Never EVER buy a disaster guitar again!

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Principles also apply to the bass guitar, and to any other member of the large, happy family of ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, lap steels, and so on

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Three decades of craftsmanship.
Luthier Marc Terreur reveals surprising insights and separates fact from internet fiction.


Reader reviews

Brilliant!! Very well explained!
An eye-opener. Thanks for the insights.
I wish I'd had access to something like this 20 years ago.
This was so helpful, thank you. My G-string was driving me bananas.
My mind works on constant questioning—ABC. Assume nothing - Believe no one - Check everything.
In the end I need the "Why"—which is what you so eloquently provided.


Contents by Chapter

10,000,000 Perfect Guitars (Or None at All)

By means of introduction


• Who are we?—the guitar or bass playing breed of the human species.
• The strange notion of the “perfect” guitar.
• A word about the absence of faultlessly set up guitars in most music stores.

How U2 Can Buy Guitars Without Worrying

Never EVER buy a disaster guitar again!

Three chapters on how to distinguish a potentially superb instrument (that just needs a proper setup) from one that has hidden defects, can’t be saved, or would cost you a small fortune to turn into something more or less acceptable.

Part I:

• Buying online? Really?
• Tools to bring to the store.
• Questions to ask.
• How to inspect the neck and the frets.
• Tips and warnings.

Part II:

• Pinpointing high and/or loose frets.
• NEVER trust your eyes. Always measure.
• The frets seem okay. What to check when the strings buzz anyway.
• The high notes sound out of tune. How to make sure this can be fixed.
• Tips and warnings.

Part III:

• Much overlooked: is the bridge in the right place? Bring a ruler.
• Adjusting string length (intonation/compensation). Why and how?
• When the open strings buzz against the 1st fret.
• The low notes and chords sound out of tune!
• Nut slots: depth, width, and bottom angle.
• Tips and warnings.

No-Slip Knots: A Word or Two About Stringing

With a poorly strung guitar, even modest tremolo use or simple string bending may ruin your tuning. Here’s how to do it right.


• Not too many words, but LOTS and LOTS of pictures!
• Don’t forget to stretch and pre-bend.

The REAL “One And Only” Sensible Setup Sequence

There’s only ONE correct order to follow—unless you want to screw up or go mad with frustration.

Two chapters on how to set up your guitar. All the DOS and DON'TS, including the WHYS and WHY NOTS.
By the end, you'll Understand Guitars from A to Z.

Part I:

• Playability, Tone, and Tuning—and the many ways they are intertwined.
• The dramatic impact of a pickup’s magnetic field on virtually everything else.
• Don’t trust support pages.
• Don't get lost: there are infinite pathways to any given string height.
• Whatever you do: DON’T start at the bridge!

Part II:

• Also: don’t do THAT, because…
• Passive or active: don’t forget to lower the pickups!
• You will want to put on fresh strings.
• Tips and warnings.
• After all those DON'TS, the mystery gets resolved and summarized.