Guitar Tech and Setup Tips

Hints, tips, and explanations for setting up your guitar properly.

Flying with Guitars and Other Instruments

Over the years I’ve heard of many musicians who are afraid of checking their instruments when flying. Musicians are afraid of rough treatment by airport baggage handlers, and rightly so. But many people also fear that the environmental conditions in the aircraft’s baggage compartment can damage their instruments. I asked some airline captains about the conditions inside aircraft that instruments with be subjected to. Their answers are very reassuring!

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Treble Bleed Mod Round-up

As a reference resource, I have collected the treble bleed capacitor and resistor combinations recommended by the the major guitar pickup manufacturers (and some guitar makers too). I am reproducing that list here. Below the list I have also included notes and additional information based on my research and experience. I hope you find it useful. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

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Truth About Truss Rods – Part 1 – The Basics

No single part of a guitar is more terrifying or mysterious to many guitarists than the humble truss rod. For years we have been told that we can ruin our precious and fragile guitars by just looking at them funny. But truss rods are very simple devices and are nothing to be afraid of. So let’s dispel the fears and the myths.

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A Little Lube goes a Long Way

Keeping guitars in tune can be difficult at the best of times. Aside from the inherent compromises of guitar construction and how the human ear would rather hear things, we’ve all had those days when we’ve beautifully tuned a guitar and yet two minutes later it sounds like poop all over again. Let’s look at some solutions…

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A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Photo by Mike Bitzenhofer

Many a great guitar has been ruined by well-meaning but bad advice. And many a great guitar is also ruined by people who overestimate their experience and abilities with a screwdriver or a file. These are obvious lessons but so easy to forget that I think it’s time I reminded you with some real world examples (yes, the names have been changed to protect the innocent)…

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Capos and Tuning Problems

A recent forum post asked the following question: My guitar goes out of tune when I put on a capo. Is this normal? What can I do about it? Can this problem be worse on the lower frets? Does string diameter matter? The answer to all these questions is “yes”. Let’s look at why.

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Tuning Stability Checklist

Tuning stability with tremolo bridges can be problematic and very frustrating, especially when recording. Solving these problem is not rocket science but with such a complicated mechanical system it can certainly can seem like a black art.  But there is a simple way of thinking through tuning problems which might help…

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Your Own Personal Fret Buzz

It is a myth that buzz-free low action is always possible. People frequently read manufacturers’ specifications and assume those numbers are a goal rather than a guideline. They assume such a setup will suit their personal playing technique without any string/fret buzz. In my experience, that is just not the case. I’ll explain why.

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It fell of the back of a truck…

Strat in pieces
Strat in pieces

Re-gluing the fingerboard, ready to work on the innards.

Usually, in English, that expression would imply some level of theft or underhand dealing. In this case it really is just a guitar that fell off the back of a truck. The truck was moving too. Quite fast, I was told, on a French motorway. Mathieu, a great double bass player, wanted his beloved Squier Strat ready for a punk gig that week and between our existing schedules it meant that I didn’t have much time to work on this. Naturally, I was expecting something of a disaster.

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Lost in the dark?

What to do when playing in the dark and you can’t see the frets? Or, even worse, temporarily blinded by stage spotlights? Nothing worse than a screaming bum-note or wrong chord ’cause you can’t see what you’re doing, right? I’m sure we’ve all had a moment like that at some point in time. But what can we do to avoid it?

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Tuning – the Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #45

"American Lutherie" Journal Cover
"American Lutherie" Journal Cover

“American Lutherie”, the journal of the Guild of American Luthiers

The following is a reprint of data sheet #45 from the Guild of American Luthiers. They don’t know who wrote it and it never made it into publication. But it’s so incredibly useful that it’s one of their most requested articles (you can download a PDF version from them here). To anyone who ever gets frustrated when tuning their guitar, this article explains why and I strongly advise you to read it. I promise you that accepting the information presenting here will make your guitar and your music sound better and your life much easier.

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