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Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Lesson 4 of 18

Proper Standard Rock Setup

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

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Lesson Info

4. Proper Standard Rock Setup


  Class Trailer
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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

Proper Standard Rock Setup

In every day world, you probably don't need to or wouldn't want to take all the strings off the guitar want secure just if you're just changing your strings, but in this case, we will take them all off because we'll clean the fingerboard and and have a look att the parts do you come off as as they're off of the as they're off of the instrument? Wire cutters? Good thing to have these. These are pretty good ones, you know? So they cut the strings very well. You have ones that air all nicked up and maybe not that good. It can help, too twist twist him a little bit. Well, you're cutting it makes makes less good cutter's work better just give it a little twist while you're getting the strings off. I don't know if I've been equipped with the trash can hear, but doesn't matter what is thrown on the floor. Yeah, like it to your rehearsal space with three one fourth, like I'll do that nothing better than a bunch of strip broken strings tangled with an outlet strip, you know, wound around there ...

stab you or electric e e could pick them up, you could wind him up like that. They're a little less problematic he actually can't legitimately throw him on the floor we'll take care of them, get it out of the way I can't I was gonna throw him on the floor is going to do it? I can't e I was going to try to appreciate the effort you can um you know this finger boards not not too not too bad a shape right now but good way to clean it this is just, you know, fingerboard cleaner but I'm sure there's other other items that would would do the same same thing and basically it is just a piece of wood that will dry out and definitely get, uh definitely get fingered gunk on there over the over the years. So a few drops on each threat just, you know, usually you could just push the bottling doo doo doo put a beat down the middle of it and that one was a little stingy on it's a little bit more. Um, we can use that later. Um and then I found that just a credit card a plastic card is kind of the best thing you know, you get them in the mail whether you want to, so I just put him on a little on a little shelf and have them standing by but just the plastic edge is good for scraping off all that that gunk that we don't want tio we don't want to dissect what it is it's a human fingertip no, you know it's usually not hard to get off if you if you clean the fingerboard every once in a while you won't have too much problem with it but I see a lot of guitars that nobody's nobody's cleaned for years and years and years and you might have to dig in there a little bit but the card is good for getting right up to the edge of the fred and getting that gun cuff there how often do you recommend the cleaning it so depends on how much gunk your fingers generating, how often that you play you come back to the other do the other way get in there and scrape that stuff out um you know you could you could just just look have you probably surprised if you haven't? If you haven't done this ever be surprised how much there how much gunk there is going right up to those threats? Couple questions while you're cleaning, we've gone one as he wants to know is taking all the strings off before re stringing less desirable for some reason for me yes, just because every guitar design or at least most guitar designs have something that will that could possibly fall off or cause problems you know this the bridge can fall off, you know and you could put it on backwards, you could get it on wrong these bridge posts can move, you know, there's all kinds of reasons not to take off all the strings at once. I tend to do three at a time. Some people do one at a time, but you know, if you just try not to get the things to fall off, doing three two time seems like it's the easiest and quickest way to get the most done in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of negative negative problems potential for potential problems. Yeah, varroa mix wants to know does cutting the strings when fully stretched affect the neck? I don't know, I I suppose I've heard people you know that will do d tune the string? I don't think so, you know, really if if you're in that case, if you did take one string off of it, climb, loosen it slowly, but I think far as I could tell, I think guitars are probably a little more solid than that that the the amount of stress from cutting one string at a time versus slowly lowering that they're they're going to end up all off anyway so, you know, it's, only the few seconds of, you know, doing that, so not that I know of I've never seen any negative negative problems with that one thing that it's it's a nice to do if you've never done it before is a little polishing the threat tops, which is a nice thing do before your before you re stringing you guitar, and you could do that with a little bit of steel wool. This is like triple o steel wool expose you get a hardware store, something like that, which had some wider tape here, but you want tio cover up for pickups because they will suck up the steel wool, you know, fuzziness, but you can and you can use if you have one of these little guys it's, a little piece of metal that has a fret slot cut in it or, you know the traditional ways tio mask off the threats with with tape could do it, do it either way, the little up little fret guide is a lot easier. Not everybody has them, but they're not hard to find on dh then just come in and, uh, shine up the threat doesn't seem like much, but once you got it, you like it. Well, you're while you're doing that had a question just gotta clarify on what we were just talking about. I've heard that it's good to release the tension of the strings before cutting them how you feel about that well that's guess exactly what we were we were talking about before you know you could I've never I've never had any problem with that maybe if you were you know, working on a vintage you know wouldn't wouldn't guitar or a mandolin or something that was, you know, something a little less steadfast than a, uh a solid body electric guitar it might not be a bad idea, but they're getting I've never had any any issues just just cut him off you know? They're getting you're really here they're coming off, you know? So it just if you want to spread out that change and string tension over one minute or thirty seconds you know if it's if it if it's going to make a difference than you know if you're worried about it, then it's fine to loosen the strings before cutting him off this guitar is not not too bad it's for it's not a lot of gunk on it, but uh you know a lot of them a lot of them you could sit there and you can really begin with the steal but use that you want to use the steel wool for cleaning your pots and pans and stuff you know what? Any soap on it I don't think it's the super fine super finest uh one that you khun one that you can get it's a little tiny bit of it and for this clearly you have to have all the strings off it because it's not you can't get at it otherwise and there's still little bit of of the fretboard stuff on there so it should pick up the little steel wool leavings of the threat polishing and another question what do you do for those oxidized greenish frets what kind of polish works for those well that's that's the green stuff you know I've never never found a friend that you couldn't clean up with the with the triple oh steel wool that's what? But that green stuff you know it's usually up on the threats that you're not that you don't use very much if you find it up here the most seem and sometimes the guitar will be you know looks like it's been played a lot and everything's shiny and stuff and then just like the top threats the green and you know we'll take you will take it up and you'll be really happy if anybody so I don't care I like it that way it's it's kind of cool to have it a little bit you know, little grizzly or whatever that's fine with me it's like ok, well that's fine too but you know just try try playing the same guitar with the clean fingerboard and you know all the green stuff off the threat you'll like it it doesn't it does make it more fun to play it's always good to check your your bridge if it's one that if it's one that does come off because it's another place where you're going to get that green stuff and grime these are little uh little screws in there so you want to be able to adjust these things and then nothing I would have to stress is screw driver safety it's always good to know where your screwdriver is going to go if you slip because there's a lot of screws on most guitars, screws or set screws or peck screws or things like that you know the heck screws are a little bit safer but you know, maybe one of the toughest ones is just a slot screw and if you're down, if you're down in the trenches here it's good to keep a finger you know on your thing while you're turning it because you know one slip and nobody nobody wants nobody wants to do that on accident it's not good, but keeping it are clean is going to allow you to be able to adjust these little things as needed and if guitar has been played for years and not not touched it's going to get stuff in there and it's going to be hard tio hard to actually make the adjustments you will need to d'oh you can clean the bridge saddles what you take it off a little bit of wd forty or some sort of cleaner like that will help loosen up these things and allow them to be turned what? Maybe they wouldn't be able to be turned tio turned before so that's good to keep that clean um you know good just a wipe things down these are even the tail piece you'll see these get totally corroded and you know, I suppose that the plating comes off this it's not going to really change anything about the guitar but some of the chrome plating is thick enough that you can get I mean strangely sharp and kind of not good something that something to think about um and also while you have all the strings up but good to check the tightness these these things that hold the tuners on will become loose so it's good to get to just give those a little tighten up since you have them all available there make sure that there are good some tuners we'll have little screws on the end of them gets me to have, uh this guy here um they have little screws on the end that hold the buttons on them but they also, um will determine how much tightness, how hard it is to turn the, uh, peg and that's, you know, maybe a bit of a personal preference you don't want them you don't want to lose because then the risk the little button falling off and stuff like that is good to check like if you're if you go to tune up your guitar and you notice something's loose it's usually right before you play a show and so it's really easy to forget but you know, remember that and then you know when you're done or the next day or whatever go back and double chat you know make sure because there's lots of things that can become loose over time whether it be the output jack or the pots and pick up things and stuff like that in there's no there's, no benefit have things falling off while you're playing them I mean there's enough there's enough other problems will can and will go wrong with your guitar that you know any little things like that just not good and especially on hollow body guitars having the jack fall into the guitar you know, if it's if it's if it's loose, tighten it up you know, just just do it, you know, go it's easy if you have something like that just to keep it what was not going to work it's easy, tio, you know, just do it right away don't let it don't let it get worse because the worse it gets if you know the ultimate thing did not want to have happen is have it failed during during a show you know because it's you got enough we've got enough problems to worry about playing without worrying about things that should be should be solidly on there I'm so few tuners or you know nice and tight that's good you've got bridge clean get your finger board nice um it's good time to check the pickups and make sure you know because these little the pickup height adjustment things will get loose over time and just just check on them if if if they're falling out if if it's crooked if it's not looking right using proper screwdriver etiquette always keep an extra hand on it to make sure that you don't slip and scratch things um just make sure that it's not getting dangerous leave close to falling in because they will if you lose the screw, it will fall into the guitar and then you have to take it further apart in order to fix it but there's usually plenty of screw length on there so probably you know, unless it's bad you don't have to worry about it just just check it keep an eye on step, keep an eye on your steps okay um so start restoring and we've got shiny frets you've got it's good timeto wait this down a little bit because you can't otherwise um kid a uh strings I got a question from somebody online who says is it better to check whether the neck is straight and adjust the trust rod while the strings air on or off you wanted do it when the strings air on because you know in theory your finger board your fretboard would be level at this point with no strings on it will be flat and so it is it is a good time tio check to make sure that the adjustment works so that is that that is a good idea we can take this off should slide over like that usually they do sometimes they don't um and just make sure on a fairly recent guitar you wouldn't probably have much of an issue with this little nut not working but just make sure it turns you know give it loosen it a little bit it's turning just fine on a on an old guitar or something that's you know been through the been for the war and back oftentimes it's going to take that nut off clean it put a drop of oil in the threads in there and then put it back on you know they're going to recent guitar won't have a problem with that but but some older some older items might be a little bit persnickety and need a little more attention there but in this case this one is totally fine um we have all the strings off in this tail piece will easily fall up so usually could just put your first string on like that and then the holding on for the rest of your stringing session and then, uh with that in its slot I will make sure your little hole in your tuning pig is there some of them some some tuning pigs will have a slot on the top that the string goes down into and you'll cut the string off before you put it on the on the post these don't have that but on this sort of a guitar I would usually go the distance from this peg did this peg as how much slack you'll want to put in there so you put the string through there get it, get it so it's reasonably tight and then use this amount it's and a little over an inch inch and a half stretch it that much wrapping around the top once around the top and pull this up and then uh do your other winding down below on if you can get a close up on that if you if you khun see but the goal is you know, one wind around the top of where the string comes out and then one or two wines along the bottom of that and what that does is once you went to what's it gets stretched out it holds a string in there a little bit because if you notice these string posts are slanted on into the middle so they will tend to hold the string in, if you go one wind along the top and then one wind around the bottom, it will cinch up on this string as it's coming out and hold it in there on the ones that have a slot usually go, you know about maybe a little more than the same amount, cut the string off and then put the string into the post and wind it around and let's see, there you go in, and then your wind ings go down from where the string is, and it will tend to hold things in there, so we'll put on the rest of the rest of the strings, and I'll show you you can either do it now or or a little bit later. But it's also really great to have some sort of some sort of lubrication in there, and you can get the commercially available silicone stuff, which works really well, which is in a little tube of stuff like this, which which works great, actually, and you just comes with a little sort of dental floss thing, and you just get a little on there and put it in the er, but no slot, you know. I don't think I don't think you need any actual amount it just it's kind of the least amount you can uh get in there but it works well there's also not everybody's gonna have that what also works well is a soft lead pencil in while you're changing the strings you can just put a little pencil lead in there it's it's it's black so you know it's not as invisible is the commercially available stuff, but you know it is the most important part of keeping your guitar from going out of tune is the string's sticking in there so it is kind of the greatest thing whether you have the pencil or the fancy stuff but just get something in there I will love that will help you helpyou lubrication I don't know if we need to hear that can I'm sure we'll be reproduced in hd burn full experience here we're not leaving anything out uh question from somebody online while we're working do you ever use any kind of knots on the post? I usually read the tag and back around and hook it on the string to keep it from slipping no okay, what answer no very froth the on ly time I've found it necessary to do that in fact, I really dislike the wrapping around for one reason that is it makes it really, really hard to take the string off if you break it like if you have all the time in the world, that doesn't matter but if you break a string of the show and it's been wrapped around and tightened on there you know what you're like when you're playing to show you just like everybody's looking at you change that string right now you know and the timers going you have thirty seconds you never had so much pressure and your life and there's a little not on there and you try to figure out how to get that string off and it's like never I believe me I've done it you know? I know it's like well, this is gonna work this is how to do it you know, um I think if you if you get the string wrap good not too many wraps like you see sometimes it was like, you know, the little treble string will have, like, ten b you know, that's not helping anything. I don't think the only time that I found that it's necessary to do that sort of knot tying wrap around and then background on firebird guitar, which we don't have one here but they use a different kind of tuner in it and the tuning barrel here is much bigger than like maybe twice a cz big and on the the aeon destroying the thinking and be string the high strings on that it I found it sort of necessary to actually do that wrap around and back tuning thing, because those will slip and I have broken the high e string, you know, five minutes before on air radio show string breaks as you're doing your final tuning or whatever it's like, you know, it's on your going to have to play this guitar, ian, for three and, you know, you put the new string on it, start stretching its rural bro bro it's like, ok, those two strings that's, that's when I'll use the wrapping around and doing that, but otherwise otherwise I don't think you need to, if you if your strings or tied are strung up good, you shouldn't have that you shouldn't have a problem with that. Got a question? Is you're working again? Are the settles at the bridge relative to the thickness of the string, in case they are removed and clean and become mixed up, for example, there's top. You need to be in its particular saddle. Yes, generally, there are a few there it's it was it sort of depends some some guitars. Ah, slot apps are kind of molded into the saddles when they're made, and there might be a few different size them, but it is good tio to keep them straight and but for the most part they're not going to come out there is a few very old gibson bridges that they're not held in with anything but in these they won't come out there's this there's a little retainer and each one that will hold it in place on a cinematic bridge or like a of a br bridge there's a piece of spring wire that holds them in so generally they don't come out um and other ones you know they're attached to the bridge somehow so you usually don't have a problem with that but you do you think you want to come back in the right place and if you have this kind of bridge before you start tying into it maybe now you know we have cell phone camera just take a quick picture of it and note which way the which way the adjustment screws air facing so you get it back in the way it's supposed to be and if you ever if you ever lose your if you ever lose your way you can usually look at the bridge and you can tell like the lower strings will have a bigger slot and the higher strings will have a smaller slut so you can always you can always figured out but you don't want to get it backwards if if the strings air if the slots or cut properly because then you'll have they won't they won't sit right that's not good and that's not good so he's been the end up so there's sort of sticking straight up and you know certainly people have different ways of stringing their guitar found this way to sort of work the best the most reliable weigh the once once over the top it's over the bottom at least maybe you can have two on the bottom if you need been the string up and then always cut them off you know, maybe an inch above I was trying to figure out why do I do this? You know you could cut it off right where the string comes out of the er where the string comes out of the post but even then if you do that you'll have a little bit of string and poking out of there and the idea is just make it so you're not gonna poke yourself you're not going to hurt yourself so I figured if you leave a little length here and then with the needle nose bend it over then you get away that it you know people the pointy end will generally not generally not get you a better than even if you cut it right off at the post then you're still little little chance I mean there's no there's no totally foolproof thing but this this tends to work the best from what I've found and then come tio your guitar um that quickly wrong. Sometimes these little guys give you the wrong information you can tell on don't be afraid to stretch the strings a lot. I mean, you could because you're gonna be playing this thing and you don't you don't want these strings to stretch well, you're playing them it's really easy to break the high e string stretching himself. I was take the and the bee string together, stretch those with gusto and then you can see how much you know it's done down a full step and the ideas just keep doing that until it doesn't until you can do that and it doesn't go lower stretching again. See where you pretty good, usually three times. This is usually works pretty good for a most stars, but really stretching. I mean, you know, people go okay stretched and then the quang wing that was like, yeah, it's okay, it's almost. We're go just to make sure still good so that's good, you know you can do this, you're not going toe poke yourself. Everything should be should be in order to get that sweet in depth.

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.