Does your instrument feel difficult, tiring or painful to play?
Do the strings seem too high or low in relation to the frets?
Does the neck seem bowed or twisted?
Can you see fret wear under the strings?
Do any notes buzz or fail to ring out naturally?
Is your instrument difficult to tune?
Do you hear any crackling or signal cut out when playing through an amp?
Do you hear any crackling or signal cut out when adjusting volume or tone knobs or switches?
Does your instrument feel different to when you bought it?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions it may be time for a checkup.
A well adjusted instrument is an inspiration to play. Every instrument, even brand new, must be set up to play comfortably, stay in tune and match it's players style. Every musician has different preferences in regards to string gauge, tuning and action/string height and for an instrument to perform correctly it must be adjusted with all these things in mind. Much like taking a car to the mechanic regularly, periodic checkups are recommended for your guitar as well. The timbers in your instrument will swell and contract with the seasons and over time the frets will wear and parts can fail. Regular maintenance will keep things running smoothly and reduce the likelihood of major repairs being required down the track.
If you are new to playing there are a few reasons why it is especially important to get your instrument properly serviced and set up. If your instrument is of entry level quality, it is likely be set up poorly. To keep prices down for entry level instruments, manufacturers often skimp on the finishing touches. Issues such as badly levelled and crowned frets, jagged fret ends, overly high action and inaccurate intonation are common. These issues can result in your instrument being difficult, tiring and even painful to play, impossible to tune accurately and sounding generally uninspiring. If you purchased your instrument second hand, it may have been a long time since it was last serviced, if at all... Some students can struggle to learn and even lose interest due to the poor condition of their instrument.