There are a bunch of minor guitar repairs I have seen a lot over the years. I can fix them, but most likely so can you. Here are a few that you can do at home.
LOOSE KNOBS, TIGHT KNOBS
This is aimed at knobs that press onto split-shaft pots. If the knob is spinning because it’s too loose, resist the impulse to pry the shaft apart. This makes the knob wobble and can break it. The fix is simple. Take a 1/2" piece of tape (cloth tape like medical tape is great but masking tape will also work) and put it over the top of the shaft following the opening of the split and over the sides. Then press the knob back on. If it is still too loose, just add another piece.
Knobs can also be too tight to fit on the shaft. Rather than push down so hard you break the pot, put a drill bit that is slightly bigger than the hole in in a vise or something stationary and then turn the knob on it until you hit the end. If it still doesn’t fit, go up a size. For starters, try bits sized 13/64", 7/32", and 15/64".
TIGHTENING LOOSE JACKS AND POTS
I can’t tell you how many jacks and pots I have to fix that have been spun around a million times by people trying to tighten them but instead ripped the wires clean off. Here’s the tip: Use an open-end wrench to tighten the nut while finding a flathead screwdriver that fits the jack to keep it from turning. Or, check out the Stewart-MacDonald “Jack the Gripper.” If you’re tightening a pot, be sure to turn the post counterclockwise and hold it there while tightening.
STRAT-STYLE SWITCH TIPS THAT FALL OFF
Use a drop of rubber cement or contact cement to secure the switch tip. Another thing you can try is take a pair of wire cutters and cut a small notch in the metal blade of the switch. That will bite into the plastic just enough to grip the switch.
CLEAN A DIRTY POT FROM THE TOP
You can’t always get to the inside opening of a scratchy pot to clean it out. Stewart-Mac-Donald makes a special adapter that screws onto the exposed thread on top and allows you to force cleaner in from the top. In a pinch, you can use a towel to surround the pot shaft and try spraying cleaner down the slight opening on top. It works for sealed pots as well. It may take a few sprays but it usually does the trick.
ADJUSTING THE TRUSSROD ON A VINTAGE FENDER
More often than not you cannot get to the trussrod on these types of guitars. Even if you can, it’s easy to damage your pickguard in the process. Here are the steps I take:
Put a capo on at the 1st fret to keep the strings in place. Slacken the strings. With the guitar on your lap facing away from you, hold it from the front with your left hand. Loosen the neck screws, but keep them in place with your right hand. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but you can then use your left hand to tilt the neck straight out and over so you can adjust the truss-rod. Be sure to hold the strings in place while holding the neck as you pull it off. Put the neck back on and if the capo did its job, the strings will all be in the correct place.
Hopefully these tips can help you out and maybe just save you a trip to the shop.
Gary Brawer is bald, he’s bad, and he gives a sh*t about your guitar. His many clients include Joe Satriani, Metallica, and Neal Schon.