Getting a new guitar set up - Advice?

When you don’t have the experience or contrast examples, how can you tell if a new guitar needs to be adjusted? Are there some really common things to pay attention to? What are the top 3 or 4 so I can start learning?

I do know that if the notes aren’t accurate up and down the fretboard, there are intonation issues, but that’s about it. I’m pretty happy with the action. Bass strings past the cutaway can be buzzy but it’s mostly awkward hand position up there and and being too light on the fret.

I bought a Córdoba Stage specs here back in January and have been playing it out of the box (other than changing strings and oiling the fretboard). It’s my first guitar with any kind of pickup system so that’s all new to me.

I am competent at doing things on my own when I know what to do, but I don’t know what I don’t know in this area and don’t want to damage anything.

Listen for fret buzz. This is very common especially for Fenders. Almost every guitar I’ve purchased has benefited from a fret level right off the bat.

Neck relief. Controlled by adjusting the truss rod. Should be approximately .010 of an inch. Measured at around the 8th fret.

Those are two major areas of proper adjustment.

Normally you’re entitled to a free setup when buying a new guitar, failing that Thomann and Stewart McDonald have great resources online.

First - if it’s playing well and you’re content:

Do. Not. ‘Fix it’

If you’re unsure what it needs…don’t fix it. Pay someone to look at it and ask them questions.

FWIW - there are tons of videos and articles on neck relief. That is the first place to start.

Quick and dirty:
Capo 1st fret. Press down on the low E where the neck meets the body (ex: A Strat is usually fret 17). Check string action at the 8th fret. What’s correct varies.

How To Adjust Your Truss Rod | Córdoba Guitars (

Too much space? Tighten Too little? Loosen. No more than a quarter turn at a time.