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On a 7 string I personally like the low B 2.5mm off the top of the 24th fret and the high E 1.5mm off the top. I just dial this in by eye, I don't need to measure. Of course I'm backing out the set screws inside the trem posts using the 1.5mm wrench before I turn the posts. Many times you will need to loosen the post to unlock the setscrew, it can be too tight for the little wrench (and your fingertips!) I always back both posts out a hair before I back out the set screws.

setup_post1.jpg (53815 bytes)

Here is a pic of the post with the set screw extended. They screw out the bottom and will not come out through the top of the post. The set screw locks the post threads against the threads of the post anchor and is critical to eliminate play between them, causing tuning instability.

setup_post3.jpg (55760 bytes)

Now I can go ahead and adjust the action height using the 4mm allen wrench in the trem posts. If the trem posts bottom out and the action still isn't low enough, guaranteed more neck shim is needed. Go back to page 6 for details.

setup_post2.jpg (67334 bytes)

When the action is right don't forget to retighten the set screws! I just tighten them finger tight, but I'll turn the posts down just a hair to really lock the threads together. With the neck shim that was added earlier the trem now sits exactly where I want with the correct height, sure am glad I went with the 5 fold shim! The point of the trem where it meets the guard is between .5 and 1mm above the guard on the bass side and just slightly under on the trebble. This is just my personal preference, you can adjust yours anyway you want by the thickness of the shim, the thicker the shim the greater the neck angle, the higher the trem sits on the body, the thinner the shim the deeper the trem will sit in the cavity, this would be after both configurations were setup with the same action.

setup_trem_height.jpg (50434 bytes)

After the height is right it's time to check all the frets. Fret every note on the board to make sure you don't have anything choking on a high fret. On the unwounds do this by bending the string at least a full step to check for areas that choke. I like at least 3+ steps of clean tone and why I set my trebble side at 1.5mm. You might have to readjust the action slightly depending on the neck and how good your eye was at setting it up. ;-)

setup_bend.jpg (54490 bytes)

No problems with this one, I'll have to show that fix in another segment. Time to get it in perfect tune and check the intonation. Open string and harmonic at the 12th fret, all in tune and perfect. Unfortunately, this is a terrible way to check intonation. Fret each string at the 24th fret (or last fret and transpose) to check the intonation, and checked that way, this UV's intonation is WAY out. With the trem at perfect angle and in perfect pitch, hook the Edge adjust intonation tool up to the high E saddle and snug up. Loosen the saddle screw using the 2mm allen wrench and adjust the saddle.

If the fretted note is sharp the string needs to be lengthed by moving the saddle away from the nut. Back off the string at the tuner to aid the tool. If the fretted note is flat the string needs to be shortened moving the saddle toward the nut. Retune the string and check the 24th, if it needs further adjustment continue until it's correct, then clamp down on the saddle screw, retune the whole guitar to perfect pitch, and move to the next string. Continue until done. I can't recomend the tool highly enough! They can be ordered through Stew Mac, unfortunately they have to be purchased as a set so you will get all 3 varients for $56. Before I bought the tool I'd grab my clamp to pin the bar to the body. It's fairly easy to move the saddle with most of the string tension off unless it needs to be moved a long way to lenghten the string. Unwind the tuner in this case to get enough slack. 

From the saddle pattern it was obvious this intonation wasn't changed when the string gauge was and was still factory set. It's just been intonated for the first time. Shame. I'm locking down the nut pads and moving on. Finger tight only!! You'd be amazed at how many people will strip a nut overtightening the pads. If the tuning changes when you lock the pads down there's a good chance it's the pad turning as you lock it down pulling the lower string sharp and the higher flat. There's a trick to just seat the pad before applying that last finger tight torque which usually elliminates this. If your string tree is not low enough both strings under the pad will pull sharp as the pad stretches the string, check and lower the tree if necessary.

setup_nut_lock.jpg (43266 bytes)

Time to put the truss rod cover on while I'm here. I'm going to adjust the pickup height now, a #1 flathead screwdriver will do. Turn the screw clockwise to raise the pickups, counterclockwise to lower. Set them where you like them just not so close the magnetic field affects the strings, this will kill sustain and sometimes pull the string slightly sharp. This is where I set mine.

setup_pickup.jpg (61190 bytes)

Next is just to microtune with the fine tuners and play it for a stretch to check all the details. Of course I plugged it in and checked the electronics when it came in the door but now it's got fresh steel and will show it's character. I always wash my hands first as I don't want to clean the board much when I'm done, I've already done that. When I've had enough it's time to wipe the board down and finish cleaning the body. Just like I did the headstock and with the same cleaner polish, work a small area at a time making sure your rag is clean. This is where 1 piece of wool fiber in the rag will leave alot of scratches on the body. No need to use pressure, I'm just cleaning and the surface of this is perfect, just dirty. Any serious polishing should be done with a buffer and good pad but minor polishing can be done with the same polish, but NOT on a rag. You put it on your finger and use your finger like you would the rag. The rag will collect polish buildup which will scratch, your finger won't. Polish as long as your finger can stand it and wipe off the residue. If you're trying to get deeper scratches out you can wetsand it down starting with 1500 paper and mineral spirits to wet, and ending with 2000. This will require a machine buff afterwords if you want a truely professional result. If the scratches are even deeper start with 1000. If the scratch is extremely deep it should be touched up with clear first.

body.jpg (52040 bytes)

After wiping the rest of my fingerprints off the entire guitar from working on it, it's finally done. This job was started at 1 am and it was 7 am when I finished. I took a few short breaks and of course had to answer emails all night, but even without pausing to setup for each picture this is a time consuming job. Think the results were worth it?

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Revised: June 24, 2009.