Setting Up A G Series EG523SC Takamine Guitar

I think this model of guitar might be the one I see most often on my repair bench. Its a really popular guitar and unusually for a G Series Takamine its made in Korea. The G Series is Takamine’s more affordable range and its generally great stuff this model included but this model generally needs a set-up. Most other G Series models stand out to me as coming out of the box with excellent play-ability especially considering how cheap many of these guitars are. I’ve set up around 5 or 6 of these for sale in our shop and around the same number again that have come in for a set-up that were not bought off us. Usually they need the bridge lowered and this is generally a doddle as the bridge in this model is stacked up with shims in the factory. They also need the nut slots lowered. The necks are usually straight. With these few jobs done you have a great guitar with a high quality pickup for less than €600. I’ll walk you through the set-up below that I did for a customer recently. I think he got it off Thomann as he had it in one of their cases.

First of all I evaluate the guitar. I checked how straight the neck was. This is done putting a capo on the first fret and holding down the strings at the 14th fret where the body joins the neck. Then I measure the gap between the strings and the top of the frets around the 7th and 8th frets. On this Guitar there was a very small gap at this spot. I didn’t take a pic of this but the gap was so small that a credit card would not fit between the the top of the 7th fret and the low E strings.

I also sighted the neck bay looking along it and I was happy it was straight without any obvious bumps. This meant that It probably wouldn’t need much of a truss rod adjustment if any. The high action was probably being caused by a high nut and/or bridge saddle. As you can see in the next 2 pics there is a big gap between the string and the first fret. This gap is more than is necessary to have the guitar playing without buzz.

To Judge how much of a gap you need at the first fret you can capo the first fret and measure the distance between the top of the second fret and the low E string. I usually add a small amount on to this distance as I have found it to be necessary to avoid excessive buzz.

In The next pic you can see the terrible action this guitar had around the 12th fret. It was almost unplayable. This pic was taken with a cpao on the 1st fret. This meant that both the nut and the bridge saddle needed to be lowered. I always adjust the bridge saddle before the nut and I do so with a capo at the first fret to take the nut out of my calculations.




In the next 2 pics you can see the shims that I predicted would be under the saddle and under saddle pickup. I removed all the shims and there were loads. Someone in Takamine’s Korean factory is very shim happy!
Note that bumpy underside of the saddle Takamine use. It slots right into there pickup. Most other guitars have a flat underside to their saddle. To lower it you can sand down that flat edge. Not so with Takamine. If you need to remove more nut material after the shims are out you need to carve it off the top of the saddle. This is more awkward as you have to make sure to maintain the fretboard radius across the top of the saddle.


After I had removed the shims I restrung the guitar. The action was still too high. I needed to remove around 2mm more off the bridge saddle to acheive the action I wanted but I had to measure the saddle to see if I had 2mm to play with. If I didn’t have enough saddle protruding above the bridge this guitar would either need more extensive work or I would have to compromise on the set-up. Luckily this didn’t happen. I had a little more than 3.5mm of saddle to play with.

I carefully carved the bridge down with sandpaper and files. I kept checking to make sure I was maintaining the correct radius.

Here’s what it looked like by the end of my carving. At this stage it played really well with a capo at the first fret but was still poor with the capo off.

Time to get out my files! These are Japanese files made specifically for working on nuts. They come in different thicknesses so you can cut the slots to exactly the right width.

I filed down the slots to where I wanted them and this guitar played wonderfully!

Next Up I used lemon oil to clean the fingerboard. I also polished the frets with steel wool. I use this handy little guard to protect the wood when polishing.

Then I Polish the Guitar!

At this stage the strings I put on at the start of the set-up process are knackered from being taken on and off. I need to put another new set on and play test it.

Here is what the action looked like at the 12th fret at this stage. Just perfect!

I was really happy with how this guitar turned out!

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