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Author Topic: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?  (Read 963 times)

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McLeanAB

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Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« on: Time Format »

Hey all!

I'll never be a luthier or a guitar tech for someone famous... however, after having my Charvel worked on and set up, I'm dying to know what tools and instruments are a must have for those of you that take the time and appropriate techniques to properly set up your axe...

I can adjust a truss rod, raise/lower saddles on hardtails and Floyds, I can tune, string, and pretty much anything else (install pickups, etc), that cover the basics... HOWEVER... the neck on my Dreamsicle seems for the first time to be adjusted evenly across the length from the nut to the bridge... so, I've been adjusting truss rods and saddles with my eyes and hands (feel) only rather than 'real' measurements...

What's a list of things you tinker-ers think of as a must have to keep the guitars running along smoothly without taking her into the shop to get set up, but to do it on your own?

Thanks!
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-Adam
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herbyguitar

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

Depends on how involved you want to get. Truss rod and intonation are simple things. Harder things require different tools and techniques. Shaping the neck can require sand paper and maybe a Dremel tool. I've had to do this on all my bolt on necks. Re-shaping the neck joint to fit smoothly and seamlessly into the socket requires patience. I've also done fret jobs which require heat to remove frets and looooong files to shape them and small files to work stubborn cases. It can get pretty involved and tedious but rewarding if done with patience and care. Then there's scalloping the fret board. A whole other process. What are you wanting to attempt?
« Last Edit: Time Format by herbyguitar »
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rnolan

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #2 on: Time Format »

Hey Adam, as herbyguitat says, it depends on how deep you want to get but also what you want to spend.  I bought some stuff from stewmac a while ago, they send you a catalogue of tools and other bits they sell (and also spam me regularly with various products to drool over LoL).  These days there are so many helpful things people have developed/invented you can buy (so many more than when I learnt to build guitars.  They sell some basic setup "kits" collection of tools and are worth checking out. (http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/StewMac_Tool_Sets/)
On a sad note, the guy who taught me, Jim Williams, passed away last week  :facepalm: after a 6 year battle with cancer.

I gave up measuring set up parameters ages ago and do it all by feel, though experience helps of course.  But a 6" steel rule with 64ths is a must if you want to measure. These are harder to buy in Australia as we went metric ages ago.  You also need a good 36" straight edge and a smaller one 10 or 12" is also useful.  So many things are useful but you don't tend to use them allot so hard to justify the purchase. A word of warning should you decide to do fret work, it wrecks your hands.  I avoid it these days unless I need to.  Most guitar builders can play guitar a bit but if you want to keep your hands supple to play at a higher level, careful how deep you go.

You need a good vice, I have one of these (http://www.willburtversavise.com/) and it's great.  It's hard to buy a decent vice for guitar work, there are/were none available in Australia so I imported the versa vice many years ago.
A dremel is very handy but you need a decent router base attachment for guitar work
A plunge router is a must for PU cavities etc and neck pockets

I could go on (and happy to do so if you want) but it's a big rabbit hole  :lol: .  I stay away from hardware stores, I just want to buy everything...
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McLeanAB

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #3 on: Time Format »

Thanks for the replies!

Rnolan:  sorry to hear about your teacher...

The most I've ever done is routed out a pickup cavity or drill/expand a hole to run some wires... the routing job was a complete hack job, but it works...  beyond that, not sure about the fret work... I do have an acoustic that is getting some fret edges, but jobs like that, or shaving the neck or neck pocket, scalloping, I'll leave to the professionals...

Mainly interested in being able to measure the amount of bow/curve/straightness of my necks as they need to be adjusted every once in a while...  they are all bolt ons, so the feel it out process is fine, but with the right tool, might go a little quicker or at least be more precise.

So I guess, mostly about set up... setting intonation is a pain because all my screw drivers are a little short and I don't want to ding up the body...

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van Sinn

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #4 on: Time Format »

As others have said it, depends on where you want to be..
Some examples.

Setup and fretworks:
Tool to remove/pull frets, fret hammer, fret press clamps, fret groove trimming/cleaning files, fret shaping files, sanding blocks with various needed radii, completely level sanding block, file to finish fret ends, nut files, fret glue, superglue
Neck/fretboard setup rig with calipers

Neck reshaping:
Spoke shave, wood files, sanding blocks

Body reshaping:
As above, chisels, dremel, maybe a router, bits

Electronics:
Soldering station, rolls of copper foil, conductive paint, multi meter
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Systematic Chaos

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #5 on: Time Format »

- A quality notched straightedge for checking/setting neck relief (https://www.amazon.com/ammoon-Straight-Luthiers-Fretboard-Stainless/dp/B01M7RKW3M/ref=sr_1_5?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1524960646&sr=1-5&keywords=notched+straight+edge)
- a higher quality set of allen wrenches and screw drivers,
- an intonation tool for your double locking trems (https://www.amazon.com/Ibanez-Accessories-EJK1000-Guitar-Tools/dp/B01AZBFJOU)
- an action ruler gauge (https://www.amazon.com/String-Action-Forever-direct-Electric-Acoustic/dp/B00ZI3OQC2/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_267_bs_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=246HZDSQ1W65HQQ1A8MF)
- radius gauge set for your fixed bridge (https://www.amazon.com/Dreamtop-Understring-Radius-Luthier-Guitar/dp/B01LZBHHC2/ref=sr_1_3?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1524961053&sr=1-3&keywords=radius+gauge&dpID=41-4YUbkkrL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch)
- some 0000 steel wool
- various grit sanding sponges
- StewMac Fret Erasers (http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Sanding_and_Polishing/Sandpaper_and_Finishing_Papers/Fret_Erasers.html)
- care products (e.g. Lizard Spit Fretboard Conditioner (for rosewood), Music Nomad F-One Oil (for maple fretboards), Dunlop 65 Polish/Cleaner)
- and if you wanna apply a Music Man style Oil/Wax finish to the backs of your necks: Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax
« Last Edit: Time Format by Systematic Chaos »
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McLeanAB

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #6 on: Time Format »

Woot!

Thanks for the info!!!!!
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-Adam
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MarshallJMP

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #7 on: Time Format »

Hey SC, do you happen to know if that intonation tool also works for floyd trems? that looks really nice, never saw something like that before.
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Systematic Chaos

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #8 on: Time Format »

Hey MJMP! Yeah, you gotta set it to Original EDGE, then it works for Floyd Rose Original, Schaller Floyd Rose and Gotoh GE1996. This tool is definitely worth the extra $ over the cheapo flimsy Allparts Intonation tool  :thumb-up:
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MarshallJMP

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #9 on: Time Format »

GREAT, they are not cheap but on the other hand will save a lot of time.So I'll order one from Thomann today.!!

Thanks SC.  :thumb-up:
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rnolan

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #10 on: Time Format »

One thing I bought from Stew Macs a while ago that's proved useful (and you could make these yourself) are the 8" radius blocks (http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Tools_for_Fretting/8_Radius_Blocks_Essential_Set_Set_of_5.html).  I've used these a few times now, quite handy.
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MarshallJMP

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #11 on: Time Format »

Got the EJK1000 in last week and ... it doesn't work for floyd trems. But since this is a nice tool I took out my file and filed it down  so it works. It's not a big deal to do.
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Systematic Chaos

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #12 on: Time Format »

That’s strange...here’s mine attached to an OFR on an ESP MII:



Works like a charm
« Last Edit: Time Format by Systematic Chaos »
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rnolan

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #13 on: Time Format »

The one I bought (which I've never used) is a bit different (https://www.google.com/search?q=floyd+rose+intonation+tool+uk&client=firefox-b&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj15JbmqvXaAhWIVbwKHTjzA2QQsxgIdQ&biw=1629&bih=859)
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MarshallJMP

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Re: Tools Every Guitarist Should Have?
« Reply #14 on: Time Format »

Well your trem looks different then mine. Now the problem was that the hook that goes into the saddle was to big (not much) so I had to file it down a bit to get it to fit.
But works like a charm now.
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