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How To Setup A Gibson Les Paul [Part 5]

In How To Setup A Gibson Les Paul Part 5, we tackle some basic housekeeping duties, plus learn how to restring the guitar quickly and efficiently.

How To Setup A Gibson Les Paul Part 5

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Part 5: How To Setup A Gibson Les Paul.

What’s Covered in the Video:

  • How to save time cleaning the body
  • Detailing the body and headstock
  • installing a new set of strings
  • How to batch your processes and save time!

Previously in Part 4 of How To Setup A Les Paul, we began the process of prepping the guitar for the next all important process. In this segment we carry on towards our ultimate goal – a clean, perfectly set up guitar that plays beautifully.

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How to Save Time Cleaning a Guitar

Well, not the most fun job in the world but absolutely necessary. Dunlop 65 polish, this is good stuff. This will help pick up the dirt and fingerprints. This guitar’s not really dirty so we don’t have to worry about getting really crazy with it.

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Les Paul Setup Video Tutorial Part 5

The cleaning process described in this video segment is organized and should save you a bunch of time with housekeeping.

I have a ’79 Les Paul Custom, it was in rough condition finish wise so one day I took it apart and spent four hours getting that sucker polished up like new, and it looked spectacular! It was awesome. That was a deep clean which was long overdue.

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Detailing the Body and Headstock

I’m actually going to get tight to these sides of the headstock. That’s where a lot of finger junk builds up around, where your hands are always touching the side of the headstock when you’re tuning, so you want to get at that.

Again, back to my little wooden stick, it helps me get right tight to the corners all around. I keep shifting this thing around so I’m not just pushing dirt into the same spot all the time. I keep using different parts of the paper towel here.

We want to get around that pickup selector switch, and we’ll get around the bushings. Again, I’m not too worried about these bushings here or the adjusters/thumb wheels in this case and the end screws because the instrument’s in fairly decent condition to start.

But there is a little corrosion on them for sure. I’m going to hit that again. I will be making some adjustments down here, so I’m not worried about the position of them.

Now, I’m going to be handling this instrument quite a bit, so what I’m trying to focus on here is just getting the majority of the junk off, the real garbage, the stuff that’s been caked in for a while.

To begin with, the guitar’s fairly clean so I’m happy about that. If it was nastier, then of course we’d spend more time accordingly and whatnot.

Tell-tale sign of a pick guard on Les Pauls; that nut on the back always leaves a mark on the face. If you see that you’ll know what it is.

That is if the pick guard’s not on it. I’m just gonna do the face for now, because I’ll come back to the rest of it when we’re close to being done. And as far as strings go we’re going to put on some D’Addario 10’s. Get those bad boys ready.

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Great Guitar Strings = Great Tones:

As for the dirt, junk goes in the junk.

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Installing New Guitar Strings

Now we’re going to start throwing some new strings on and have at it.

Starting with number six, the saddles of the bridge are canted forward. I’m gonna put the fifth string aside there for a second. let’s get this sixth string installed. Note, there’s more than one right way to install strings, and I’ll do another video series on that.

When somebody tells you got to do it this way, some stuff yes, but other stuff, it’s common sense. There’s more than one right way to do many things, so I want to keep that in mind. Anyway, a little quick instruction on this,

I’m keeping the slack end of the string under control, otherwise it will control me and that doesn’t exist in my guitar world, okay. I am the person in control of such things.

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Batch Your Processes

Okay, so now all the guitar hardware is locked down and, that is it’s not going to fall off anymore. I’ve put the sixth string on just to hold things in place, you know. Again, I refer back to batching your processes.

In this case, when we have loose hardware, we want to keep it under control. So I put one string on to control the environment. Now I’ll go back and do the rest of the strings, just get them installed.

Some people like to install the strings backwards. That is, top wrapping the strings over the top of the tailpiece. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, it’s a matter of preference.

You have to experiment with different things, because it comes down to the angle at which the string hits the bridge. And there’s a trick to that.

There’s a sweet spot. I’ll give you some direction on that, but ultimately, it’s going to be what you prefer. Anyway, I’ll get back to this area in a second.

I’m just going to get the rest of these strings installed. Measure off about an inch and a half or so of string which will equate to about three wraps around the tuner post. In this case, one post to the next is a good indicator.

Switch my grip, pop the string through, give it a right angle bend that locks the string in place. Now again, there’s ways to get the string locked down and whatnot. I prefer to let the string induce it’s own pressure from one wrap under the next.

I’ll deal with the specifics of re-stringing at a later date. With the first string I make an exception with because it’s fine and prone to slippage. So I’m actually gonna do a tag end wrap on that. I took the tag end of the string and wrapped it under the string itself, which locks it in place. That’s a very common thing to do.

One of my little things is that I only do that on the first string. I’ve found that the rest of the strings, there’s no real benefit to it in my opinion.

So we have all our strings on. Nothing’s really out of joint or down here, all the working guitar hardware is in the ballpark. It’s not sky-high or goofy or anything. Everything’s kind of within tolerable range.

I’ll get rid of that the excess string ends, I’m gonna give it a haircut. These freshly installed strings are not coming off. There’s no reason that they’re gonna have to come off again. I’m going to use side cutters. Using the flat face on top of each post, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. Remove the garbage all in one shot, nice and neat.

Once again I’m going to take a quick break and we’ll get down to the business of finessing the rest of this out. Okay, All right. Back in a second.

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Steve Blundon is a business owner, published author, former music teacher and active master guitar tech who's been servicing instruments for over thirty years. Visit Author's Page.

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