All Blog Posts

Guitar repair – Cut ‘n’ replace strings one by one or all at once?

This question was put to me again by a steel-string guitar owner, and I don't blame the questioner. There are as many opinions on this as there are guitarists or guitars!!! But shall we put this debate to rest, once and for all? IT'S PERFECTLY SAFE TO CUT ALL THE STRINGS ON YOUR WESTERN FLAT-TOP (STEEL STRING) GUITAR AT ONE GO! So, how did the doubt arise in the first place? The Western flat-top guitar, as we know it, is a contemporary cousin of the Classical Guitar (Spanish Guitar), having evolved from it. The Classical Guitar - having its origins ...
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Guitar repair – No string artwork on the headstock!

Rave alert! I have raved about it before and I will repeat myself for - two reasons - reader memory is short, and yours truly was, himself, reminded of this malpractice when more than a couple of guitars walked into the Garage with monstrosities like this staring at him from the headstock.  It was frightening!   Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the extra length of string is provided by the manufacturer just in case you have a guitar with a tail-piece (see below). Never was the extra length of string provided for you to try and challenge the genius ...
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Guitar repair – Getting Alhambra in tune again!

You all might remember this one from some time back. It returned recently for a change of tuning machine sets. The owner was not happy with the tuning machines and also the crumbling buttons on them. If you don't remember the earlier visit by this instrument, you can read about it here Guitar repair – A novel problem in a classical Alhambra! As you can see, otherwise, the guitar was in very good shape, being kept well. However, the tuning machine set on the treble side was causing problems. As I looked at it closely, I discovered tell-tale signs of ...
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Guitar repair – Making ‘Sire’ sing again!

A return customer brought me this to set the action on, for a set-up, and "do whatever I deemed fit". I was struck by its beauty - especially the bridgepins , but the action on the guitar was decidedly high, while the nut slots were cut too deep In fact, the B string was caught in its slot, sounding muted each time it was plucked. This is my second encounter with a Sire and the more I see of it, the more I'm impressed by it. If you would like to read about my first encounter, it's here Guitar repair ...
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Guitar repair – 13s or 11s? Which one should I use?

That was the point of conversation with a return customer. I will try my best to explain to you my answer that I gave him - as to all those who ask me. And in case it didn't strike you, we are talking about string gauges. 13s (.013" - .052/.054/.056") These are BIG strings (but in the industry they are referred to as 'Medium' strings!) and naturally they give a bigger bang for their buck. However, they are a bigger strain all round - on the joints of the guitar, as well as on your fingers, on the bridge, the ...
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Guitar repair – The belly bulge: whys and wherefores?

Happy New Year, folks! I'm back! Of late, I have had to tend to a slew of belly bulge cases. I hope to replicate for you all the explanation of the whys and wherefores that I usually give guitar owners. What is a belly bulge? A belly bulge is said to have occurred in an acoustic guitar when the area of its top behind the bridge - towards the end block - swells up and rises. Try and imagine: the strings are pulling that portion of the top towards the headstock and along comes the belly bulge aiding the strings ...
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Guitar repair – Strings: Which ones are the best for me?

And, we return to that eternal question! I have dwelt upon this before (in the very early days of this blog) but since I have to explain to (almost) every customer which string would suit their style (and guitar) the best, I thought that I would put my thoughts down again for the benefit of the larger audience. If you care to read the earlier post on strings, you can do so here: Which strings to use; how often to change So, which strings you use is dictated by a few things: the guitar you play (its construction), your playing ...
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Guitar repair – A bridge glue-up in October (It went well)!

The last time, I had announced that I shall no longer do (any) glue-up jobs between July and September and that I would welcome these jobs October onwards. This bridge-glue-up job came in October when the humidity gods were more benevolent, but this was an odd one. Obviously, it had been standing lonely in a corner of some forsaken room. You can make that out from the missing ferrules of the D and G string tuners. It had developed a handsome belly bulge and the bridge had started to come off. Wisely or not, the owner had taken it upon ...
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Guitar repair – Pain in the season of fails: the final chapter!

I had been noticing for a couple of years now that each year, during July and August, all glue-up jobs would take two or three tries to get done. I always attributed it to my fault somewhere in the process. However, after two guitars this year led me quite a dance in the said two months, it suddenly struck me that it was not I but the weather that was to blame. And it had been the weather all along. With the epiphany came the decision: NO MORE GLUE-UP JOBS IN JULY, AUGUST & SEPTEMBER!!!!!! I guess that's fair warning ...
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Guitar repair – even the easy jobs ain’t easy!

This guitar came in while I was still getting back from a bruising bout with viral fever, and trying to dig myself out from under mountains of work that had piled up all around the house! This had to be a quick job as it had to be returned to the owner fast. He had a gig upcoming and the action on the guitar was  very high, he said. Even without taking off the strings, I could make out that the fretboard had never seen a cloth. When I took the strings off - which, incidentally, weren't too old - ...
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Guitar repair – There are repairs that you shouldn’t undertake!

I am all for you doing maintenance work on your guitars. Those of you who have met me must recall the list of dos and don'ts that I have postered and which I insist that you take a photograph of and follow. The aim of the #lucknowguitargarage - the workshop as well as the blog - is to acquaint you with every part of your guitar and help you 'Mend, Maintain & Modify' your guitars by your own hand. However, there are a few things that I insist that you don't undertake. These include reglueing headstock/neck breaks and lifting bridges.  ...
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Guitar repair – Hoping JnR has a long life!

After the travel-sized adventure with the LAG, came another travel-sized guitar: JnR. Though newish, it was in for general maintenance, some strings, but primarily for action correction. The problem with cheaper guitars is their construction quality becomes evident very soon in their lives. Right off the bat, I noticed that the (plastic) saddle was not the right length for the slot cut for it. Why is this so wrong? Because the longer the saddle, better is the transfer of energy from saddle to bridge to top, improving sound quality and sustain. Earlier Martin guitars used to sport what we refer ...
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Guitar repair – Joy setting up this LAG orchestra model!

A few years ago, I had repaired a guitar which I had never even heard of. The owner had told me LAG was a French company which had begun production in India and the instrument in my hand was among the first few guitars of the company in India. Hugely interested by that fact, I repaired the guitar... With a shattered top, is it ‘Bye-bye, Beauty’? and as I went through the instrument with a fine-tooth comb, I also decided to review it Wait, save, buy – the LAGT88D (a review) Convinced by my ravings about LAG guitars, a return ...
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Guitar repair – Pain in the season of fails

A headstock repair going wrong, not working, is still understandable, but a bridge reglue not happening, ever heard that one? How wrong can one go with cleaning the underside of the bridge, its footprint on the guitar top, smearing glue and clamping the two together? HORRIBLY WRONG, says my experience! And, blame it all on the weather (the humidity in the air). So, this young man came to me with a lifting bridge on a Hertz guitar I took one look at it and said, 'Yeah, I'll do it', but also pointed out the plastic/artificial nut-saddle duo his instrument was ...
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Guitar repair – With the rains, comes the season of fails!

However beneficial the rains might be, it is not good for glue-up jobs! The heat and the humidity combo of the season (at least in this part of the world) refuses to let the glue dry no matter how long you leave the clamps on. As examples, I will present two instruments that refused glue-up that were bread-and-butter type glue-up jobs. This one is Epiphone but a different model from the one I worked on last time. It seems just fine till you look at its headstock And to make matters worse, the owner had tried to glue up the ...
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Guitar repair – A Dove that sings sweet!

The action on your guitar is primarily dictated by neck angle, and then there are a host of other factors. Neck angle is another element where (comparatively) expensive guitars score over cheaper guitars (putting another tick in the 'expensive guitars' column')! This well-maintained Epiphone Dove Pro came to me for general maintenance, a check-up and some fresh strings. Immediately, I could see that though the saddle was of bone, the nut was a plastic one (the first pic). And even though it had a bone saddle, the owner brought a new bone saddle which he had earlier purchased elsewhere. He ...
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Guitar repair – A novel problem in a classical Alhambra!

As you might have guessed, this was a classical guitar that came to me with a unique problem. But first, Alhambra. This is a 58-year old Spanish guitar-making company that has made a name for itself in these few years (Few? CF Martin and Co was established in 1883!!). The firm makes classical, flamenco and steel string guitars but is known more for its classical and flamenco models. The guitar came in with a peculiar problem: one that I saw for the first time. Its gear on one of the tuning machines had lost a couple of teeth due to ...
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Guitar repair – Facelift for humble oldtimer

Back in the day - say mid-80s - these imitation jazz guitars flooded the Indian market but mostly of smaller towns. Of course, the metropolises had their swanky shops selling 'branded stuff', still do. Now, these guitars are usually patronised by first-timers eager to get their hands on a 'guitar'! Their sale price is right and they don't look too bad, but the best thing about them is the zero fretwire. But that is where the goodness ends. From here on, it's all bad: material, construction, tunability, etc, etc, etc. But with the zero fretwire in place, one is assured ...
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Guitar repair – introducing the ski-jump fretboard!

So, remember how I say that similar guitars or guitars with similar problems come together? Nothing could be more similar than the gentleman who brought in the guitar featured in the last post and the one that is featured in this one. In fact, they almost arrived together - 10 mins apart! And I'll be lying if I say I have seen two guitars exhibiting the same problem, so spectacularly, coming in so close together. This was an Ibanez. and what appeared to me as a solid wood instrument. However, the irritant to the initial inspection was the three plastic ...
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Guitar repair – Where them raised fretwires at??!

This was an Epiphone DR100 which came in recently, and (as you can make out) it was in need of some real TLC. The owner, in his bid to get the action lower, admitted that he had shaved the saddle down a tad too low. Thus, an irritating buzz had crept in which refused to go away try as he might. At the very onset, I will warn you that this is the first among a string of like problems that came to me starting from early June. All of them showed symptoms of suffering from the extreme heat of ...
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Guitar repair – May mayhem in (North-Central) India

I live in the mango belt, here, in North-Central India. Early in March, mango growers voiced fears of a severely hit mango crop for the flowering season was passing without many blooms appearing on mango trees. Later in May end, newspapers again quoted elated mango growers who said that the mango crop this year was far better than they had expected. The reason for the good crop, they said, was the abnormal, extreme heat that was experienced in the month. And now onto acoustic guitars. The 'abnormal, extreme heat' of May didn't just ripen mangoes quickly, it got to guitars ...
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Guitar repair – Another initial set-up. The awareness grows!

This came in recently for an initial set-up. I asked the owner how he got the idea of getting a new guitar set-up and he told me that he had been reading my blogs regularly! Yes, I have talked about the need to have a new guitar set-up umpteen times. And for the sake of the new reader, I will repeat myself. Guitars are 'manufactured' in factories to general specifications. For them to play the way YOU want them to play, suited to YOUR style of playing, a specialised set-up is required. Think of the set-up as a fine-tuning of ...
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Guitar repair – That buzz may not be from the fretwires!!

This is a return customer. Then, I had swapped the plastic nut and saddle for a bone one, I think. The guitar came back to me recently with the complaint of a buzz on the 1st/2nd frets of the high 'e' and low 'E' strings. But what caught my eye was the condition the guitar was in. It seemed it hadn't been loved in a long time. What also caught my eye were the string slots. It seemed somebody had tried to lower the 1st fret action by deepening the slots. I am all for experimentation but with a couple ...
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Guitar repair – Save the ‘heart’ of your instrument

Can you guess what this is and what its possible use could be? This has been the reason for my preoccupation over the last few months. The way guitars are constructed in our dear India, you must shell out upwards of 15K to acquire a decent guitar. Anything else in the lesser price bracket is a disaster waiting to happen. Notice, I have not named brands and models, instead I quote a price range. Like I have said often, after you cross that 15K price barrier, you get an instrument which has elements which justify the price. Elements? Almost everything ...
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Guitar repair – Tit-bits to get you out of a fix – I

Yeah, I know I have been missing our dates for long now. However, the thing is that while I have been decidedly occupied, the work that has been coming in has been mundane, or,  something that I have already written about. It would indeed be boring to be repetitive! So, now that I am relatively free, I decided to send your way little pointers and hacks that would make your life easier, should you find yourself in a bind. These are things that spring to mind as I write. That is why the 'I' in the headline: there will be ...
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