So it was set up night at ol' Burnin' Skies' house tonight. Not for basses, as mine're set up nice all the time. But instead, my guitarist came over and I donated several hours of time to help his #1. While this refers to one of our little six string brethren, I still think it applies to REAL instruments like our basses. What I really learned is that it's almost useless to do a detailed set up without the actual player there. Here's the story why: Lately he's been dissatisfied with the tuning of his guitar, as have I! I notice that he tunes way too much,gets out of tune quickly AND seems to pull himself out of tune with his fretting and picking. He's also having trouble with E-string breakage at the bridge. -First up for the night, we're exchanging bridge pieces (in this case, the high E for the G) in hopes of solving or temporarily alleviating the breaking. This goes well on the Wilkinson Strat-style bridge, with no difficulties. -Next is a quick rough-setup with the old grungy strings to get the action roughly in place and then a ballpark intonation check. -Next, I ask him to put on the new strings and stretch them as he normally does. In the process, I notice his string stretching is um...WELL underdeveloped. #1 suspicion of mine confirmed about the out-of-tune problem. -New strings on, up to pitch on the ol' DTR-2 tuner and I ask him to check the action. I adjust several of the strings a touch, handing it back to him for a recheck each time...in 10 minutes he's happier with string height than with his previous "Pro" set up. -Next, I S-T-R-E-T-C-H the strings for real. As I do for any bass or guitar, I keep stretching them and retuning until they don't drop in pitch when stretched. Yes it takes a while, but when done, tuning stability is increased a lot, as is, I feel the consistency of tone (the strings are "seated" better on the instrument). I think he caught on to the amount of stretching you really need to do to get things solid from watching without me saying a word. -Next I check the intonation, carefully checking 12th fret and harmonics, adjusting several times to get right on. I retune across the board by open notes, play up the neck...check tuning again at 12th and replay...sounds pretty good! -Now I ask HIM to play the guitar... Doesn't sound so good. Stuff just sounds OUT. Bah. It was DEAD IN when I was playing?!? I find myself thinking that maybe it's his technique...he hits much harder than I do, and frets pretty hard too. I ask him to check 12th fret tuning and harmonics, hitting as he normally played...now several of the strings appear to be out. I pick it up and play again...and it's back 'IN'... Soooo, I ask him to check it again, and I adjust the intonation to HIS playing on all strings...now I ask him to play chords, and lines up and down the neck and try it out. IT WORKS! It's in tune up and down the neck, chords sound in and he's not pulling things 'out' while playing, a problem he's had since I've known him. The lesson? Intonation is dependant upon playing style more than I ever expected...I'll never do a 'take home' job without the player around. When he walked out the door he said "I think this had needed a set-up for a really long time now, I can't wait until the show tomorrow night!" Oh, and for my trouble my guitarist gave me a super nice Jamaican footy shirt!