Saturday, 30 March 2013 13:41

Fender electric guitar setup. The guide by Fender Manufacturer

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For great Fender guitar sound it’s recommended to setup it most correct. There’re several ways for this to be done, so I’ll share a guide by Fender Manufacturer how to set up Fender electric guitar for the great tone.

These specifications are median specs, they are meant only to guide who play on Fender. If you prefer the actions a little bit higher or lower, you can change it as you like, but higher actions are little bit different to play and lower actions may result in excessive fret buzz. Of course, it depends on the playing technique and style.


Fender setup adjustment toolsTo put your guitar in tip-top playing shape, follow steps presented in this article. You’re gonna need the right tools for the work. These are:

Set of automotive feeler gauges (.002 – .025);

  • 6” ruler (with 1/64” increments) and tape measure (0.397mm);
  • Set of Allen wrenches;
  • Phillips head screwdriver;
  • Electronic tuner;
  • Wire cutters;
  • String winder;
  • Light machine oil (3-in-1 model train or gun oil);
  • Polish and cloth;
  • Capo;



1.Changing strings


Changing Fender stringsChanging the strings is the faster, better or even easier way to reinvigorate the sound of the guitar. It’s easy to tell when strings are old, worn or dirty – they sound dull and lifeless, and they make feel rough running along them. Changing strings isn’t difficult but there’re several ways to do it depending on Fender guitar model you have.

Strings attach to the body at the bridge and the headstock at the tuning machines. Since various Fender electric guitar models use variety of bridges and tuning machines, different instruments call for different string replacement instructions too varied and lengthy to list. Therefore, for the specific string changing instructions for your current Fender model you can look in Support section. There’s a specific setup guide for Telecaster, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar and other Fender guitars with various bridge and tuning machines. This is what manufacturer recommends for Fender guitars. Of course, you can use your favorite string types.



2.Setting intonations (Roughing it out)


Whatever bridge type is on the guitar, the main point is to make sure there’s sufficient string break angle (at least 300) over the bridge saddles. Bridge adjustments such as string height and tremolo float are mostly up to personal preference.

Intonation is a very precise series of measurements. You can easily preset your guitar’s basic intonation. With a tape measure, find the exact scale length of your guitar by measuring from the inside edge of the nut to the center of the 12th fret (the fret wire itself, not the fingerboard space). Double that measurement – that’s your scale length.

Next, adjust the first-string bridge saddle to the scale length, measuring from the inside of the nut to the center of the bridge saddle. Now adjust the distance of the second-string saddle back from the first saddle, using the gauge of the second string as a measurement. For example, if the second string is .011” (0.3mm) then you would move the second-string saddle back .011” (0.3mm) from the first saddle. Move the third saddle back from the second saddle using the gauge of the third string as a measurement. The fourth string saddle should be set parallel with the second-string saddle. Proceed with the fifth and sixth saddles with the same method used for strings two and three.


3.Truss rod adjustment


Adjusting Fender electric guitar truss rodThe truss rod is the ingenious unseen device inside the neck which counteracts the bending force caused by string tension. Adjusting it is pretty simple. Adjusted neck will have a moderate amount of relief in it to accommodate the vibrating strings.

Take a capo; fix it to the first fret. Then fret the low E string at the last fret (push it). Measure from the bottom of the string to the top of the 8th fret – the gap should be about .010” (0.254 mm). Plus, when eyeballing the neck by sighting down it from the body to toward the headstock, you can see whether the neck is straight or bowed.

Fender guitars use two kinds of truss rod adjustment mechanisms. One is accessible at the headstock and adjusted using Allen wrench; and the other is accessible at the neck joint and adjusted using Phillips head screwdriver. For both you can do:

Adjustment at headstock (with Allen wrench) – If the neck is too concave, the guitar in playing position, looking up the neck towards the keys – turn the truss-rod nut counter clock-wise. Too convex – turn it clockwise.

Adjustment at neck joint (Phillips screwdriver) – If the neck is too concave, turn the truss rod nut clock-wise. Too convex – counter clockwise. Check the tuning, and then check the gap again with feeler gauge.

And this is it. You can double-check your adjustments by sighting down the neck and by measuring the gap again to make sure it’s around .010” (0.254 mm).


4. Setting string height


Setting up Fender string heightThis is quite easy and is more about personal preference. Check tuning first and use 6” ruler to measure the distance between the bottom of each string and the top of the 17th fret. The distance is recommended to be approximately 4/64” (1.5875 mm). Fender recommends this height. Adjust each bridge saddle (or the bridge height screws if the saddles are preset) until you reach the height.

4/64” is recommended by Fender. Of course, it’s up to you setting up most comfortable string height for own playing.



5.Setting pickup height


Too height set pickups can cause all kinds of sonic weirdness. To set them correct, fret all strings at the last fret and use a 6” ruler to measure the distance from the bottom of the first (high “e” string) and sixth (low E) strings to the top of their respective pole pieces. The optimal distances will vary depending on what pickups you have, so use the outside pickup mounting screws to adjust distances with the help of this chart:

Setting Fender pickup height


Setting Fender pickup heightThe distance should be greatest on the sixth string at the neck pickup position, and closest on the first string at the bridge pickup position. Also, the distance will vary according to the strength of the pickup’s magnetic pull. Re-tune, make further adjustments as needed and you’re good to go.

Pickup adjustments should be made after all the above have been accomplished. Set the pickup selector switch in the middle position, and turn the volume/tone controls to maximum. Check tuning. Check each string at the 12th fret, harmonic to fretted note (make sure you are depressing the string evenly to the fret, not the fingerboard). If sharp, lengthen the string by adjusting the saddle back. If flat, shorten the string by moving the saddle forward. Guitars are tempered instruments! Re-tune, play and make further adjustments as needed.


Setting Fender bridge saddles

That’s how should be adjusted Fender electric guitars. These are Fender manufacturers recommended settings. If some are against your comfortable playing, use your own.

Share your thoughts how your Fender sounds after using these recommendations. It’s very interesting, how it affected your guitar…

If you're interested more about the details, please visit Fender's website in "Support" tab. This setup goes perfect for any Fender electric guitar. Na matter if your instrument is Mexican, Chinese or American made.


1 comment

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