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​Guitar Repair

The six factors that every guitar needs to play great.

  1. Proper Neck Pitch Angle. ​Different manufacturers or different designs of guitars require different pitch angles if any. Gibson vs Fender for example. Take a Les Paul with its set neck that is pitched away from the guitars body vs. a Stratocaster that has an almost straight pitched neck. Both great guitars and both have a certain pitch that meets their respective bridges properly.
  2. Flat fingerboard. By flat I don't mean classical style with zero radius, but relative to the sanded shape either "Cone" shaped for a Compound radius or "Cylindrical". Most guitars have cylindrical shaped fingerboards. A neck must be flat relative to its shape.
  3. Flat frets. If frets are installed incorrectly then a flat fingerboard does little to help. The fingerboard and the tops of all the frets must be parallel to each other. A straight neck does not mean straight frets. Both must be checked.
  4. Straight Truss rod. I prefer a two-way truss rod or carbon fiber reinforced necks depending on the players style of music. Two-way truss rods give you more flexibility for different setups and playing styles, imagine Swiss army knife, more options. Carbon fiber reinforced necks are perma-straight necks. There is little to no adjustment available but that neck is straight for the life of the guitar. I like to start with a straight neck with my setups and depending on the neck pitch angle or any high and low frets I'll loosen the truss rod to add .003-.007 thousands of relief as necessary.
  5. Proper Saddle height. Saddle height is very important for downward force applied by the strings. This is what gives you your power for your acoustic guitar especially if you're using a piezo style pickup under the saddle. Piezo's need sufficient pressure in order to translate your guitars vibrations into an electrical signal. The weaker the downward force the weaker your guitar will sound. I like to see 5/64ths on the treble side of the saddle above the bridge and 7/64ths on the bass. Much higher than that and the guitars action may be too high, much lower than that and there may be insufficient downward force.
  6. Proper Nut Height. Filing into the nut is the icing on the cake of a guitar playing well. Lets be honest, many guitar players play within the first 5 frets of their guitar, and its here that we fight our guitars the most. There is no give at the first fret so the strings need to be set as low as they can without buzzing
FAQs Setups
What is a setup?

A setup is the process of adjusting a guitar into proper playing condition.

What is involved in a  setup?               
A setup involves adjusting the three main areas dealing with string height, "Action", and then final intonnation in order for the guitar to play in tune. Straightness of the neck, height of the saddle or saddles, and height inside the nut relative to the first fret.

Does my guitar need a setup?   

New guitars typically need a setup because the manufacture purposefully leaves the string height, "Action", high. Also when changing the string gauge to a lighter or heavier set your guitar will need a setup due to the change in tension of the new strings relative to your truss rod pulling opposite the strings.

Why wasn't my guitar setup when I purchased it?
Not all music stores have In-house technicians, but here at Davids' Broken Note, we setup every guitar we own before you buy it. I cannot speak for any manufacturer but I would argue that guitar makers do setup their guitars; just higher than what players want. Guitar makers are working with an imperfect material, wood, that moves based on moisture and temperature. In a climate controlled area, like a factory, wood can stabilize. Leave the factory however, and wood will begin to adjust to its environment. Its the lesser of two evils for a guitar manufacturer to have higher string height compared to lower. With higher string height a guitar is far more likely to play without having any buzzing issues after the guitar adjusts to its new non-factory controlled climate. With lower string height the possibility of string buzz is greater after the guitar adjusts to its new environment. After the guitar has acclimated to its new environment, then it should be setup for optimum playability. 
Here at Davids' Broken Note we offer customers the choice of fret wire sizes as well as material. If you're looking to stay traditional we suggest Medium/Narrow Nickel Silver fret wire. If you're looking to try something new, consider Gold Evo or Stainless Steel fret wire for longer lasting frets.

Consider re-fretting when:

     1. There are significant divots in the frets and fingerboard.
     2. There is an unacceptable amount of buzzing while playing
     3. Current setups cannot remove the buzzing
     4. You wish to try larger frets for over-bending techniques.

Active Pickup Installation
Looking to upgrade your guitar to an active system? At Davids' Broken Note we'll install all of the electronics as well as route out a pocket for an easy to replace battery cartridge. 

   1. High Output Signal
   2. Quicker Battery Replacements
   3. Larger Tonal Range (Expanded electronics)
   4. Quieter pickups (60 cycle hum reduction)
Coil Tap Installation
Coil tapping is when a pickup is wired in such a way to give either a full humbucker or split single coil tone. This gives the player a wider range of tonal characteristics when playing songs without cumbersome external equipment. A mini switch is added by drilling a hole through the top of the guitar and soldered into the existing circuit. Our video example shows a "North-Coil" tap for the neck pickup with an On-On mini switch. There are many types of electronic modifications. If you're looking for something in particular, reach out to us and we would be happy to talk about other options.  

Partial Neck Reset & Custom Bridge Shim
Seagul S6

​I say partial neck reset because that seems the most appropriate for a bolt-on neck with a glued tongue. The neck was already loose when the customer brought in the guitar, the real issue was the torn off bridge and how much of the top had been ripped away. In order for a glue joint to hold there can't be weak spots with no wood or glue. So the job required getting below the lowest point in the top and gluing in a shim to fill the gap so I could glue the bridge to the guitars top properly. I cut a shim out of Redwood Cedar to match the guitars top. After gluing the shim and leveling its height to that of the guitars top I was ready to glue the bridge. Lastly after the bridge was secure I was able to attach the neck, check my pitch angle, and bolt/glue the neck in place.

Custom Rosewood Bridge
1960's Gibson J45

This repair is one that is debated over. Some of the old J45's had height adjustable saddles, meaning there were nuts and bolts built into the guitars top. The customer that brought in the guitar had read on forums about other J45 owners replacing the bridge with a custom made traditional bridge, meaning no nuts and bolts. Here is the debate, will this repair add value or devalue the guitar? The original design will no longer be there and from a collector's perspective I can see this type of repair devaluing the guitar. From a players perspective however, there is no question that this repair added value. Why? Tone quality. Nuts and bolts going through the top of a guitar will only hinder the tops movements eliminating what the aged wood has to offer. The reason older guitars are sought after is the tone quality that they offer. Eliminating tone eliminates the value of the guitar in my mind. The whole point is for the guitar to be played, but if a guitar sounds lackluster and dead what value was there to begin with? Ultimately it was the customers choice and I'm all for making guitars play and sound as great as I can. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this piece of history.

Neck Reset
80's Guild D-35

Time catches up to all of us and the guitar is no different, particularly steel string guitars. Its a battle of wood vs steel and steel wins eventually. A truss rod slows down the process but eventually a neck reset will be needed. Why? The strings of a guitar pull towards the bridge while the truss rod will usually pull away, making the position where the neck is coupled to the body a pivot point. Over time the wood at the neck and body pivot point will compress under tension and the neck will slowly bend inward toward the bridge. I recommend to customers who plan on not playing their guitars to de-tune them so there is no tension on the neck. Most guitars that I've seen or performed neck resets on are usually 10 plus years old. The more time goes by the more likely the neck will need resetting. As a guideline I look for a guitar neck to be no more than 1/32 above or below the bridge. What that means is if I were to place a straight edge on the frets of a guitar, under tension, and the straight edge continued to the bridge, the tip of that edge should meet right on top of the bridge. If its above then that is what we would call a neck being overset and if the edge is below, we would call the neck underset. This detail is important because it will determine whether you will be adding material to the necks heel or removing it. My 1/32 guideline is just that, a guideline. Ultimately it depends on the wood flexing under tension and what is comfortable for the player. 

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Contact Info
  • Davids' Broken Note
  • (530) 661-2349
  • 601 Kentucky Ave.
    Woodland, California 95695
  • Hours:
    Tue-Fri: 10 am - 6 pm
    Sat: 10 am - 5 pm
    Closed Sunday & Monday
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