Can I do guitar setups myself?

Absolutely. But not everything.

I would shy away from recommending you do truss rod adjustments. I am not a big fan of putting all that pressure on a bit of steel rod. If I tighten a truss rod I always clamp the neck to assist the truss rod do its job. Similarly, forget about wiring mods unless you have a good soldering iron and know how to use it.

Intonation is really only accurately done with a strobe tuner. A normal tuner won’t cut it. Also I do more than the 12 fret harmonic intonation you’ve heard about. Most people get the profile of the bridge saddles wrong (unless it’s a set profile like a Gibson bridge).

So what can you do yourself? Heaps.

Chris’ Guitar Tips

  1. If you had the guitar correctly set up then I strongly recommend that you stay with the same brand and gauge of string. The intonation should be OK.
  2. Clean the socket carefully with an ear bud occasionally, and clean the ends of your guitar leads. Metho will do.
  3. Keep your fretboard clean. Use a credit card and cloth to clean up against your frets. Then oil your rosewood board with lemon oil or a proprietary finger board oil.
  4. Keep the screws and nuts comfortably tight.
  5. Don’t be tempted to oil your tuning keys. The oil will soak into the wood.
  6. If your pots get scratchy you can spray it with a cleaner/lubricant. Never put WD40 near a guitar. Not even in the same room!
  7. Adjusting the action on the common Gibson bridge is easy. It’s more complicated on a Fender with individual saddle heights. The radius of the saddles have to match your neck or it will not play well.
  8. Adjust the balance between your pickups by adjusting the height of the pickup as a whole. It is safer not to adjust the individual pole pieces unless you are confident there is a good thread (you can’t do this on a Strat or Tele of course).
  9. Give you’re guitar body and neck a wipe after use, including your strings. I am a coated string convert.
  10. Leave your guitar to acclimatise in its case if it goes through large temperature changes. Do I need to say never leave your guitar in a freezing cold or boiling hot car?

If you do no more than those 10 things, you will have a guitar which you will enjoy playing for many years.