Guitar repair – You do as the customer says – Part I

My experience with customers, usually, is that facts and logic will appeal to most, if the pocket allows. In my dealings with them, I  place the pros and cons of going (or not going) down a certain route and then let them decide the path they wish to take. Mostly, the choices made are correct, or, if not entirely correct, understandable.

In case I feel that the customer is making a wrong choice, I try to explain to him what could go wrong going down that path. But still if he insists, I do as he says.

I saw two guitars in quick succession which left me first amused and then scratching my head. This is the story about the first one.

The instrument was in for a saddle and nut replacement for the owner of the Westwood had tried to correct the intonation on his guitar by filing the intonated sections on the saddle close to nothing.

Wonder if you can see it, but the area where the B sting is supposed to ride has been filed all the way back. Once things got out of hand, the SOS call came to me. I could do little with the old saddle and had to replace it.

As I began taking off the strings, I noticed this

I showed it to him and he showed no surprise seeing it. He didn’t want me to do anything about it because he felt that it would not affect his playing.

I tried explaining to him that tending to a split bridge was as important as swapping the filed down saddle with a new one, but he would have nothing of it. So, I let it be.

While replacing the saddle, I tried to explain that it would be a good idea to replace the nut too, but he wasn’t too enthused. Instead, he  asked me to correct the action at the 1st fret with the old nut.

As I took off the nut, I saw why I had been finding it odd all along. Although the nut wasn’t of bone, it had been very oddly cut.

The nut slot on the headstock was worse. Not very clear here but it had a thick coat of dried glue. I tried removing as much as I could safely remove.

In fact the rubbish that you see in the background of the nut photographs is the dried glue removed from the slot.

As I began work on his guitar, he said he would get his own strings and went out to get a set.

Some time later, he called to ask me to retain the old strings. By that time I had taken off the strings and dumped them, and after the call, I had to fish them out of the dustbin. To be fair, he had on a fairly new set with just the ‘G’ string missing. It had snapped, I was told. He brought me a spare ‘G’ string and I got to work.

And as we all know, winding and unwinding strings is the perfect recipe for a string break. And so, the ‘D’ string broke on me as I was trying to tune it up.

I rummaged through my pile of spares and found a D string of the right thickness and replaced it.

There was a slight buzz on the open D string, which disappeared once the string was fretted. I let it be attributing it if not to the cobbled together strings, then to the nut slot geography.

A new fresh set of strings would certainly solve the issue.

But why let a split bridge remain split? I just hope he doesn’t call me in six months saying the bridge has completely split into two!!

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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