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Guitar Self-service

Cedar Speeder
Getting your guitar serviced can be a dangerous, expensive and very useful mission. It's the kind of thing that is best done a couple times a year when the seasons are approaching their extremes. The ability to do it oneself seems a pretty helpful thing.

For this message board, I'd like to get some stories told about people's different methods and ideas. Ideas gone right, ideas gone wrong. Here are some buzzing basics as I understand them (...and managed to get from the guitar specialist at my local shop. As far as I'm concerned he is the ultimate authority!).

String buzzing - The problem could be any combination of truss rod, action at the saddles, or uneven frets. For the frets, I don't think there's any easy solution besides taking the guitar in to get evened out. However, if that's not the problem, some combination of truss rod (think quarter turns for slight changes) and saddle action (same). For buzzing on low frets (close to the nut), put emphasis on the truss rod. For buzzing on high frets (close to bridge), put emphasis on the saddles.
This could be useful information if I ever decided that my guitar needed adjusting. I never really notice all that much buzzing with my guitar but it may just be that I am not listening for the right thing.
I wouldn't recommend messing with your truss rod, my friend josh is a guitar tech at a local music shop and says the easiest and most common way that people ruin perfectly good guitars is by playing with the truss rod.

The easiest way to remedy string buzzes is to alter the height of the strings. This is reasonably easy on most electrics but doing it on an acoustic requires de-stringing it, removing part of the bridge and cutting/filing it down (unless you have one of those cool old adjustable bridges)

Or, of course, you can get a fret job done (also good if you like low-action)

I wouldn't recommend self-servicing guitars, unless your handy with a soldering iron, have at least a basic knowledge of electrical circuits and how pickups and pots work.

Once a guitar came into the shop, and it wouldn't make a sound when plugged into an amp. We pulled it to bits and found that both wires to the output jack had been soldered onto the same contact . Rolling Eyes
The Mitchell
aye but if you know what your doing with the truss rod then your sound. I advise getting someone to show you sometime before trying it yourself. Ive rebuilt a few guitars so im not too bad at it now but the intonation is an art form. Especially on low end guitars you'll notice a huge difference in accuracy in the worksmanship.
I also think that i would rather spend some money to get a professional to do it instead of ruining my guitar, which i would probably do.

But of cause - if you are good at it, it would be a waste of money to make pro's do the work.

- Achene
Hi, i agree that the guitar should be left alone unless some serious hands on needs to be done. At least get the pros to repair it for you. And if he makes it spoilt, he got to pay up for it! Otherwise it would be foolish and you could get the cash to buy a new guitar, well, at least get some discount off the dude's range of brand new guitars! Try to bargain up to 50% man! Never hurts to get a huge discount off the store boss. IMHO.
With my bass, I got it cheap (105 for bass, lead, bag and amp), and it's lowest of the low P-Bass knockoff (Made by KCC, whoever the hell they are...). I then stripped it, repainted it, and added new pickups, and bought a new lead. Now just as good as a proper one.

I also regularly clean it with wood cleaning wipes.

In regards to changing the strings, I only do it about every 15 months or so, since I prefer the deeper, smoother sound than the sharp twang of new notes.
Cedar Speeder
I know what you mean about the new-string-twang, on guitar I love it but I can see it being undesirable on bass for some people. For electric I find it's about every 4-8 weeks that I'll change up the strings if I'm playing a great deal. Acoustic, it's a little longer as I've gone the Elixer route - definitely worth it. Although I can't say the same for electric Elixers.

As far as string changing routine, going back to the original aim of this thread, I leave enough slack on the string so that I can get a couple winds around the peg. My guitar tech explained that if you make the excess string wind down the nut, then the string leaves the peg a little lower and makes a better connection with the nut. Once it's in tune, I'll pull the string (at fret 12) up a couple inches for 30 seconds, then ease it back down again and retune. I'll repeat this for all the strings until they don't lose tuning after the stretch.
I would second the suggestion about not messing with your truss-rod... at least not without reading up on it and fully understanding what you're doing. Ideally, go to a guitar tech or do what I did and buy and old guitar to screw around with. I picked up an old Samick Strat for $40 and I just use it to tinker with so I can gain some confidence for working on my real Strat. I've had it completely apart numerous times and fixed various things. I even repaired a damaged fret on the thing.

I play a 6-string bass. Because the main band I play in tunes to C# - drop B, and I keep my low B in tune with the rest of the strings (F#), I had to learn to make the adjustments myself.

Anytime I jam with someone else, I have to adjust the tension in both truss rods through the neck. It's no where near as complicated as people are making it out to be. Just be careful, and do the research first.

Wether I'm tuned to A440 or to C# drop B, my action is constant and my string tension is perfect for my playing style, and the only adjustments I need to make is to tweak the 2 trussrods in my bass.

I suggest if you don't know what you're doing, get a shop to do it for you as they will have done it a million times and will know exactly what to do.

Having said this, i know what i'm doing with a guitar these days and I service all my guitars myself. Once you know how it's much better. You get the satisfaction of doing it yourself plus u can tailor your setup to your specific playing style and preferences.

For basic maintenance there isn't a huge amount you need to to. If you have uneven frets don't ask me that's not a problem i've had! I keep my guitars sounding good though by bridge saddle, adjustments and truss rods changes if really necessary.

The truss rod really should not be messed with unless you know exactly what you're doing. Small adjustements make a big difference and if you adjust your neck too much at once you can cause serious damage.

Adjusting the bridge generally sorts mine out. To stop fret buzzing (assuming there is a nice bow in the neck- if not try the truss rod) just raise the saddle a bit but be careful only as much as needed or you'll find the strings really high. Adjusting saddle position should be done regularly as well to keep the guitar in tune on higher frets. Plug in a tuner and play the 12th fret on each string and adjust the saddle so that it is perfectly in tune (make sure to keep checking after adjustments that the string is in tune when played open too!).

If you want to be really accurate (i am!) do the same on the 24th frets (only if u have them! speaking for basses here).
Cedar Speeder
Though many people have expressed their opinions concerning the topic of guitar maintenance (if it's something they are interested in trying, what they think about doing it themselves, etc.), it would still be good to get some more specific discussion of the topic itself (maintenance techniques, resources, etc.). For those who are interested in guitar maintenance, a sharing of resources on the topic (eg. good books, websites, courses, etc.) and specific techniques could be very useful - and would also help to make a great resource of this thread.
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