Guitar maintenance

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Music_Maestro

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Joined: 10/12/11

Posts: 161

How far would anyone here go to self-maintain their own guitars? One of the best techs here in the U.K. charges roughly the equivalent of $80 per hour for just a string change, bridge and trussrod adjustments.

I bought myself an expensive toolkit and other maintenance supplies (a less expensive alternative to their extortionate fees) and I'm now studying extensively and passionately how to maintain my own instruments.

So how far would others really go to self-maintain their guitars? Is anyone brave enough to delve into the inner workings of an electric guitar or would any of you stop at the bridge and neck?

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

#1

How far would anyone here go to self-maintain their own guitars? One of the best techs here in the U.K. charges roughly the equivalent of $80 per hour for just a string change, bridge and trussrod adjustments.

I bought myself an expensive toolkit and other maintenance supplies (a less expensive alternative to their extortionate fees) and I'm now studying extensively and passionately how to maintain my own instruments.

So how far would others really go to self-maintain their guitars? Is anyone brave enough to delve into the inner workings of an electric guitar or would any of you stop at the bridge and neck?

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

DraconusJLM

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Joined: 06/21/21

Posts: 199

I draw the line at refrets, but am more than happy to do anything else on a guitar. I think the key to learning is don't rush, and don't do anything you can't undo until you know what you're doing. Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

I'm currently trying to decide on what pickups to fit to replace the stock models on my Tele.

Six strings, but only four fingers. Twelve simi-tones, but only eight notes to an octive. Part of me thinks mathematicians should steer well clear of guitars.....

#2

I draw the line at refrets, but am more than happy to do anything else on a guitar. I think the key to learning is don't rush, and don't do anything you can't undo until you know what you're doing. Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

I'm currently trying to decide on what pickups to fit to replace the stock models on my Tele.

Six strings, but only four fingers. Twelve simi-tones, but only eight notes to an octive. Part of me thinks mathematicians should steer well clear of guitars.....

davem_or

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Joined: 10/30/17

Posts: 121

Hey. No toolkit is complete without a copy of Dan Erlwine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great!

#3

Hey. No toolkit is complete without a copy of Dan Erlwine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great!

Music_Maestro

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Joined: 10/12/11

Posts: 161

Originally Posted by: DraconusJLM

.Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

You make a strong point, thanks. Let us know which pickups you eventually choose. Good luck with the telecaster

Originally Posted by: davem_or

Hey. No toolkit is complete without a copy of Dan Erlwine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great!

I'm really glad that I bought the latest editions of both his books, then. He really is highly recommended and the books have a ton of invaluable information.

Thanks for sharing.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

#4

Originally Posted by: DraconusJLM

.Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

You make a strong point, thanks. Let us know which pickups you eventually choose. Good luck with the telecaster

Originally Posted by: davem_or

Hey. No toolkit is complete without a copy of Dan Erlwine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great!

I'm really glad that I bought the latest editions of both his books, then. He really is highly recommended and the books have a ton of invaluable information.

Thanks for sharing.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

Sour_Note

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Joined: 12/25/17

Posts: 23

Originally Posted by: DraconusJLM

I draw the line at refrets, but am more than happy to do anything else on a guitar. I think the key to learning is don't rush, and don't do anything you can't undo until you know what you're doing. Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

I'm currently trying to decide on what pickups to fit to replace the stock models on my Tele.

Very good advise. Patience is your friend. I bought a guitar for $15.00 on Craigslist. Took it apart sanded down the clear coat and put a new layer in of poly on it. Bought some low cost parts in a loaded pick guard, jack, bridge and locking tuners. In hindsight I should have also replaced the nut but it can wait. Put it back together and did what I think is an ok setup in terms of action and neck relief. It's more of a science project than an instrument and looks better than it sounds but it is intonated and holds tune fairly well. I don't profess to be a luthier and would not trust my skills on doing anything major on expensive gear but the knowledge gained is well worth the $80.00 investment. I am comfortable doing some basic adjustments without fear of creating a disaster.

#5

Originally Posted by: DraconusJLM

I draw the line at refrets, but am more than happy to do anything else on a guitar. I think the key to learning is don't rush, and don't do anything you can't undo until you know what you're doing. Also be aware that a major screw-up can be really expensive to put right, or result in a guitar that's only fit for spare parts.

I'm currently trying to decide on what pickups to fit to replace the stock models on my Tele.

Very good advise. Patience is your friend. I bought a guitar for $15.00 on Craigslist. Took it apart sanded down the clear coat and put a new layer in of poly on it. Bought some low cost parts in a loaded pick guard, jack, bridge and locking tuners. In hindsight I should have also replaced the nut but it can wait. Put it back together and did what I think is an ok setup in terms of action and neck relief. It's more of a science project than an instrument and looks better than it sounds but it is intonated and holds tune fairly well. I don't profess to be a luthier and would not trust my skills on doing anything major on expensive gear but the knowledge gained is well worth the $80.00 investment. I am comfortable doing some basic adjustments without fear of creating a disaster.

manXcat

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Joined: 02/17/18

Posts: 1287

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

How far would anyone here go to self-maintain their own guitars?

A bit of a 'how long is a piece of string?' question. The pragmatic answer as I see it is that it's really up to each individual's level of competence, confidence, access to the tools required & motivation -access to/lack of access to a luthier.

Plenty of vids and good 'how to' books out there -which I use.


I do all my own maintenance mainly because I'm that way inclined, but unashamedly I admit I like to save a quid to spend elsewhere. There's also the aspect of 'if you want a job done well, do it yourself'. I don't see any point paying for something I can do with greater diligence myself.

IME most maintenance tasks can be performed with fairly inexpensive rudimentiary tools, and just take a bit of knowledge, which can be researched, accompanied by 'have a go' trial and error, repeat or practice if you get it wrong until you get it right and the subsequent confidence which develops with that process to acquire the necessary skills.

I do all my own guitar maintenance including electronics. Remove and replace pickups, pots, capacitors, which I select. Set them up. i.e. pickup heights. Physical maintenance, really just parts fitting. i.e. Swapping out bridges, saddles, tuners, string trees etc. I have swapped out a nut, which is a bit trickier getting just right. Restrings of course, and my own setups are the norm. I polish fret ends and frets if required. I'd have a go at recrowning them if necessary.

I'd possibly stop at a refret which requires an investment in quality tools -or maybe not. Haven't had to have one done yet, but they are frightfully expensive to have performed by a luthier in my country. So much so, unless it's a high end Gibson et al, may as well buy a new guitar instead -or neck if a bolt on.

#6

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

How far would anyone here go to self-maintain their own guitars?

A bit of a 'how long is a piece of string?' question. The pragmatic answer as I see it is that it's really up to each individual's level of competence, confidence, access to the tools required & motivation -access to/lack of access to a luthier.

Plenty of vids and good 'how to' books out there -which I use.


I do all my own maintenance mainly because I'm that way inclined, but unashamedly I admit I like to save a quid to spend elsewhere. There's also the aspect of 'if you want a job done well, do it yourself'. I don't see any point paying for something I can do with greater diligence myself.

IME most maintenance tasks can be performed with fairly inexpensive rudimentiary tools, and just take a bit of knowledge, which can be researched, accompanied by 'have a go' trial and error, repeat or practice if you get it wrong until you get it right and the subsequent confidence which develops with that process to acquire the necessary skills.

I do all my own guitar maintenance including electronics. Remove and replace pickups, pots, capacitors, which I select. Set them up. i.e. pickup heights. Physical maintenance, really just parts fitting. i.e. Swapping out bridges, saddles, tuners, string trees etc. I have swapped out a nut, which is a bit trickier getting just right. Restrings of course, and my own setups are the norm. I polish fret ends and frets if required. I'd have a go at recrowning them if necessary.

I'd possibly stop at a refret which requires an investment in quality tools -or maybe not. Haven't had to have one done yet, but they are frightfully expensive to have performed by a luthier in my country. So much so, unless it's a high end Gibson et al, may as well buy a new guitar instead -or neck if a bolt on.

Music_Maestro

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Joined: 10/12/11

Posts: 161

I'd like to share what happened on my fender squier, something that isn't in the Dan Erlewine manuals (correct me if I'm mistaken with that fact.)

After noticing a rattling sound I traced to a loose input jack, both the washer and bolt fell off. The spring stubbornly disappeared into the holes, refusing to come out. With a medium Phillips screwdriver and 1/2 inch (12ml) socket, I managed to reassemble the unit. There's a tool that looks like a shark tooth in a guitar maintenance kit, but it's too large to tighten the bolt because the way a strat has the input jack located.

But since this is my first encounter with the internal wiring, I was sweating buckets. I've now reassembled everything, but I keeled over in terror, afterwards.

I wasn't ready for internal wiring just yet, until fate gave me a gentle nudge. I researched online that a shaky input jack can cause the wires to twist and degrade, so I acted fast.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

#7

I'd like to share what happened on my fender squier, something that isn't in the Dan Erlewine manuals (correct me if I'm mistaken with that fact.)

After noticing a rattling sound I traced to a loose input jack, both the washer and bolt fell off. The spring stubbornly disappeared into the holes, refusing to come out. With a medium Phillips screwdriver and 1/2 inch (12ml) socket, I managed to reassemble the unit. There's a tool that looks like a shark tooth in a guitar maintenance kit, but it's too large to tighten the bolt because the way a strat has the input jack located.

But since this is my first encounter with the internal wiring, I was sweating buckets. I've now reassembled everything, but I keeled over in terror, afterwards.

I wasn't ready for internal wiring just yet, until fate gave me a gentle nudge. I researched online that a shaky input jack can cause the wires to twist and degrade, so I acted fast.

Epiphone SG 400 Pro, Fender Squier, Flying V for shredding. Celtic fusion,rock, blues & Metal. From Wales, GB.

DraconusJLM

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Joined: 06/21/21

Posts: 199

Congratulations on joining the "Fix it if you can" club.

Maintenance or repairs on the wiring of hollow-bodied guitars is even more fun, especially spending ages with a bent piece of wire trying to hook the loose one to solder it back in place (then comes the fishing game to thread the tone control, or whatever, back through the f-hole and get the end of it sticking out of the body so you can fit it back where it belongs).

I think I may have just convinced myself that any future guitar purchases will be Strats; once over the initial fear of tackling the unknown, they're really easy to repair or upgrade.

Six strings, but only four fingers. Twelve simi-tones, but only eight notes to an octive. Part of me thinks mathematicians should steer well clear of guitars.....

#8

Congratulations on joining the "Fix it if you can" club.

Maintenance or repairs on the wiring of hollow-bodied guitars is even more fun, especially spending ages with a bent piece of wire trying to hook the loose one to solder it back in place (then comes the fishing game to thread the tone control, or whatever, back through the f-hole and get the end of it sticking out of the body so you can fit it back where it belongs).

I think I may have just convinced myself that any future guitar purchases will be Strats; once over the initial fear of tackling the unknown, they're really easy to repair or upgrade.

Six strings, but only four fingers. Twelve simi-tones, but only eight notes to an octive. Part of me thinks mathematicians should steer well clear of guitars.....

manXcat

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Joined: 02/17/18

Posts: 1287

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

I'd like to share what happened on my fender squier,

G'day MM.

Guitar electronics aren't complex. Nothing to be nervous nor afraid of of approaching if with patience and sufficient electronic diagram research in the case of swapping out pickups. Generally they're not difficult to work on with exception of some dated conventional design implementations being notoriously fiddly in terms of access as mentioned above by DraconusJLM. Pretty much 80% of everything to do with removal, repair, modification or refitting of guitar hardware is intrinsic common sense. Though they can be specific at times, Erlewine's books and YT tutorials are there for there for general guidance.

Not quite sure which Squier Strat model or if an unusual jack implementation you're referring to here? TMK all the Squiers, Bullet, Affinity, Player, ever popular Classic Vibe and MIMs have a traditional or conventional Stratocaster externally threaded output (not input) jack for the DS output cable under a propietary Fender shaped cover plate. The jack's short threaded cylinder is held in place against the cover plate by a thin nut over a washer, and the entire assembly is located in place on the guitar body face by two wood screws. Is this what you describing as the "input jack"?

Output jack nuts loosening permitting the threaded cylinder to rotate and twist the wires stressing their fragile often poorly soldered joints isn't uncommon, regardless the brand or model.

As you note, if not addressed promptly when initially noticed, it can eventually result in circuit connection failure, ordinarily at the wire to jack solder joint resulting in no signal output (no sound), although this usually takes time and quite a bit of inadvertant rotation of the cylinder to and fro before that will occur. Annoying, inconvenient, but not catastrophic.

It's a sound precautionary maintenance practice to remove and check that nut fit/security on the jack's cylinder on your guitars when first bought if there's any discernible movement in the jack. If so, access it and after retightening, apply a smidge of Locktite threadlocker on the metal cylinder thread to nut joint. Use a minuscule amount and only of the lowest tensile strength rating as you may want to remove that nut at some later time. On jacks with plastic cover plates found in many brand implementations today where the output jack is located on the bottom side of the solid body, be careful in application as Loctite will render many plastics brittle so in time, they will subsequently fracture & disintergrate. Using threadlocker with metal jack cover plates as on your Squier are fine.

That Fender/Squier cover plate mounted jack assembly arrangment is arguably the easiest to work on of any.

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

But since this is my first encounter with the internal wiring, I was sweating buckets. I've now reassembled everything, but I keeled over in terror, afterwards.

Job well done!

#9

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

I'd like to share what happened on my fender squier,

G'day MM.

Guitar electronics aren't complex. Nothing to be nervous nor afraid of of approaching if with patience and sufficient electronic diagram research in the case of swapping out pickups. Generally they're not difficult to work on with exception of some dated conventional design implementations being notoriously fiddly in terms of access as mentioned above by DraconusJLM. Pretty much 80% of everything to do with removal, repair, modification or refitting of guitar hardware is intrinsic common sense. Though they can be specific at times, Erlewine's books and YT tutorials are there for there for general guidance.

Not quite sure which Squier Strat model or if an unusual jack implementation you're referring to here? TMK all the Squiers, Bullet, Affinity, Player, ever popular Classic Vibe and MIMs have a traditional or conventional Stratocaster externally threaded output (not input) jack for the DS output cable under a propietary Fender shaped cover plate. The jack's short threaded cylinder is held in place against the cover plate by a thin nut over a washer, and the entire assembly is located in place on the guitar body face by two wood screws. Is this what you describing as the "input jack"?

Output jack nuts loosening permitting the threaded cylinder to rotate and twist the wires stressing their fragile often poorly soldered joints isn't uncommon, regardless the brand or model.

As you note, if not addressed promptly when initially noticed, it can eventually result in circuit connection failure, ordinarily at the wire to jack solder joint resulting in no signal output (no sound), although this usually takes time and quite a bit of inadvertant rotation of the cylinder to and fro before that will occur. Annoying, inconvenient, but not catastrophic.

It's a sound precautionary maintenance practice to remove and check that nut fit/security on the jack's cylinder on your guitars when first bought if there's any discernible movement in the jack. If so, access it and after retightening, apply a smidge of Locktite threadlocker on the metal cylinder thread to nut joint. Use a minuscule amount and only of the lowest tensile strength rating as you may want to remove that nut at some later time. On jacks with plastic cover plates found in many brand implementations today where the output jack is located on the bottom side of the solid body, be careful in application as Loctite will render many plastics brittle so in time, they will subsequently fracture & disintergrate. Using threadlocker with metal jack cover plates as on your Squier are fine.

That Fender/Squier cover plate mounted jack assembly arrangment is arguably the easiest to work on of any.

Originally Posted by: Music_Maestro

But since this is my first encounter with the internal wiring, I was sweating buckets. I've now reassembled everything, but I keeled over in terror, afterwards.

Job well done!