Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 68

COLUMN Shop of Hard Knocks
and care - bridge, nut, controls, truss, and
frets - can be addressed. Most professional
techs do this, but why not do it yourself and
learn a few things along the way?

STRING-CHANGE CHECKUP
The Once-Over That Saves Time and Money
By Will Kelly

C

hanging strings is the bane of a guitarist's existence - time-consuming and
repeated ad nauseam. Most players hurriedly strip old strings and slap on a new set
so they can get back to creating gold records

and winning Grammys. But, in so doing,
they miss a great chance for maintenance
and upkeep.
When an instrument is not strung, most
of the things that require regular adjustment

1

2

VINTAGE GUITAR

68

February 2018

1) I use a stainless-steel fret shield and
"fret eraser" to clean and smooth tops. This
doesn't re-shape the crown and won't remove
notches or dents, but it will clean and polish
the fret. The shield keeps the fingerboard
(especially if lacquered) from being damaged
by the cleaner. I also use plexiglas polish and
a soft cloth to clean lacquered fingerboards.
2) The assembly on a typical vibrato
bridge has many small Allen-head adjustment screws to set saddle heights. These are
critical to maintaining optimum height/
action and are susceptible to loosening from
vibration (which affects saddle height). They
also collect dirt and sweat, aiding rust and
potentially seizing their threads. I coat the
threads with a dab of thread-lock adhesive
to prevent movement and avoid rust and
corrosion.
3) Nut slots are also good at collecting
grime. Add it to the dust left by the sawing
action of the strings and you have a problem
area. An obstructed slot can dramatically
decrease sustain and affect intonation, but
cleaning them with every string change can
alleviate these issues. I use an abrasive cord
to lightly scour the slot from front to back,
being very careful to avoid altering it.
4) Starting at a parallel position with a
properly-sized nut file, I carefully work front
to back, making light, uniform passes along
the length of the slot. This will smooth-out
and create a downward taper at the rear of the


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - February 2018

Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - Cover
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - IFC
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 3
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 4
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 5
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 6
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 7
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 8
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 9
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 11
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 12
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 13
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 14
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 15
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 16
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 17
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 18
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 19
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 20
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 21
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 25
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 40
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - IBC
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - BC
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