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Guitar Setup - What to do First for Your New Guitar!

guitar setup

Guitar setup is super important, especially for new guitars. New guitars are most likely shipped to your home and have to endure varying temperatures and conditions. Guitars that are not shipped are often sitting inside a store, constantly being played, touched, and exposed. Luckily for you, we have a great lesson on what to do when you first get a new guitar. 

For the video version of this, make sure to check out the video below, where Gary will show you what to do with your new guitar. 

One of the first things to do when getting a new guitar is to make sure the guitar is in tune. A guitar being in tune means that each string is tuned to a specific note. Most of the time, guitars are tuned to standard tuning. 

Standard tuning is when the guitar is tuned to EADGBe. So what the heck does that mean? More specifically, this means that the thickest string, often referred to as the 6th string, is tuned to an E, then the 5th string is an A, and so on. It looks like this.

You can download a PDF version of the diagram here

Take a look at the letters in black that are located all the way on the left side of the board. If you start from the bottom and work your way up, it goes from the 6th string to the 1st string (from thickest string to the skinniest string). The 6th string, when you hold it, is also the one that is closest to the ceiling, while the 1st string is closest to the floor. Cool! Now that you know where each string is and how to identify them, it’s time to tune up. If you don’t know how to tune, you can always refer to the video above.

After you have tuned your guitar, make sure it feels good in your hand. Sometimes this requires you to make some adjustments to the bridge saddles if it’s an electric guitar. Acoustic guitars do not usually have adjustment bridge saddles so don’t worry about that. 

Most guitars do have something called a truss rod, which is a metal rod that runs along the inside of your guitar’s neck. You turn the rod clockwise or counter clockwise to adjust the guitar’s neck. Sometimes the guitar’s neck can be curved like a bow, and that may end up making your strings feel tighter or looser, or causing all sorts of buzz. We do not recommend making truss rod adjustments if you’re new to guitar, so if you need to do this, or you think you need to do this, make sure to go to a professional to check it out. For the most part, you may not have to do this. 

The easiest way to make your guitar feel and sound a little better right out of the box is to switch it out with some new strings. Again, guitars are often shipped and sold at stores where they end up sitting around for long periods of time. During this time, the strings can lose a bit of its tonal qualities and even rust. Changing strings is always a good bet when you purchase a new guitar. 

Learn all about how to change strings here.

That’s it! Congrats on your new guitar and if you have any questions make sure to leave them in the comments here. Good luck on your guitar journey! 

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