Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eric Johnson's Setup Secrets -- Part II

My article on Eric Johnson's setup secrets from a while ago proved quite popular. This article is a more detailed follow-up.

In 2001, top-notch guitar repairman Gary Brawer took some careful measurements of Eric Johnson's beloved '58 Stratocaster. These were his findings:
  • The guitar was refretted with new .105 x .040 frets
  • The center of each fret was slightly milled to flatten out the radius to prevent bent notes from fretting out
  • String height is set at 4/64" for the high E and just under 4/64" for the low E, with both measurements taken at the 12th fret. The high E is set slightly higher to facilitate clean bending
  • The truss-rod is adjusted so that there is absolutely no relief on the fingerboard
  • The nut is cut low with just enough clearance for the open strings to ring cleanly
  • The string ends are not inserted into the center holes of the tuners. Instead the string ends are threaded between each tuner's center slot and then wrapped around each post two or three times.
  • The B string is wound all the way to the bottom of the tuning post and is not threaded through the string-tree
  • At the bridge, stock vintage saddles are used on all the strings except for the high E. Here Eric uses a brass saddle to fatten up its sound.
  • The four tremelo springs (set three on the bass side and one on the treble side) are tensioned just enough to keep the bridge resting against the body of the guitar, ensuring maximum transference of string energy. This setup also ensures that bending a string will also not cause other unbent strings to lower in pitch
  • Except for a simple re-wiring of the second tone pot so that it controls the bridge pickup, all electronics are stock
  • Eric sets the bridge pickup closer to the strings. The center polepieces on the bridge pickup are also pushed down to reduce the arc of the polepieces
  • The neck pickup is 10/64" from the strings. The middle pickup is 12/64" from the strings on the treble side and 10/64" on the bass side. The bridge pickup is set at 6/64" on the bass side and 4/64" on the treble side
  • Strings are GHS Nickel Rockers gauged .010, .013, .017, .026, .038 and .050
Gary's blog is loaded with pics and info about the repair work (and more) on the guitars and basses that come through his shop. Check it out here:

Eric's '58 Stratocaster is featured throughout this HotLicks DVD:
The complete home study jazz guitar course

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