Rock The Nation!
Hi guys, I’m Kenny Duncan and welcome to my new regular Music Nation column. I’m the guy behind Kenny Duncan Guitars, or KDG as it’s knowing by its regulars. Check out www.kennyduncanguitars.com if you haven’t already heard of us and check out my place. Here I’ll be talking about guitars, and ways to get the best out of what you’ve got – ways to make it better, tips and tricks and things I’ve pickup along my 25 years of the love of this damn life changing beast that is the guitar. All the photos used here are from my workshop on Manners St, and we have some great articles coming soon. If you’ve got a question or concern about your axe, please contact me – we may even address your concerns on a Future Column.
Guitars, guitars, guitars…
The one thing I see almost everyday is people trying to get more out of their guitars, and since not many of us have that rock star bank balance, setup can make all the difference. Guitar players can be obsessive about their tone, which is where I come in. Here is a brief overview of basic guitar setup areas.
Well it’s a series of adjustments across the whole instrument to optimise the play-ability of the instrument. A good set up should tailor the guitar to your own unique playing style.
What is the Truss rod?
It is a steel rod inside the neck. It is designed to counter act the string tension. Ever notice putting on heavier gauge strings raises the action? That’s a sign your truss rod needs to be tightened.
What is the nut?
That’s the place on the neck where the strings pass through on their way to the tuners or machine heads. This is generally the most common issue with new guitars. It can be very easy to overlook the nut and view it as just another fret, but it’s role is so much more.
A high nut will cause excess string tension and your intonation will suffer. If the notes you play on the first fret are sounding a little sharp, I can bet it’s a high nut and some filing is required. All of this is part of a good set up.
This acts like the nut at the other end of your guitar. The bridge can either have individual or left and right height adjustment. The “action” is the distant of the string to the fingerboard. Too high and it’s harder to push down the strings to the frets. I had this with my first guitar. The action was so high I’m surprised it didn’t break my spirit completely.
This is simply adjusting the length of the string so that every note is perfectly in tune across the entire neck.. By moving the saddle back if the note is sharp or forward if flat, we can ensure every fret is pitch perfect. There are a couple of other issues that can cause intonation problems, such as fret wear. Once the frets start getting string grooves or flat tops on them, you end up pulling the note sharp by pushing the string down further into the fret.
Having all these parts of your instrument optimised is the difference between picking it up and being inspired or throwing it down in frustration…..and we’ve all been there.
Thanks for reading my first post, there will be many more so please stay tuned. Please feel free to contact me, or even better still, drop into my Wellington workshop and say hi. I’ve been blessed with an amazing job of helping people get connected with their instrument and I hope we can help you with your own musical journey.
Remember people. Love your instrument and it will Love you back.
Contact us at www.kennyduncanguitars.com