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  1. #1

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    By setup, I here mean: restringing guitar (w strings provided by customer), checking / adjusting neck and action, intonation adjustments, basic cleaning. (The strings I provided are a set that Neatomic recommended to me. I hope that guy gets back to us soon!)

    My old Ibanez Artcore had such a great neck, I only had it setup twice in 19 years. (I took it out today today after over a year in the case--put it there when my wife gave me a Tele for Christmas in 2019--and the neck is still in great shape. Strings are shot but they pretty much were when I put it away. Other than the jack needing to be replaced, that guitar never gave me any trouble at all. Will put Chromes on her later today and get reacquainted.

    It's my Tele that's in need of a setup. I took it in today. The place I went to has been there since 1956 (which makes it a couple years older than I am) but the ownership changed in late 2019. I hadn't been in since the changeover.

    A basic setup is now $70. Higher than it used to be, though I wouldn't say outrageously so. But it's only something I've had done a few times in the past 20 years and I may misremember what I paid.

    Is that the going rate? High? Low? Average?

    I'm in for $70 here no matter what. Just curious. (And looking toward the future---next time I need a setup, might I want to look around?)

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  3. #2

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    I guess I am not sure what a basic set-up means. I repair guitars and fret jobs, ect......However players bring them in to me because they are not playing correct or they see attention needs done. This means the neck, frets, and or other things are not exactly correct. So I cannot answer the question till I see the guitar. Restringing a guitar is something you can do and cleaning the guitar is something you can do.

    So if you brought me this guitar I would see if things need some adjusting but really as a player you should be able to tell if the guitar is not intonating well. I am not trying to be difficult at all. The question you as is one of someone who really knows little or plays the guitar very little. I don't think you fit that category. But lets just say you have not played this guitar in a long time and just want to bring it in for the basic. $70 seems to be about correct for myself and not out of line at all. The issue is if it needs a fret dressing or some other work than the price would certainly be different. I am not sure about labor rates for guitar repair among others but frankly guitarist are generally pretty cheap with paying for repairs. More so the only sometimes players who pick a guitar up maybe 2 or 3 times a month to strum chords in a Church band.

    For myself I do repairs to make money and if I cannot I will not do them. One example I can think of these days is pickguards. I can make pickquards archtop like L5s and Super 400s but frankly they have got so cheap on ebay I don't very often. A replacement L5 pickguard I have to charge $150 to make it worth my time. There are cheaper sources so I don't do it and lose work. It is ok with me. Now if you original D'angelico needs a replica made I can do that and be prepared they are not cheap and not easy to make.

    I also have a minimum repair bill no matter what. Some small cracks can be dealt with easy in a matter is a few minutes, save the glue drying. But I still charge at least $40. Setting up a guitar that is within the parameters could be pretty fast. However it could be a nightmare depending on other things. Sorry long answer. But fair price.

  4. #3

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    I've forgotten what I've paid in the past. All I know is, the older I get, the more I'm willing to pay to have someone else do what I used to do 30 years ago....

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    I've forgotten what I've paid in the past. All I know is, the older I get, the more I'm willing to pay to have someone else do what I used to do 30 years ago....
    $50-100 in my neck of the woods. On the lower end if just strings and a little love; a bit more if not too much else is needed.

  6. #5

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  7. #6

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    A luthier/tech friend of mine told me a basic setup is relief, action, and intonation being set as good as possible without addressing additional issues that can preclude optimal playability: uneven frets, humps in the fretboard, nut slot height issues, etc. $50-$80 around here, I believe. Plek at a local shop is around $200. I pay a little less than that for a full setup the old fashioned way when it’s necessary.
    Last edited by wzpgsr; 05-17-2021 at 07:15 PM.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwackbob
    $50-100 in my neck of the woods. On the lower end if just strings and a little love; a bit more if not too much else is needed.
    Yep, same for me.

  9. #8

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    Yes, I would say 50-125$ on average, here in Los Angeles. Some places modify what's included, but reputation seems to be the biggest indicator of price. More for a respected community luthier, less for some guy in the back of a van. The prices do seem to be creeping up lately though...

    (And looking toward the future---next time I need a setup, might I want to look around?)
    Assuming you like the result, that sounds like a good deal.

  10. #9

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    That’s also what I pay here in southern florida….

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    So if you brought me this guitar I would see if things need some adjusting but really as a player you should be able to tell if the guitar is not intonating well. I am not trying to be difficult at all. The question you as is one of someone who really knows little or plays the guitar very little. I don't think you fit that category. But lets just say you have not played this guitar in a long time and just want to bring it in for the basic. $70 seems to be about correct for myself and not out of line at all.
    The price was not reflective of me or my guitar. That's the store standard for restringing, tuning, adjustments. (It would not cover additional work, such as a fret job or replacing a nut, etc.) I was wondering if this is now the going rate.

    From what I've heard on FB, it seems to be. (Guitar Center is cheaper but the work is not highly regarded---which may be fair or unfair, I don't know.)

  12. #11

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    Thanks for the responses, guys!
    I appreciate them.

    Should have it back in a day or two, and I'll report back on how the work turned out.

    Meanwhile, I took out my Ibanez Artcore and restrung it. Hadn't played it over a year. I forgot about the floating bridge, removed all the strings and once and whoa, thar she goes!

  13. #12

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    Is that the going rate? High? Low? Average?

    I'm in for $70 here no matter what. Just curious. (And looking toward the future---next time I need a setup, might I want to look around?)[/QUOTE]

    .................................................. .................................................. ..................
    The going rate at my house is free. The string change is easy. Intonation requires a small screw driver or just moving the bridge base.

    The truss rod adjustment isn't too tough. I back off the truss rod hex nut a ways so I can either put grease or oil on the threads then snug the nut down some. I put a standard 3 x 5 notecard under the strings and place a straight edge over the frets and the card. The card should slide over 5 to 7 frets freely with the straight edge over the card, usually the 3rd to 9th fret or so. That tells me I probably have enough relief. You can adjust the truss rod to get more or less relief. I put a capo behind the first fret and judge whether the action is to high or low in the rest of the fretboard. Once that's settled I take the capo off and judged whether the nut slots need to be filed down. That takes patience, just a little off then recheck.

    That's the whole process. Once you do it a dozen times, it all makes sense and is easy.

  14. #13

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    My brother just had his Les Paul copy setup for $50. Did not include a new nut, but he says it was the best $50 he spent.

  15. #14
    I work out of Boston. I'll do a setup that I assume will bring a guitar to a professional roadworthy standard. That includes fret leveling, nut height adjustment, finish buffing and a carnuba based finish protection. I work from a client list and I charge $100. I do have a Guitar Center right down the street, so that's actually a good selling point for me because people can chose to have the attention I offer, the knowledge that they can take their action right down to the deck if they want and I will stand by my setups with adjustments for seasonal changes included for 6 months (or the next seasonal cycle). People come to me for what's not on the GC radar.
    I also sit down with the owner when they come for their guitar and I will find the exact action, relief and string adjustments they need for their playing style. In this time, I'll show the guitarists what and how they can make adjustments if they chose to, and leave my door open for my follow up services included in that price. It's a luthier's level custom setup.
    I'll say that any good setup is worth doing; you're going to get more out of the guitar you own. A setup that addresses issues at a professional player's standard, that lets a player get the most from their hands if they can really know their boundries and looks to push them constantly, that's my niche.
    The $100 price is what I need to do the work that keeps my clientele coming back.

  16. #15

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    That is a good value.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by dws0821
    That’s also what I pay here in southern florida….
    May I ask what part of Southern Florida? I'm in the WBP area.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Endaro
    Yes, I would say 50-125$ on average, here in Los Angeles. Some places modify what's included, but reputation seems to be the biggest indicator of price. More for a respected community luthier, less for some guy in the back of a van. The prices do seem to be creeping up lately though...


    Assuming you like the result, that sounds like a good deal.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dws0821
    That’s also what I pay here in southern florida….

  20. #19

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    I've had pro work done on several guitars in New Hampshire. Here's the complete price list:

    Prices | The Music Techs

  21. #20

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    I have some inside information and know Mark has some fret buzz...

    Did you check the relief on the neck (capo on the 1st fret, fret the last fret, measure gap on 8th fret). If the string is hitting frets, i.e. no neck relief, probably needs truss rod adjustment which isn't hard to do. If neck has proper relief, probably needs some fret filing to stop the fret buzz, something I've never done and harder to do, and extra charges if a tech does it.

    Also, if the fret buzz is only when you pick hard, maybe it's something you can't hear when amplified and possible you can live with it?

  22. #21

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    Fort Lauderdale…

  23. #22

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    The Fender website has excellent instructions for a basic setup. They're writing about the Stratocaster, but it's pretty much the same thing on any guitar with an adjustable bridge and truss rod. Some of the numbers may be a little different.

    It requires a few simple tools available at any hardware store. Maybe $20? Metal ruler, screwdriver, the allen wrench(es) that probably came with the guitar or equivalents. You're not likely to break anything unless you go crazy on the truss rod -- which takes it out of the realm of basic setup.

    Most of the time, it will be an adjustment of bridge height and intonation, I guess. And, that's pretty easy to do. Put on new strings, adjust the the saddles to achieve the recommended heights at the 12th fret. Then, adjust the intonation -- easiest with a good tuner, but it was done for decades without them.

    If you get buzzing or if it won't intonate you can check the neck according to the instructions and you can try adjusting the truss rod, but, at that point, it may be worth it to pay a luthier.

  24. #23

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    Okay. Got the guitar back.
    Although the quoted price was $70, they only charged me $50.
    There were no big problems, just a few slight adjustments. I'm happy.

    As for tools, I have some. I restring guitars and usually don't have to do much of anything else. On my old Ibanez I fiddled with the action some but that was an experiment rather than a defect with the guitar. The last time I took IT for a setup is when I wanted to switch to flatwound strings and wanted someone who knew more than I did to tell me what gauge would work best on that guitar.

    In my long life, 62 years now, I've only had two serious repair problems.
    First, the Ovation I had as a kid. My older brother strapped it on and pretended to be Johnny Cash and swung it behind his back. It hit a bed post and a chunk of headstock flew off. That was a shock.
    Second, a nut broke. To tell you the truth, I don't know how that happened. My guess is someone knocked the guitar (in a stand) over and left me to find the damage. Anyway, that required a new nut.

    O yeah, I had big frets put on my old Strat once. Had forgotten about that.

    My Tele didn't cost a lot but I love it and because my wife gave it to me, I want to keep it. But it could do with some, um, upgrades (pickups, maybe tuners.) The only thing I really don't like about it is the way the strings have to be installed. (I prefer holes in the back you can slide a string through. Mine ain't that way. But it's not the worst thing in the world, either.)

    I never wanted to mess with a truss rod though. I was just afraid. I have to get past that.

  25. #24

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    Truss rods aren't dangerous unless you badly overdo the adjustments, or there is corrosion. Be judicious with the torque, and make small adjustments and you should be fine.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Truss rods aren't dangerous unless you badly overdo the adjustments, or there is corrosion. Be judicious with the torque, and make small adjustments and you should be fine.
    Thanks.
    I think my fear comes from never having done this or been up close and personal when someone else did. I don't know how it feels when the truss rod moves (-is adjusted). Is it like a tight lid loosening on a jar? (Is there resistance?)