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squire 51 purchases - what to look for in a setup

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pab
 pab
(@pab)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

hi everyone. first post here, although, like others, i've made good use of the site up until now.

i purchased a squire 51 a month ago. i've been practicing acoustic, with lessons, for about 4 months now and have noticed major improvement and a comfort with the acoustic guitar. not so with the electric, as i've only fooled around with it a bit and i'm not sure what i'm doing with it.

nevertheless, i have read how an initial setup on a guitar is important. i had it done on my yamaha f310p and it made a huge difference. now, although i don't know much about electrics, i may need to get one done on this one and if i do it reasonably soon, the store that i purchased it from will not charge me a lot of $ for it. i'm going to bring it into them, but when i talked to them they indicated that it might not even need a setup - some don't they say. they asked me why i think it needs one and my response was that i thought most new value guitars do.

being a fish out of water with an electric, what goes into a setup so that i can at least ask them if they've checked it? with my acoustic, lowering the action was the main thing. with an electric i hear words like intonation that i've got no idea about but can at least ask them if it needs adjusting.

any suggestions? Thanks!

Paul


   
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kent_eh
(@kent_eh)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

The main adjustments would likely be :

- The action (height of the strings above the fretboard), which are adjusted by the small vertical screws in the left of this picture
- The intonation (fine adjustment of the length of the string to increase the accuracy of fretted notes), adjusted by the horizontal screws on the right of this picture.

- and possibly the neck relief (amount of bowing, or curvature of the neck toward or away from the strings), which would be done only if there was buzzing on the frets in the middle of the neck. It is adjusted by tightening or loosening the trussrod slightly (by slightly adjusting that big screw that just above the nut between the 3rd and 4th strings)

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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pab
 pab
(@pab)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

thanks a lot for your post. it is very helpful.

paul


   
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Musus
(@musus)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 59
 

Try these:

http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/tutorial1.htm
http://home.nycap.rr.com/nils/BasicGuitarSetup.htm

I also just got a squier 51 a couple of weeks ago. I intentionally bought it so I can mess around with it and learn how to setup guitar and maybe even try modifying it. The only problem is no matter how many guides and tutorials you read, unless you have an experienced 'setuper' to give you feedback it's very difficult to tell if you're on the right track. At least that's my experience.

I think I got the basic setup ok at the end. The main problem with my guitar is that the frets are horrible. I don't think I'm qualified reshape frets just yet.

"Hey Hey My My ... Rock and Roll can never die" Neil Young


   
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sdolsay
(@sdolsay)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 206
 

You could try what I did, I read up on setups, and did it myself, played it for about a week then took it into the shop and had a tech set it up, then when I got it back I could compare my setup with his.

There was no diff in the feel or sound of the guitar so now I feel like I can tackle setups myself and save a few bucks :)

Scott

I havn't found my tone yet, and I have no mojo....but I'm working on it :)


   
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conuvial
(@conuvial)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 45
 

Paul-

I purchased a 51 several months back - my first electric - and decided to do the setup myself. I used the websites listed in the other posts, info that's available on the Squier and Fender websites, and did not find it particularly difficult.

I only made the adjustments I felt could be easily reversed in case I screwed something up: the action, the intonation, and the truss rod adjustment. The only adjustment I did not make was adjusting the string height at the nut - besides not having nut files, I didn't want to have to replace the nut if I went too far. I also left the pups as they were - they seemed to line up ok and sounded fine.

I was extremely pleased with the results - it sounded better and felt much much easier to play. Not making the nut adjustment seemed to have no affect - it must not have been too far off. All I needed were the allen wrenches that came with the 51, and a small screwdriver.

As to whether or not you need a setup - some things are easy to check yourself. Sight down the neck, or use a straightedge to see if the neck is bowed. Run your fingers over the frets to see if they need to be sanded. Check the intonation at the 12th fret with your tuner to see if it is off. You can measure the string height at the 17th fret with a ruler. Check these links for what to look for:

http://www.squierguitars.com/pdf/manuals/Squier_Acoustic_Electric_Guitar_Bass_Setup_Warranty_Sheet.pdf

http://www.musicyo.com/planet/elec_gtr_setup.pdf - (this link loads slowly - but is worth the wait)

If you're somewhat handy - you may want to try some of the setup yourself. Although - if you feel adjusting the nut is in order, or the frets need a lot of work, you might as well have a professional do the setup for you.

Hope this helps....

"...it's in him, and it got to come out..." - JLH


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

The nuts on the three '51s I bought all needed to be cut deeper. A set of net files is a must for this. If you go too far, a mixture of either nut filings + superglue or baking soda + superglue is useful for rebuilding the slot higher. On mine, I'm simply replacing all those cheapo nuts with $4 or $5 graphite nuts.

The other thing to know about setting up a '51 is the saddle adjustment screws will rattle and buzz if you do not properly tighten them. Because of the angle of string-thru-tail arrangement, usually one of the height adjustment screw can be loose while the other is bearing all the downward force. If you run your finger over the top of the saddles, it's usually easy to feel or hear the loose allen screws. These should be tightened just enough to make contact with the bridge plate and stop the rattle. If you keep tightening you will start to raise the saddle and the other screw on the saddle will lose contact with the plate and become the 'buzzer.' After everything is adjusted properly, some clear fingernail polish will help to lock all these -- but that is optional.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Greg,

I've only got red or pink fingernail polish, will that work?

Didn't you replace your bridge on at least one of the 51s? How did that go? Easy enough for a rookie?


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Greg,

I've only got red or pink fingernail polish, will that work?

Didn't you replace your bridge on at least one of the 51s? How did that go? Easy enough for a rookie?

Hmm, color is only a personal preference; any will work, and always in the smallest amount possible. Given those choices, I'd choose red.

I didn't replace any of my bridges, but have modified two of them to string-thru-body by drilling (and de-burring) six holes in the bridge plate, then drilling the body and adding string ferrules to the back of the body. This is not really a true rookie project, and I recommend a good drill press for all of this. I may replace the last bridge with a roller and add a Bigsby, but that's not due to any inherent issues -- just fun stuff. If one wants to replace the bridge with one that is easier to string or plated differently, it should not be too difficult. However, the mounting holes do not match exactly on all these bridges. There seems to be some variation in front hole to rear hole spacing. That means some of the original body holes may need to be filled with wood and glue (toothpicks and yellow glue [aliphatic]), and the body drilled for the new, offset holes. Guitarfetish is right about one thing: These bodies are made of soft wood. But they work well, so who cares?

I don't share the common opinion on the '51 thread that the '51 bridge is of such a poorer quality than other aftermarket bridges (e.g., from guitarfetish.com) that it should be replaced. I've compared the quality to others I have, I note that the base plate is actually heavier than some others in my parts stock. The difference is in where the strings load. While that could have been better designed, it is acceptable, and shouldn't result in any worse sound than other top- or bridge-loaded designs ... except for that [email protected] saddle screw rattling. There isn't as much downward string force on the '51 saddles as some others, and that's why both saddle screws may not make full contact unless set to nearly the same length. But it's not really that difficult to equalize the length and apply the polish is it? I don't recommend swapping the saddle rear retaining screw hole with the string screw hole as some have done. It might make string loading easier, but results in even less downward force on the saddles.

-=tension & release=-


   
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