From the November/December 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Kate Koenig
For the past decade, MusicNomad has provided maintenance products for guitarists—everything from guitar polish to string-changing tools. Now, the company has introduced the Keep It Simple, Setup (KISS), a DIY kit designed with the guidance of guitar tech (and SF GuitarWorks owner) Geoff Luttrell to make guitar setups easy even for the entirely uninitiated.
Packaged in three small cases, KISS ($159.99) comes with virtually any tool you’ll need for setting up your acoustic guitar (or electric or bass guitar): a six-piece gauge setup set, 26-piece screwdriver and wrench collection, and an 11-piece truss-rod wrench assortment. Also included is an essential 24-page booklet that walks you through the setup process in detail, having you use each of the tools in recommended order.
In addition to the kit, the manufacturer provided me with a set of six diamond-coated nut files ($84.99) for adjusting nut-slot depth/individual string action. I tested out KISS on an old Tacoma DM14 dreadnought. First I slid the included pick capo between the E and D strings and the A string and used the truss-rod gauge to check the relief; the results led me to tighten the rod using the appropriate Allen key. Next, I used a gauge to measure the action of strings 6 and 1 at the 12th fret, which indicated that at .09 and .075 inches, they met the specifications for the desired medium action.
Lastly, I slid another gauge between each individual string and the first fret to test the nut height for each. Because there was some extra space between the fret and the low E string, I used the appropriate nut file to sand down the slot a tiny bit, which then allowed the gauge to fit smoothly.
As someone who’s had only minimal experience setting up guitars, I found MusicNomad’s KISS made the process not only unintimidating, but fun, thanks to the range of tools and their breakdown of measurements, not to mention the detailed, intuitive guidebook. KISS makes it easy to improve your guitar’s playability in subtle yet impactful ways. I highly recommend it.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.