Tech Talk: A Blog About Guitar Repair
Tech Talk: A Blog About Guitar Repair
Our mission is to use this space to answer common questions about guitar maintenance, modifications, and repairs in a clear and detailed manner. These articles are not intended as a step-by-step guide to servicing your own instrument. However, it is our sincere hope that you will find value in the information provided.
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Crack Repairs – Repairing Wood Cracks in Guitars
Wood is the most common material for guitar construction. A few particular tree species such as Ebony, Maple, Rosewood Mahogany and Spruce have long been staples within the industry. The type chosen for a particular task is based on a combination of factors such as: availability, tonal qualities, aesthetic beauty, workability, tradition, strength, and durability.
As with anything made of wood, if they are to last, guitars require care and consideration to protect them from damage. Wood cracks can usually be attributed to one of two main causes: Impact (such as a drop or hit) or humidity issues. While the causes may be simple, the variation is nearly endless. The following is an overview of the common ways that wooden guitars can crack and corresponding methods of repair.
Acoustic Strap Buttons
A guitar strap allows the player to securely position the instrument in a comfortable spot without the need to physically hold it. They can be useful whether playing seated or standing.
Strap buttons are the connecting points that let the user easily secure and/or remove the strap as needed. Each guitar strap needs needs two points of contact. On an acoustic guitar, these points are typically the endpin and either the headstock or the heel.
Electronic Repairs on Hollowbody Guitars
This beautiful Collings I30 guitar came to us with a non-functional neck pickup tone control. While this is likely a simple repair electronically, as with most wiring repairs on semi-hollow and fully hollow-bodied guitars, the more time consuming task will be accessing and reinstalling the electronics before and after service.
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Taylor Guitars Expression System Repairs
The Taylor Guitars Expression System is a series of proprietary onboard acoustic guitar electronics. Here we will discuss some commonly needed repairs.
Electric Guitar Neck Shims
When performing a setup on a bolt-on necked electric guitar, shims are a way to quickly adjust the angle at which the neck joins the body, facilitating the desired action adjustment.
We commonly find improvised shims installed in the neck pocket. They range from purpose-built plastic shims to a hodgepodge of items like sandpaper, cardboard, and/or guitar picks. In our shop, we prefer to make make full length, angled, shims.
Telecaster 3 Barrel Saddle Upgrades
There is an easy upgrade option that can dramatically improve the intonation of 3 barrel saddle equipped Fender Telecaster guitars without significantly altering the look or originality of the instrument: Compensated 3 barrel saddles. Compensated Telecaster saddles overcome the limitations of shared saddles in one of two ways. While each string will still not be individually adjustable, the strings will sit at predetermined intervals, much like a compensated acoustic guitar saddle, that are much more conducive to accurate string-to-string intonation.
Routing Guitar Bodies For Electronics Installation
Electric guitars typically have openings in the body to accommodate the electronics. Manufacturers will typically remove only as much wood as is necessary to accommodate any factory variations of a given model. For example, the above guitar features 3 pickups in an HSS configuration, blade pickup selector switch, volume and tone controls. When modifying an instrument’s electronics to fit custom specifications, it is sometimes necessary to alter the existing cavities, or create new ones, to accommodate the new components
Sunken Jack Syndrome – Gibson / Epiphone 335
This Epiphone 335 model guitar came into shop with the output jack stuck inside of the body. The nut and washer that had once secured the jack to the top of the instrument had come loose allowing the jack to drop inside. In shop, we call this “sunken jack syndrome”; This happens fairly frequently on hollow body and semi-hollow guitars such as the venerable 335 model produced by both Gibson and Epiphone, as well as various other similarly styled models including many of those made by Gretsch Guitars.
Shielding an Electric Guitar
“Shielding” is tool that is used to reduce electromagnetic interference, or “EMI”, in your guitar’s signal. Since most electric guitar pickups are by definition “electromagnetic transducers”, EMI is a frequent cause of unwanted noise in the guitar’s signal chain. Guitars with single coil style pickups are especially prone to these issues.