As a busy guitar repair shop for the last 30 years, we have seen a lot of repetitive bad ideas in guitar construction and personal use. Some we try to fix by education and some we just have to get in there and repair. Here are some we wanted to share.
CONDUCTIVE SHIELDING PAINT US ED AS DECORATION
When used in a control cavity and grounded, shielding paint does its job and cuts down noise. When painted in pickup or trem cavities (but not attached to any ground), shielding paint ends up acting like an antenna—attracting noise, not canceling it. The fix is easy: We burnish some conductive adhesive copper tape to it, ground it, and the noise is gone.
FLIMSY PICKUP SPRINGS
I am sure floating a humbucking pickup in a ring with two screws and springs seemed like a good idea at the time, but it has devolved into a bad idea that leads to loose, rattling pickups. PRS ingeniously put two heavier-than-normal springs of the right length into each other to create a thicker spring. This holds the pickups steady but still remains adjustable.
HIDDEN TRUSS RODS
One thing we need to do a lot here is adjust trussrods. The problem is, some manufacturers feel the need to hide them or make them hard to get at. We have found them lurking under the nut, skulking under pickguards, or, like on vintage Fenders, hiding in the neck pocket. Even if the trussrod is adjustable at the peghead, some guitars need to have the strings removed in order to remove the trussrod cover. That’s a lot of extra work! There’s no real fix for these issues. I just wanted to vent a little.
IMPROPER SCREW HOLE SIZE
The bodies of bolt-on neck guitars need to have screw holes that are big enough for the screw to slide through without grabbing. If the hole is too tight, the neck never gets pulled tightly into the neck pocket. There’s an easy fix—just drill out the hole! And since we’re on the subject of screws, another thing that bugs me is screws that are way too tight in general. You have to have the correct size pilot hole in wood for a wood screw. Check out a Tom Anderson guitar to see what a neck screw or pickguard screw should feel like!
Here’s a gross one: guitars brought in with blood splattered on them. The aftermath of a cool old Dead Kennedys injury might get grandfathered in for historical reasons, but for the most part techs do not like to work on bloody guitars.
Relic-ed hardware looks very cool on some guitars, but you have to stop short of aging any screws that may need adjusting in the future. Way too many intonation screws and height-adjustment screws are being rusted in place—not good.
UNCUT STRING ENDS
For some people it’s a statement, for us it’s a hazard. Leaning over a guitar to work on it can poke you right in the head or eye. Also when 1/2" of string sticks out of the case, it is like a needle waiting to stab you. Trim your string ends, folks.
Thanks for letting me rant, maybe you can add to the list!
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.