X-rated Bob wrote:
But does a setup include adjusting the action for the individual? If so how the hell would they know who is gonna buy it? Arent there some other player specific aspects?
There are personal preferences, but these are not that big a deal. The difference between a "low" and a "high" action is not that great in terms of millimeters. If a guitar is decently set up to start off with you'd be able to play it and know that it's OK (or not) but you'd like the action a little higher or a little lower.
And you gonna change the string gauge and intonation. Yes, the basics will be there. A while back there was a thread discussing what a setup involves. I took a few extracts (listed below) and it seems to me that there might be some specifics. Anyway, you may well walk into a really good store that everyone likes and take the guitar home and something isnt lekker. then you post here and say that there was no setup and the factory is the dang and so is the store. Adn the next guy walks in and says the opposite. On some other forums I've seen that so much (especially with Guitar Center). Noone agrees that the store is good and noone agrees that the store is bad.
Let's start off by saying what is meant to be taken away by setting up the guit and explaining these phenomena a bit:
- fret buzz (one or more strings rattle over one or more frets in one or more fretting positions);
- note-outs (when bending, a string does not sustain because of fret buzz);
- too high or too low action (partlypersonal preference);
- intonation problems (note is sharp or flat when fretted, restricted to one string or fret but sometimes in whole regions of the fretboard);
- tuning problems (friction causing stored tension in a string so it changes pitch after tuning, creeping strings detune over time etc.);
- tremolo's not returning to pitch after use;
- string breaking problems (sharp bends make this happen);
- string imbalance (some strings sound louder than others);
- stratitis (magnetism of pickups stops strings from vibrating freely);
- string position issues (strings do not sit in an arc making some harder to strike, or strings run close to the side of the fret board, etc.);
- sharp edges around the playing area such as in fret ends, bridge sides, bridge adjustment screws, knobbies etc.;
- wiring and electronic stuff like hum, scratchy pots, microphonic pups, intermittent contact, tone loss and so forth.
Just by the sheer size of this list (some will argue some things are not part of a setup, to me this is down to the quality of your tech) you can see that it would take too long to answer your question completely - whole books have been written on the topic.
In the narrow sense of the word it comes down to the things directly related to the string/fret interaction: the frets must be level at no load plus the neck angle, truss rod, nut and bridge action and intonation adjustment must be set right.
Action (both nut and bridge), intonation, truss rod adjustment and pickup heights.
Unfortunately, some problems don't show up until you are setting up. For instance an imperfect fret dress may not show up until you start bringing the bridge action down. So first prize is for the guitar to be set up properly before you try it. Otherwise, if you find one you like that you suspect is not setup properly, ask for it to be given a quick setup (truss rod and bridge action) and try it again.