Speaking for all the klutzes who cannot work on/set up their own guitars ...

PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
Reading a lot of threads here over the years, the default opinion seems to be that if you own guitars, you should be able to do some amount of service work on them, whether basic maintenance or a little beyond that. And at least the way I've taken it, the default seems to be presented in a lot of cases like, "Doofus, you mean you can't use a soldering iron?"

Now, the ability to play guitar would, on its surface, seem to require a little bit of manual dexterity and coordination, just like the ability to use and work with tools. They would seem to go together.

They don't always.

John Lennon famously was the klutz of all klutzes, completely and utterly uncoordinated, when it came to anything aside from playing the guitar (and baking bread). He never really learned how to drive a car, for example, and after he almost killed himself and Yoko, his handlers decided that he should never again be allowed behind the wheel for the remainder of his life.

Speaking for myself, I am a danger to life and limb with a Phillips screwdriver in my hand, let alone a hammer or God forbid a soldering iron. At doing anything, not just fooling with guitars. My father (who also played guitar) was a whiz at such things, tried to show me, I tried to pick it up, I have absolutely not one microbe of aptitude for such things. And that includes such mundane things as hanging &^(&^(^ picture frames on walls.

I've been married for going on 30 years, and my wife (who was a tomboy and DID pick up mechanical things hanging out with her dad, who was another mechanical whiz who worked on jet fighters in the Air Force) learned very quickly, after having to redo pretty much everything I ever attempted to do, that she was going to have to carry the load on such things. She owns the tools in our family, not me.

So basically, I have to pay people to maintain my guitars, if they're going to be maintained. If I try to do it, I'm going to wind up ruining them.

And I'd wager there are a few more folks like me out there. So try to give us klutzes a bit of understanding? ;):):)
 

TooMuchFiber

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
338
I totally sympathize. I'm pretty clumsy with *fine* motor skills. I've done soldering jobs on a few of my guitars, and they usually end up going bad after a few months, either because I don't know how to solder properly or I'm just clumsy. But that's the kind of problem that is easily reversible. I can try to redo solder joints or just take it to a pro. Other things are less reversible, like hacking on a nut or filing down frets. I will never attempt those!

But I do think everyone should be able to handle basic maintenance: string changes, fret polishing, neck relief, bridge and pup height adjustments.

I got some criticism on a recent thread for not knowing how to deal with a low nut slot on a high end guitar... as if I'm an unworthy moron because I didn't know I could put super glue in the nut. People are jerks.
 
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PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
I totally sympathize. I'm pretty clumsy with *fine* motor skills. I've done soldering jobs on a few of my guitars, and they usually end up going bad after a few months, either because I don't know how to solder properly or I'm just clumsy. But that's the kind of problem that is easily reversible. I can try to redo solder joints or just take it to a pro. Other things are less reversible, like hacking on a nut or filing down frets. I will never attempt those!

But I do think everyone should be able to handle basic maintenance: string changes, fret polishing, neck relief, bridge and pup height adjustments.
I can change strings. It just takes me a couple of hours to do a set and I wind up with an assortment of puncture wounds. I'm lucky in that my son who's a better guitarist than I'll ever be, and does have enormously developed mechanical skills (although there are things he won't tackle when it comes to his guitars), can do it in a few minutes.
 

nmiller

Drowning in lap steels
Messages
6,994
There's a spectrum of maintenance from simple to easy, complex to difficult. Like a lot of people, I started with simple and easy adjustments and moved on to more complex and difficult ones over time. Most people stop somewhere along that spectrum, and where we stop depends on our innate abilities, ease of learning new tricks, and proclivity to purchasing specialized tools. I don't mind anyone paying for a truss rod adjustment as long as they realize that such work could be free if they chose.
 

rickt

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,392
I paid people who are way more competent than I do anything more than changing strings. But, where I live now, the luthiers are far and few so I'm going to have to learn to do those basics myself.
 

C-4

Member
Messages
13,927
Reading a lot of threads here over the years, the default opinion seems to be that if you own guitars, you should be able to do some amount of service work on them, whether basic maintenance or a little beyond that. And at least the way I've taken it, the default seems to be presented in a lot of cases like, "Doofus, you mean you can't use a soldering iron?"

Now, the ability to play guitar would, on its surface, seem to require a little bit of manual dexterity and coordination, just like the ability to use and work with tools. They would seem to go together.

They don't always.

John Lennon famously was the klutz of all klutzes, completely and utterly uncoordinated, when it came to anything aside from playing the guitar (and baking bread). He never really learned how to drive a car, for example, and after he almost killed himself and Yoko, his handlers decided that he should never again be allowed behind the wheel for the remainder of his life.

Speaking for myself, I am a danger to life and limb with a Phillips screwdriver in my hand, let alone a hammer or God forbid a soldering iron. At doing anything, not just fooling with guitars. My father (who also played guitar) was a whiz at such things, tried to show me, I tried to pick it up, I have absolutely not one microbe of aptitude for such things. And that includes such mundane things as hanging &^(&^(^ picture frames on walls.

I've been married for going on 30 years, and my wife (who was a tomboy and DID pick up mechanical things hanging out with her dad, who was another mechanical whiz who worked on jet fighters in the Air Force) learned very quickly, after having to redo pretty much everything I ever attempted to do, that she was going to have to carry the load on such things. She owns the tools in our family, not me.

So basically, I have to pay people to maintain my guitars, if they're going to be maintained. If I try to do it, I'm going to wind up ruining them.

And I'd wager there are a few more folks like me out there. So try to give us klutzes a bit of understanding? ;):):)

Why don't you let your wife set up your gear to your liking?

My wife does all the fixing in our home from laying new flooring to putting in new bathroom fixtures and a lot more.
For Father's Day, I bought her a really good set of tools.

However, I do my own guitar setups. ;)
 

PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
There's a spectrum of maintenance from simple to easy, complex to difficult. Like a lot of people, I started with simple and easy adjustments and moved on to more complex and difficult ones over time. Most people stop somewhere along that spectrum, and where we stop depends on our innate abilities, ease of learning new tricks, and proclivity to purchasing specialized tools. I don't mind anyone paying for a truss rod adjustment as long as they realize that such work could be free if they chose.
I admire anyone who's able to do such things. I'm just resigned and content that it's not gonna be me, in my early 60s that ship is long over the horizon.
 

PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
Why don't you let your wife set up your gear to your liking?

My wife does all the fixing in our home from laying new flooring to putting in new bathroom fixtures and a lot more.
For Father's Day, I bought her a really good set of tools.

However, I do my own guitar setups. ;)
She's not great at detail work but she'd give it a shot.

An example of her mechanical ability ... when we were dating she was driving an old AMC Pacer. She called me (from a pay phone, pre-cellphones) and told me the water pump had gone out and to go to the parts store and buy her one. I did, and when I got to where she'd broken down on the side of the road, she was standing there with grease up to her elbows, with the old water pump in her hands, she'd already taken it off, and she was telling me to hurry up and give her the new water pump.

I knew then I needed to marry this woman ...
 

68reissue

Member
Messages
114
My dad could build or fix almost anything…me, almost nothing. But I did install locking tuners on my PRS all by myself. That’s about it, though…
 

PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
I paid people who are way more competent than I do anything more than changing strings. But, where I live now, the luthiers are far and few so I'm going to have to learn to do those basics myself.
I am fortunate in that I have an amazing tech about a half-hour from me. He stays busy but he can usually turn things around pretty quickly.
 

David Garner

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,655
Reading a lot of threads here over the years, the default opinion seems to be that if you own guitars, you should be able to do some amount of service work on them, whether basic maintenance or a little beyond that. And at least the way I've taken it, the default seems to be presented in a lot of cases like, "Doofus, you mean you can't use a soldering iron?"

Now, the ability to play guitar would, on its surface, seem to require a little bit of manual dexterity and coordination, just like the ability to use and work with tools. They would seem to go together.

They don't always.

John Lennon famously was the klutz of all klutzes, completely and utterly uncoordinated, when it came to anything aside from playing the guitar (and baking bread). He never really learned how to drive a car, for example, and after he almost killed himself and Yoko, his handlers decided that he should never again be allowed behind the wheel for the remainder of his life.

Speaking for myself, I am a danger to life and limb with a Phillips screwdriver in my hand, let alone a hammer or God forbid a soldering iron. At doing anything, not just fooling with guitars. My father (who also played guitar) was a whiz at such things, tried to show me, I tried to pick it up, I have absolutely not one microbe of aptitude for such things. And that includes such mundane things as hanging &^(&^(^ picture frames on walls.

I've been married for going on 30 years, and my wife (who was a tomboy and DID pick up mechanical things hanging out with her dad, who was another mechanical whiz who worked on jet fighters in the Air Force) learned very quickly, after having to redo pretty much everything I ever attempted to do, that she was going to have to carry the load on such things. She owns the tools in our family, not me.

So basically, I have to pay people to maintain my guitars, if they're going to be maintained. If I try to do it, I'm going to wind up ruining them.

And I'd wager there are a few more folks like me out there. So try to give us klutzes a bit of understanding? ;):):)
Totally fair. I think it's a skill worth learning, but I don't work on my own cars for the most part for the same reason. I'll do an oil change or maybe a brake job, but anything more significant I'm taking it to someone who knows what they're doing, because I do not.

I'm one who frequently says "you should learn to do your own setups." I grant there are exceptions, and I don't fault you for being one of them.
 

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,382
Fair point well made.

I'm one of those who is guilty of assuming that anyone who can knock out three chords can surely adjust some string saddles and a truss rod. As you've pointed out, for some reason these skills do not necessarily overlap.

However, I do advocate that everyone should at least give basic setup a try. As long as you have good quality tools, have acquired the motor skills to use them adequately (e.g. turning screws without stripping screw heads or slipping and gouging the finish), and employ some common sense on top of that - e.g. don't force things that don't want to be adjusted - then there's a lot to be gained by just going ahead and experimenting.

Soldering is not for everyone, and I must admit I'm not a natural. I persevered though and with a bit more care in more recent times can now at least solder to a level I'm happy with.

However, I do still struggle with the notion that anyone would have to pay someone else to restring a Strat or a Les Paul. Seems a cop-out to me... is that unfair?

Mind you, I'll bet there are plenty guys on this forum who don't attempt setup/repairs, but who can play guitar much better than I..... and a few who can do both better than I! :D
 
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PRW

Member
Messages
2,102
However, I do still struggle with the notion that anyone would have to pay someone else to restring a Strat or a Les Paul. Seems a cop-out to me... is that unfair?
Don't think it's unfair. I've never paid just for a restringing, I have had guitars restrung in the shop while they were in there for other reasons. It takes me forever and I generally end up bleeding, but I can change strings. I've even in my lifetime changed strings on a 12-string Rickenbacker. (You don't want to know how long that took or how much blood was shed.)
 

David Garner

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,655
Don't think it's unfair. I've never paid just for a restringing, I have had guitars restrung in the shop while they were in there for other reasons. It takes me forever and I generally end up bleeding, but I can change strings. I've even in my lifetime changed strings on a 12-string Rickenbacker. (You don't want to know how long that took or how much blood was shed.)
I'm pretty good at re-stringing (6 strings only though). I have shed much blood. The B-string hates me.
 

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,382
I wonder if this is something that is influenced/informed by early life experiences...

You guys who shy away from attempting your own setups/repairs - did you have access to and play with screwdrivers and hand tools as children?

I did, and was always 'technically curious', which is most likely genetic... Have learned a lot through trial and error. Possibly more error than trial, but that's another story...
 

BillyO

Member
Messages
265
I’m not good at fixing things in general, but I have learned to set up a guitar and I think there is a huge value in figuring it out

The main reason is because you’re able to tinker with your setup until it plays exactly how you like it- not like how someone else thinks you should like it

I think it’s hard to know what you really like in terms of setup until you have tried a lot of variations

you can end up finding you like something you wouldn’t have imagined or even something unconventional. It’s a low cost way of experimenting
 




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