How Much Does a Guitar Setup Cost?

You want your guitar, whether it's an electric or an acoustic guitar, to play well. When you buy a new guitar, it may not be set up properly, and this can lead to problems. For example, the intonation may be off in the tuning of the instrument won't be as good as it could be.

Other problems could exist as well, such as pickups that are not at the right height or string action that is not adjusted to the way you prefer. All of these things can be set up by a guitar technician to ensure that your instrument, whether it's acoustic or electric, plays as well as possible. Here are some things to keep in mind when you go to have a guitar setup.

Why Have a Guitar Setup?

A lot of expensive instruments that ship from the factory or ones that you get from the guitar store will play fine right out of the box. There may not be a need for any initial setup as these instruments I've already had this set up done at the factory.

The problem is that a lot of lower-cost guitars will need quite a bit of setup before they play properly. You may play the guitar a certain way, and your instrument won't be set up in the way that you want. For example, you may want a certain type of action, or you may want your Bridge adjusted in a certain way for your own individual playing needs.

Having a proper setup by a qualified guitar technician can mean a world of difference in how the instrument sounds, plays, and how happy you are with it. The initial cost of the setup is not all that much, but it can go a long way to making the guitar play better than it did out of the box.

New and Used Guitars

Almost all new guitars will require some sort of setup. A lot of this you can do yourself if you have the skills, but most people will probably want to take their instrument to a guitar technician to have the work done. If you buy your instrument through your regular retailer, you can probably have this setup done there. If you buy the guitar online, you'll probably have to take it to a music shop to have this setup done.

New guitars usually sit on the shelf for a long time. They may have been played by countless musicians who've come into the music store to try out various instruments. If the guitar is completely new, it's still been sitting in a guitar box for perhaps several months. The instrument will play and sound better once it has had a proper setup.

If you buy a guitar used, it's probably a good idea to have it set up again. The guitar may have been sitting in a closet and not used for many years. Perhaps it needs some maintenance as well as a setup as before the guitar plays the way that you want.

Guitar Setup Costs

Before we look at individual setups that you can have done to your instruments, we're going to talk about the cost. The price you pay is going to vary depending upon where you get to work done. Most setups will cost you between $50 to $100. The average price is going to run you around $60. Please keep in mind that this is for a basic setup. If your instrument needs repairs, then the cost is going to rise quite significantly.

It's well worth it for you to pay a higher price to have your instrument properly set up. If it's not, you may have issues with how well your instrument plays, and this may lead to frustration for you.

Guitar Setup - Inspection

One of the first things the technician is going to do is to look at your guitar to ensure that it doesn't have any problems. This will include looking at the neck to ensure that it's straight, making sure the electronics work properly, and looking for imperfections or flaws such as a crack in the headstock, which could undermine the integrity of the guitar.

Guitar Setup - The Action

Electric Guitar Action

The action you have on your electric guitar means the distance from the strings to the fretboard. You want an activity that is comfortable for your individual guitar style. A lot of guitars will have a great action straight from the factory, but you may want to change it, so the instrument plays the way that you want.

A guitar technician can adjust the string height, so that's your guitar has the right action for your needs. For example, if you want to play Fast guitar, you want the action to be quite low. If you want to dig in and play a lot of blue sea bins, then you're going to want to ask to be a little bit higher. Most action will be in the mid-range, or it's not too high and not too low.

Acoustic Guitar Action

One problem with a lot of acoustic guitars that you buy is that they can have higher action. This will be the case if the guitar is quite inexpensive. It's difficult to change the action on your acoustic guitar by yourself. A guitar technician can do this for you, so your acoustic guitar plays great.

Guitar Setup - Intonation

Another thing the guitar technician is going to look at is the intimation. Here is what you can expect for both electric guitar intonation and acoustic intonation.

Electric Guitar Intonation

The electric guitar will need to be intimated to more than the acoustic guitar will. This is because the electric guitar has individual saddles for each string. For example, on the Fender Stratocaster, these saddles are adjusted individually but moving a screw on the saddle. This helps set the proper introduction of the guitar. Intonation means that the electric guitar is going to play in tune up and down the fretboard no matter what fret you're pressing down.

Once you have your guitar properly intimated by a guitar technician, you can probably do this yourself once you have tried it a few times and gained the necessary skills required to intonate the guitar. Newer guitar players will probably want to have this professionally done, As it will save you a lot of headaches. A properly integrated electric guitar can mean a world of difference in how your guitar sounds, especially when you are so lonely higher up on the fretboard. You don't want an instrument that is out of tune, and intonation will ensure that you're into it no matter what you're playing.

Acoustic Guitar Intonation

Acoustic guitar intonation is a lot harder to set up. A lot of expensive acoustic guitars probably won't have to have any intonation done for a long time as they should play pretty well right out of the box. The acoustic guitar intonation is done by adjusting the saddle height, which requires special skills that most normal players will have difficulty doing. If you try doing this yourself, you may ruin the saddle of your acoustic guitar. This type of intonation is best left to a professional.

Guitar Setup - String Changes

While most guitar players will change strings on their own, you can't have your strings changed and set up by a professional technician. You might want to do this if you change string gauges. This is because the intonation on your instrument may change when you go up to a lower or higher gauge strain. The technician can change the intonation once they change the strings for you.

If you've never change guitar strings before, then a technician can do this so that your instrument has a fresh set of strings. Once you learn how to properly change strings in tune them up, you won't have to have a professional change your strings for you. When you go for a regular guitar setup, a fresh set of strings will probably be put on your guitar as a fresh set of strange can make a world of difference in the tone and playability of your instrument.

Guitar Setup - Bridges

Electric Guitar Bridge

The electric guitar bridge is more complex than an acoustic guitar bridge. For example, your guitar may have a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system or similar system. a guitar technician can properly set this up, so it is at the right height and tension for your needs. These systems can be quite complex, and you may not want to adjust it on your own.

Locking tremolo bridges can be quite problematic, and they may not play the way that you want when you get them home from the store. You could have problems with intonation as well as the guitar going out of tune whenever you use the tremolo bar. A proper setup at your local guitar store can ensure that your instrument stays in tune when you use the tremolo system.

Acoustic Guitar Bridge

The acoustic guitar bridge setup is a bit more complex when compared to the electric guitar. This needs to be done by a qualified guitar technician. The saddle itself will have to be adjusted, and this requires precise guitar work. A lot of bridges on acoustic guitars won't need setup, but for some instruments, you'll need to take it to a qualified technician.

Guitar Setup - Pickups and Electronics

Electric guitars have complex electronics and Pickups. These systems may need some setup. For example, the pickup height can be adjusted up or down, which can improve the tone of your instrument. The technician will also ensure that all of the other electronics, such as the tone control, volume control, and other electronic parts, are functioning correctly. Some acoustic guitars come with built-in pickup systems and a preamp. The technician can also adjust these settings as well.

Guitar Setup - Truss Rod

Both acoustic and electric guitars usually come with a truss rod. This is a metal rod that is inside the guitar neck. The purpose of this rod is to keep the guitar neck straight. This is an adjustment you can do on your own, but if you tighten the truss rod too much, you may damage or even crack the neck. This type of adjustment will straighten out the guitar neck so the guitar is more comfortable to play. If you own an expensive instrument, this is best left to a qualified guitar technician.

Guitar Setup - Fret Leveling

In some rare cases, your instrument that ships from a factory may not have properly leveled Frets, or they might have sharp ends on them. This doesn't occur all that often, but a guitar technician can look at the Frets to ensure that they have been filed properly. A proper fret leveling will ensure that the instrument plays well up and down the fretboard.


Now you understand a little bit more above guitar setup costs. It will probably cost you anywhere between 50 to $100 to have your guitar setup. If you have to have a little bit more extensive setup, then this may run $150-$200. take your instrument to the store and speak to the representative there to determine how much it's going to cost you to have this set up done.

It's well worth it to you as a player to have a proper guitar setup when do you have an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Small adjustments in your instrument can mean that your guitar plays better as well as sounds better. Lower-cost instruments probably need more setup than ones that are more expensive, but all instruments can benefit from a proper setup.

You can also have periodic setups done to ensure that your instrument is playing the best that it can. When you make this sort of investment in your instrument, you will have a guitar that you can be proud to play and one that sounds great for any playing situation.

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