Ed Mitchell http://www.guitarworld.com/taxonomy/term/258/all/www.radioshack.com/product/www.radioshack.com/product/www.radioshack.com/product/www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp en Ed's Shed: How to Balance Your Guitar’s Vibrato http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato <!--paging_filter--><p>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. </p> <p>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. </p> <p>The first step is to decide how you want your vibrato to sit. Here are the main three options: </p> <p><strong>1. Strat vibrato, flat on the body:</strong> I would hazard a guess that most Strat players (or owners of those guitars that, ahem, pay tribute to Leo Fender’s original design) prefer their vibrato to lay firmly on the guitar’s body. In other words, it can only be pushed forward to loosen the strings; not pulled back. Option 1 also applies to those locking vibrato-equipped guitars (like my Fender Standard Stratocaster HSS) that don’t have a recess to allow you to pull the vibrato unit up. </p> <p><strong>2. Strat vibrato, with some pull-up:</strong> This setup allows you to get some of that Jeff Beck-style warble. Some surf guitarists like to set their Strat vibratos with a bit of pull-up; wobbling the arm sounds great with your reverb whacked all the way up. </p> <p><strong>3. Locking vibrato, balanced.</strong> This is for locking vibrato loaded guitars that have a recess in the body (think the Ibanez JEM and its Lion’s Claw) to allow the arm to be pulled up, raising the pitch of the strings. The vibrato should be set so that it sits parallel to the guitar’s body, not on it. </p> <p><strong>BALANCING THE VIBRATO</strong> </p> <p>Before you begin the process of balancing your vibrato (or any setup task for that matter), you have to make sure that the guitar’s strings are properly stretched. Tune the strings, give 'em a good ol' stretch, then re-tune. It can take a while for the tuning to settle, so keep on stretching and retuning until you don’t need to anymore. </p> <p>Take a look at the angle of the vibrato from the side (See photo 1 in the gallery below). Is it sitting at your preferred angle? If not, remove the plastic plate on the back of the guitar. With the backplate removed (and the screws stored somewhere safe), you’ll see two large screws holding a steel "claw" and some vibrato springs (See photo 2). </p> <p>You can alter the vibrato's angle by adjusting the two large screws with the correct-sized screwdriver. Why do I always say "correct-sized" when it comes to tools? Well, the bolts and screws fitted to some guitars can be quite soft. The wrong-sized screwdriver can damage the heads on these vulnerable parts. </p> <p>If the vibrato angles toward the body, turn the screws anti-clockwise to release tension on the vibrato springs; and clockwise if it's angled away from the body to increase tension on the springs. Each time you turn the screws a half turn, retune the guitar and check the new angle of the vibrato. Repeat the process until you get the angle you want. It really is that easy. </p> <p>The eventual result is that the tension between the screws and the strings will be balanced and the vibrato unit will stay exactly where you want it to. If you have a locking top nut, you can now bolt it down (See photo 3). </p> <p>There’s a part two to this guide which, will be with you shortly. Until then, please try to stay balanced.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato-part-2">And since we're on the topic, here's part 2!</a></strong></p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato-part-2">click here!</a></em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs News Mon, 15 Jun 2015 17:41:14 +0000 Ed Mitchell 12343 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: How to Adjust Your Guitar's Truss Rod http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-adjust-your-guitars-truss-rod <!--paging_filter--><p>My last column 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. </p> <p>This seems to be a hot topic for many of you. It all ties into the nut-repair thing, anyway. </p> <p>Here’s the thing: If your guitar’s neck is not adjusted correctly, then all your hard work repairing the top nut slots, not to mention setting the action and intonation, will be a big old waste of time. </p> <p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-tell-if-your-guitar-s-neck-needs-be-adjusted">Check out my last column to find out how to check the straightness of the neck.</a> If the neck is bent, you need to adjust the truss rod. The only visible part of this metal rod is the bolt in a hole, or under the plastic plate (See photo 1 in the photo gallery below), next to the top nut on the headstock. </p> <p>On old-school Fender guitars, there’s a crosshead bolt at the body end of the neck (See photo 2) that's dealt with using a screwdriver. You generally have to remove the neck to access this bolt (email me if you need advice on this: dragonskin52@hotmail.com). Gibson guitars have a nut that is adjusted with a box wrench. Most modern guitars have an Allen bolt that is adjusted with, you guessed it, an Allen wrench or key. </p> <p>When you’re adjusting the truss rod, make sure the Allen key is seated properly in the truss rod nut; push it all the way in (See photo 3). If you don’t, the nut can be damaged when you try to turn the wrench. The same is true of Fender- and Gibson-style truss rod bolts. They can be easily chewed up by careless tools (in both senses of that term). </p> <p>Always treat the truss rod with respect. If you turn it too far, it can snap, and that’s a damn expensive repair. You will cry. So always make small adjustments and constantly check your progress. If it feels too tight to adjust, don’t force it. Contact me and I’ll tell you what to do next. </p> <p>If, when you’ve eyeballed the neck, it’s "over-bent" (higher in the middle than it is at the headstock and body ends) adjust the truss rod key, wrench or screwdriver, anti-clockwise. If the neck is "dipped" (lower in the middle of the fingerboard than at either end), increase the tension on the truss rod by using your tool to adjust it clockwise. </p> <p>The idea is to get the neck straight as opposed to a banana shape. That doesn’t always mean dead straight. Guitars often play at their best with some relief — a slight dip. So you might have to experiment a bit to find the sweet spot where the action feels just right. I’ll go into this in a bit more depth when we get into adjusting the action (or string height) in a future blog post. </p> <p>Again, in the meantime, email me if you need advice. Next time, I’ll get back on track with the nut job. I’ll show you how to select the right superglue to use for the repair of those pesky top nut slots. Bet you didn’t realize that there are different "viscosities" (try saying that when you’re drunk) of superglue. </p> <p>Intrigued? Tune in next time then!</p> <p><em>If you can't get enough of Ed, visit <a href="http://www.fixyourowndamnguitar.com/">ed-mitchell.com.</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-adjust-your-guitars-truss-rod#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs News Thu, 09 Apr 2015 12:14:56 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11653 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: How to Tell If Your Guitar’s Neck Needs to be Adjusted http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-tell-if-your-guitar-s-neck-needs-be-adjusted <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-buying-guitar-check-nut-damage">One of my recent columns dealt with some of the things that can go wrong with your guitar’s top nut.</a> Big slots, thin strings; the perfect recipe for horrible buzzes and rattles. </p> <p>I realize you’re eager to dig out some tools and learn how to repair your faulty nut. Me too. We’re almost there, but, just for a moment, let’s take it down a notch. Think baby steps.</p> <p>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. </p> <p>Your gut reaction might be to grab a hammer to beat the offending top nut to death and glue a new one in there. But wait. Just like a nut with worn or over-wide slots, you can repair perilously low slots with super glue.</p> <p>Again, as Dick Van Dyke would say, diagnosis is everything. Don’t approach your guitar with any tool until you know A) what the problem is, and B) what you need to do to fix it. </p> <p>Last time I mentioned that you should always make sure that a guitar is tuned up to pitch — or to any alternate tuning that it may be set up to handle. If the tuning isn’t right, it can affect the neck.</p> <p>If the slots on the nut appear too low — you’re getting the buzzes and rattles when you play open strings, etc. — it could be that the neck needs to be adjusted. If the guitar is tuned too low, the neck won’t have enough tension on it and could be over-bent. </p> <p>In layman’s terms, this means the middle of the fingerboard is higher than the headstock and body end. This can cause the strings to buzz over the first five or so frets.</p> <p>To check if your guitar’s neck needs to be adjusted, you have to eyeball the neck itself. Hold the guitar by the body (See pic 1 in the photo gallery below), never the headstock. If you hold the guitar by the headstock (See pic 2), you’ll put pressure on the neck, which, although slight, will give you a false reading of the neck’s "straightness." </p> <p>Now look down the bass side of the fingerboard (See pic 3). Try closing one eye. You’ll look like Popeye, but it will help you focus. You should be able to tell if the neck is straight, dipped or over-bent. Repeat the process with the treble side of the fingerboard. </p> <p>Armed with this information, you can decide whether the neck needs to be adjusted. Speaking of which ...</p> <p>Next time, I’ll show you how to finish adjusting the neck and begin the process of repairing the slots in a faulty top nut. For the latter job, you’ll need super glue, which doesn’t cost much, and nut files. You can buy a set of nut files of varying gauges (approx $140) from the likes of <a href="http://www.stewmac.com/">Stewart-MacDonald</a>; or buy a single file (about $25) if you’re tackling a particular slot. </p> <p>I would recommend investing in a full set. That way you’ll be able to build a top nut from scratch one day ... one of the most satisfying guitar maintenance jobs there is. </p> <p>That’s something I’ll talk you through very soon. See you next time. </p> <p><em>Got a gear-related question for Ed Mitchell? Add a comment below or on our Facebook page.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-tell-if-your-guitar-s-neck-needs-be-adjusted#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs News Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:44:21 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11541 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: Some Crazy Stories from My Repair-Shop Days http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-some-crazy-stories-my-repair-shop-days <!--paging_filter--><p>I thought I’d use this week's post to tell you about some silly episodes that prove that we don’t all know what we’re doing. </p> <p>I worked in a music store in Glasgow, Scotland, for almost 20 years. Anyone who has ever worked in that kind of environment will tell you they’ve seen some pretty weird stuff. Factor in that I was the guitar-repair guy, and the potential for weirdness rockets into the stratosphere. </p> <p>Here's exhibit <strong>A</strong> to kick things off: </p> <p>There was the young guy with a silver-sparkle Charvel — a Model 375, if I remember correctly. Anyway, bored with his guitar’s finish, he decides to strip it off. He dips the guitar in a vat of paint stripper before thinking, "Oh, maybe I should have taken the hardware and pickups off first." </p> <p>By the time I saw it, all of the guitar’s plastic bits had melted and the black hardware was way past its best. </p> <p><strong>B</strong>. Fella brings in a guitar he’s put together himself. It looks good. He tells me he’s wired up all the components correctly but the guitar doesn’t work. I take a look inside the control cavity and all the wires and capacitors are indeed connected in the right places ... with Plasticine modelling clay and sticky tape. There’s not a drop of solder in sight. </p> <p><strong>C</strong>. Fed up that his guitar was going out of tune — probably needed to stretch the strings — a novice player comes up with a genius idea. He gets the guitar in tune, then coats each machinehead with Superglue. If it can’t move, it can’t go out of tune, right? Then he broke a string. Er ... (See the main photo at the top of this post.)</p> <p><strong>D</strong>. Angry customer approaches one Saturday morning with a Squier Strat he bought the previous week. "It’s not working," he barks. I take a look and spot the problem immediately. He’s only gone and fitted his new guitar with a set of classical strings. </p> <p>He tied huge knots in the end of each string to stop them slipping through the vibrato. That should have been his first clue. Electric guitars don’t cope too well with plastic strings, I tell him. He stops shouting. </p> <p><strong>E</strong>. This one is terrifying. Man is buying a guitar cable. He says it’s for his daughter, who has just got her first electric guitar. He’s about to leave when he says, "So, I just snip the end off one end of the lead and fit a wall socket, then?" </p> <p>"No!" I replied. He thought that the guitar was plugged directly into a wall socket. Imagine that! His daughter could have been fried. I explained the whole concept of electric guitars and sold him a practice amp. Disaster averted, I hope. </p> <p>I’ve got countless more stories like this. The young lad staying up for hours the previous night trying to screw the vibrato arm into his Stratocaster’s jack socket is just another one. </p> <p>The message is, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, get some advice first. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know something. If you’re one of those guitarists that has been round the block and knows a thing or two, share it with those less experienced. </p> <p>That’s exactly what I’ll be doing next time when I’ll be looking at the problems that can be caused by top nuts. See you then!</p> <p><em>Got a gear-related question for Ed Mitchell? Add a comment below or on our Facebook page.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-some-crazy-stories-my-repair-shop-days#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs News Features Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:12:37 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11175 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: The Correct Way to Use Glue on Your Guitar http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-correct-way-use-glue-your-guitar <!--paging_filter--><p>This week’s column is all about bonding. By that, I mean we’re going to talk about glue. </p> <p>If it seems that it’s taking a while to get to the actual process of filling and re-cutting the nut slots, then there’s a method to my apparent procrastination. </p> <p>As in any guitar maintenance and repair job, every step of this task is equally important. One silly mistake and you could damage your guitar’s finish or yourself. In the many (Man, there were so many) years I worked in a music store, I saw countless guitars damaged by the inappropriate use of glue. Take your time, follow the steps, and do a good job. You’ll feel so much better about your abilities. So bear with me ... </p> <p>Last time I dropped the bombshell that there are different types of superglue available. The notion of squirting glue into the slots of your guitar’s top should be enough to give you sleepless nights. For a start, you’re not going to be squirting the glue anywhere. We’re going to learn how to "feed" the glue safely and steadily into the slot so that it doesn’t run and damage your guitar’s finish. </p> <p>Obviously, this is a task you should approach with caution and a steady hand. Yeah, and there’s other stuff you need to remember. Whenever you uncap any solvents, you need to be in a well-ventilated area. That means you need to open a window or be outside. Wear safety glasses, too (See photo 1 in the photo gallery below). </p> <p>You might get glue on your fingers, get distracted and rub it in your eyes or something equally dangerous; and it's embarrassing to explain to the nurse at your local hospital, natch. Like I said, superglue is available in different "viscosities" or thicknesses. The stuff you find in your local supermarket can be too runny for filling slots. I can make it work, but the job is a bit more awkward. </p> <p>Guitar repair supplies company <a href="http://www.stewmac.com/">Stewart-McDonald</a> offers its superglue in a range of three main viscosities: thin, medium and thick. You can actually use superglue to repair lacquer chips. Some glue is so thin, it can be painted on with a brush. The thicker stuff is the best for filling slots, in my humble opinion, because it pretty much stays where you leave it. You’ll just have to make sure you give it plenty of time to cure. </p> <p>You can order your glue from the likes of Stew-Mac (It's up to you; I don’t work for or endorse them!) or try a model-making store. They usually have different types of glue to choose from. </p> <p>Armed with the righteously sticky stuff, you next have to decide how to apply it to the slots in the nut. I use plastic toothpicks or pieces of card, depending on the size of the slot. I squirt the glue onto a piece of scrap cardboard (See photo 2) then dip the toothpick or card into the sticky heap. That makes the glue easier to control and apply than attempting to squirt it into the nut slots straight from the tube. That’s just crazy. </p> <p>We’re going to cover protecting the guitar’s finish around the nut (See photo 3) and loading the slots with glue in detail next time. So open a window, put on your glasses, get your glue; and bring a steady claw. </p> <p>See you then.</p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.ed-mitchell.com/?page_id=2">click here!</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-correct-way-use-glue-your-guitar#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs News Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:20:27 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11949 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: Intro to Soldering, Part 1 — Required Tools and Safety Tips http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-intro-soldering-part-1-required-tools-and-safety-tips <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-troubleshooting-when-your-guitar-goes-dead">In a recent column,</a> I discussed the various reasons your guitar might cut out. </p> <p>Loose wires, faulty components and other such gremlins raised their ugly little heads. </p> <p>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! </p> <p>If that sounds good to you, you’ll need to add some new goodies to your tool box (See Photo 1 in the photo gallery below). I’ve included some links in the tool list below. Where you buy your tools in entirely up to you. I just want to make sure you get the right stuff. </p> <p>Obviously, you need to invest in a soldering iron. Look for a <a href="www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062738">40-watt soldering iron</a>. That’ll work great for guitar wiring jobs. I would recommend you <a href="www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062740">get a soldering iron holder, too</a>. Most come with a built-in sponge to clean the tip of your iron. That’s important. </p> <p>You’ll also need a roll of <a href="www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062719">60/40 rosin core solder</a> and safety glasses. You’ll find a pair in your local hardware store for around $9.</p> <p>Right. You’ve got the tools and you can’t wait to start joining stuff together. Well, at the risk of being a kill joy, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t talk you through some safety tips first. So don’t plug that soldering iron in just yet. </p> <p> Heads up: Always wear your safety goggles when soldering (Photo 2). No excuses. Hot solder can "spit" and hit you in the eye. I learned this the hard way; that’s all you need to know. Don’t be as dumb as me. Let’s move on. Work in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in solder fumes. That translates as: Open a window and keep your nostrils away from the smoke that rises when you solder stuff. </p> <p>Don't let the hot bit of the iron touch any part of your anatomy. A soldering iron burn hurts like hell. Keep it away from other people, animals, soft furnishings; basically anything you don’t want covered in burn marks. Remember that it’s not only the tip of the iron that's hot. The iron's shaft is searingly hot too. </p> <p>Don't let the hot iron touch your guitar's finish or the coating on any wires in the control cavity. Both will melt. Also, try not to let molten solder drip onto your guitar's finish. Yes, it will cool, but when you pick that little splat of solder off, it’ll leave a permanent mark on your guitar. </p> <p>Next time, I’ll talk you through preparing your soldering iron and your guitar’s components (Photo 3) and wiring (Photo 4). Stick with me and you’ll be soldering like a pro in no time. Bye for now!</p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.ed-mitchell.com/?page_id=2">click here!</a></em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-intro-soldering-part-1-required-tools-and-safety-tips#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Fri, 16 May 2014 19:11:24 +0000 Ed Mitchell 13306 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: How to Restring an Acoustic Guitar http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-eds-shed-how-restring-acoustic-guitar <!--paging_filter--><p>One of the most common cries for help I’ve received recently concerns the restringing of acoustic guitars. </p> <p>While this should be a straightforward job, it seems that your pesky bridge pins (See photo 1 in the gallery below) 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. </p> <p>Over the years, I’ve seen bridge pins mummified in sticky tape then jammed into their respective holes in the bridge. I’ve even witnessed the horror of bridge pins entombed in super glue to keep them from pinging out. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but these are not good solutions. Let’s learn how to do the job correctly. When you're fitting strings to an acoustic guitar, you can’t just stuff the bridge pins in and hope for the best. You have to make sure the ball end of the string applies enough tension to the correct part of the pin to stop it flying out when you tune the guitar up to pitch. </p> <p>When removing bridge pins, use the right tool for the job, such as the built-in notch on the head of your string-winder (See photo 2). Don’t let me catch you using metal tools like pliers or snips. You’ll chew up or snap the pins. Speaking of which, always check on the condition of your bridge pins whenever you remove them from the guitar. If they look worn out or chewed up, replace them. </p> <p>The ball end of the guitar string has to secure itself against the underside of the bridge to maintain the guitar’s tone and sustain. The ball end shouldn’t be allowed to sit on the tip of the pin (See photo 3). If this happens, the pin will work itself loose and you’ll spend the rest of the evening on your hands and knees looking for it. Putting a curve in the winding of the string (See photo 4) will help the ball end avoid the tip of the bridge pin and go where it's supposed to. Gently bend the winding until the string looks like the one in the picture. </p> <p>Next, slip the string into its hole in the bridge (See photo 5). Grab a bridge pin and slide that into the hole. Make sure the groove in the bridge pin is facing the sound hole of the guitar (See photo 6). Next, push the pin into place while simultaneously pulling on the string with your other hand (See photo 7). You should feel the string and pin snap into place. Nice work. I’ll meet you up at the headstock. </p> <p>Snip the string approximately two inches past its corresponding machinehead. Now you can poke the end of the string through the hole in the machinehead shaft (See photo 8). Begin winding the string on the shaft with your string-winder (see photo 9). Aim for four or five neat windings on the post with no unsightly overlaps. </p> <p>As you wind the string up to tension, eyeball the bridge pin. If it pops up a bit, push it back down. Repeat the restringing process with the rest of the strings. </p> <p>As ever, give the strings a good stretch (See photo 10), then re-tune. Repeat the process until the tuning stabilizes. That’s the job finished. </p> <p>Next time, I’m going to show you how to restring a nylon-strung classical guitar. See you then. </p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.fixyourowndamnguitar.com/blog/?page_id=2">click here!</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-eds-shed-how-restring-acoustic-guitar#comments acoustic guitar Acoustic Nation Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Photos Blogs Features Mon, 14 Oct 2013 15:47:06 +0000 Ed Mitchell 14206 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: Troubleshooting When Your Guitar Goes Dead http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-troubleshooting-when-your-guitar-goes-dead <!--paging_filter--><p>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. </p> <p>You get ready to take a solo, you step forward, put on your best sex face and ... nothing. Your guitar has gone dead. </p> <p>At that moment, you just want someone to give you a big hug and tell you everything is going to be alright. It is, actually; once you figure out what the problem is. You could just take all your gear down to your local guitar emporium, throw it over the counter and say, "Fix that." That’s the coward’s way out and certainly not how we do business here in the Shed. </p> <p>Bottom line: You’re going to sniff out the cause of the problem, then sort it yourself. So dry your eyes and grab a screwdriver. </p> <p>Actually, before you start cursing your beloved six-string, who says it’s your guitar that’s faulty, huh? Always make sure your amplifier and cables are working properly before you start messing around with your guitar. You should always own a spare cable or three anyway, just in case. </p> <p>Don’t forget to check your entire signal chain. That includes your stompboxes. Plug your guitar direct to the amp. If it works, you might have a faulty pedal (or a dead battery) or patch lead. Check all that and move on. </p> <p>First questions: Is it a simple fault? Well, yes, maybe. Maybe not. Can I fix it myself? Almost certainly ... if you follow these instructions. Unless you’re particularly prone to bad luck, your guitar probably has A) a faulty jack socket; or B) a faulty switch. Now that we know that your cables, amp and pedals are OK, stick your cable’s jack plug into the hole for which is was intended in the guitar; or the jack socket as we in the business like to call it. </p> <p>The other end should be connected to your guitar amp. The amp should be switched on. Wiggle the jack plug (See photo 1 in the gallery below). If the guitar splutters into life, even for a few seconds, you have a defective socket. If it doesn’t, you also have a defective jack socket. How’s that for easy diagnosis? If the jack plug is loose and perhaps even drops out of the guitar when you don’t want it to, you have a defective jack socket. There’s a pattern emerging here. </p> <p>It’s time to have a closer look at the jack socket. On some guitars, the socket is secured to a square or oval plastic or metal plate. Simply unscrew the plate. On our Fender Esquire, the socket has to be removed via the control cavity. Eyeball the socket. Look for any obvious faults like rusty contacts or a loose wire. Reattach any loose wires and carefully clean dirty contacts with a piece of light-grade sandpaper (See pic 2). </p> <p>The cable’s jack plug should slip snugly in the guitar’s jack socket. If it’s loose, gently bend the metal tab (See pic 3). Check your progress by plugging in the cable until you get a tight fit. </p> <p>If the socket looks OK and the guitar is still dead, quickly wiggle the pickup selector switch back and forth (See pic 4). If the guitar starts to work, even briefly, you’re dealing with a faulty or dirty switch. Gain access to your guitar’s innards. This might mean carefully removing your scratchplate or a backplate if your guitar has rear mounted controls. On our guitar we simply unscrew the control plate and turn it over. The genius of Leo Fender.</p> <p>Look for any loose wires and bad connections and repair as necessary (see Pic 5). If your switch has exposed contacts, you can clean them with some light sandpaper. Be gentle: The contacts on guitar components can be fragile. If the switch still doesn’t work, replace it. Draw a diagram of the wiring before you remove the old switch. If your guitar has a budget enclosed switch, it’s not worth repairing. Get a better quality one. </p> <p>Oh, and while you’re rummaging around the control cavity, squirt some contact cleaner into the pots (or potentiometers) as seen in pic 6. As you spray twist the control and again test the guitar with your screwdriver. That should get you back on the road. Next time, I’m going to talk you through the noble art of soldering. You’ve asked me about that a lot. See you then. </p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.fixyourowndamnguitar.com/blog/?page_id=2">click here!</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-troubleshooting-when-your-guitar-goes-dead#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Mon, 22 Oct 2012 14:12:56 +0000 Ed Mitchell 13187 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed's Shed: How to Balance Your Guitar’s Vibrato, Part 2 http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato-part-2 <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato">Last time we looked at how to get your guitar’s vibrato into line</a>. Before I move onto the next juicy guitar maintenance task, I thought I would give you some additional balancing tips. </p> <p>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. Changing the strings one at a time can help maintain the balance of your Floyd or non-locking vibrato. You simply detune one string, remove it, fit a new one, tune it up, all the while keeping the other five strings as in-tune as possible. </p> <p>Changing strings one at a time doesn’t help if you need to clean your guitar’s fingerboard, replace the pickups or carry out any major repairs. In those scenarios, you need to remove all the strings, so try stuffing a rag or duster under the vibrato to keep some tension on the springs. That could help the vibrato balance naturally when you tune up. </p> <p>Here are some other tips:</p> <p>Following on from last time, you might find that the two big vibrato screws you turn to increase and decrease spring tension are adjusted as far as they can go, but your vibrato still isn’t balanced correctly. In that case, you could consider adding or removing a spring. </p> <p>If the screws are screwed into the guitar’s wood as far as they’ll go, but your vibrato is still angled away from the body, you’ll need to add an extra spring (See photo 1 in the photo gallery below). Put some safety goggles on (See photo 2). </p> <p>You’re dealing a spring under tension. If it slips from your grasp it could hit you in the face. I’ve done that; it hurts big time. If you’re nervous about dealing with springs under tension, detune the guitar. This will make it easier to get the spring into position. Just make sure it’s seated securely in the claw and vibrato block before you retune the guitar. </p> <p>To fit a new spring, attach its looped end to the claw. Next, using a pair of pliers, stretch the spring to the vibrato block and slip its pin into the hole in the block (See photo 3). The added tension caused by the new spring should finally pull the vibrato into line. You may find you have to release a little tension by turning the screws anti-clockwise. Just adjust and retune, natch (See photo 4). It’ll eventually settle down. </p> <p>If you don’t have a spare spring you can increase the tension on the strings by angling one of the existing springs (See photo 5). It might just be enough to level that pesky vibrato once and for all. It’s worth a try. In some cases, you might find that you’ve loosened the two big screws as far as you dare but your vibrato is still angled towards the body. No problem. Just remove one of the springs. If that leaves the vibrato sitting too high, tighten the screws a bit to compensate. </p> <p>When all is balanced you can tighten the locking top nut bolts. Don’t tighten ‘em too hard; just enough to keep the strings in check (See photo 6). By the way, when it comes to fine tuners, I set them with the same amount of adjustment for flat and sharp. That pretty much covers the whole vibrato balancing thing. You should be an expert by now! </p> <p>By the way, someone asked why I always used the term "vibrato" and not "tremolo" or "whammy bar." Well, I use it because vibrato is the correct term for the wiggly stick on a guitar. It’s dear old Leo Fender’s fault that many players incorrectly refer to a guitar’s vibrato as a tremolo. While developing the Fender Stratocaster, Leo or one of his guys christened his new baby’s vibrato unit the "synchronized tremolo" before naming the tremolo effect on his amplifiers "vibrato." The names stuck and we’ve used them ever since. </p> <p>To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what term you use to describe your vibrato. As for my hero, Leo Fender ... well, the guy was too busy making rock guitar history to care about correct terminology. Let’s cut him some slack. See you next time.</p> <p><em>If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, <a href="http://www.fixyourowndamnguitar.com/blog/?page_id=2">click here!</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-how-balance-your-guitar-s-vibrato-part-2#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Mon, 15 Oct 2012 15:10:19 +0000 Ed Mitchell 12660 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed’s Shed: Before Buying a Guitar, Check for Nut Damage http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-buying-guitar-check-nut-damage <!--paging_filter--><p>Greetings, guitar tweakers. <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-introduction-nut-repair">As promised in my last blog post,</a> I’m gonna go nuts for a while. </p> <p>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. </p> <p>We guitarists can be gripped with a bizarre hysteria when we are trying out a guitar we really want. It pays to take your time and pay attention to details like the top nut, especially if you’re about to drop your hard-earned cash on a used guitar that has no warranty. </p> <p>The top nut is the unsung hero on a guitar’s spec sheet. Not only does it keep the strings where they should be, and evenly spaced into the bargain, it also conspires with the guitar’s bridge saddles and truss rod to set the action (or string height) to suit your playing style. </p> <p>So ... when you’re looking over a used guitar, make sure the top nut is in good shape. You should always check that the guitar is in tune, too.</p> <p>Eyeball the top nut closely for signs of damage; even hairline cracks can cause problems. They could eventually get worse, so it’s best to catch 'em early on. Insist on inspecting the string slots in the top nut. It’s the only way to be sure, as someone said in a movie once. You’ll have to detune the strings before you lift them out of the slots, so it’s probably best to ask the seller’s permission first. People can be a bit funny about stuff like that. </p> <p>With the strings out of the way, have a good look inside the slots (See pic 1 in the photo gallery below). If you see any cracks, I recommend that you figure the cost of a replacement nut into the guitar’s asking price. Don’t back down on that unless the guitar is already a stone bargain and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. </p> <p>Pluck and listen to the open strings. If any of them are buzzing or rattling, it could mean the top nut slots are worn out or cut too wide for the gauge of strings fitted to the guitar. There’s an easy way to check if this is the case. Pull the string to the side behind the top nut (shown in pic 2, above, and in the photo gallery below). Now pluck the open string ... with your other hand, natch. If the buzz has improved or stopped altogether, it’s likely the string slot is too big. </p> <p>If you intend to fit a heavier gauge of strings, then this whole wide slot scenario could work to your advantage. It helps if the seller allows you to fit the fatter strings before you hand over your cash. Again, that all depends on your skills of negotiation. </p> <p>I’m going to cover rebuilding and recutting the slots in a top nut soon. Before that, I'll show you how to figure out if the slots are cut to the correct height (See pic 3 in the photo gallery below) and what influence the truss rod has on that. </p> <p>See you next time!</p> <p><em>Got a gear-related question for Ed? Add a comment below or on our Facebook page.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-buying-guitar-check-nut-damage#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Mon, 08 Oct 2012 16:21:09 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11405 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed’s Shed: An Introduction to Nut Repair http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-introduction-nut-repair <!--paging_filter--><p>I’ve had a few emails recently asking how I got into the whole guitar repair and maintenance thing in the first place. Funnily enough, my last blog post about wanton six-string abuse prompted an old colleague to remind me of the episode that kick-started my guitar-tweaking career.</p> <p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/eds-shed-some-crazy-stories-my-repair-shop-days">As I mentioned in my last blog post,</a> I worked at a music store in Glasgow, Scotland, for what seemed a lifetime. When I started working there in 1986, guitar repairs were handled by a guy affectionately nicknamed "The Butcher." </p> <p>If I was being kind, I would say his heart wasn’t in his job. He was basically doing the repairs because no one else could be bothered. </p> <p>One day a man walked into the store with a Les Paul copy. The guitar’s top nut was cracked. He wanted a new one fitted, natch. For my part, I was interested to know how the old nut could be removed without damaging the guitar’s fingerboard and finish. </p> <p>"It’s glued in place," I pondered. "Surely it’s a delicate operation?" Well ... </p> <p>No sooner had the customer left the store than my guitar-menacing colleague reached into a drawer behind the counter. </p> <p>“We have all the right tools for the job,” he grinned, producing an old butter knife and a hammer. I recall being intrigued as he placed the rounded blade of the knife against the guitar’s top nut at the point where it met the fingerboard (recreated in pic 1, above and in the photo gallery below).</p> <p>What happened next changed my life. The Butcher gave the fat end of the knife an almighty whack with the hammer. The top nut broke free and flew through the air, pinging off the strings of an acoustic guitar at the other end of the room. </p> <p>As the traumatized nut disappeared forever behind a stack of amplifiers, I remember thinking to myself, "That can’t be the proper way to do guitar repairs." </p> <p>With The Butcher’s wholehearted blessing -- OK, it was more a shrug of indifference -- I soon took over the store’s guitar repair duties. I bought in the right tools, studied books on the subject and gained a good reputation for setups and building top nuts from bone blanks. I love a happy ending. </p> <p>I thought this cautionary tale would be a good way to introduce the subject of my next few posts on my blog. A badly cut or setup top nut can cause poor tuning stability and playability, string buzz and annoying zinging sounds. So I’m going to hone in on the subject of top nuts, big time. </p> <p>I’ll cover the different nut types; how to spot faults; how to repair faults; how to remove a faulty nut properly; and best of all, how to build a top nut from scratch.</p> <p>No matter if your guitar has a regular plastic, brass or bone nut (See pic 2 in the photo gallery) or one of those locking jobs found on guitars with Floyd Rose or equivalent vibratos (See pic 3 in the photo gallery), you’re going to learn some valuable tips. I’ll take a look at the world of compensated nuts, too. </p> <p>Trust me, we’re gonna go totally nuts for a while. See you next time.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-introduction-nut-repair#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Mon, 10 Sep 2012 10:46:00 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11288 at http://www.guitarworld.com Ed’s Shed: Stay in Tune by Stretching Your Strings http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-stay-tune-stretching-your-strings <!--paging_filter--><p>Welcome to my first blog post on the new-look GuitarWorld.com. </p> <p>I have received thousands of emails from <em>Guitar World</em> readers since the Ed’s Shed column launched in the magazine just over a year ago; this frequently updated blog will provide answers to many of your questions.</p> <p>According to the vast majority of your emails, your biggest frustration is poor tuning stability. There are various reasons that your guitar might not be holding its tuning. I’ll look at them all in upcoming posts. It helps if your strings are neatly wound on their machine head posts (See the closeup photo below). It’s also important that new guitar strings are properly stretched to allow them to settle. </p> <p>Like many things in life, I learned the importance of stretching strings the hard way. A few years ago, a friend who played guitar in a wedding band asked me to fill in for him when he went on vacation. The money was good; I already had a bunch of the tunes nailed. I took the gig. </p> <p>Fast forward a week and I arrive at the venue, a hotel in the small Scottish town of Grangemouth. I unload my gear only to discover that I only had a few minutes to set up my gear. Oh, and there’s no sound check. Awesome. </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Shed%20blog%20pic%201_0_0.jpg" width="310" height="242" align="left" style="padding:10px 10px 10px 0;" alt="Shed blog pic 1_0_0.jpg" /></p> <p>I had restrung my guitars, a Fender “Will Ray” Jazz-A-Caster and Guild S-100 Polara, that morning and hadn’t played them in yet. I tuned my guitars, put my green Fender Prosonic amp on standby, then went off to get suited up. </p> <p>Show time! The bride and groom had chosen Celine Dion’s cheesefest “My Heart Will Go On” as their first dance. A song based around a doomed ship sounds like a good omen for a long and happy marriage. Anyway, I was told to play the song’s flute intro on guitar. I was tuning up when the band struck up, taking me surprise. I had no choice but to play. </p> <p>My guitar was badly out of tune. I mean, it wasn’t even in the same ZIP code. The bassist/bandleader looked round at me and mouthed the unabridged version of “WTF!” Luckily, the audience didn’t seem to notice as a fight broke out at the back of the room. You can always count on some kind of disturbance at a Scottish wedding, although it’s usually at the end. I got lucky, but I wouldn’t have made such a Titanic mistake if I’d stretched my strings in the first place. </p> <p>To stretch your strings, hold your guitar in the playing position: You don’t want snapped strings hitting you in the face, natch. Make sure there are no other soft targets around you like, you know, people and animals. Beginning with the low E, pull the string about halfway along its length (See the top photo of me pulling one of my strings). </p> <p>Don’t go crazy; you’re not trying to win an archery contest here. Tune the string, then, like some Richard Simmons workout (Spandex optional), stretch and repeat until the tuning settles. Repeat the process with the other strings. You can use this process on acoustic guitars, just make sure the bridge pins are secure, and nylon strung classical guitars. </p> <p>More questions answered next time. See you then! </p> <p><em>Got a gear-related question for Ed? Add a comment below or on our Facebook page.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/ed-s-shed-stay-tune-stretching-your-strings#comments Ed Mitchell Ed's Shed Blogs Wed, 01 Jun 2011 16:03:04 +0000 Ed Mitchell 11058 at http://www.guitarworld.com