Guitars are precious instruments and require care to stay in perfect working order. That is why a professional guitar setup is required at least once a year.
One of the best places to get a guitar setup professionally is Guitar Center. In this article, I will go over the types of guitar setups that Guitar Center offers, what it costs, and what it involves.
Table of Contents
Setups Offered at Guitar Center
Guitar Center offers three types of Guitar setups. From a basic restring to a thorough setup, starting at $50, each setup includes a brand new set of select strings.
The cost for a full setup will vary depending on the guitar you have. A guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, for example, will cost more to set up than a guitar with a standard fixed bridge.
The setups are done by certified technicians, and are offered at every Guitar Center. They also accept both walk-ins and appointments.
Most guitar setups usually cost between $50 to $75 at Guitar Center.
It’s worth noting that sometimes some GC locations run a ‘free Guitar Setup day’ promotion, when they’ll set your new guitar up without any charge. If you’re looking to purchase a guitar offline from Guitar Center, it might be worthwhile to call them in advance and ask if they’ll be running that offer anytime soon.
This is the most basic type of setup offered by Guitar Center. The standard setup involves removing old strings, cleaning the instrument, and putting on new strings. If all you need is restringing, you’ll just need to pay around $25.
The Signature Setup is a full checkup and maintenance regime for your guitar. This involves a 22-point checklist inspection, cleaning and polishing, as well as a restring with a set of strings included with the setup.
This costs around $60-75 in most of the cases, depending on the state of your guitar and its configuration.
The Platinum Setup includes everything in the Signature Setup, along with a full detailing and maintenance regime. This involves repairing the hardware, body and neck, cleaning, polishing, and waxing the guitar.
The result is an instrument that looks, feels, and sounds practically brand new. Of course, this is the most expensive package offered by Guitar Center and can cost close to $100 (sometimes even more, depending on the amount of work and the current condition of your guitar).
What is in a Full Guitar Setup?
Every guitar and instrument shop will have some slight differences in the way they perform setups and what it involves. There are, however, a few standard things that every guitar setup will include.
This will likely always be the first step in any guitar setup. This simply involves thoroughly going over every part of the guitar to determine anything wrong with it and what needs to be done.
The guitar will be checked for the condition of the strings and fretboard, checking for scratches and dents, and checking the electronics. Any missing screws will usually also be noted.
Removing the Strings
This will be the first thing done as part of the setup. This is to get the old strings off and out of the way for the rest of the setup.
Doing things like bridge and truss rod adjustments are easier when the guitar doesn’t have any strings on it. Cleaning the guitar, especially the fretboard and pickups, is also much easier when there are no strings in the way.
If your guitar has a fixed bridge or a non-floating tremolo, then in most cases, the height will just be checked and adjusted. If you have a Floyd Rose tremolo, then the height will be adjusted as well as the bridge’s tension.
It will be adjusted to make sure that the bridge lies parallel with the guitar body. In some cases, the tremolo spring will also be adjusted for more or less tension or even need replacing entirely if they are broken or worn out.
Truss Rod Adjustments
One of the most important parts of a guitar setup is to make sure that the neck is straight. This is done by adjusting the truss rod inside of the guitar’s neck.
This is done to ensure that your string action is uniform across the fretboard to avoid any unwanted fret buzz. The neck should ideally be as straight as possible to prevent fret buzz, as well as protect the neck from cracking or even breaking with high tension strings.
Cleaning the Guitar
Once the neck and bridge have been adjusted, the guitar will likely be cleaned. The fretboard will be cleaned of any grease buildup and the body wiped down to remove dust and grime.
Many shops and guitar techs will also apply oil to help protect the fretboard and keep it cleaner for longer.
Restringing the Guitar
After doing any maintenance and cleaning the guitar, it is now ready for some new strings. Many places, like Guitar Center, will put on a standard set of strings for free as a part of the guitar setup.
You can, however, also buy a separate set of strings of your choice and have the technician put those in instead. The string action will then be adjusted and the guitar tuned.
Does Guitar Center Do Repairs?
Yes, most Guitar Center locations do offer repairs for guitar and some other items. In my experience, Guitar Center is only good with basic repairs. So, if your guitar needs re-soldering, for example, I wouldn’t bet GC to do a very good job about it (they might not accept to do that repair, as well).
The cost for basic repairs and adjustments tends to be fairly reasonable, however. But if you’re looking for some advanced repair (such as a broken headstock), you’d be better off visiting an experienced luthier than relying on GC technicians.
Although, I would like to clarify that some specific Guitar Center locations do offer extensive repairs as well (headstock repair, re-fretting, anything to do with the nut, etc.). I don’t have any personal experience with that, but I’ve heard this from more than a few friends. Also, Guitar Center themselves list such repairs on their repair services page.
Having a shop like Guitar Center offer a tiered system for guitar setups is great. Many places only offer a basic restringing and truss rod adjustment as their ‘full’ guitar setup.
But with Guitar Center, you can specify exactly what you want done, and you know exactly what you are getting. Because sometimes, all you need is a simply restringing, but don’t forget to take your guitar for a full setup once or twice a year.
4 thoughts on “How Much Does a Guitar Setup at Guitar Center Cost? (2023 Prices)”
Brea CA- I should have learned my lesson by the 2nd time I took my Fender Jazz American Standard in for set up as I had to have the neck adjusted by a true professional after I paid my $125 for routine set up and pickup replacement. The “tech” left the wires out of the cavity and tightened the pick guard on top of them. These guys don’t seem to be trained properly and pricing is definitely on the high side. Pay the extra cash & have it done right.
Thanks! I just dropped off a thirty-year-old Charvel and it cost me 100 dollars here in Yonkers, New York. That’s the basic. But I have not had it adjusted at all for decades and I did muck up the whammy bar, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
do any of the set-up packages include any fretwork like fret sprout and filing, etc.?
My experience is GC dresses frets, fret spout in the Platinum setup.