Should Style Follow Setup

I feel that I should add a consideration to my occasional rants about making sure that your instrument is setup for your music and your style.

That’s the consideration that style and skill-levels may well change over the years.

Now, this might mean that you tweak your guitar or bass a little here and there as you feel your playing needs change.

Or, the other option is to set-up your instrument based on how you want to be in the future.

What sort of compromises should I make setting up my guitar

Sometimes, style follows setup

Yes, yes, I realise that I'm turning the world on its head with this crazy, contrary advice but sometimes it can be worth considering a setup that's not great for you now but would work for someone more experienced in that style.

What do I mean?

Well, for example, if you're planning on shredding the guitar until it catches fire, but you're still in the early stages of building that skill, maybe you still want to have a slinky setup.

No worries. Sometimes that makes sense.

Make sure that you set your expectations around your current skill level, though. By that, I mean, understand that your fretting and picking may not be at the level where your super-setup allows you to play as cleanly as you’d like.

If you’re satisfied that the guitar is problem-free, then you know you have to work on your skills to get them to the place where they’re right for the setup.

Weird, right. I’ve been saying all this time that we should always suit the setup to the player and now I’m saying that, sometimes, a player can make his or her own skill advances by fighting a setup that’s initially a struggle.

Which way should I setup?

Which route you choose depends on where your current skill level is and your tolerance for things that might not sound or feel ‘just right’ yet (and it’s important to be realistic on this point).

Of course, your willingness to change setups as you go also plays a part if you go that route instead. If you’re happy to pay for a setup every now and then — or if you’re happy to set up your own guitar — you can adjust your setup according to your current style and needs.

Slowing evolution

Most players will eventually come to a point where their style isn’t going to change hugely or so quickly. Hopefully, by this stage, you’ll have ‘bedded-in’ a setup that’s right for you, either through your working to it or through ongoing experimentation.

The bottom line

If you feel like you’re fighting the guitar or if you feel like the guitar isn’t sounding like it should, you might have a choice of whether to tweak the setup to make it feel better now, or to press on and build your skills through it.

There’s not always a right answer. If you trust your tech, talk with him or her about your style, your current level, and your issues. See if you can work out a solution.

Or do it yourself. (Ahem) ;-)