In the world of craftsmanship, there’s a familiar adage about plumbers with leaky faucets and mechanics driving rundown cars. As a seasoned guitar tech, I found myself confronting a similar paradox. My vintage Orlando, a cherished relic from the lawsuit era 335, had lost its allure and sadly become a mere wall decoration, devoid of the enchanting tones that once captivated me.

Questions swirled – Had my faithful Behringer tube amp lost its luster? Was my Orlando not the musical gem it once was? Despite an epic quest to explore different amplifiers, the elusive sound remained beyond my grasp, sapping my enthusiasm for playing.

Finally, a moment of clarity – One evening, after the other techs had gone home, I stayed to complete a setup on a Martin guitar. After locking up, I reached for a crimson Retromatic with a P90 at the neck, and connected it to an Orange digital amp. It sounded nearly as good as my Orlando used to sound.

Transitioning to a Fender Blues Deluxe, (priced at a mere $599), a resounding richness filled the room.

What set this experience apart? Was the Retro truly superior to my Orlando? Well, yeah, ok. But while the Peerless boasted undeniable quality and tone, my Orlando possessed legendary pickups, rumored to be hand-wound on vintage Singer sewing machines by half-drunk housewives of yesteryears. Such nuances are irreplaceable.

guitar setups, how often

Then , I saw the light! The Retro had undergone a recent setup with fresh strings, a standard practice for guitars we sell at Hank’s Guitar Shop in Palm Harbor. Yet, when was the last time I showed such love upon my Orlando?

Nearly two years had passed since its last setup, with only a year-old set of strings hovering over its frets. Determined to revive its former glory, I put it on the bench and gave it new strings and a meticulous setup. Then I plugged in my rejuvenated Orlando and channeled the spirit of Jimmie Rogers.

There it was—the resplendent sound I had longed for. In retrospect, it was a blend of worn-out strings and neglected setup issues that had robbed my Orlando of its voice. While the setup wasn’t egregious enough to cause noticeable buzzing, minor flaws like low nut slots and a subtle back-bow in the neck hindered its resonance and robbed me of the joy that once drove me to pick up the guitar.

Conclusion: How often should your guitar be set up? The answer is simple: whenever it needs it. But how do you know when? Without delving into the intricacies of guitar tech, there are two straightforward solutions:

  • Attend one of our Setup Workshops, where you’ll not only learn to identify setup needs but also acquire the skills to perform basic setups yourself.
  • Visit Hank’s Guitar Shop in Palm Harbor, where we offer complimentary inspections and measurements while you wait. If adjustments are necessary, we’ll not only inform you but also demonstrate what’s needed and how to discern it. As for the frequency of setups, pros should aim for biannual check-ups, while amateurs should consider an annual visit.

As for string changes, a general rule of thumb is after every 100 hours of play or every three months, whichever comes first. In hindsight, this guideline perfectly aligns with my experience.

Don’t let neglect to dampen your musical spirit. Shower your guitar with affection! And if you lack the time or patience for string changes and setups, fret not! We offer guitar restrings starting at just fifteen dollars, and setups with a quick turn-around from fifty dollars or even less – with a satisfaction guarantee from our team of three professional guitar techs.