Basic Tools (Most Accurate)for Guitar Setup/Repair

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LilRay, Aug 7, 2009.


  1. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    Those of You with experience in setting up and minor repair of guitars and basses? What would be your "go to " tools?

    I'd like to learn to Setup and Repair guitars and Basses and I need a point of reference to begin collecting tools.
    Most importantly to me is a vise or similar object thats designed to hold instruments where they wont move. I'm disabled and I don't want to damage someones instrument by scratching it or dropping it.

    I can start collecting smaller tools now. What are the "Must haves"? I want to get the most accurate items, I don't want to skimp or be cheap and get something of lesser quality over saving a couple bucks. Simplest to use with minimum chance for error is best.

    Thanks,
    God Bless, Ray
     
  2. rcarraher

    rcarraher

    Dec 21, 2008
    Stew Mac has this: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for:_Neck,_fingerboard/Basic_Setup_Kit.html

    Add a couple other of there tools and you'll be able to get most jobs done.
     
  3. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    Not to be rude, but that setup kit is a waste of money. All those tools can be replaced with a 6" steel rule and some reading. You'll need a few screw drivers, as well. ;)
     
  4. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    My most used "specialty" tools are a diamond fretfile (wide and narrow sides) and a set of nut files.
     
  5. grifff

    grifff

    Jan 5, 2009
    Towson, Maryland
  6. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    Care to elaborate why it's a waste? What Reading? With what?

    I'd like to possibly do this for others so I don't want to go at it as a hack.

    Any professional will tell you that's what separates them from others is their tools and the knowledge/abilities to utilize them.

    You can change a tire on your car with a pair of pliers, but I'd rather do It with an impact. Much easier,much more effecient and consistant results. Just costs a little to equip yourself.

    That's what I'm looking for a list of tools used so that I can begin learning something useful.

    God Bless, Ray
     
  7. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    Where?

    God Bless, Ray
     
  8. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    It doesn't have to be a diamond file.
     
  9. For setups (well, what I term setups) I use a feeler gauge from an auto supply store, a set of hex keys, & a capo.

    For string changes I grab my sidecutters &, on the dining room table, use a pillow & "neck brace" (actually a wall hanger for a bass).
     
  10. rcarraher

    rcarraher

    Dec 21, 2008
    The radius gauge and the action gauge are very nice and can't be readily replaced at Home Depot. I agree the "Precision Straight Edge" is a bit over the top, and at nearly $90.00 its all pricey. But what it lets you know is what you do need to get started. I'd add a decent vice (Stew Macs is nice, but again, pricey) and some cauls. There Truss Rod kit is very nice, but you could probably get by with a large assortment of hex keys, there's another example.
     
  11. rcarraher

    rcarraher

    Dec 21, 2008
    Check out Stew Mac, they have some good tools, including the kit. You'll be able to recognize readily available tools you can get from say, Home Depot, and specialty tools for luthiers. Here's another site with some good tools that I have bought from:

    http://torresengineering.com/combaskit.html

    Here's another usefull site: http://www.projectguitar.com/ref/supply.htm
     
  12. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    Buy The Guitar Player Repair Guide. A proper setup can be done with a 6" steel ruler, the proper truss rod wrench, a good tuner and a screw driver. You don't need radius gauges. They're more of a pain than they're worth. You don't need radius anything until you start doing fret work, and even then you don't absolutely need it. It does help to have radiused sanding blocks.
     
  13. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I have the Stew-Mac basic setup kit, and the guitar player's repair guide. I like them both, although the radius guages that come with the kit are sized for guitar and 4-string basses only; I still was able to get a pretty good setup going on my 5 string BTB by using the guages to get me to a good starting point.

    Plus, they told me what radius sanding block to buy; turns out that most of my instruments, guitar and bass both, had the same fingerboard radius.

    I disagree with the assessment that a precision straightedge is a waste of money; a framer's square, at least, is necessary to properly see the relief in a bass neck, and the bevel ground into the stew-mac straightedge makes that job a bit easier on my eyes, at least.

    The Guitar Player Repair Guide by Dan Erlewine goes into great detail on how to make enough of your own tools to get by, which ones make your life easier, and which ones are for major overhauls or production work. I'd get a copy of it before I bought anything else; it's even divided into beginner, intermediate, and pro sections depending on how in-depth you want or need to go.
     
  14. rcarraher

    rcarraher

    Dec 21, 2008
    Oh! I didn't mean that a precision straight edge was a waste of money, just that Stew Macs was a bit pricey when you could use almost any precision straight edge. A sis inceh ruller is a bit lacking in my book, I like something that coveres more of the fret board. And as far as I am concerned Erlewines book is the bible.
     
  15. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    You don't need a precision straight edge to do a setup. *sigh* The strings will work just fine to determine relief. I use machinist parallels to check for high frets.
     
  16. kcamsdog1387

    kcamsdog1387

    Jun 22, 2009
    Seacoast NH
  17. I think the need for a seperate precision straight edge depends on what you are doing with it. For setups I capo at the 1st fret & press down on the last fret, so the string at tension then becomes the straightedge.

    I think a lot of tools depend on the frequency & depth of use. Is a powered string winder a good idea? It's not worth it to me, but if I was restringing over 25 acoustics a day I might then change my mind.
     
  18. Craig_S

    Craig_S Inactive

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    I just use a Planet Waves crank type string winder. There are cheaper ones available, too. I don't string 25 guitars a day. I would rig up an electric drill or screwdriver, if I did.
     
  19. The more you play, the more you start to want to adjust your own axe, the more tools you need. I used to get by with a few hand tools and hex wrenches. Then I realized that I can't always communicate my needs accurately to my guitar techs (or they aren't listening, take your pick) and bought some nut files. Now I do my own nuts and bridges. I've about had it with letting my techs do my electronics, so I'm going to learn how to solder next. When I get around to filing and replacing frets, I'll be pretty self-sufficient, and that's my goal.
     
  20. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    For me it does. I find them much better that any other type.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jun 14, 2021

Share This Page