Fixing a guitar

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Fixing a guitar

Post by Mostess » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:36 am

Preface: I'm an incorrigible cheapskate, am in no way mechanical, and have never done anything this brave to an instrument before.

But I finally fixed my electric guitar and I wish I'd done it 20 years ago.

I've had a Peavey Falcon since 1986. It's basically a Strat clone for wankers: locking mechanisms on the nut and bridge so the tremolo bar won't detune it. One odd thing about the bridge is that instead of Philips-head screws and springs to adjust the individual string length, the Falcon has finger-turnable knobs with little pieces of pot metal keeping the tension. Needless to say, high-school me was not as wise and knowledgeable* as middle-aged me and over-turned the high E knob and cracked the pot metal piece. I "fixed it" with Scotch tape and years later with glue but the guitar has from then until yesterday been sadly out of tune above the 8th fret or so, with the high E and B strings going flatter as I play higher.

(True story: I once met Jeff Baxter of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. He wanted to play me something and asked to see my guitar. I handed my broken Falcon to him and as soon as he played his first note he made a sour face and looked at me like I was a disgusting monster. He handed it back to me and went to find another guitar.)

So finally as a 44-year old man I splurged for a new bridge. A replacement locking mechanism bridge on the Falcon costs about $300, so I went with an original Strat tremolo bridge which set me back about $16. I had to drill out the screw holes a bit to make it all align, but other than that it all fit quite nicely. And now my electric guitar is in tune! I also cleaned it up and put new strings on, so some of the joy of playing it is that. But I can barre chord at the 14th fret and it's actually in tune! Halleluja!

Anyhow, I thought I would share this with people who understand; my family thinks I'm crazy for spending 20 minutes with the drill in the kitchen and coming out so wickedly happy.

Has anyone else here braved the wilds of lutiership despite ignorance and poverty?

*read: did not have as much YouTube access
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Re: Fixing a guitar

Post by fluffy » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:49 am

I briefly had a Hondo II electric guitar where someone replaced the bridge with this weird one with tension springs which were WAY too long so in order to get the intonation right (which was the first time I"d ever adjusted the intonation on a guitar myself, which I also figured out on my own) I ended up having to clip the springs. It worked out fine, at least.
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Re: Fixing a guitar

Post by Lunkhead » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:55 am

I have never drilled into or otherwise purposely modified the body of a guitar. I have accidentally modified them by dropping them and causing pieces to break off. :( I just for the first time had to balance my first guitar's Floyd Rose floating bridge because I put heavier gauge strings on it. That was exciting. That and truss rod and intonation adjustments are about as far as I've gone with guitar mechanics.
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Re: Fixing a guitar

Post by Generic » Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:46 am

I bought a bass guitar on eBay for $40 back when I was in college. It came to me with a neck warped so badly that the A, D, and G strings buzzed against the frets when you pressed them on any fret above the third, and the E string buzzed even when played open. I did some Googling, found an Allen wrench, and carefully loosened the truss rod. Then, when that didn't fix it, a day later I loosened the truss some more. Then, when that didn't fix it, I loosened the dang thing as far as it would go.

I eventually wound up taking it to a guitar shop in town, where the owner was a veteran musician and guitar tech (I think he had toured with Springsteen or something like that... I can't remember anymore). He picked it up by the neck, but the head to his eye, and looked down the neck like a rifle sight. Then he looked at me and said "Man, who sold you this piece of crap?" It wasn't fixable. I contacted the eBay seller, who issued me a full refund and didn't ask for the bass back, then I took it back to the guitar shop, where the guy bought it for $20 to use for spare parts. Profit!

That's the closest I've ever come to modding anything.
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Re: Fixing a guitar

Post by mo » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:57 pm

Well I'm a tweaker by nature so almost nothing I play is stock. The smallest mods I've done are to my Tele (compensated brass saddles) and the most to my partscaster. That one has locking auto-trim tuners, a Wilkinson VSVG trem bridge, Dimarzio 54 Pro neck and middle, Duncan JB bridge pickup with a coil split, phase switch, neck on switch, big steel block (I think the easiest way to improve any stock trem-equipped guitar is to make sure the sustain block is solid cold-rolled steel or milled brass) and shaved neck. I shimmed the neck pocket also to get lower action. I learned enough from screwing with that guitar that later I've been much more aware of what I'm doing in buying guitars so that I wouldn't have to do that much work again.

I still change pickups a fair amount but once I find a set that work for a guitar intend to stick with it. I tend to prefer Duncans for most guitars but I've used cheap ass pickups that sound great also. Learning to solder is probably the one skill that opens up the world of tweaking guitar tones to you. Not just for pickups, but switching options, phase, changing caps, all that stuff. My Les Paul never sounded quite right to me until the day I realized whoever owned it before me had 0.047 caps in there. Once I switched them for 0.022 caps, OMG the whole guitar opened up.
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