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Blue Collar Tech #101: Some Little Bits And Pieces O' Guitar Repair Stuff
By Mick Polich - 01/14/2008 - 09:52 AM EST

O.k., I told you folks we would have some tech articles coming up this year, so let us go forth and yap, tech-wise!

You can probably read about a lot of these hints and helpers from various books and tech sources, on-line and thru you friendly neighborhood repair shop. But, you’re here, and you’re reading my column, so ‘tis the civic duty to lay such hopefully helpful hints upon ye!!!

First, a simple way to re-set that annoying strap button on your guitar using toothpicks, wood dowel, and either Tite-Bond or Elmer’s Wood Glue: strap buttons, especially on electric guitars, can be pesky things after awhile (yes, even the locking kind). This is because you’re tapping metal into wood via a wood screw, strap button, and a hunk o’ guitar body. After time, the thread strips out on the screw, and that little button is as loose as a can o’ corn.  Insert some toothpicks or dowel sized to the hole, just a bit of glue down there, too, to keep things solid, screw in the strap screw and button, let ‘er set up over the course of an afternoon (if not longer), then roota, toota, ZOOTA !!! Fast and E-Zee E repair work on yer axe, child!

Have you replaced a pickup on your solid body guitar or bass, put the new spring and screw set up in to hold the pickup and possibly the pickup ring in place, only to find that the darn thing squirms around like an eel on a weekend frat party drink-a-thon? Well, a cool little El Cheapo fix rather than trying to retro - fit a solid chunk o’ wood in there, is to get some thick foam (not the flakey kind, but like the stuff that comes with the pickup in the plastic case) and place it underneath the pickup in question. This is cool because you ‘build to fit’ the area, and the foam is still flexible enough to manipulate to secure the pickup. Huzzah, kids!!

Got a nut slot on yer acoustic or electric guitar and /or bass that’s a wee bit too low, but you can’t afford to change out the nut at this point? Well, synthetic guitar nuts and Supa Glue to the rescue, Roscoe!! Clean that slot out with a little Naptha (cleaner-high grade, use with CAUTION and take the necessary procedures), or even rubbing alcohol, then file some synthetic or bone nut shavings on a piece o’ cardboard. Take a knifedge, pick up some shavings, and apply to the nut slot AFTER you’ve taken a toothpick (or said knifedge), and applied a small dab o’ glue into the slot (like Brylcreem, a little dab will do ya!! O.k., er, perhaps a bit dated – oh poopy, just ask yer grandpa, Sonny!). Let the stuff dry, then reslot the nut with a small file (a set of nut file could be had for a pittance from a place like Stewart McDonald Guitar Shop Supply –check the website!). Hey, ya saved some jing for the “Partridge Family Greatest Hits” CD!!!

Better gear ratio tuning pegs are a must, and will hot rod any semi-cheap electric or acoustic. Totally bummed that I’ve haven’t gotten the $2000 together for a nice Les Paul, I am growing quite fond of my Epiphone Les Paul amberburst. I’m down to cutting a bone nut for it, but it’s pretty well set –Grover tuners, different pickups – not quite a true Paul sound (the body is chambered and of different woods), but a very cool tone, nevertheless! A set of good tuners can be had for under a $100, sometimes under $50 if there’s a sale on.

Also, changing out the nut, as I mentioned for my Epip Les, makes a whole o’ dif in Tone City, kids!!!

I’m also here to promote the magic elixir of Stewart – McDonald Guitar Shop Supply – you need tools, instruction, and FUN while building or repairing axes, this is the place to go.  Go ahead and head over to their website (although, for me, it’s fun to still get their print catalog on the mail!)

You can experiment with tone and sound on your electric guitars by merely changing out the volume pots to different values, or putting different values of capacitors in the tone section. There are several great books out on the subject of guitars mods (or check your ‘ Net blogs). Hopefully, these little bits can get you started in the right direction, and perhaps expand your tech universe on a thing or two. Until then, keep your soldering irons hot and your sticks on the ice!!!

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