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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Getting my Strat setup?


Glendale, NY

Mar 4th, 2017 12:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

Ok. Just took out my 2005 MIM Standard Strat after sitting in the case for many years. Since I am unemployed for 3 years(washing dishes in local catering hall, and helping a local contractor, for cash to pay bills), might as well start learning chords, etc again, while sitting home doing nothing, in between surfing the web for a job. For someone learning to play, can't even play songs, is it worth bringing my Strat to get checked an setup? Or is that something to be done once I can actually play? Also, for a beginner, do strings matter? Would different strings other than what came standard with this Strat, be easier to learn on? Just picking your expert brains.

Contributing Member


too many guitars and not enough hands
Mar 4th, 2017 02:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

Just like a car a guitar feels (handles) better with a setup.

Think of it as a wheel alignment.
A wheel alignment and service makes your car easier to drive.

A guitar setup will make it easier to play but,it's all about feel. you need to tell the tech what you're looking to accomplish from it once it's setup.

Are you a punk thrasher or into speed metal or blues or ride the whammy bar. This determines the string height, neck relief and even string gauge, etc.

With strings a lighter gauge string set is easier to play to a point but that's a feel thing. look at 9's or 10's and go from there

If i could offer any advice i would learn to do basic setups on the guitar yourself

Contributing Member

The spotlight

looks like a prison break
Mar 4th, 2017 02:41 PM   Edit   Profile  

Yep, you can do basic setup stuff with simple tools. Nut work takes it up a notch and required nut files.

But anyone can learn to do good work. The trick (not really a trick) is to work slowly and carefully and do no damage to the guitar as you work. The dimensions are measures in thousandths of an inch--so one light stroke of a file can take a setup from perfection to buzzing strings.

If you are learning how to play, it is money in your pocket to have your guitar set up to play and sound as good as possible. Why?

A poor setup is just plain harder to play. Why have the guitar fight you while you're already struggling with stuff like muscle memory?

A good setup makes you want to pick up the guitar and play it--and that is huge when you're just starting out. If we lived closer together, I'd set it up for you no charge. It's perhaps two hours of work and about 24 hours to let the guitar 'settle in' and accept things like a truss rod tweak.

There are lots of vids online regarding setups.

If you don't have thickness gauges, an old guitar string will work. You need a .012" piece and a .020" piece. The .012" is to measure neck relief, and the .020" is to measure nut action (first fret clearance).

To measure string action at the 12th fret, a quarter or a nickel resting on the 12th and 13th frets is a good gauge. It should just squeak in there without touching the string above it.



Glendale, NY

Mar 20th, 2017 11:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

A belated thanks to your great replies. Once I get some cash together I will bring it to a store that used to be a sponsor of this site, The Music Zoo. Not too far from me. A guitar player I know suggested I get Elixir Nanoweb stings, because of their coating, for someone like me, who rarely plays, or uses the guitar, these strings will last longer. Could be his opinion only. Again, thanks so much for your advice.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Mar 20th, 2017 04:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

"I know suggested I get Elixir Nanoweb stings..."

Like all thing guitar, strings are subjective.
I've only tried the Elixir Nanowebs on an acoustic (came on a used guitar I bought).
Whilst they did seem to last a long time without getting crusty and I honestly can't remember how they sounded, I didn't care for the feel of them. Of course, ymmv.

Contributing Member

Broke Down

in the Brassicas
Mar 20th, 2017 06:12 PM   Edit   Profile  

They do last longer, I've tried electric and acoustic, and they sound good enough, though not quite the same as (insert name of your favourite string here.) They cost more, but worth the outlay for the length of time they last.


Glendale, NY

Mar 21st, 2017 09:48 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks again. One more quick question. Not sure if it belongs here though. Without getting into details, I really can not use an amp at the time, I practice without one. Is there a way of using my laptop instead? Can I buy anything as an adapter to plug my Strat into my computer? Then use headphones.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Mar 21st, 2017 11:25 AM   Edit   Profile  

Possible, but in addition to a 1/4" mono to 1/8" mono adapter, you will usually have to install a program to use your computer as a headphone amp.

Honestly, I think you'd be better off just getting a headphone amp that plugs directly into your guitar's output jack (link). The Belcat is the lowest cost one I'm aware of.


Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Mar 21st, 2017 04:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Agree with Te 52.

I know you've said $$ is tight, but if you can spring for the Vox AC30 one ($39.84, same link top of page) it will give FX (rev,chorus,delay) and will give you clean & dirty tones. They sound really good.

I bought one last year when I temporarily moved in with my in-laws as a carer. Saved my sanity!

FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Getting my Strat setup?

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