas 2014 only if you're lucky. I would have run short of time with all of my guitars and basses featuring maple necks regardless of fretboard timber and instrument brand.

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Not uncommon at all......It will settle in, and have to be correctly set up. It was a good idea to take it to the store.

 

Now - do yourself a favor, do your son a favor and do the guitar a favor: Find the go-to luthier in your area where the pro's take their guitars...Trust me, they don't go to stores for the string-changer.....go to a gig, or two, or three, talk to the pro's, and ask them if they could recommend someone........they have a luthier who probably works out of his home, and all the local pro's know him....so, find that guy, and when you do, you'll understand after a while what they do, and how invaluable they can be......

 

 

MHO of course....

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I'm guessing that in theory, at least, a "better" guitar should be somewhat less affected but - wood is wood.

 

It has nothing yo do with a "better" guitar, it has all to do with "type" of guitar.

 

A full bodied carved wood archtop is the most finicky type of guitar construction I know of as to the affects of temperature and humidity (classical guitars are really finicky also).

 

Once the guitar is PROFESSIONALLY setup for for your ambient climate conditions, the setup should only need to be checked/tweaked once a year or so.

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Have your son pick the string gauge he prefers before you get too carried away, too. I always go lighter so need to back off the truss rod tension a smidge or two.

 

 

 

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Excellent feedback, thanks.

The store where I bought the guitar is a Gibson dealer so hopefully their technician has some training by Gibson. I'll give them a shot or two at setting it up because I get the warranty work done there for free. But I like the idea of going to the best luthier in town. Off hand, "the best" shop in town deals in acoustic instruments so I'll have to sleuth out the best luthier of electric guitars.

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Two weeks ago I picked up a new L5 for my son for Christmas.

So for the last 2 weeks I have been testing it and seeing if these fingers that haven't touched a guitar in 25 years still know their stuff.

 

The point is, the low E and A strings started to buzz.

This is where I like warranties. Returned it to the store, told them what was wrong and left it for 4 or 5 days. They'll adjust the neck for me, no problem.

 

My question is this. How common is it that the neck on a new guitar needs adjusting?

 

I guess that's a good thing about guitars spending some time on the salesroom floor. They can stablize while pimply faced brats with dirty fingers play them.

 

Herein lies the challenge. The cheaper the guitar, the more likely it will need to be set up. But the bargain basement guitars from big box stores have nobody to tweek them. That is probably part of the reason so many cheap guitars kill a person's desire to learn to play and end up gathering dust at the back of the closet.

 

So how often do new guitars right out of the box need to be set up?

 

I'll echo what others have said, new guitars NEED a proper set up every time.

How much needs to be done varies, but every new guitar should have a proper set up.

If you learn to do most of the stuff yourself, then you'll be able to keep the guitar in tune whenever you do string changes and/or when the humidity and temps change.

 

In my experience the older the guitar the more stable it is because the wood has stabilized more as it aged.

I have a '91 Strat Plus Dlx that is very stable. It was always a stable guitar but became more so over the years.

Yet, I still have to adjust the truss rod from time to time as well as check and adjust intonation.

But, I know how to do basic guitar set ups so I tend to check and tweak more often only because I can.

 

My new ES335 satin is new but had been in the store for a few months. It was in great shape and tune when I bought it, but I still did all the checks and adjustments to get it to play like I want and to set intonation.

I changed to 9's from the stock 10 strings and that required a truss rod adjustment. I also lowered the action quite a bit and was very pleasantly surprised at how low I could get. I am really amazed at how low the action is now while still playing cleanly with no note choke and an ever so slight buzz when not plugged in, but given how low the action is I'm leaving it for now.

Intonation was pretty good, I only have to adjust a couple of strings just a bit.

I've had it now for a bit over a month and it's amazingly stable. I did use nut lube on all the strings at the nut and a bit on the saddles. Tuning stability is great for a Gibson that often need some better nut dressing to smooth out the slots so that the strings move smoothly, which is a big source of tuning stability.

I don't do nut cutting so I'm taking it to one of those guys who the pro's go to to give the nut a proper setup. The B string slot needs to be cut just a tad.

 

You can learn and do the basic setup and tuning by watching a few youtube video's and then it'll become an easy and quick thing to check and adjust.

Congrats to you and your son on the L5!

What a fantastic gift and you're great dad with great taste in choosing that guitar. :)

Cheers to you, and happy holidays!

 

 

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Taking a new guitar to a good luthier is a great idea. Have them go over it with a fine tooth comb, and depending on the return policy where it was bought, if there are issues, you can return it or have an authorized dealer fix them. If your son has not played before, he will likely not want thick strings. There are diverse opinions about string thickness for beginners. Some think it is better to wrestle with thick strings early to build up calluses and muscles. IMO, that is not important. But, if your son wants his L-5 to sound more like a traditional jazz box, thicker strings will help. Whatever he wants, the setup should be done with the strings he chooses, and if he makes a significant change in string gauge, a new setup will be required adjusting truss rod and intonation.

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I'm not sure I understand exactly what the problem is here. Guitar necks change due to temperature and humidity. Higher humidity bends necks backwards (strings go sharp), low humidity bends them forward. This is going on ALL THE TIME. Guitar stores find it necessary to adjust truss rods regularly, or run humidifiers and dehumidifiers to keep the humidity constant. Changes like bridge height or string gauge also usually entail neck adjustments. I've found that even carbon fiber necks sometimes require an adjustment, though I don't really understand why beyond changing string gauge.

 

Changes to new guitars are inevitable - you're going to change to your favorite strings, right? And some models have very long "unsupported" necks (acoustic necks attach to the body at the 14th fret, and the ES-335 doesn't mate up with the body until about the 19th fret.) Longer unsupported necks are more sensitive to humidity, and need more frequent adjustment. If you like super-low action without buzzing, adjustments are constant. Some pros keep the truss rod cover off and the wrench stuck onto the rod all the time, and adjust the neck between sets. Heavier strings exert more torque on the neck than super slinkys.

 

On average, I'll do some setup like this twice a year on each guitar. A 335 is more finicky. Then again, I have a Carvin with a mahogony neck that I haven't needed to adjust for 5 years, the neck might as well be made of rock. Neck adjustment on an L5 should be a fairly rare event.

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I'm not sure I understand exactly what the problem is here. Guitar necks change due to temperature and humidity. Higher humidity bends necks backwards (strings go sharp), low humidity bends them forward. This is going on ALL THE TIME....

 

On average, I'll do some setup like this twice a year on each guitar. A 335 is more finicky. Then again, I have a Carvin with a mahogony neck that I haven't needed to adjust for 5 years, the neck might as well be made of rock. Neck adjustment on an L5 should be a fairly rare event.

 

All of this is true. Changes in humidity on hot summer days can make small differences in the neck on a daily basis. I played outside on a very hot, humid day, and the neck changed so much that the guitar buzzed unplayably on open strings. Inside, on most days, the changes are more subtle.

 

It is interesting that my 2007 335 has only required one setup in seven years, and my Carvin SH550 (with mahogany neck) required four setups in the first year. Three years later, it has required one setup over the last year. Just goes to show how different each guitar can be.

 

I'll get a pro to setup a new guitar. After that, I do them myself, unless special attention is required.

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Changes in humidity on hot summer days can make small differences in the neck on a daily basis.

 

Temperature changes have a much greater, and immediate, effect on guitars, particularly in tuning. Stage lights, outdoor day/night change, body heat, sitting on a stand at break, etc, can really wonk your tuning.

 

Humidity effects are a slow gradual thing, temperature change effects are immediate.

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Now - do yourself a favor, do your son a favor and do the guitar a favor: Find the go-to luthier in your area where the pro's take their guitars...Trust me, they don't go to stores for the string-changer.....go to a gig, or two, or three, talk to the pro's, and ask them if they could recommend someone........they have a luthier who probably works out of his home, and all the local pro's know him....so, find that guy, and when you do, you'll understand after a while what they do, and how invaluable they can be......

 

 

I'll ditto this. Here is a tip for the future. A guitar like an L-5 costs serious bucks. Most guitar stores are willing to negotiate a little on their quoted price. Always ask if the price includes a setup. My local guys do it up right. With a new guitar purchase they not only include the set up but the luthier they use IS the go-to guy for all the local pros!B)

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I might seriously echo L5LARRY on this one.

 

I'm gonna ad that there are more adjustments than just the truss rod that can cause some buzzing, like bridge height, placement, etc. Depends on a lot of things.

 

Remember, the L5 has a carved spruce top. That can easily move up or down more than most types due to environment. Sometimes, the ONLY way one would ever notice is a slight change in string height. And that could easily be the cause of some slight buzzing that comes and goes. But don't take that as me saying what it is going on here.

 

Doesn't hurt to have it looked at or fine tuned. Better if a luthier or local repair shop does the same. Even better if the owner/operator gets familiar with the guitar and learns how to do it himself (properly, of corse).

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I seldom take "out" my full archtops in winter. Too many times as part of a big benefit deal where the archtop goes suddenly from a cool and dark backstage to a quite warm and hot stagelight environment where I've had the thing go out of tune in roughly 2 1/2 minutes. And those are guitars that in a stable temp situation are very nicely stable on tuning.

 

Oddly the 60-year-old Harmony single pup archtop seemed to hold up in rapidly changing temps better than "better" guitars, though.

 

m

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Invaluable hard earned experience exhibited here as usual... [thumbup]

 

Archtops are a special beast and attract players with special set-up preferences

 

Some like a low fast action with light strings

 

Others 'go for tone' with high action, heavy strings and even extra neck bow... :blink:

 

As suggested, a mix of DIY adjustment and luthier input for the difficult stuff is often the best compromise...

 

Temp/humidity both in storage and out in transit become more critical for thoroughbreds like the L5...

 

Perhaps this partly explains many top pro's love for laminated guitars like the ES 175 and ES 335 family

 

And on the acoustic side...Ovation fibre back guitars...

 

For their robustness, stability and ability to take punishment...

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Off hand, "the best" shop in town deals in acoustic instruments so I'll have to sleuth out the best luthier of electric guitars.

Actually, the L-5, even though it has pickups, IS an accoustic. It does have the set-up advantages of an electric (adjustable bridge), but also the issues of an accoustic.

 

Furthermore, I think it takes more skill and knowledge to do quality set-ups on accoustics than electrics.

 

If this guy is the "best", chances are this is your guy. And besides, for finding other connections, maybe the best place to start?

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Oddly, my "best" guitar (opinion) is My '61 L-7, and also seems to be the one that is also the most likely to be in tune whenever I get it out of the case.

 

I would think it to be the most out of tune from time to time, since there is more that can change it, but perhaps there is this magic combo of this and that to where when on thing that causes strings to go sharp something else makes them go flat.

 

I don't think that has anything to do with quality, and I wouldn't judge a guitar based on how in tune it is getting it out of the case, just always thought it was kinda neat and odd with this one.

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Two weeks ago I picked up a new L5 for my son for Christmas.

So for the last 2 weeks I have been testing it and seeing if these fingers that haven't touched a guitar in 25 years still know their stuff.

 

The point is, the low E and A strings started to buzz.

This is where I like warranties. Returned it to the store, told them what was wrong and left it for 4 or 5 days. They'll adjust the neck for me, no problem.

 

My question is this. How common is it that the neck on a new guitar needs adjusting?

 

I guess that's a good thing about guitars spending some time on the salesroom floor. They can stablize while pimply faced brats with dirty fingers play them.

 

Herein lies the challenge. The cheaper the guitar, the more likely it will need to be set up. But the bargain basement guitars from big box stores have nobody to tweek them. That is probably part of the reason so many cheap guitars kill a person's desire to learn to play and end up gathering dust at the back of the closet.

 

So how often do new guitars right out of the box need to be set up?

 

I agree with the many comments you have already received which state that a new guitar will need a set up.

 

Tbh I think that whilst many people claim they know how to set up guitars, in fact very few are actually good at it. I'm a strong believer in finding a great guitar tech and getting them to weave their magic.

I will say that I find that with new guitars they can need a couple of adjustments in the first year or so. Not exactly sure why but I assume that the wood may not be quite settled. I have a Tal Farlow which is my 'gig go to guitar'. In its first year it needed about 3 set ups and now 8 years later I still have to get it set at least once a year.

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Most important for an instrument like an L5, is to keep it in a controlled humidity of 45%. The guitar won't move around as much and will remain much more stable, requiring fewer setups and staying in tune better. Get a good case hygrometer, so you can monitor the instrument. The L5 is an incredible instrument, but an all wood guitar is very finicky and does not like temperature and humidity changes. That guitar is a great pleasure for your son, both enjoy her.

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I bought a new Custom Shop 330-L (fully hollow body) and had it set up by one of the best guys in NYC.

It still needed a few more truss rod tweaks through the first year as it settled and as I played the hell out of it.

 

I haven't needed to make any more adjustments for the last two years.

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