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 – I wasn’t quite ready for what I saw

The fretboard took the most time to clean, but when the deposit came off, the fretboard shone – though with a bit of magic potion.

Then I moved my attention, bridgeside. This instrument was electro-acoustic guitar, and so, while removing the saddle, I was mindful of the piezo element lying underneath.

Yes, the saddle and the nut were plastic and the saddle was particularly chewed up but the owner was not interested in changing them.

However, manufacturers have a bad habit of installing a shim underneath the element which does little else except raise the action on the instrument.

To check, I lifted the element, and there it was

In all the above photographs you may see strings hanging around. Those are the strings the guitar came with, and I let them be so that I could work the action down and keep loosening and tightening strings without fear of breaking them. Now, when I tuned up the guitar, the action was perfect.

Now all that remained was to string up the guitar with fresh new strings and hand the instrument back to the owner.

The owner’s choice of strings

And it was time for this Tanglewood to sing.

And now, why I chose that particular photograph to head this post. It seems that the owner broke the G string on the guitar at some point and had to replace it.

Two things on this development:

  1. When a string breaks and you need to replace it in a hurry, do it. However, change the set of strings and put in a fresh set of strings at the earliest. If you don’t, the old strings will vibrate at one frequency and the new one at its own. This is particularly true of wound strings.
  2. Even if you change strings mid-gig, clip off the excess length. Don’t leave it standing out there, blowing in the breeze, to poke you or someone else. Please invest in a small pair of snippers and keep it in your guitar case. Extra length of string left unclipped is never a good idea, for besides the injury angle, it may give rise to sympathetic buzz.

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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