When I was recording my last CD I was noticing a lot of inconsistencies in the way my guitar sounded and the way that it stayed in tune. I’m not a schooled guitarist, meaning I have never taken a formal lesson nor have I really studied the guitar as a machine. I can change my guitar strings and tune it, but I would never trust myself to adjust the neck or bridge. Enter the Guitar Tech.
I think that finding a good person to work on your guitar is like finding a good mechanic. You go by word-of-mouth or by trial and error. I once took my guitar to a big name music store. I emphasize the word ‘once’. I felt like I got no attention and my guitar, which is like a body part, was not treated well and tossed over in a corner with the other refugees. Luckily I found someone in my neighborhood who was recommended by a fellow band-mate. He had his own little studio and workbench and was really interested in the way I played and such. He really cared about my guitar. I went to him for as long as I lived in NYC, but when I moved to Connecticut I had to start all over again.
I moved to a small town in northern Fairfield County and I thought that I was going to have to go into NYC every time my guitar needed to be set-up. But lo and behold I found an advertisement for a guy who does set-ups just down the street. Well nothing is just down the street in a town like this, but he was close by. Again, I found the same interest and care that my NYC tech showed towards my guitar. Since that visit I have brought my two electric guitars and my basses to him. One bass he even stripped off the frets and converted into a fretless for me. Cool.
So what should you look for when searching for a guitar tech? First of all someone who is a nice and caring person. You’re bringing in an instrument that has a lot of meaning to you and you don’t want someone who is just going to toss it in the corner. Second, someone who has been doing this for a while. You do not want your guitar to be experimented on. Third, get references. If you feel at all squeamish, then you need to talk to someone who has had their guitar worked on by this guy/gal.
What can a guitar tech do for you? Almost anything. I’ve had my frets replaced, bridge realigned, nut re-tooled, neck adjusted and machines replaced. Usually you take your guitar in once a year for a set-up which includes neck adjustment, cleaning and new strings. A really good tech will also work on electronics in your loud guitars. I’ve had new pick-ups installed and whammy bars remounted and volume/tone pots cleaned out.
A good guitar tech is hard to find, but when you find one you and your guitar will be very happy. How have your experiences been with guitar techs? Let us know about your guitar tech – give ’em a shout-out.