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Author Topic: Stewmac Basic Set-Up Kit  (Read 980 times)
Strings4Him
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« on: January 11, 2013, 11:31:49 PM »

Anyone have some personal experience using this kit from Stewmac?  Thanks.

http://www.stewmac.com/shopby/product/3910
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JOYCEfromNS
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 12:01:44 AM »

No; but stating the obvious - it ain't cheap!!!
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 05:10:00 AM »

I don't use any of that stuff for setups but you can buy the ruler anywhere,You can more then likely download the radius guage and buy the string action guage's from some hardware store a lot cheaper.As for the book I'm also fairly sure that you can get that infor off the internet.
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2013, 06:53:07 AM »

I do have the action gauge. The progressive string height scale is useful because you can tell which mark you're looking at much easier. Plus it also has the 64ths increments.


I haven't used the other two items. You can get feeler gauges at any hardware store. The question I'd ask myself is, do you need the straight edge? I don't know about the quality of this particular one but a decent straight edge starts around $65 by itself.
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Dr. LJ
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 02:01:55 PM »

I like the action gauge.  Buy a good quality metal straight edge and feeler gauges at the hardwared store.  You will save money and have everything you need.

LJ
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L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 04:51:49 AM »

The string action gauge is very useful.

When it comes to straight edges, you get what you pay for in terms of precision.  If you want accurate measurements when dealing with minute adjustments in a few thousands of an inch, the more precise the straight edge the better.  A precision straight edge is expensive whether you buy it at Stewmac or not.  If you aren't as concerned with precision, you can probably find a thick and wide aluminimum "yardstick" type of ruler that you can cut into smaller lengths to make a straight edge and a set of "fret rockers" from.  If you are only using it to keep your own guitar(s) set up, then this might be all you need.  Many true precision straight edges you find at tool outlets are too thick and heavy for guitar work.   The stewmac one is thinner yet very precise.  I use mine a lot as I have done close to 100 set-ups so far.

Regarding the radius gauges:  If you want to set up bridges and saddles for maximum playability with low action and no buzzes, you need them to have the right radius in relation to the radius of the fingerboard.  You can do this different ways.  One way is to measure the string heights above a certain fret (often the 12th) and adjust them at the bridge or saddle until each one is at the height you like.  If you like them all to be the same distance and follow the curve of the fingerboard, a second and quicker method is to use a radius gauge that matches the fingerboard to set the string heights.  Stewmacs understring gauges make this quick and easy since you can do it while the strings are in place and tuned to pitch.  So, I would say if all you want to do is simple setups, you can probably get by without radius gauges.  You can just use the string action gauge or a 6" ruler graduated in 64's to measure the string heights as you adjust them.

However, radius gauges have many more uses besides simple setups:
- determining the radius of a used guitar's fingerboard with an unknown radius you are thinking of buying to assess how it will play or feel for your playing style.
- determining the radius for ordering the correct parts like nuts on fenders and tune-o-matic type bridges on many electrics.
- transfering the correct curve onto the tops of nut and saddle blanks when making your own.  Same for putting the correct curve on floating bridge tops.
- determining if the radius is simple or compound.  This is important if you are doing a fret levelling job, for example.

In my opinion, the setup kit from Stewmac is worth the cost, because the tools are precise and designed specifically for instrument work.  That's assuming you want to work on your own guitars and keep them playing at their best and avoid paying someone else to do it.  After a couple of setups, you will be money ahead.  Plus you get the satisfaction of setting up your guitar exactly as you like it, and the benefit of learning more about all the relationships and trade-offs involved.
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