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Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Lesson 5 of 18

Action and Tuning Adjustments

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

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Lesson Info

5. Action and Tuning Adjustments


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Problem Areas of Maintenance Duration:14:08
3 Proper Stringing Techniques Duration:04:31
4 Proper Standard Rock Setup Duration:34:10
6 Proper Drop Tuning Setup Duration:39:49
7 Electronic Maintenance Duration:22:11
8 Electricity Basics Duration:24:06
9 Reading a Schematic Duration:06:53
10 Using a Multimeter Duration:10:20
14 Preamplifier Circuit Design Duration:28:25
15 Power Amplifier Circuit Design Duration:10:36
16 The Phase Inverter Duration:03:58
17 The Power Supply Duration:15:03
18 Final Q&A Duration:08:44

Lesson Info

Action and Tuning Adjustments

What will do right now is just have a show you the various things that you khun control to get your guitar hopefully playing good is good as you possibly can in all in all positions high, low in between and get it so that the but the relief from the action is is as you like it, this will be sort of just a you know, general of general set up that regular gave strings I believe these air ah ten on top in a forty six on the bottom standard tuning way before we last part we struggle guitar up and stretch the strings out now. It's ah, time to look in the balancing act of getting a good, proper amount of relief in the next bend is when you put the strings on there's six steel strings that air tuned up, tio notes that we're familiar with, and that will tend to pull this wouldn't neck this way, you know, and we'll tend to put a bow in the neck like that. Now, if you don't do anything to counteract that, you will have generally too much of a relief in the neck and it will be hard to play so the...

re's the press right in the neck than neck rod, which is there to counter act that now if you have the bridge adjusted so it's close to how you like it this far is height goes there's other things to think about on this kind of a guitar the height of this tail piece is one of them um it khun come up on go down depending on basically just how you like it the further down this is the mohr tension is put on the bridge and it will in some ways help with the transfer of the tone from the bridge to the guitar body um but it will also it also affect the way the string stretch it will give you a little bit a little bit tougher of a string stretch it further down that is so that you can raise it so there's less break angle over the bridge and will make the guitar players slightly bit like slinky here or easier, easier to play um and in some ways will exert less pressure on the bridge so less of the string vibration will be forced to transfer into the into the party. But it's really a preference that you can just you could just drive every time you put on a different set of strings weaken screw these all the way into the body have been having a slow is it can go in the next time, try to hire some people, actually screw the thing down low and then wrap the strings around the top of the bridge and like that which is fairly similar to having it raised up a little bit this is sort of a medium a medium of angle like that which probably is good for most most things I'm so once you're bridge height is its close everything that you do that it just one thing is going to affect everything else so there's a lot of going back and forth involved in getting things right the last thing that you're going to want to do is it just the internation because every bit of everything else that you just is going toe change that sometimes in a small way sometimes in a big way so if we have our bridge set so it plays fairly well um no the best way with the easiest way to judge how much relief there is in the neck is if you put one finger on string where the neck joins the body or thereabout and another one on the first fret and then just look in the middle of the neck and see how much room there is you know between the between the threat and the string now you should be able tio loose in this and you'll notice mohr room there which there is and it's just a slight bit of room it's you know if it's the thickness of a card like this that might even be too much like a thick business card or thin a plastic card and it's okay to just sort of eyeball and I I suppose people would measure it if if if you were you know, setting up the same guitar the same way every time but just just get it no that's I loosen this and the trust right is working properly so there's a little bit too much so tight it tightening this it also has everything to do with the gauge of strings you put on it and what pitch you tune those strings to? Um if you have light gauge strings, there'll be less pull on the on the neck because the strings with dinner the heavier the strings, the hot that's when the money get tuned up pull on it more so you need to counteracted a little bit more and if you have low tune strings your big, thick ones on there depending on how taught they are, you'll need to adjust it so if you change a string gauge or even a brand of strings it's always good to check on this is to make sure that it's could be playing right and that's that's pretty good about what you just one eighth return just to get just just that tiny little almost business card thickness there that seems like that will work for now um then to check the, uh the intonation which it's kind of the toughest thing to understand I suppose that you want your notes to be the right pitch when they're open, which is also a function of the net and will assume that this point that the mets slot is cut properly and it's not neither too high or too low at your first fret if it's if it's too high, which sometimes if you buy an inexpensive guitar, they leave the nut slots a little high just so they don't you know it's easier to leave them too tall or not not deep enough rather than if they're if they're tio if they're too deep, the open strings will buzz and that is kind of the worst thing which you also notice if somebody who doesn't do a very good job thanks and files into too low then the buzz the string while it rattles will hit the first fret but this one seems seems pretty good. It's sze good right out of the right off the bat so so if you tune the uh I think it's hard to pitch and you always wanted to own the guitar from low tune it up, you don't wantto if your string is too high, I'm you don't want to do that and call that good because you know what? When it stretches, it'll be too low you always want to tune it from a lower note and then sneak up on your note and do it from loathe okay the process of the intonation is what's what's your open strings are good according to your two tuners you know you can check the twelve threat harmonic is a good is a good place to start it should be close to being right for most your strings but more important than that is how it actually plays up there now that there's digital tuners that everybody has if your string is tuned right here let's make sure that it's right here so far notice if our e string is there check the b check the sea check the on just keep an eye on your junior and see that all those notes are r r right now you will notice that they're not a lot of them were going to be a little bit off a tiny bit and that's inherent in the nature of a guitar that there is some some some play in the actual pitches of the note but really if if if you get one that's a tiny bit sharper tiny bit flat that's you know that's part of your that's part of their thing but it should be should be pretty closed all the way up and if it's not if you notice you know that checking your open string and and then we'll show you how to just the's. Accordingly, all all guitars or most countries have something similar way of adjusting the intonation and then furthermore what? The way you can adjust it t particular playing styles is you know if your note if you note of gm here you know looks good but if you're the kind of person that you know is playing the guitar and you're playing like this really very very lightly it might be fine but you know usually a lot of people don't play like that when they're booing you know they're playing him like that not like this and so you one you really want it so it will for produce the right note when you actually lacking the thing which is what it will be when you're when you're in the trenches and actually playing it so a lot of times if you set it up so it looks great when you're playing things really lightly and then you actually whack at it the strings will be sharp because you're hitting them harder and the string will a guitar string when you first pluck it the note murder it goes high and then it comes down so there's a lot of theories on how to counter act that one is toe learn how to play in a method that doesn't do that quite a cz muchas others like you know real in how hard you act the string um but you know you're going to how how how hard you're your left hand plays is going to have everything to do with with your intonation intonation and so oftentimes it's, good to check things and if you get it, set up, play some chords up, placing cords up high on and see how they sound like ok, some shelves getting to play like that sounds bad and you play it like that. So there's technique involved too in even if the guitar is set up right it's, everything is set up his best. It could be it's really easy to make it sound bad, you know there's there's no guarantee that just because it's like a perfect set up doesn't mean everything is going to be perfect if you don't, you know if you're not playing it in a way that fits so let's look at let's look at some of these strings a little sharp. They're gonna figure booth looking great use pick militants and see how they seal the act on youtube. E o get a little sharp going up. The little bit of sharp is what you don't want because I'm playing very lightly and so the beating and it's going to be even more sharp. So right now r d in our high eastern are both playing a little sharp going up the going up the next just remember that and you want to do it in sort of a playing position if it's down like this you're not getting the same weight of the guitar bearing on its own neck as you would if it is it in a playing position you could do it with a strap on standing there as you would but it kind of makes it harder to start adjusting things if it's on a if it's on a strap ways going back a little sharp too so it's like e a uh e d and the high e string are all playing a little bit sharp so if we look at this part the bridge area there there's the saddles and there's it'll either be here or it'll be here on this kind of guitar other guitars will have a little set screw to do this but it's all this it's all the same principle no matter what you know brand or what kind of bridget is if the string is playing sharp up the neck, you want to move these the particular saddle for that string back this way to give it a little extra string length up in this in this area which will lower the pitch of it, you know? And then once you tune it again properly it should reflect your your choices you're good choices in this area always sometimes these things air really snotty little screws in there, so be really careful sometimes we took this off and made sure that all the saddles moved and which they don't always you know, you get a lot of gunk in there and stuff and it could make it really hard to turn turn but always cover your base with the screwdriver in use good screwdriver etiquette so that if something slips, you're not going toe high and take a chunk out of your guitar you can do that on purpose if you want but you know, so in this on this bridge we just turn the screw clockwise which will bring saddle back this way and the's strings were just going a little bit sharp up their soul just, uh give them a little bit of a turn and it depends on the pitch of the threads in there some of course or somewhere finer these air pretty fines, we needed a little turn or two there on the high e string as well and then you have to go back and start over make always stretch the strings anytime that you're not doing anything else keeping good and stretched retuning always tune from low to high stretch stretch of your little high sometimes just give a little stretch a little uh let me where you want it to be ah no let's check a trio shop there a little bit low they're pretty good right around there I think being way gotten going on here way still come back a little sharp definitely come back a little bit flat you can see a few notes flat you can just with a little bit of pressure on it you khun can make it okay which shows just on a tuner just even the slightest heavier pressure on it you know we'll change the will change the notes so if you when you play if you're if you're really digging in it's it's okay to when you're setting up your guitar used the try to guess try to remember how hard you play on and if it looks just a tiny bit flat and you know they didn't play as you would be playing that note and adjust accordingly because that's setting it up for your playing rather than get up what ideally you know somebody else thinks you should be doing that's looking good flateman al so uh give that one a little sweet back the other way I'm turning it counterclockwise to send the saddle that way which will bring it back sharp a little bit and it's certainly you could spend you know basically the rest of your life doing this will be a you know they're not all going to be perfect and you know the idea is to get it so it so it sounds nice and sharp just just bike and that's not that much extra pressure you know what you start in the fine tuning of things your the problems in your technique become really obvious, I'm much thing. I'm not trying to be mean to anybody, it's, just it's, just it's, just how you do it, and you know that the g string and also the beast ring or really critical in booth major, third miner. Third, you know, if the lighter touch you have, especially on that g string is going to pay off, no that's worked pretty good. My broader never helped, never hurt s so that's that's, sort of a general set up for you know what, what most people like and what most people would be happy with, and it should never forget to put your screw back in your thing here. Well, you will forget sometimes guarantee that whatever your little thing. Oh, crap, something to remember, then, you know, just wipe your little guy down and you should be ready. Ready for a show ready, tio pretty italian.

Class Description

Performing a proper setup for your guitar can seem like a dark art requiring a copper chalice filled with incense. Reading a schematic of a tube amplifier can seem like you’re staring at ancient Sanskrit. Guitar and tube amp masters Kurt Bloch and Ben Verellen are here to help.

In this two-part workshop, Kurt and Ben will show you exactly how to get the best sound out of your gear.

In part-one Kurt will teach the basics of setting up your guitar – you’ll learn about:

  • Truss rod adjustment
  • Bridge and nut adjustment
  • String gauge and playing style
  • Guitar maintenance and upkeep
  • Guitar electronics and pickups

Part-two is your primer on tube amplifiers. Kurt and Ben will explain how they work and show you how to keep them sounding great. You’ll learn:

  • Tube biasing
  • Block diagrams and understanding schematics
  • Basic amplifier maintenance
  • Capacitor, resistor, and transformer replacement
  • Speaker repair and power-matching

Kurt Bloch is not only Gibson Guitar’s in-house guitar guru, he’s a legend in the Seattle music scene. He plays in The Fastbacks and Young Fresh Fellows and has a producer credits for his work with The Presidents of the United States of America and Tokyo Dragons. Ben Verellen started Verellen Amplifiers in 2000 and now has a full-time staff churning out hand made custom tube amplifiers for some of the most respected artists in rock and metal. He also fronts Helms Alee, a rock band based in Seattle.

Don’t get caught with crappy tone and blown out speaker – let these two masters show how to take care of your gear and get the best possible sound.


Patrick Marc

This is a fantastic course. I was forever looking up Youtube videos on how to set up all of my guitars for different things, and opinion varies wildly on-line, so it's really great to have these videos detailing the entire process in clear and easy terms. The information on the amplifiers is intensely interesting too. Fantastic!

Alan Williams

Excellent course. Slow start with the guitar set up but Kurt knows his stuff so worth watching it to the end before deciding you don't like it. I came across valves (tubes) at the age of 12 (I'm 66 now) and it was a great refrresher for me. Ben really knows his stuff but he can put it into layman terms that are easy to understand. I definitely recommend this course.

Andrew Synowiec

I bought this course for the amplifier section and skipped straight there. It's fantastic. Right at the perfect level for me, a newbie DIY-er with a few pedals, a kit amp and an Electronics 101 course under my belt. Well done! I'll update my review if I have time to watch the guitar section.