We interrupt our regular top nut series to bring you a request. I’ve had a lot of you asking for a guide to balancing your guitar’s vibrato unit. Well, here it is. The good news is that the whole balancing process is the same for most locking and non-locking vibrato units; i.e. any unit that’s based on the classic Stratocaster spring vs. string tension design.
My last blog post generated so many replies that I’ve decided to take a brief step away from nut problems to delve deeper into the question of adjusting the straightness of your guitar’s neck. This seems to be a hot topic for many of you. It all ties into the nut repair thing anyway.
Those nasty string buzzes and rattles can also be caused by nut slots that are cut too low. In extreme cases, the string(s) might actually be sitting on the first fret; or often a string just has to be close enough to the fret to make contact when it’s struck open.
I worked in a music store in Glasgow, Scotland, for almost 18 years. Anyone who has ever worked in that kind of environment will tell you that they’ve seen some pretty weird stuff in their time. Factor in that I was the guitar repair guy, and the potential for weirdness rockets into the stratosphere.
The week’s blog post is all about bonding. By that, I mean we’re going to talk about glue. If it seems that it’s taking a while to get to the actual process of filling and recutting the nut slots, then there’s a method to my apparent procrastination.
Rather than sob into your pillow about it, you can sort these problems out — if you know how to solder. Soldering is an essential part of any guitar tweaker’s trick bag. Master the noble art, and you'll be able to install new pickups in your guitar; replace faulty controls, switches and jack sockets. Even custom-build your own cables!
One of the most common cries for help I’ve received recently concerns the restringing of acoustic guitars. While this should be a straightforward job, it seems that your pesky bridge pins are causing trouble. I don’t want to start a fight here, but it’s probably your fault. If these little plastic, metal, bone or wood pins aren’t fitted correctly, they can shoot out of the bridge like a rocket when you tune the string.
It’s one of the most traumatic moments in a guitarist’s life. You’re at a rehearsal or playing a show. You sound great. Never better, actually. You get ready to take a solo, you step forward, put on your best sex face and ... nothing. Your guitar has gone dead. At that moment, you just want someone to give you a big hug and tell you everything is going to be alright.
Last time we looked at how to get your guitar’s vibrato into line. Before I move onto the next juicy guitar maintenance task, I thought I would give you some additional balancing tips. You may need to balance your vibrato whenever you change your guitar’s strings; it might just take a subtle tweak to get it back in line.
Most of us don’t give our guitar’s top nut a second thought until something goes wrong. I bet the last time you bought a guitar, you didn’t spend much time checking the top nut ... if at all. We make a bigger fuss of scratches, dents and chips in the finish than the parts that influence the playability. We've all done it.