Bare Knuckle Pickups Forum

Forum Ringside => Tech => Topic started by: Drac on June 27, 2005, 01:30:37 PM

Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Drac on June 27, 2005, 01:30:37 PM
Hello, axegrinders...
I repair and build guitars...
I make my living doing a lot of banal tasks that people could easily do themselves, if they had the desire or confidence-
just curious-How holy is yer Guitar?-
Would you operate on the family dog?-shoe yer own horse?-bake yer own bread?
-Some people like things the way they are...
-others are never finished questing for the grail on the green grass on the other side of the proverbial fence...
There is no right or wrong, but what do you say?-
would appreciate some diatribunals as to yer feelin's...
-I want to know!- Drac the guitarknacker
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: PhilKing on June 27, 2005, 04:10:49 PM
Hi Drac,

I do everything to my guitars except make them from scratch!  What I do includes routing for pickups, refinishing, all setup work, fret finishing, fret edge cleanup (it is amazing how many guitars seem to need this) and all the electric work.

I did a short course on guitar set up and repair with Stephen Delft at the London College of Furniture in the late 70's, this was really great to tell you what to do and what not to do.

The only other thing I would say is to get the right tools.  They make life so much easier if you are going to do a lot of work.  Stewart MacDonald in the States is the best source that I have found (
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: TwilightOdyssey on June 27, 2005, 04:15:08 PM
I'd rather have a tech do my work when I have the time/money.
When I don't I do the work myself, but I'm really just a player, and am not interested in being a builder or tech.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Ratrod on June 27, 2005, 04:43:17 PM
I'll do almost everything myself whenever possible. The only time I bring it to a pro is when I don't have the tools myself. That's gonna change. I will get me a router, rasps, files etc.

DIY will save you a lot of money. (as long as you have the skills)
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: TwilightOdyssey on June 27, 2005, 04:44:18 PM
You need the space, too, Ratrod. My NYC apt cannot accomodate any serious tools.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Ratrod on June 27, 2005, 04:50:32 PM
Band saws, column drills n' stuff do soak up a lot of room. Fret and nut files don't and neither does a Dremel. When you wanna build from scratch you'll need a shed or something. Thankfully I have the room for it (after I clean it up :? ) Repairing and modification doesn't need that much room and tools.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: balde on June 27, 2005, 05:09:56 PM
I hope i had the patience and skill needed to work on my axes! It seems that the only thing my hands can do is pluck and bend the strings, all the rest,hmmmm i am handicapped. Donīt give a screwdriver or might end up stabbing myself :twisted: !!
Title: Checkin In...
Post by: Drac on June 27, 2005, 05:59:26 PM
-Kewl for the feedback ,and hoping that more chime in...
 - It's neck & neck , @ this point...
-We're all guitar players, but not every one has the time, or resources (  a workplace where you can freely make a hell of a mess,  alot of noise,  without annoying neighbors, spouses, pets, etc., tools, books,machines, etc.  )  to grind their own axes.
- The desire to do the work is the line in the sand...
-Who has enough time to address their guitar addiction as it is?
Being a sharp player is  demanding enough- other thing is, that when yer tweaking and tuning, hotrodding, etc., yer axe is in pieces, and you can't play at least that one...
 Like the 'operating on the family dog' analogy, some people would rather hand it over ( along with the responsibility) to someone  who has done the deed before, rather than run the risk of  making their number one axe look/feel/play/sound like "#2" - (childish toilet humor implied...)
-working on guitar is an immensely satisfying labor of love
 , though-
- Anyone who plays could be glad for a fundamental  understanding of what's involved in making and maintaining a guitar, if only to dismantle the mythology and heresay in regard to what  makes one better than another, how to buy and sell them , and raise the standard of common knowledge about our  infatuation...
-I hope to hear more replies from others in regard to the question,
 and warm thanks to you lot that broke the ice, and told me how yer thinking...
-virtual "pints of joy" to ye to you from Drac of the icy north
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: TwilightOdyssey on June 27, 2005, 06:09:31 PM
I agree that you definitely get a profound appreciation for a quality build when you do work on your own guitar.

Just swapping out pickups was the limit of my involvement until most recently.

I also agree that time is a seriously limiting factor, and when faced with a choice, I'll take playing over modding/building any day.
Title: Understood-
Post by: Drac on June 27, 2005, 06:12:14 PM
Read ye loud & clear, T.O.-
-I feel the same way about my car, and my teeth...
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Ratrod on June 27, 2005, 07:19:36 PM
I think it's gotta be in your nature. I'm the kind of guy who takes things apart to see how they work. It is very rewarding to repair and customize yourself. Setup work is great if you know how. A guitar setup can be a very personal thing.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: 38thBeatle on June 27, 2005, 11:46:45 PM
I am a DIY disaster area so I'd rather leave it to someone who knows what they are doing. I am sure that if I watched, say, a pickup change, I could get the hang of it. I have stripped down my Precision bass a couple of times and it all went back together with no bits left over which was, for me, an achievement. It is also a question of available time. What time I do have I would rather be playing ( we have a family business and I also have a full time job). I also know someone who can do repairs and mods ( Ron at R/2e) and he is quick and efficient and not that far away from me. BTW Drac, loved your "planks". I am a conservative traditionalist but I like the craziness and lunacy of yours if you don't mind my saying so. I like Copenhagen too for that matter though haven't been there for a while.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Bird on June 28, 2005, 12:04:34 AM
The only thing I don't do is frets, or the nut. I'd like to pickup some files and a book and give it a try though. :D
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Kemra on June 28, 2005, 12:48:06 PM
I'd love to do all the work on my own guitar, I think it would be very rewarding and ultimately cheaper than getting a tech to do the work for me. I would actually be very interested to learn all about this and become a Tech?Luthier, how does one go about this? I guess this is aimed mostly at R/2e and Feline Guitars, as I know they are both UK based luthiers.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: rinse_master on June 30, 2005, 10:04:54 AM
I do most of my techie stuff myself, all except fret and nut work (gonna get some files soon though).
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: dpmasunder on June 30, 2005, 10:13:38 AM
I do everything, build and repair, coz it's my day job.
I do have to disagree with Ratrod about tool quantities though, when you're dealing with all sorts of guitars, of all qualities, conditions and required jobs you end up with heaps of special tools and jigs which you have to hold on to just in case that situation ever pops up again.
Repairs and restorations utilise all the building tools plus more!
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: PhilKing on June 30, 2005, 12:35:32 PM
I know what you mean about tools.  I started with a set of fret files, soldering iron, screwdrivers, allen (hex) keys and some different pliers (including end-cutters for fret removal!).  Now I have so many others, dremmel, diamond fret files, fret edge plane, gibson switch tool (to tighten the knurled screw), desoldering iron, many different screwdrivers, pliers, chisels and planes.  I think it helps that my dad is a joiner (carpenter for all the americans out there), so I grew up around wood and tools.  I also built my first guitar in woodwork at school (it was a piece of cr@p - but i think i had the first pointy headstock  :lol: ).

I too am someone who likes to take things apart and build things.  I think all this goes together.  I build my own computers and work on my amps and pedals (I am just upgrading a CS-3).  I also have set up pa systems and my studio, and I have always done work on my friends guitars too.  I guess I know I will never be a guitar guru, I am more of a journeyman, so perhaps this is where it comes from too.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: R/2e on July 01, 2005, 09:22:22 AM
I'd love to do all the work on my own guitar, I think it would be very rewarding and ultimately cheaper than getting a tech to do the work for me. I would actually be very interested to learn all about this and become a Tech?Luthier, how does one go about this? I guess this is aimed mostly at R/2e and Feline Guitars, as I know they are both UK based luthiers.

Kemra, I started about 40 years ago when I was at school and couldn't afford to buy a guitar so made one. It was a disaster so I made another, then another, and so on, all the time searching for info, until I managed to make one that was actually playable (with the assistance of the woodwork teacher) which saw me through a lot of bands. From there I obviously did my own repairs, did repairs for friends, all the time learning, mainly how to sort out the c--k ups I made! This was fairly low key for many years, though I continued gigging, and about 8 years ago, having moved into a house where at last I had room for a workshop, I obtained a 67 SG which needed restoration. This was such a success that I started getting other guitars brought to me for restoration, and the repair work increased as well, until it became obvious the taxman would be taking an interest in me if I didn't do something about it, so made it official. Over this period I gathered an unbelievable number of special tools from fret tang nippers to acoustic neck steamer and removal jig and invested in a considerable amount of stock. I only do the guitar business part time at the moment and because of this concentrate mainly on restoration and repairs, specialising in nitro refins of vintage guitars.  My website, and referrals from existing customers, have been my best advertising and the business continues to grow. I might add that I am very practical, having restored cars and motorbikes, including respraying, done a load of carpentry, etc, long before I started the guitar business.

So, to sum up, all you need to start is the interest, talent and abilities - woodworking for example, some basic tools which you add to as you go, and friends who will trust you with their precious axes. It also helps to buy some cheapo or scr@p guitars to practice on, fretting for example requires a lot of practice before you get it right. Additionally, get hold of some books, the ones from the Stewart MacDonald website ( are a very good start, particularly the ones on setup, fretting and refinishing.

A final word of warning, doing your own guitar will probably not be cheaper than getting a techie to do it. The tools you need for a refret for example, or to cut a nut, will cost considerably more than getting the job done professionally, so unless you're serious about it there's not a lot of point in spending loadsamoney on tools.
Title: repairs
Post by: tech33 on July 02, 2005, 05:02:38 PM
I see a lot of botched jobs on guitars as working tech, but i started off just messing and pulling my own guitars to bits, just to see how they worked. more often than not i broke it and needed help, but i got there in the end.And now its turned into a career!
so you never no!
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: Skybone on July 08, 2005, 02:58:07 PM
I've voted for a little of both.

I've spent a fair few hours, over the time I've been playing, to simply mucking about with my guitars. Taking bolt-on necks off & shimming them to get a nice action (instead of either putting more strain on/off the truss rod), intonating, changing bits of hardware, installing pickups etc.

I've even had a go at refinishing one of my guitars. When I bought it, someone had stripped it, and hand painted it red. I sanded it down, went to Halfords and bought a load of cans of Gloss Black (luckily they had a 3 for 2 offer on) and some cans of clear lacquer. Sprayed it up giving it a couple of coats, leaving it to dry, flat off, another couple of coats, dry, flat, couple of coats, etc etc until it had quite a few coats, left it to dry for a couple of weeks, flatted it off again, and then lacquered it. Left that to dry for a couple of weeks, flatted and then used a cutting compound. It's nowhere near a pro finish, but it looks half decent and means I can use the guitar. The only thing to do to it now is to save some pennies and whack a BKP in there!
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: MDV on July 09, 2005, 03:24:32 PM
Hey man. Nice thread!

If I had the time, space and expertise I wouldnt buy another guitar. Or amp.

As it is I do all the electroncs work (one of my 4 electrics is as it was from the factory [or custom shop in one case], in terms of vols, tones and selection options), though I only have a vague idea what I'm doing, things turn out alright.

I have no problem re-fretting (damn thin frets!) and fret dressing. I'll cut new routings if its for the greater good.

I do all my own setup work, I never let anyone else touch it :evil:

Basically the only thing I'll take to the shop for work is my amp, but I plan to learn to at least bias tubes so I dont have to do that any more. I'm a firm believer that if one person can do it, so can you :)
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: big steve on July 22, 2005, 11:38:29 PM
i've done pretty much everything to my poor richwood strat - i would be more wary of working on a more expensive guitar though - wouldn't trust myself.
Title: Is Nothing Sacred?
Post by: HJM on July 28, 2005, 07:21:31 AM
If I've got the tools anything goes nuts, fret stoning, electrics, setups.....although I've never refretted and not brave enough to route! Major surgery eg broken truss rod, would go to a tech!