The setup is at the heart of any repair job. It may be the job itself or the end of another series of jobs but it is the central core of the guitar repair process. Our philosophy is that the instrument is a tool to serve the musician and as such must be adjusted to suit the player's style, and sonic intentions.
To adjust an instrument to "factory spec" is to serve the instrument and force the player to come to it. We prefer ask the instrument to move to meet the player. This requires us to quiz the player on playing style, tunings, and string gage and type.
Whenever possible we like to observe the musician playing. Many players are unaware of subtle things they may do that affect the outcome of a good setup. By knowing our client's needs we can better adjust their instruments to suit them. This is often a quick and simple process, perhaps just a quick quiz on preferences, but it reminds us for whom we work when we put an instrument on the bench.
The setup begins with how perfect the fretwork is. The fretboard must be flat along it's length and properly radiused across it's width. The frets must seat squarely on the fretboard with no gap between the board and fretwire. The frets must be leveled with each other and then crowned so that the takeoff point for the string is dead center above the fret slot. The frets must be cleaned and polished, free of abrasion and wear.
The potential for a good setup decreases the farther away from this ideal we move. As such the setup process can suggest other processes such as a level and dress of fretwire or a complete refret to attain the level of precision a player desires. Our standard setup starts with an evaluation of the fretwork and then a fingerboard cleaning and fret polish.
If so equipped the truss rod dictates the amount of pressure opposite string tension put on the neck. The amount of tension is dictated by the condition of the fretwork, the string gage and construction, pitches tuned to, and playing style. After restringing and tuning to pitch the rod is adjusted for proper straightness or relief. The action height at the bridge and nut dictate in part how stiff or slinky the feel of the play is across the fretboard. String length compensations are required for accurate intonation up and down the neck.
The interaction between the truss rod settings, action height at the bridge and the nut, and string length compensations are all interactive interdependent adjustments that are made with each other in mind. The gestalt of those dimensions merged with the knowledge of the player's dynamics provide the blueprint for an accurate custom tailored setup.