How-to Books

Available online at Amazon in Print or Kindle edition. Click on the link under the images for more details.

Guitar & Bass Setup

If my Guitar Setup Classes aren’t for you, but you’re still looking for an easy way to learn how to setup your own guitars, I’ve published an easy guide book full of pictures, setup specifications and tech tips.

How To Setup Your Guitar Like A Pro: An Easy Guide for Beginners.
Learn how to do great guitar setups time and time again with this easy to follow, step-by-step manual. With photos, tips and clear instruction, you will gain the understanding on how to fine-tune your guitar to play it’s best. Makes an excellent starter book or reference for budding professionals.

***Now updated and expanded with additional content including a section on restringing, neck shimming, scale length determination and new images!***

Included in the book:

  • An 8 step method on setting up your electric or acoustic guitar;
  • How to adjust Fender-style tremolo’s, Gibson hard-tails, Floyd Rose and other floating bridge types;
  • How to adjust the saddle on your acoustic steel string or nylon string guitar;
  • How to file nut slots;
  • Setup spec’s for electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitar;
  • Manufacturer’s setup spec’s from Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and others;
  • Exclusive setup specifications from the Author’s best playing guitars;
  • A handy measurement conversion chart.

Guitar Kit Building and Setup

How to Build and Setup Guitar Kits like a Pro” is a clear, concise, step-by-step manual written for those with little guitar building experience. With simple directions and over 130 photos, you will gain the understanding needed to assemble and setup bolt-on guitar kits with great results!

Included in the book:

  • A 9-step method on assembling bolt-on style guitars;
  • Tips and tricks to save you time and headaches;
  • Guidance on sanding, finishing & more;
  • Proper soldering technique explained;
  • Scale length explained Guitar electronics explained;
  • How to effectively shield the instrument;
  • Popular wiring modification suggestions;
  • Links to online wiring and setup methods from Fender and others;
  • Simple setup instructions for strat and tele-style guitars;
  • How to restring properly;
  • How to adjust truss rods for optimal neck bow;
  • How to shim necks and adjust neck tilt;
  • How to adjust bridge angle on tremolo equipped guitars;
  • How to adjust intonation;
  • How to file nut slots;
  • And more!

Guitar Repair Business Startup Guide

Get the inside track on a successful guitar repair, guitar building and/ or custom guitar shop business. Save yourself time, money, and frustration when starting up your own business with this helpful guide-book that offers key insider tips and a thorough overview of what to expect in the business, written by an industry veteran. Don’t go into business without reading this book first! Includes 20 downloadable forms, lists, templates, and examples to use in your shop!

Included in the book:

  • How to establish shop rates and pricing;
  • How to market yourself & advertise effectively;
  • How to set up your business for success;
  • Information on common business structures and accounting practises;
  • Industry-specific marketing tips;
  • Business start up tips including common start up costs;
  • Extensive pricing examples (blue book pricing);
  • Tools, equipment and supply lists;
  • Business and accounting forms;
  • Work order templates;
  • Instructions on how to build a Erlewine-style Neck Jig;* and more!


Recent Reviews

“Like a great many guitarists, I have quite the collection of acoustic (and one electric) guitar, and I have dabbled quite a bit in setup to the point of spending a small fortune on StewartMac’s luthier tools website. I have read online sources, followed video blogs, and own a copy of MelBay’s GUITAR SETUP, MAINTENANCE & REPAIR, a rather thick and detailed tome. One thing I have found is that getting into all the guitar setup requirements and steps can be overwhelming for a newcomer as a deluge of details comes crashing down along with warnings about how you could easily end up trashing your axe. Although no where as quite in depth and finely detailed as the MelBay setup guide, Jonny Blackwood’s HOW TO SETUP YOUR GUITAR LIKE A PRO is an excellent starting place for the newcomer.

In fact, I would even go as far as to say that the lack of nitty-gritty details, which the MelBey guide has, is an advantage. The first step to getting familiar with setup is not getting distracted by far more advanced techniques and concerns. We just want our babies to sound good. Once comfortable with things such as basic truss rod adjustment and string height, you can certainly then delve into the vast world of luthier methods. But for now, the best thing is to keep things straight forward.

Blackwood does indeed keep things streamlined and simple in clear, comfortable language with plenty of photo illustrations. The guide also includes additional resources such as common troubleshooting (egads, the string buzz issue!), factory specs, further reading (of which the MelBey guide is listed amongst others), and websites/online articles (which would be to the advantage for those using a digital copy of this book).

I am not going to get into the debate over cleaning solutions (there are adherents to both sides of the question), but beyond that, everything presented in Blackwood’s guide is pertinent, practical, and perfect for the setup newbie.”

“Very well laid out book! I highly recommend this to any veteran or beginner guitar players. I found it very easy to locate the information I was looking for. It’s not necessary to read from front to back if you don’t need to, if you have a problem with intonation, action, truss rod, etc., just locate the section and it provides great step by step instructions with very detailed, labeled pictures and diagrams.”

“I’ve been playing for a long time but I didn’t really know much about guitar setups. I didn’t know how to set the strings properly or the relief etc. Thanks to this book I totally get it now! The book is a light read and easy to understand, with examples and pictures, even a newb like me can figure it out lol! Money well spent!!”

“I’ve been playing guitar for years, both acoustic and electric, but this book actually taught me how to properly setup and adjust a guitar for proper operation. All these years I just guessed at what I was doing, and since reading this simplified guide I’ve discovered that I’ve been doing a lot wrong for as many years. Well written, easy to read and follow, the book provides a step-by-step method for setting up your guitar for playing. I walked through the adjustments on an old Ibanez I have played for years. Adjusted the neck and the pickup height (and the Floyd Rose). I always thought it played fine before, but afterwards it made a noticeable difference. I’d recommend this guide to anyone who picks at the guitar, amateur and up. An excellent resource to have on your bench.

“I am an artist (of sorts) and started carving guitars a few years ago. This involved tearing the guitar apart, even removing the electronics, to get to the body for carving. Once completed and refinished I have to rebuild the guitar. Up until now I just “best guessed” all the adjustments when I put it back together, but this manual will make a great resource when it comes time to reassemble an instrument. Highly recommended.”

“First, you should know that I received a copy of this free of charge. But the time spent evaluating and reviewing is never “free” to anyone and I have no affiliation with the author. I have a background in the music business that goes back decades and I’ve played many, many guitars and owned over 30, so I’m not really a beginner. This should be taken into account while you read.

This is an excellent guide for someone who wants to learn, anyone thinking this will be easy, just try to remember you’re not a chef just because you own a cookbook. Being educated isn’t enough, after destroying your first guitar neck by trying to fix it and then needing a luthier, you’ll realize experience is also needed and this guide will help you get started on the correct path.

The author does not send you into areas where you’ll do damage, other then filing the nut, which could send you to a professional and after pricing files, you may choose to use one anyway. For just opening them up for larger strings you can try welding tip cleaners and you’ll find online advice about this. As he mentions, if you’re not handy with tools some of this will seem advanced and it will take patience, practice and experience to become proficient, just like playing does. But getting intimate with your instrument is also very rewarding.

Overall this guide is very good for both electric and acoustic guitars and I only want to bring up a few things from my own experience.
Cleaning is discussed and I cannot stress enough that liquid cleaners are rarely needed. Dust first, I like using a blower on some areas, a Swiffer also and then a damp cloth will likely do. Wax/polish on the back of the neck is okay and if you want the rest of the guitar slippery that’s up to you. Steel wool and lighter fluid are mentioned and I advise you research this further and have some real knowledge before using abrasives and solvents. A polishing cloth and toothbrush should be enough on frets and hardware. The thing is, what looks great at the moment may do harm over time.
3 in 1 oil is mentioned and I wouldn’t use it. The reason being is because of the detergent/solvent in it, fingers greasy from petroleum jelly works well and is safer, lubing the string at the nut is very important for tuning. Graphite without solvents are also safe. Again, solvents will do harm over time.

Those are my only real disagreements with the author, perhaps he’s never ruined an expensive paint job, but I have seen the effect of both things I mention on custom and older paint and I feel he’s being too general with his advice. He’s right that some finishes seem about as resistant to damage as Kevlar, but not all.

The next three things I’ll just add to his well written book:

Clean your strings to prolong their life, anyone who’s boiled bass strings knows the value of cleaning but there is no substitute for frequent changes. Old strings will make all this work you’ve done seem pointless. Your intonation will change with worn strings, so I suggest setting it after a good break in.
When adjusting the pickup height you’ll change the tone also, higher being brighter, knowing this can be helpful when adjusting tone changes between neck and bridge pickups. Many will give you one, but there is no numerical setting that is correct, other then the string not hitting the pickup, listen carefully for the tone and volume change after each adjustment, it’s subtle.

Tuners do not all have the same accuracy, most are +/- 1 cent and I can hear that inaccuracy. This will make tuning the intonation incorrect and it goes downhill from there. Look for +/- .1 cent and you’ll be doing yourself a favor, here’s the least expensive model I can recommend.

This is not only a guide but a reference also, making it more valuable for most readers and a very worthwhile purchase, but I’m unable to make comparisons with any other guides. It references specifications for guitar brands and includes helpful websites too. So this gets my approval, not only for beginners but any guitarist who is finally ready to learn about setup, instead of just dropping it off at the shop. My digital copy of the book is good and if you didn’t already know, amazon has free software to read kindle downloads on any computer.”

“Whether you play professionally or for your own rewards, whether you play classical, acoustic or electric or something in between, this is a must-have book for all serious guitarists and for people who love their guitars! I’ve never seen much less owned another book like this. I’ve had to learn from other guitar players or through specific information for specific guitars over the years.


  • Everything that a guitarist interested in setting up their own guitar needs is in this book! No matter what types of guitar you play, this book has you covered.
  • Eventually every guitar teacher has a sincere student with torn up or even bloody fingers and a guitar with action that’s set ridiculously high. Instead of loosing students who can’t afford music shop fees or stand the pain of playing a badly set-up guitar, you can earn some extra revenue by easily adjusting your student’s guitars yourself.
  • Even though the book’s title says beginner, this is a must-have for all guitarists regardless of how long they’ve played. It’s an amazing reference book for guitars.
  • Every guitarist who uses tapping harmonics and open tunings needs to keep this handy to prevent string buzz and create more resonance.
  • Excellent information, very concisely written.
  • Extremely thorough subject matter, lots and lots of data on every page.


  • Should give some alternatives for the feeler gauge measurements; for example most guitarists use new and lightly used (not worn) coins (dimes, quarters, etc) for these measurements. The average guitarists only have standard guitar string changing tools, a tuner, and a capo and won’t invest in more tools until they feel comfortable and confident that they can do this themselves and will do it more than a few times.

“Covering both electric and acoustic guitars, Jonny tells you how to set your guitar to play better. Perfection is not possible with a stringed and fretted instrument, but you can often make it better. Knowing this will help you learn how to better judge guitars before you buy them. You will also gain a better understanding about what your guitar tech does to make it plat better. If brave enough, you can do simple setups yourself.”

“Well worth the money. Very clearly explained. most helpful book i really enjoyed this book to look back on how to for the guitar”

“Pretty good! Seems to cover all the basic setup stuff I needed/wanted for this purchase – Although, doesn’t look like it covers shimmied.g the neck at all (hmmm). Have it on my kindle for PC and formatting seems fine. So far I’m happy with my purchase – Nice price, too.”

“I’m new to guitar setup and this was a very well-written and helpful guide. Lots of good info and pictures to illustrate how to do the task. Again, very basic stuff (you aren’t going to build a guitar or make major repairs with this) but it is a good starting point for people who are new or just want to tweak their guitar on occasion. I have it on Kindle and almost wish I had purchased the hard copy because it has some useful tables and charts that I’d like to reference when working on my guitar.”

“This book is packed with everything you need to know about keeping your guitars playing the way YOU like them written in a way any guitarist can understand. Very well done Mr. Blackwood ! “

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