Every Leddington guitar is built to the highest quality and standard so that they may last a lifetime and more. A guitar however, is a living and breathing system that will gently shift back and forth over time in response to age and environment. It is therefore essential that you maintain correct temperature and humidity conditions for your instrument and that regular set-ups are performed to keep it within your playing preferences. Some information and tips on this can be found below, please don't hesitate to contact with any further questions.
Action & Relief
The action (measured between the strings and the top of the 12th fret) and the relief (the amount of bow in the neck) are expected to shift a little during the first weeks/months of the guitars life. Its is therefore good to monitor these and make small adjustments when necessary.
As standard the action will be set to 2.5mm (3/32nds) on the bass side and 2mm (2/32nds) on the treble side and the relief between 0.10mm and 0.30mm (.005″ - .012″). These are good average measurements for the general player however you may feel these need to be adjusted to suit your style and attack. A bluegrass flatpicker for example may want a relatively high action and more relief, whereas a player with a lighter attack such as a fingerstyle player may want lower action and less relief.
Relief in the neck is designed to eliminate potential buzzing problems by adding a little extra room for the strings to vibrate. Both environmental conditions and string tension can cause this to shift and if need be this can be adjusted with the trussrod. It must be noted however that the trussrod is NOT for adjusting the action, ONLY the relief.
To measure the relief, bring the strings up to pitch and then place a capo between the nut and the 1st fret. Then depress the Low E string at the 14th fret until it touches. You then want to look between the string and the 6th fret. Ideally there should be between 0.10mm and 0.30mm (.005″ - .012″). You can measure this with a set of feeler gauges (or with an average business card). Little or no gap means your neck is too straight, too much gap and your neck is too bowed. This can be adjusted via the trussrod.
To do this you need the 4mm ball end hex key that came with your guitar. Any 4mm ball end key will work but the one that shipped with you guitar is designed to have a longer profile for better leverage. The trussrod is accessible via the sound hole; spread the D and G strings and place the hex key into the soundhole and through the hole in the top brace, keeping the key parallel to the top it should enter the hole in the heel block where you will eventually find the trussrod. Gently twist the key back and forth until you feel it engage with the trussrod adjustment bolt. To take away relief turn clockwise, to add relief turn counter-clockwise. 1/8th of a turn should produce a noticeable difference. Do not over turn the trussrod do this incrementally and keep rechecking your measurements until the relief is dialed in.
The action is set via a combination of the nut and saddle heights and is generally adjusted by either lowering or heightening the saddle. If the relief is set perfectly and you still feel that the action is not quite right for you you may need to have some adjustments made. As this is a relatively more involved undertaking it is recommended that you take your guitar to an experienced repair person or luthier to have this done. Another thing to consider is that environmental conditions can cause a shift in action as the top moves with the humidity (see 'Humidity' below). Some players carry saddles of different heights to accommodate these potential changes; a summer saddle and a winter saddle, for example. But generally speaking this should not be necessary, it all depends on your preference, style and sensitivity.
Temperature & Humidity
As wood is an organic and porous material it is susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity and as such can move slightly in response. If drastic or sudden these changes can cause damage to your guitar and it is therefore recommended that these conditions be monitored and manipulated where possible.
All Leddington guitars are built in a climate controlled environment that maintains a temperature of around 18ºC - 21ºC (65ºF - 70ºF) and and average relative humidity (RH) of 45%. These are good average conditions designed to buffer against changes that the guitar will experience out of the workshop as in reality a guitar should be perfectly happy within a range of 40 - 60% RH and around 20ºC (68ºF).
You may have noticed that both the top and back of your guitar are not flat but have a spherical arch to them, the back being more pronounced than the top. This is a purposeful addition to the guitar, designed to further buffer against changes in humidity; dry conditions can cause this arch to sink and wetter conditions can cause this arch to rise. This is nothing to be alarmed about as long the humidity stays within the range outlined above, though you may notice that this can cause a slight change in the action of the guitar (see above: Action & Relief).
Given that environmental conditions are vital to good guitar health, it is recommended that you purchase a hygrometer - a device that measures RH - this way you can accurately monitor the humidity levels and act accordingly. Many such devices of varying quality are available but to a certain extent it does not matter which you choose as long as you calibrate the device using the 'salt method' (more info HERE). If you keep your guitar in its case, keep the hygrometer there too. If you keep it out of its case, keep the hygrometer nearby.
If you find that the humidity of you guitars environment drops bellow 25 - 30% cracking and damage may occur. In this case you should consider rehydration methods. A room humidifier is the perfect device to keep several guitars in one room safe and happy. If you tend to keep you guitar in its case or travel with it a lot there are several commercially available case-based humidifiers available; the 'Dampit' and 'Oasis' being two such examples. Always follow manufactures instructions.
Signs of low humidity :-
Flatter top and back.
Low action (buzzing even with correct relief).
Cracking in the wood.
Shrinking of binding.
High humidity problems are generally more difficult to deal with, they are however less of a problem in terms of damage to your guitar. High humididty - 65% and above - can cause your top and thus your action to rise making it difficult to play your guitar. It can also affect the tone of your guitar making the top less responsive.
If high humidity conditions persist a room dehumidifier is a solution. Case-based systems such as the Planet Waves Humidipak (which both humidifies and de-humidifies) are also an option. With all methods of de-humidification be extremely carful, it is very easy to go too far the other way and dry out your guitar. Remember, better a little too wet than too dry.
Signs of high humidity :-
Swelling of glue joints.
Lifting of the bridge.
Temperature is another environmental condition that needs to be monitored. Ideally guitars like rages similar to humans... not too hot and not too cold, around 18ºC - 21ºC but a bit lower or higher is fine. Extremely high temperatures – such as in a car on a hot day – can cause glue failure and extremely low temperatures – such as in a car at night – can cause cracked and checkered lacquer.
In short, the most important thing to remember is to avoid sudden changes in both humidity and temperature. If your guitar moves from one environment to another - inside to outside, shipping to home etc.) - leave it in its case for some hours to acclimatize, this way it will be better insulated against thermal and hydro shock.
Cleaning & Oiling
After each use you should gently wipe down your guitar with a micro-fiber cloth to prevent oil and acid build-ups transferred from your skin. Pay particular attention to where you hands and arm touch the guitar.
From time-to-time however you may wish to give your guitar a more thorough clean and for this a lightly dampened with warm water micro-fiber cloth is the best choice. When doing this place a spare towel into the soundhole of the guitar to protect the inside. DO NOT flood the guitar with water or an overly dampened cloth.
There are also dedicated products on the market for cleaning guitars, of which Crimson Guitars Fretboard and Finish Cleaner can be recommended, no others have been tested. Always follow manufactures instructions.
WARNING - all Leddington guitars are finished with nitro-cellulose lacquer and as such should NEVER come into contact with pure alcohol or acetone (nail polish remover). Nor should you use products containing silicone or petroleum.
Once every 6 months months or so it is also prudent to oil your fingerboard and bridge to keep them from drying out. For this Leddington Guitars Restoration Oil is highly recommend as it is made with 100% natural oils, finish safe and non-toxic.