We’ve all chuckled at the cliché of the plumber with the leaky faucet or the mechanic driving a clunker.

Picture this: my vintage Orlando 335, a relic from the lawsuit era, languishing on the wall because it just wasn’t “fun” to play anymore. What happened to the vibrant tones I’d remembered?

was it the amp..?

Questions plagued me. Had my trusty Behringer tube amp seen better days? Was the Orlando not the gem I remembered? Despite swapping amps like a musical nomad, that great sound remained elusive, and I lost my passion for playing.

Then I had a revelation. The other night, after the other techs had left the shop gone home, I stayed to finish a setup on a Taylor guitar. As I was locking up, I grabbed a red Peerless with a P90 at the neck and plugged it in to an Orange digital amp.

Damn! It sounded pretty good! So I plugged it into a Fender Blues Deluxe (just $599 and like-new!) and went wild! There was that awesome, rich, clear tone (almost).

..or the setup?

how often guitar setups

What was the difference? Was the Peerless really better than my Orlando? Well, in quality, yes. And it’s pretty dang great in tone also. But my Orlando had huge, over-wound, folklore-worthy pickups, said to have been wound on old rusty Singer sewing machines by wine-drinking, tipsy housewives back in the sixties!

You just can’t duplicate THAT tone!

So what had happened? Suddenly, it hit me. The Peerless has had a recent setup and new strings, like all the guitars we sell at Hank’s Guitar Shop in Palm Harbor. When was the last time I gave the Orlando a setup?

It had been nearly two years since it last had a setup, and one year since a restring. Well, yesterday I brought the Orlando to work and gave it new strings and a setup. After we closed, I plugged it in and gave my best Jimmie Rogers impression.

There it was! That awesome sound I remembered.

In my case, it was a combination of dead strings and tone-robbing setup issues. The setup wasn’t really bad enough to cause audible buzzing, but a few low nut slots and a slight back-bow in the neck, were causing strings to contact frets just enough to kill some tone and sustain and rob me of that awesome tone that once made me want to grab that guitar off the wall and plug it in.

How Often Should Your Guitar Be Set Up?

The only right answer is, “Whenever it needs a setup.” So, how do you tell when your guitar needs a setup? Without going to guitar tech school, I have two answers for you –

  1. Come to one of our Setup Workshops where you’ll not only learn how to tell when your guitar needs a setup, but how to give it a basic setup yourself!
  2. Bring your guitar in to Hank’s Guitar Shop in Palm Harbor and we’ll check it over (no charge!) and take some measurements, right in front of you, while you wait! If it needs anything, we’ll not only tell you, but we’ll show you what it needs and how to tell. About the only things we can’t tell without having the guitar on our workbench, is whether frets are level and whether there might be an elusive electronic issue.

Can I give a generic, temporal answer to how often your guitar needs a setup? I would say pros should have their guitars checked at least twice a year and once a year for the rest of us.

How Often Should You Change Guitar Strings?

The generic answer to how often you should change guitar strings is after every 100 hours of play or every three months, whichever comes first.

In hindsight, I think that rule fits my situation perfectly.

Don’t let neglect rob you of the joy of making music! Show your guitar some LOVE! Don’t have time or patience to restring your guitar? No problem! We do guitar restrings from just $15. We guarantee satisfaction with our guitar setups, and we have three pro-guitar techs to keep turn-around times usually under five days.

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