A good Gibson guitar setup starts with checking the neck. Look at the bottom of the strings at the 8th fret. You have neck relief if you see a slight gap between the line and the top of the fuss.
You will also want to check the saddle height. A saddle that is too low will make the strings harder to bend.
The neck of a guitar plays a vital role in an instrument’s overall feel and playability. Its shape and dimensions affect the hand’s grip, wrist angle and thumb position, ultimately impacting dexterity and comfort during extended playing sessions. When shopping for a Gibson guitar, consider the neck profile best suits your style and preferences. Seeking advice from experienced guitarists and professionals can be a great way to make an informed decision.
The slim taper neck is one of the most popular profiles available on Gibson guitars. This design is typically thinner on the bass side and thicker on the treble side to accommodate the natural shape of the hand and reduce hand fatigue during long sessions. The rounded neck is another option that offers a more traditional feel. This neck is chunkier than the slim taper and is better suited for players with larger hands who may find the slimmer profile uncomfortable.
If your guitar has a truss rod, remove it and keep the screws somewhere safe. To check the truss rod’s action, fret the low E string at the 22nd fret and measure the height of the string from its underside to the point on the pickup closest to it. The distance for the bridge and neck pickup should be equal. After checking the truss rod’s action, tune the guitar to pitch and play through it to verify that there is no fret buzzing.
The bridge of a Gibson guitar helps to hold the strings down and can affect the tone. It can sound warmer and brighter by changing the tone knob. A higher tone setting increases the number of treble frequencies, which makes the guitar sound more colourful and more generous at the same time. It does not affect the bass frequencies, which makes the guitar sound deeper.
Many types of bridges can be installed in a Gibson guitar. Some are a fixed bridge with no tailpiece, and others have a whammy bar that can be moved up and down the guitar. Some are a Tune-o-Matic style, while others are wrap-around designs. Tune-o-Matic style bridges allow fast individual string height “action” adjustments and intonation. For more information about the Gibson guitar setup, click here.
Most Gibson guitars have a Schaller wide-travel Tune-o-Matic. This bridge was first used on the Les Paul Recording model in 1971 and was the standard bridge for all solid body and thinline Gibson guitars until the end of the seventies. It was also the original bridge on the ES-325TD and L5S, SG Custom, SG Special, Marauder and S-1 models.
The Tune-o-Matic bridge has six individual saddles for each string. Each of these saddles has a screw that can be slid backwards or forwards to adjust the string’s intonation. This system is straightforward and allows for a quick and accurate intonation adjustment. If a line has been changed as far forward or backwards as it can go, but the intonation is still off, it may be necessary to remove the saddle, remove the screw, and flip it over to the other side so it is positioned like it was before.
A guitar’s pickups are a crucial element in shaping its tone. Gibson has pioneered many of the industry’s most popular styles, including P-90s and humbuckers. A humbucker is two coils wired in opposite directions, cancelling the magnetic field between them to eliminate hum and buzz and provide a hotter sound with more midrange clarity than a single-coil pickup.
The most famous humbucker in the Gibson lineup is the Memphis Historic Spec, introduced with the Les Paul Studio model in 1957. It features a scatter wound, Alnico II magnets and a pair of stacked ‘buckers at the bridge and neck position, designed to emulate the sound of vintage PAFs. This powerful humbucker is ideal for lead and rhythm playing, and it’s wax-potted to keep feedback at bay even at high volumes.
Another notable option is the EMG Dirty Fingers, an active ceramic humbucker with an Alnico VIII bar magnet. It’s a popular choice for heavy rock and metal players and is known for its extreme output and fantastic sustain. Its noise-cancelling abilities also make it an excellent choice for recording.
If you prefer a more traditional sound, look for a P-90. These single-coil pickups feature large coils with flat ALNICO bars instead of pole pieces, providing an articulate and raunchy tone that audiophiles adore. These snazzy pickups are available in either “soapbar” or “dog ear” styles, with the latter screwing into the guitar’s single-coil cavities. Gibson has several different P-90 variants, including various models’ versatile 490R and 498T humbuckers. For more information about the Gibson guitar setup, click here.