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The Guitar Setup Checklist

Guitar IntonationGuitar MaintenanceGuitar SetupGuitar Setup ChecklistKnow Your GearPhillip McKnight+-

I’ve reported before how disappointed I was with a recent guitar setup. Being a follower of ’Know Your Gear’ guru Phillip McKnight, I have taken it upon myself to adapt his own excellent setup checklist - with a view and a mission towards creating a universal standard that all guitar owners and technicians can make use of.


Phillip McKnight guarantees his work for 12 months, which lends itself to an annual MOT-style checkup - which I believe is the right sort of frequency / interval. These checkups are really only worth it though if they are carried out to a consistently high standard - with guarantees.


I am not saying that this version of the Checklist is the final final one, but hopefully it can be the catalyst towards an internationally recognised standard that will benefit all. I have my own version now in PDF or Word format should anyone want one. I would recommend that guitar owners take such a list along with their instrument when they take it for a setup. It is essential for guitar owners to know what work was carried out on their guitars and why, and where there still may be issues or defects.


The content of the checklist falls across two pages, as follows:


Guitar Setup Checklist - Page 1

  • Customer Name:
  • Address:
  • Email:
  • Phone:
  • Guitar Make and Model, Year:
  • Serial / Reference Number:
  • Technician Name:

Received Metrics

  • Height of strings at 3rd fret when guitar was received:
  • Height of strings at 12th fret when guitar was received:
  • Radius of fret board:
  • The High E string gauge when guitar was received:
  • The Low E string gauge when guitar was received:
  • High Frets? Yes/No : Which ones: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
  • Noticeable Marks or Defects:
  • Requirements / Requests:

Return Metrics

  • Height of strings at 3rd fret when guitar was returned:
  • Height of Strings at 12th fret when guitar was returned:
  • Radius of fret board:
  • The High E string gauge when guitar was returned:
  • The Low E string gauge when guitar was returned:
  • High Frets? Yes/No : Which ones: Needs new frets: Yes/No
  • Noticeable Marks or Defects:
  • Notes / Observations / Follow-up:

Guitar Setup Checklist - Page 2

  • Process - [_] Done | [_] Not Required
  • 01. Clean, check and test electronics and internals [_] [_]
  • 02. Tighten tuning keys, input jack and screws [_] [_]
  • 03. Determine if there are high frets [_] [_]
  • 04. Level, crown and polish high frets [_] [_]
  • 05. Adjust neck so it is as straight as guitar will allow [_] [_]
  • 06. Lubricate Nut (Nut Sauce / LubriKit / LuberKit) [_] [_]
  • 07. Clean and/or Oil Fret Board [_] [_]
  • 08. Fit New Strings [_] [_]
  • 09. Set Action to desired height, tune guitar and set intonation [_] [_]
  • 10. Set bridge radius to radius of fret board if needed [_] [_]
  • 11. Set Pickup height [_] [_]
  • 12. Adjust bridge and whammy bar (electric) / File and lower bridge (acoustic) [_] [_]
  • 13. Cut new bridge or shim bridge up (acoustic) [_] [_]
  • 14. Check Bracing (acoustic) [_] [_]
  • 15. Clean and polish guitar, ready for collection [_] [_]
  • Tech Notes / Issues:
  • Hour and Date of Completion:
  • Technician Signature:
  • Customer Receipt Sign-off:


P.S. - on a separate note, I have to say I am disappointed with the documentation that comes with a PRS. Would really want some kind of mini guide, card or fold-out sheet even displaying the key setup metrics for the guitar - i.e. factory default measurements for string action, bridge height, pickup heights etc. All you get is string gauge currently which is not nearly enough. Manufacturers really need to be far better at this sort of thing too.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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