Pro Guitar Setups

Pro Guitar Setups


Who are we talking to and what do you do at Pro Guitar Setups? My name is Mark Tonelli, I service electric, acoustic and bass guitars.


How long have you been in the industry? I’ve had a passion for guitars and have been servicing many different types accommodating people’s individual needs for over ten years. I’ve been a musician for 34 years and know how a well-playing guitar should feel.


What’s the science behind a good guitar setup? Attention to detail is the key to a good setup. A good setup is when the guitar is adjusted to play at its optimum. A well set up guitar should feel comfortable to play and not feel like you’re fighting it.

It’s also important to consider that preferences vary from player to player. Everyone is different so it’s very important  to know as much as possible about the customer’s playing style. I want to know what they don’t like about their guitar. What they would like to change. Often guitar players have had to put up with guitars that have not been set up to suit their needs. This only results in playing in a restricted way.

When & why would somebody look towards getting their guitar setup? Wood naturally responds to temperature changes and moves, therefore it’s normal for a guitar neck to move and with acoustic guitars the tops can also typically rise or sink a little depending on the climate. On an electric guitar, bridge parts also become loose and move, resulting in the setup being out. Pots and switches get dirty and noisy. Sometimes they stop working altogether.

Both old and many new guitars, cheap and expensive, will be in need of a setup. At the factory, new guitars are given a quick setup and shipped out to the music store. Quite often the action at the nut (height underneath the 1st fret) will be too high making it hard to play. The neck will often be adjusted with too much relief (the neck is bowing forward to much) making it hard to play. The frets can also be uneven resulting in buzzing.

If you’re gigging regularly your guitar will be in need of a setup more often. With studio or home use, sooner or later, a guitar will be in need of a good setup. You will generally feel when it’s not right. A well set up guitar will allow you to play with freedom. You can be more creative and spontaneous because you’re not fighting the guitar. It’s working with you rather than against you.

What kind of set-ups do you perform? I provide a full setup which covers cleaning, burnishing and lubricating nut slots, cleaning, burnishing and lubricating string saddles, ramping and burnishing bridge string slots (acoustic), setting string action, reshaping bridge saddle, setting neck relief, setting pickup height and pole piece radius, guitar restringing, tuning and stretching strings, setting nut action, adjusting tremolo unit, setting intonation, checking for and tightening loose hardware, lubricating moving parts and
checking playability.

There’s also a deluxe setup which covers fretboard cleaning, rejuvenate dry fretboard, rejuvenating dry bridge (acoustic), cleaning and polishing the guitar, cleaning and polishing frets, and servicing and cleaning all electronics.

What other services do you offer besides setups? I also offer fret work – levelling and re-crowning. This involves shaving the high and/or worn fret tops down until they’re all level then rounding the frets. I also handle nut work, saddle work, pickup installation, electronic work and tuner installation among other things.