Tips, tricks & tools

A guitar player of any proficiency level must have a few essential tools to help him/her maintain the instrument.


  1. The No. 9 wrench is used to keep the tuning machines snug and doing their job properly.
  2. The stringwinder is used to hasten a job that you would otherwise do by hand
  3. A brush is always handy to dust places that are hard to reach (for eg, the area underneath the strings)
  4. The wire cutter is needed to snip off the extra length of strings when you change them. A tip: Please desist from creating modern art with strings on the headstock of your guitar. There are other places that you can show your creative talents.
  5. The hex key or Allen wrench is used to work the truss rod of your guitar.
  6. The needle-nose pliers are essential for holding and turning small pieces like strings.
  7. A small Phillips screwdriver is most handy for it can be used at various places to tighten small screws in your instrument
  8. The feeler gauge is another inexpensive tool widely available at hardware and motor stores. It is useful while measuring action at various points on the fretboard and other such.
  9. A good quality 6-inch ruler, preferably steel, which is calibrated clearly, will always come handy.


You have put in new strings and as you are tuning up the instrument, there is a sharp ‘thud’ and the string that you had been tensioning, suddenly goes slack.

string ends
A look underneath the bridge. (pic courtesy

Ideally, the ball ends of your strings should sit like these above, except for the 3rd string from the right. That is the position of the string just before you hear that ‘thud’. When you start tuning the string, the ball end caught on the bridgepin is released and it hits the bridgeplate with a ‘thud’.

Nothing wrong with the phenomenon but continued occurrence can lead to substantial damage to the bridgeplate.

An example of the damage the ball ends of strings can do to your bridgeplate.

To avoid the situation, here are a couple of tips, and though these are two, they are inter-connected.

Firstly, see that you bend the ball end of the strings like this.


This helps avoid the strings getting caught on the pin edge.

Also, shaving the bottom of the pin at a 40 – 45 degree angle ensures that the turned string end slips past the end of the pin and sits comfortably and easily against the bridgeplate.


Here’s how to go about it.


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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