John LeVan

July 1, 2007

Most guitarists spend all their time playing their prized instruments and precious little time maintaining them. A lot of this is due to laziness, but some is due to just being intimidated about things as simple as restringing or as complicated as setting the intonation. Fear not. These two DVDs featuring luthier John LeVan will demystify much of the information you’ll need for the proper care and feeding of your instrument.

For beginners, we have Electric Guitar Care, Maintenance & Restringing. LeVan talks you slowly and patiently through everything the title implies for the low, low price of $7.95. In addition, there’s a lot of obvious but criminally overlooked info about how you should wash your hands before restringing (and before playing) and how you can keep the cut string ends from shredding the inside of your gig bag or your hands. Because the DVD is sponsored in part by Planet Waves, it can at times look like a commercial for that company. Still, it provides a solid foundation for anyone new to guitar maintenance.

Next up (and for only a few dollars more) is FAQ: Electric Guitar Care and Setup. This is a more complete tutorial, once again with the mellow and likeable LeVan. It’s also easier to navigate thanks to the many chapters, and each new segment flashes a list that recaps what has already been covered so you won’t get lost. LeVan defines key terms like action (at both the bridge and the nut), neck relief, and intonation before showing how to make adjustments. There are some minor glitches (like when he tells you to fret an A at the 15th fret of the G string—d’oh!) as well as some special features that might not need to be there (such as an interview with Wolf “Balls to the Wall” Hoffmann from Accept). Those points aside, this is a cool school for anyone who wants to take better care of their guitar and should be required viewing for anyone who gets a job in a music store.
—Matt Blackett

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