As an experienced guitar player knows, it can be a costly and time-consuming process to fix your guitar when something is wrong with it. Whether the intonation is off, something is wrong with the electronics, a piece is broken, or it won't stay in tune, fixing your guitar can be a major headache.
That's why, when possible, it's great if you can avoid bringing it to a professional and fix it up on your own at home.
But what guitar repairs can you do on your own? Some easy at-home guitar repairs include adjusting your truss rod, cleaning up your electronics, servicing your tuners, fixing the nut, or repairing cables. You can save a lot of money if you do these from the comfort of your home!
Read on to find out how easy it can be to fix up your guitar the DIY way!
Truss Rod Adjustment
The truss rod is the metal bar that runs through the neck of your guitar and is a very important part of making sure your guitar is intonated properly. Intonation is your guitar's ability to stay consistent with notes on different parts of the neck. If your guitar's intonation is off, adjusting the truss rod could be the fix you need.
Take a down the neck of your guitar and see if it's bowed. This can be an easy way to see if the truss rod needs to be adjusted. Upbow usually makes your strings further from the neck, while back bow makes them closer, and usually results in buzzing frets.
There are plenty of guides online on how to adjust your truss rod, but basically you'll need a hex key (also known as an Allen key or Allen wrench). Turn it counter-clockwise to add relief to the neck. This will solve the issue of if it's back bowed. On the other hand, turn the hex key clockwise to correct upbow.
Clean up Electronics
The best time to clean your electronics is when you're changing the strings of the guitar because they'll need to come off for you to access them. After the strings are off, use a screwdriver to carefully remove the pickguard. The electronics are usually attached to parts of the pickguard, so don't move it away too quickly and risk breaking a wire.
Get some guitar contact cleaner and spray a small amount of it into the pots and switches you wish to clean. Move the pots and switches back and forth to loosen up and get rid of dirt and grime that may have accumulated. If any extra contact cleaner is pooling or dripping, quickly clean it up with a cloth.
When you're finished, carefully put the pickguard back in place, screw it in, and restring the instrument.
It's important to regularly service your tuners to make them last longer and keep your guitar in tune more effectively. Without doing this, you'll have a more expensive fix to deal with down the road when you have to replace them completely.
First, make sure your tuners are screwed tightly into the back of the headstock. Next, make sure the nut on the top of the headstock is tight as well. Finally, make sure that the screw that holds the tuner to its pole or drive. Make sure the three of these screws are tightened so that the tuners are secure and stable.
Next, you should oil your tuners. Improperly oiled tuners wear down quickly, causing damage and tuning issues. If your tuners feel tight or hard to turn, it's probably time to oil them up a bit.
A few drops of sewing machine oil or a similar oil around each string pole should do. As the oil drips down the pole and through the gears, turn the tuner to get the oil into the mechanisms to clean and lubricate the metal.
This should be done around every 6 months, depending on how often you play.
Common Nut Issues
The nut is the plastic piece that your strings are anchored into where your neck and headstock meet. There are a number of common, but fixable problems that can happen with this piece of the guitar.
One of the main issues that can come from your nut is if the indentations aren't U-shaped, but V-shaped. The downward pressure of the strings can sometimes cut into the plastic or graphite of the nut and make this happen. This can be fixed with some careful filing.
Sometimes, the nut slots are a bit too narrow, which pinches the string. This can cause tuning issues and lead to your strings breaking more easily. Again, you can file them to make them a bit less snug, but be careful not to make them too large for your strings!
Sometimes, nuts can crack or chip. If this happens, you'll, unfortunately, have to replace the entire piece. Nuts are fairly inexpensive, so this is actually a fine solution for almost any nut problem. However, sometimes fixing it can be a bit easier.
If your nut is loose, the cuts are too deep, or your strings don't sit in them properly, you can fill the slots with superglue and use a nut file or piece of sandpaper to file them back down to repair them properly.
Most cable issues come from the ends of the cables, not a disconnection in the middle. Usually, you can take off the cover to expose the wire and see if it's disconnected.
Cut it to expose the metal end, and then get a soldering iron. The wire can normally be reconnected by soldering it back together again.
First, cut the end of the wire to get a clean end for soldering. Then, determine how much will need to be stripped by holding the wire up to the connector. Cut through the shield-wire layer, or outer layer of wire, and then twist that layer into a tightly wound bundle. Then thread the shield-wire through the hole, and solder it to the sleeve connector.
If you can, doing guitar repairs from home can be a great way to save money and time. Repairing cables, nuts, maintaining tuners, cleaning your electronics, and adjusting your truss rod can all be done from home if you have the tools and the know-how.