Author Topic: The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread  (Read 1690 times)

Halfdim7

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The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread
« on: October 24, 2012, 08:35:23 PM »
I own several guitars, all of them cheap. Something is constantly going haywire, and I'm not made of money(see cheap guitars above), so I've often had to find homemade remedies for my guitar's woes. For instance, dumping super glue into the post holes of a guitar whose bridge was leaning severely(didn't work), or duck-taping the strings to keep them in tune(ditto).
Recently, I've acquired a small guitar setup kit, offered by CruzTools(makers of fine automotive tools), and have tried to handle some of the more frequently needed adjustments myself.
So, if you've come across any useful tips or techniques for guitar set-up/repair/adjustment/enhancement/etc. post them here for me and others to appropriate. Or, perhaps you have some particularly educational/hilarious/horrific stories about your own gear or that of a friend.
Come on. Don't be shy.
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

funkle

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Re: The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 07:10:56 AM »
Get a good book on guitar setup. They have one at Stew Mac (cant remember the name).

One of the best skills to learn is setting the action - a balancing act of bridge height & neck relief. Too little bow = buzz near the nut, Too much bow = buzz towards the bridge. Get it to the point where the action is good for you and the buzz is dialed out, working with quarter to eighth turns of the trus rod. If you have a light touch and play legato, you can get away with a lower action. If you dig in, set it higher. Lower action on the verge of buzz can suck tone/sustain - may not be as evident with high gain, but will be more noticeable playing clean or crunchy. You usually need to adjust relief a couple times a year, based on the seasons (temp & humidity)

For tremolo guitars, I've had good luck with non-locking setups. Use locking tuners, no string tees, and lube your nut (graphite or nut sauce) and you should eliminate most tuning problems.

Halfdim7

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Re: The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 11:59:41 AM »
Well, there's a lot of good info there, Funkle.
I've thought about switching from a lock-nut to locking tuners before, since I don't use the bar for extreme stuff, just slurring and vibrato. The reason this is on my mind right now is that I had the lock-nut on one of my favorite guitars professionally replaced, recently, and it has been a nightmare.
First off, the thing has gigantic SQUARE nut slots, and, more often than not, they bite straight through the strings as soon as I start to clamp them. This is made all the more problematic, because if I don't clamp them down extra tight, the slots are so wide that the strings will slide sideways whenever I do even a slight bend.
Secondly, it was set up on a copper shim that causes the action at the nut to be ridiculously high, and wrecks the intonation of the first few frets. I'm not experienced enough to redo the nut myself, and there's no other tech in my area to get a second opinion.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 12:32:33 PM by Halfdim7 »
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

Halfdim7

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Re: The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2012, 10:45:25 AM »
Well, I got the lock-nut business sorted out.

Here's a little trick of my own for prolonging string life and decreasing fretboard friction. I apply a tiny bit of Alisyn synthetic valve oil to the fingerboard, and wipe the strings down with it from time to time(you can't leave much on the strings or they will squeak like crazy). It is very potent stuff, which is designed to help with sticking valves and slides on brass instruments and was able to get everything nice and smooth in my old, beat-up Olds Ambassador trumpet, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It doesn't seem to have any negative effect on non-lacquered wood(I didn't figure it could be as bad as Paul Gilbert's suggestion of "lots of WD-40), and it is odorless. Works much better than any of the dedicated fingerboard/string lubes I've tried, and it much, much cheaper.
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

millions

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Re: The Do It Yourself Guitar Thread
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2014, 08:53:43 AM »
Here's a horror story. I had a Vox Phantom, a coffin-shaped guitar that had a built-in fuzz and treble booster. You could get some truly horrific sounds out of that thing. Anyway, I was adjusting the truss rod, and the neck was so cheap and dry that it shattered! A big crack-up. That was the driest, cheapest woof I've ever seen on a guitar. Some kinda Italian cypress, who knows? Certainly not maple.
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