There are ghosts…even in guitars!

This guitar came to me with the complaint that the ‘e’ string (and probably the ‘B’ string) was buzzing around the 13th, 14th fret. I thought this one would be quick and dirty and that is where I usually go wrong: when I start thinking.

Anyway, since the instrument had been left with me, I decided to give it a once over.

I noticed that it had the usual tail-block strap button and was tied to the headstock at the other end. I decided to give it a proper strap button – at the proper place.

Apart from that everything else seemed to be in order. And for a laminate, it wasn’t too badly built. Considering it was half-a-decade (or thereabouts) old, the way it was holding up, was ample testimony to that.

Turning to the problem area, I first ‘mummified’ it and then went to work with first a file and then a crowning file and then through 600, 1000, 1500, 1800 and 2000 grits of sandpaper. This was what the job looked like after the files had done their job.

And after the various grits of sandpaper had worked their magic

So far, it was smooth sailing. But for all this work, I had to take the strings off (as you can see). After the work was done and I tried putting the strings back on, the ‘D’ tuning machine refused to wind after a point. It turned when I tried to turn it but the post would not move.

I unwound it and it worked fine. I wound it and again, it wound to a point after which the machine head would turn, the tuning post would not.

Nothing worked: tapping, tightening, wringing (I even tried abusing it!)

Exasperated, I loosened the string, unscrewed the tuning machine and pulled it off the headstock. The idea was to open it and see what could possibly be wrong.

Everything seemed fine and so I put the machine together again, but before I screwed it back on the headstock, I tried turning it to see whether the problem had been solved. It turned as did the post, and continued to do so! Well!

I put the machine back on the headstock and began winding the string but it wound to a point and stopped after that! WTF???? No matter what I tried, the string refused to be wound.

Again I took off the machine, opened it up, dismantled it, couldn’t find anything, put it together, tested it, put it back on the headstock and tried winding the string. Again it turned to a point and stopped after that. 

Believe it or not, I repeated the entire process four times and even after that when the machine was playing up, I decided to call the owner and tell him what was happening. I called him over to take a look at it.

And as I was demonstrating to him, it worked absolutely fine! No hitch! No problem!

While he had a good laugh (at my expense), I could only purse my lips and frown in consternation.

Tuned to pitch, the Buzz Ghost had been well and truly exorcised!

Whateva!! It was done and I was glad to get rid of the instrument. And since I haven’t heard from the owner, even the ghost in the ‘D’ tuning machine had been exorcised!


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:

One thought to “There are ghosts…even in guitars!”

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