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  • Guitar techs

    This might be best suited for the guitar forum, but I don't 'hang' there, so I thought here would suit me better

    It's been a frustrating few years for me. I've been competent enough to do basic care for my guitars over the years, but always found that the professionals do it better, even intonations. I can get the guitar in good tonal shape, but throughout the 80's and 90's and part of the 2000's, I found that guitar techs / pros did it perfect, not just good.

    I noticed in 2009 that my guitars weren't coming back as perfect, and started looking around for a better tech. None of the big music stores have an in-house tech anymore, or want to send the guitar out of state to an outside tech. I got a lot of recommendations, and I have to say.. every single one of the recommended people were either not as good as I am at simple setup, or they just intonated and lowered my action unreasonably to the point that all my guitars ended up with terrible fret buzz.

    One guy in particular.. I don't know wth he did, but my Epi LP came back with higher action and fret buzz. If I ever went back and complained, they would always offer to correct it, and every time I agreed, the guitar would come back even worse.

    Which brings me to my Strat...
    I bought it new, american model, it played like a dream out of the box, zero fret-buzz, perfect intonation.. rare for a guitar straight from the factory, but damn it played perfect. I had changed the gauge of the strings after a few months, and detected some slight fret buzz mid-neck, took it to yet another 'recommended' tech.. and I'm running out of techs at this point, I've gone through most in the area and haven't found a decent one yet. He argued with me that the heavier gauge strings shouldn't have caused fret buzz (I was sure the neck needed to be adjusted for the higher tension), and he agreed to 'look at it' and would check the fret levels, etc. It came back and OMG. Every fret buzzed. Two of the strings were horribly out of intonation, it sounded and played like an abused pawn shop fender squire.

    I was able to raise the action and restring the strat with 9's and get it back to at least a playable state, but it sure doesn't play like it did when I got it. It's only about a year old for crying out loud.

    So I wonder, what the heck happened to all the decent guitar techs? Anyone know a quality tech in the Philly burbs?
    Epihpone LP and Dot.
    Fender American Strat HSS
    (Loaner) Viking Pillager 60w combo (best amp in the friggin world!)
    Blackstar Stage-100 Head, 2x12 Blackstar Cab
    Marshall 4x10 Cab
    Pedals, pedals, and more pedals. Favs include Strymon Mobius, MXR Super Badass, Digitech Supernatural Reverb, Xotic BB, MXR Carbon Copy.-

  • #2
    Buy this book: http://amzn.to/2CGN2Cz and thank me later. I ran into the same as you. I now do all of my own setup work. I leave frets and bigger jobs to pros. I live near Nashville so I have quite a few to choose from that some of the bigger industry players use.
    Will work for guitars..

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Kramerguy View Post

      So I wonder, what the heck happened to all the decent guitar techs? Anyone know a quality tech in the Philly burbs?
      Lots of Philly players bring their guitars down to Philtone here in Baltimore (www.philtone.com). If it's simple adjustments, he can usually do them while you wait if you make an appointment.
      Anything more extensive is gonna take a while. He's crazy busy.
      Last edited by David Lee Broth; 05-15-2018, 11:06 AM.

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      • #4
        I could recommend a few shops here in St. Louis but I've never had the pleasure of visiting your fair city. I generally do my own setups and I urge you to learn as well. All it costs is time and a few simple tools. Depending on how big a change you made in string gauges, your Strat might need the relief adjusted, the trem adjusted, the intonation adjusted, etc. An action adjustment is unlikely to be necessary IMHO but you might need to raise it a hair. A pro will likely use a strobe tuner but I have a little Wittner analog tuner that meets my humble needs. My Schecter sounds properly intonated anyway.
        Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
        Member of the IBANEZ ACOUSTIC ASSASSINS
        Proud Member of The Alvarez Alliance
        Member of the Schecter Society
        Person-2-Person on the Web

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        • #5
          For many years now I've always found it to be a huge advantage to do my own truss rod and intonation adjustments on my guitars. I always have them so I can tweak my adjustments at anytime and get things adjusted to my own playing style and string gauge without needing to rely on anyone else. Guitars aren't rocket science and I'd have trouble believing that most people wouldn't be able to do this. It's easier and cheaper than ever now because you can buy the Peterson Strobe Tuner app for your iPad/iPhone.

          Having said all that, I seem to be having some trouble with the Gibson SG Standard I bought a few years ago. I even took it in to a tech and I wasn't quite happy with the results. I guess I'll just have to keep on tweaking!

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          • #6
            I think it's very beneficial to learn at least the basics of doing a set-up; most people can easily learn how to do minor setups and adjustments, which can save you a lot of money in the long haul, as well as give you insights that you can use to better discuss your specific preferences when you do need to take the guitar to someone more knowledgeable and proficient.

            I don't want to have to do things like refretting a neck, but anything short of that I will often do myself, although when I really want something dialed in "just so", I hire by buddy Dennis to do the job for me - he works as a Master Builder at Fender's Custom Shop, and he does fantastic work.
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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            • #7
              I am a tech. I have done a lot of setups and the like, and always try to see how the owner of the guitar plays, BEFORE touching their guitar. A lot of techs today have this 'set vision' of what the guitar needs, without taking into account the way the player plays. The way I set my personal guitars, isn't the way I may set up yours. I have a light picking hand, with a bit of a heavy fretting hand. Mine are set up for that. You may have the opposite, or like a higher action, or have a very heavy fretting hand, that requires a slightly flat setup on your intonation. Depends on the player, the way the guitar is set up.
              Now a lot of the "old school" guys, like me, I'm old, have stopped doing it. So the younger guys are taking over, and a lot of them.... have their own views as to how a setup should be done. I recommend playing their guitars, and see if it suits what you want done. If not, move on.
              My Music: www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=440762
              Some of my guitars: 64 or so Domino Beatle bass; 73 Ibanez 2398; 79 Epiphone Genesis; 79 Manoman; 99 Ric 330; 78 Gibson L6S; 95 Ibanez JS-700; 04 Samick Lasalle JZ3: 05 Ibanez AS73; 81 Paul Custom, 07 Gary Kramer Simulator T and about 50 others.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by badpenguin View Post
                . . . The way I set my personal guitars, isn't the way I may set up yours. I have a light picking hand, with a bit of a heavy fretting hand. Mine are set up for that. You may have the opposite, or like a higher action, or have a very heavy fretting hand, that requires a slightly flat setup on your intonation. Depends on the player, the way the guitar is set up. . . .
                True. I have a light enough fretting hand but I tend to be a bit ham fisted with my picking hand, especially on the lower strings. My guitars are set up--by me--to account for that. All the more reason to learn to do your own setups.
                Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
                Member of the IBANEZ ACOUSTIC ASSASSINS
                Proud Member of The Alvarez Alliance
                Member of the Schecter Society
                Person-2-Person on the Web

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