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Tool kit for repairs and maintenance.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Pachap, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    Hey guys, after battling some neurological issues and chronic hip and back pain I am happily getting back to playing bass. I sold off all of my gear about 3 years ago because it appeared that I had a degenerative illness from which I would not recover. Luckily, that wasn't the case. However, I have to slowly piece back together a bass rig as I finish rehabilitating and gaining strength.

    So, my next purchase is the correct tools. Can you guys recommend a tool kit for basic maintenance, set-up, and repairs? I'll be checking out Stew-Mac, of course, but I don't want to drop a ton of cash, and they tend to be a bit pricey in my opinion. If I need to purchase tools piece by piece, what do I need? I don't want a full luthier's kit, but I do want some nut files should I want to replace my own nuts. Have you any of you found kits on Amazon that were suitable?
  2. Warhawk


    Jan 31, 2003
    Canton, Ohio
    Just me but I'd get a bass before worrying about tools.
    JRA and lz4005 like this.
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I built a kit . Screwdriver, files, truss rod tool.
    Bridge set screws.
  4. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Halethorpe, MD
  5. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
  6. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    I'd love to do it, but I have to build some strength and range of movement back up in my arms and hands and finger back up before I buy a bass. If I did, it would be a very frustrating experience. I'm working on it now, and have seen a lot of improvement, but still have a bit to go. In the meantime, I'm just buying supplies and tools a little along. Helps to build up the anticipation.
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  7. jcerio

    jcerio Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
  8. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    jcerio likes this.
  9. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    big overkill list >



    feeler gages

    metric and imp allen wrenches

    screwdriver set

    nut driver set (for truss rods)


    cleaning and polishing stuff

    something for fret slots (since you asked) good files cost. cheap ones, not so much. then there's a ton of home brew solutions.. it's a controversial subject that gives me a headache since there's so much lame tech out there. suffice to say since i build instruments i've bought good tools and use machinery to make nuts.

    multimeter. digital is preferred (we're progressives these days)

    soldering stuff. iron, solder, heat sinks, sucker, etc.. i use lead-free solder but it doesn't quite behave like leaded solder. practice on something first.

    wire strippers

    some wire. i have a kit of wire on spools in various colors and gages. nothing like repairing a guitar wired up with the same color wire on everything.

    electro contact cleaner

    adhesives. as needed

    wire cutters. for strings

    decent, clear teflon grease. i like zip-slip myself. it has both teflon and silicone for extra slipperyness. i have a small tub that i picked up years ago from a job that was used on spaceshuttle cargo-bay door hinges.

    a fret rocker (or equivalent)

    some crowning files. good ones aren't cheap. cheap ones are cheap.

    various grits of wet-or-dry carborundum paper

    jewelers polishing pads. for polishing up frets.

    steel straight edge or ruler. i have a 24" mitutoyo 16R and a couple of starretts.

    something for leveling frets. i use a big diamond lap or a leveling file. there are options here.

    sharp edged tools. razors, exacto blades, etc..

    black, blue, or red sharpie marker. get the "pro-grade" version. used for fret leveling and crowning.

    Dan Erlewine's set-up book. worth having if you're serious

    a tool box

    stuff as needed

    more stuff...
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  10. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    Nice list, Arie X. I am going to skip the soldering stuff. I don't do electrical stuff. I have somebody else do pups and pots. No matter how much I've tried, I can never get the hang of soldering.

    I do want a serious set of nut files, though. That is something I do not want to compromise on.

    And I finally need to break down and get Erlewine's book. I know Stew-Mac has it, but I wonder if i can get it from Amazon... Guess I am about to find out. I just really want to be able to put a tight set-up on my on instruments. I can get by now as is, I just want to be able to do a beast of a job when necessary.
  11. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    Yes you can!

    I recommend this one:


    back when my financial portfolio was more "robust", i bought Stew Macs guitar repair shop in a box. it came with a set of double sided tapered files and a small vise with extended jaws for doing nut and saddle work. very handy and i still use them. the files can load up fairly easily so keep a small stiff brush or a file card handy.

    i hope you have a quick recovery
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
    Pachap likes this.
  12. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    I'm genuinely thrilled to hear your health is improving and you're able to get back to playing music. I wish you all the best!

    maintenance, to me, usually means:
    1. Restringing
    2. Cleaning & polishing the body
    3. Cleaning hardware
    4. Cleaning the fingerboard
    5. Polishing the frets
    6. Adjusting the truss rod
    7. Adjusting the bridge saddle height (action)
    8. Adjusting the bridge saddle length (intonation)
    9. Setting nut slot depth (optional)
    To accomplish these things you'll need:
    1. String winder: the new Music Nomad winder is a joy to use (if you take joy in those kinds of things like I do) but any one that fits bass tuning pegs will suffice.
    2. String cutters: 7" Diagonal cutters from the hardware store work great for this.
    3. Polishing cloths: you'll need a microfiber polishing cloth for the body and cotton t-shirt pieces for everything else.
    4. Cleaning agent: naphtha is the Swiss Army Knife of cleaners that's safe for pretty much everything on a bass.
    5. Polish: if you have a gloss/satin finish then any liquid guitar polish will suffice (I like the smell of the Music Nomad stuff but there are lots of options). If you have an oil/wax finish or a dull matte finish then buy what the manufacturer recommends.
    6. Fret polish: many options to choose from including Gorgomyte/Miracle cloth, Flitz metal polish, Fret erasers from Stewmac, Micromesh polishing cloth (12000 grit). With any of these you should mask the fingerboard with painters tape so you don't leave a residue or fine scratches in the wood.
    7. Fingerboard oil/conditioner: for unfinished fingerboards (rosewoods, pao ferro, ebony, etc) this is optional but it makes the wood look pretty so why not. If you have a finished fingerboard (maple) then naphtha followed by guitar polish works fine.
    8. Ball end Allen wrench set: you can find a Bondhus set of standard and metric wrenches on amazon for less than $20 and they will last you a lifetime (as long as you don't lose them).
    9. Screwdrivers: a good 4-way screwdriver and a precision screwdriver set will tackle pretty much anything on a bass.
    10. Truss rod wrench: some truss rods require a wrench instead of a allen wrench or screwdriver. Sometimes a long nut driver will do the trick but Stewmac also has some nicely designed "pipe" style wrenches that work great.
    11. 6 inch machinist rule or string action gauge: I prefer the black version with white etching like this but lately I have been using this gauge from Fret Guru.
    12. Feeler gauges: also optional, but if you are precisely measuring things like neck relief they come in handy. Long automotive feeler gauge sets are relatively cheap and easily sourced.
    13. Nut files: these are optional because a) they are expensive and b) once the slots are filed properly there is no need to mess with them again. Oftentimes it's easier/cheaper to have a tech deal with this. If you just need to polish the slots or open up the sides, look into using Mitchell Abrasive Cord. Think of it as dental floss with aluminum oxide abrasives.
    14. Neck rest/support: if your bass has a tilt back headstock then supporting the neck while you work on it is essential.
    15. Last but not least, good work light and magnification: Setups are a game of thousandths of an inch so you can't expect precision if you can't see what you're doing.
    Pachap likes this.
  13. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I did a gig two weeks ago and guitar player is a tech at GC with all the tools in the world in his shop.
    A switch became disconnected from his PRS. His tools - a borrowed flashlight and an OTC multi tool set. He had it back in working order before the set was done.
    I'd concentrate on my bass and amp first, then some basic tools would be fine.
  14. Warhawk


    Jan 31, 2003
    Canton, Ohio
    Sorry you're having troubles! I hope you get back to where you want to be and more.
    Do you know what bass you'd like to get? That would help to streamline the initial tool kit a lot. When I started playing already had most of the tools needed. As far as files go buy the best you can afford and get a file card to clean them. Don't forget a good pair of side cutting pliers for trimming string ends. I use Channelock brand and they cut nicely.
  15. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    I know what I'd LIKE to get, but I am just going to pick up something used on CL. Probably going to be an Ibanez SR or a Squier VM or CV J bass. The necks, string spacing, radius, and nut width agree with me on those basses.
  16. Warhawk


    Jan 31, 2003
    Canton, Ohio
    Now you've got me curious on what you'd LIKE to get. ;-)
  17. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Believe it or not, I found quite a few rolls of non RoHS solder when I was hitting the Radios Shack stores going out of business around here, so I'm set for a while.
  18. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    I have all this on the list... except a rest for the headstock and a good light. My mancave needs a little more light in the evenings.
  19. Pachap


    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    I know my body well, and I've got to get some more strength back. Otherwise, it is going to be really frustrating to look at that bass and amp sitting in the corner that I am not able to play as much I would like. I also know my personality very well, and this just would not be a very good situation for me. This would be going backwards instead of forwards for me.

    All that said, I found a smoking deal on CL for a used Orange amp a few days back, and it was all I could do not to run and get it. But I really need to be a little more patient. I am seeing some good improvement, but I am not there yet.
  20. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    When you feel like you are ready, I suggest you have as a priority in considering gear be weight. You may want to look in to the class D offerings available these days. I needed to reduce weight about 3 years ago, so I ended up getting a Fender Rumble 500 combo. It weighs in at 36 lbs. and has plenty of tone and volume.
    Best of luck to you.
    Pachap likes this.