Tech tips and FAQ's                                        all writing and information by E.Regalli (Dr.Riki)

  Whammy bar tips

Remember!  Locking type floating bridges of the Floyd family should be stringed with 09/42 max. especially those less expensive copies, this is  to preserve the blades and  saddle locking screws but most of all to avoid the holding posts crashing through the body , also  do not  over tighten the locking cauls at the nut and saddles .

  CHECK AND TIGHTEN

   Tuning pegs.

On the  sealed models  check and tighten the nuts  and knob screws every few months, on the vintage type check and tighten the holding screws

   STRAP BUTTONS!!

     Yes of course

    END PIN JACKS

(this is a good one)

Find a piece of thick rubber or leather then use it for a better hand grip, you'll be able to safely tighten that round bit hard enough now.

     JACK AND POTS

Hold the jack by snugly fitting a little roll of wet&dry 400-600 grit in it, then tighten the nut with a spanner , the little roll is also what I use to clean dirty jack sockets.

If a pot is loose do not keep turning it, try to remove the knob then while holding the shaft in a fully anti clock wise  position  tighten the nut with the adjustable spanner.

        Cleaning

Clean strings BEFORE, DURING and AFTER you play.

Vacuum the guitar case regularly.

Use a soft brush (natural bristles) and Vacuum cleaner to dust the whole instrument .

 

 

Over the years I have written many articles for different music magazines in French ,Italian and English on guitar care and repair.

Please take advantage of a few info I'm giving on this page.

 

 

          

Adjusting the Truss Rod

With the development of the truss rod system, guitar builders have been able to offer guitarists a choice of neck thicknesses and shapes, while at the same time varying the curvature of the guitar neck.

                                            Neck adjustment  choices

                A neck can be either adjusted straight, concave or convex:

  • With a straight neck you will find that the result is lower action, easy playing and greater chord precision. The down side is that there is more buzzing over the whole  fret board, less dynamic and difficulty in string bending.

  • A concave neck will give you a higher action. This means that the guitar will be harder to play and will have less chord precision, but it will be more dynamic and have more volume. There will also be less buzzing across the fret board, and string bending will be easier to achieve.

  • A convex adjustment is normally only used as a way of getting around specific problems.

The correct truss rod setting requires a compromise between straight and concave to suit your particular playing style. A good rod assembly in the neck will give you the maximum variation with minimum adjustment. This depends on the stiffness of the wood and fret board and of course the gauge of the strings.

Note: It is better to leave the decision of neck adjustment to an expert.

                                     Adjusting Technique

This technique is usually quite simple depending on the model of guitar. However, it is important to remember that you should never attempt this operation without the correct sized tool.

Normally the nut is a right-handed thread, but be careful as some instruments could have a left handed thread.

The truss rod is not a toy!! The best way to start is by unscrewing the truss rod counter clockwise to ascertain what strain the truss rod is already under. The resistance you find will determine if further tightening is possible.

As a rule of thumb, starting from the "dead point" (where the truss rod is totally loose but with no slack), the maximum will be 5/8th of a complete turn.... remembering that less is better. Normally it is suggested that you approach this operation with loose strings. However, I find that the fine tuning of the truss rod (between 1/12th and 1/8th of a turn) with the strings to pitch is quicker and more precise, so I use both systems.

                         Where is the Truss Rod Nut?

  • At the headstock underneath a plastic cover.

  • At the headstock in the form of a bullet.

  • At the body end of the neck (it may be necessary to partly remove the neck if your guitar has a bolt-on neck system to gain access to the nut).

  • At the body end of the -neck via the sound hole (acoustic guitars).

                     Tools To Use

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and Standard).

  • Allen Keys (Imperial and Metric systems).

  • T-Wrench (lmperial and Metric systems).

Monitoring the humidity factor  around your instruments is smart thinking. You can find a gadget these days at the AUSTRALIA POST that cost less then $10.00 and will work   just great ,keep it in your guitar case or guitars room.

You'll find more tips on  -GROOVE-  The West Australian Music Magazine.      

 

A FEW SUMMER TIPS  (Groove Mag.)

 

You should release the strings on your guitar anytime you don't intend to play it for three days or more. You should also do this if you intend to keep your guitar in the car for any longer than an hour, but please, don't leave your instrument in the car this summer. It could be ruined by the time you come back, that is if it's still there at all. 

SEASONAL TRUSS ROD ADJUSTING: NOW AND WHY 

The first thing to understand is that wood is at its strongest during moist atmospheric conditions and at its weakest during the driest months of the year. You don't need to know anything else except that you will need to tighten the truss rod in your guitar during summer (the dry period) and do the opposite in winter (the moist period) if you want to keep your instrument's action to your specifications and preferences. Remember that occasionally the full result of the adjustment  will show only after two or three days, sometimes even longer. Another problem is sudden weather changes that occur in WA throughout the year. Sometimes it is better just to ignore them and wait for the weather to stabilize rather than readjusting your guitar every second day. 

DRYNESS: A MOST DANGEROUS THING 

Remember, moisture swells wood which in turn tightens the glue joints, but dryness shrinks the wood, separating wood joints and wood fibres which is not good for those expensive acoustic solid tops, especially those of an older vintage. 

If you have a few guitars you care about try and keep them in the same room where you should keep a humidity reader. You should keep the humidity around 40% by placing half a bucket of water in the room. You should also monitor the humidity reader during the winter months, especially if heaters are on for long periods of time. The easiest way of all to care for your instrument is to play it because your humidity will stabilise your instrument's humidity, so the more you're near it the better it is. Makes sense doesn't it. 

 


                                                           Hot tips  (Groove Mag)

I like to talk about a couple of little solutions that can make a real difference on a couple of renowned guitar problems, to my knowledge those problems were never brought to public attention by any means of  guitar information in the world before, I think because of unawareness or more likely lack of confidence given the fact that the issues involves beloved models bearing great brand names.  

GOAL

Improving return to pitch factor to all 6 screws floating

Bridges with 2 or more springs in the back cavity. 

DESCRIPTION

The secret lay in the 6 screws, the type employed for the purpose by nearly all manufactures are mushroom head and have a cylindrical  shape, because of those characteristics the bridge is free to shift across the axis of the screws and so to rest in a different position from the starting one.

 

SOLUTION

If we  replace those 6 screws with countersink ones the 6 bored holes in the bridge base  will have to rest on a conic shaped surface and return exactly in the position they were before the swing.

 

It is only needed to align them to the right high and the result will be impressive. (Of course nut , trees and tuning pegs in  good working conditions). 

Fix bridge and tail piece ensemble types. 

The problem is in the bridge and a possible solution in the tail piece high setting. 

From their first design those bridge had always been incline to collapse and band in the middle jeopardizing a good set up as a result.

Nothing is been improved to this days in the design and same weak material are still used in the majority of the cases. 

Adjusting the tail piece as high as possible but still retaining a certain string brake over angle will minimize the compression force on the bridge and hopefully slowing the banding process. 

If the bridge is bended is possible to reshape it but has to be done by the right jig in expert hands. 

 


                                REAL GUITAR CARE  (Groove Mag.) 

Polishes ,oils, waxes, rust inhibitors, finger lubes, dozens of different types and brands make some time the uninformed recede to the old spit and polish method if not forget about the issue all together and by so, starting a full on mushroom culture on their beloved instrument.

Among the questions that customers pose to me, the one on guitar care is still a big hit and I must say a very complex one to talk about, even if after all, the actual task of nursing an instrument likes a guitar or bass is quite ease. 

I’ll take you systematically trough the different ways and modes, highlighting in the process those products that I found right for the job. 

Before starting, you should get hold of a few things: old clean cotton T-shirt or whatever other soft cotton item, new fingernails brush or new toot brush (the harder the better), some foam pieces or synthetic sponge. 

CLEANING a Glossy finish:

For water based dirt like finger grime, saliva dribbles (spit …sorry) and any of the artistic “blood sweat and tears” water based (or water containing) cleaner must be used.

 I found that the formula 65 by Dunlop, orangey yellow label, is a perfect no film depositing cleaner for any shiny instrument and whatever plastic on it.    

Fresh stickers, Gaffa tape residuals and oil build-ups can be removed with Axewax by Dr Duck , Lemon and eucalyptus oils contained in the other products  I will mention will also work .

Put product on dirt and leave it on for a couple of minutes before wiping away. 

PROTECTING a glossy finish  

 After the shiny parts of the instrument are clean and I repeat and enounce “CLEAN”!  If you reckon is necessary you can apply a very good protective wax

Called Carnauba wax  also  in this case the best I found is made by Dunlop under the  Body gloss 65 green label, I suggest you to shake very well the bottle first , then apply the product by hand using them as a squeegee. Then wipe the all job with a very clean and soft cotton rag.

This process will leave a beautiful, hard, and long lasting coat on the finish that will be washable and sweat resistant, only removable by spirit. (It will take 3 days to harden to the maximum) 

Gibson and Fender also make a good polish .They both come in exactly the same 4 ounce bottles with vaporizer, the content is of a milky colour, and a little greasy , it deposits a protective and shiny film, but not as tuff as the Dunlop  carnauba wax. 

I tried other brands in the past, offering the same kind of thing, but always some how too greasy and less efficient.   

Matt (opaque) finishes. 

These are a relatively recent fashions of finish, the caring of those finishes is quite awkward and to my knowledge no special product is been made especially for them.

They present also the tendency of getting shiny if they rubbed, even by just playing the guitar the forearm of the strumming hand will simulate a polishing motion creating in a short time a glossy surface difficult, if not impossible to undo. 

At present Axwax by DrDuck’s is it for those finishes, apply and remove by foam pads then by cloth.

Less glorious in this circumstance, are lemon oils, but better then nothing.   

Shellac and oil finishes  

 Those finishes normally cover a very expensive instrument like hand made classic guitars, mandolins, violins, lutes and other antiquities. 

The Hidersine guitar polish made in England is been around long time,

the Gibson and Fender ones are also very good for those finishes.

In this case, I’d keep the water and oil based ones away, if you need to get read of some fresh dirt just use your breath and wipe it off. 

Oil and wax finishes 

 Not to commune but still available those finishes should be treated only with natural and mineral oil and waxes, no product is there specifically for the tusk

 but DrDuck’s Axwax does a fear job. 

 Finished    Fingerboards 

 On maple necks or other finished f-board just go over with the same stuff you using for the body of your guitar, do not use oils.

If finished in matt, the same recommendation of not buffing applies, remove the dirt by a fingernail brush and soapy water (dishwasher liquid solution), be fast to wipe all dry, and then go with Formula 65 Orange label polish. 

Unfinished fingerboard. 

Lemon oil is all you really need for nourishing it and clean the wood from fresh dirt.

Among the ones I did try , Tres Lemones lemon oil and Dunlop lemon oil in that order passed the “best quality” test. Other brands are out there but as a rule of thumb just shake the bottle and check for impurities before you buy.  

 Do not let the grime accumulate and harden on it , if this already happened , do not use Brasso or other stuff that isn’t recommended and got nothing to do with and on guitars, get some eucalyptus oil or use Kwik fret that contains it and brash the  fingerboard clean.

If the dirt is stubborn, do not get tempted in scraping it!

Do this instead: 

Give the fret board a good wipe of lemon oil, then deep your brush in a rich dish washing solution (meaning mainly soap and not to much water), the oil will help in keeping the water out of the wood grain.

Brush the dirt away and wipe all dry with sponge or cloth, but bee quick!

Re-oil the all fret board and you are done.    

The best prevention to heavy cleaning is to care for the all guitar and fret board regularly.  

Metallic parts (hardware)

Bridges and tuning pegs are a real problem when rust attack them, blocking all the moving parts and little screws that are used for adjusting and setting up the instrument. 

If you protect the hard ware on your guitar with mineral oils, rust should stay away.

Nothing seems as functional and practical as RP7 from Selleys in this case,

especially now, that the stuff is also available in a mini size bottle.

Keep it in the guitar case and just spry it on the bridge before the gig.  

Strings lube. 

Frets and strings lubricant, cleaners and conditioners, many are around, Is a personal choice because of the skins and sweat difference in any of us.

Try Kwik Fret I personally find it very functional and versatile.

Dr Duck’s Axwax Is also a good multiuse oil and gentle on your skin. 

Tips  

Normally what the instructions say on any of the products is to apply with a cloth (your product will go nearly all in the rag lasting you very short time) 

I will tell you the best ways. 

Polishes: Spry directly on the instrument then buff with cotton cloth 

Carnauba wax: Shake very well then apply by bare hand, and then remove and buff by a cotton cloth. 

Lemon oil: apply on fretboard by a foam pad (one drop will go long way) clean with the same and live it to dry. 

String lube: apply directly on your hand and wipe the strings over and under,

Wipe excess from your hands with a cloth.  

 

String lube Kwik fret as a dirt remover for fingerboards:

Spry on and brush out with nail or toothbrush, then wipe clean and dry with rag. 

Metal bridges: keep them clean and lube with RP7 or Axwax and nailbrush. 

Notes. 

Replace all clothes when dirty, wash them and reuse them. 

Stick to products made for musical instruments, they are guaranteed by the manufacturer; user friendly; long lasting; multi use and so convenient

                                   Dr.Riki (at your service).


                                  DR RIKI SAYS  (from GROOVE Magazine)    

                              How to choose an acoustic steel string guitar. 

The first thing to know is that on acoustic guitar we can not adjust and readjust things as easy as on an electric so we have to make sure to walk out of the shop with an instrument that is perfect for what we want to use it for. 

There exists a delicate interaction between the most important parameters of a stringed instrument ;Tilt, Action ,Intonation, you can’t change one with out altering the others. The most important one on an acoustic guitar is the Tilt (the angle at which the neck joins the body). Why? Because to change it you’ll need to pull the whole neck off and reset it. 

To avoid falling into too technical an explanation I will just suggest what to check first. Make sure that the saddle (the piece of bone or plastic stacked into the bridge) isn’t to low, you should be able to see the strings breaking at a good angle between the saddle and the pins. Imagine, would it be possible to lower the saddle in case of needs for a lower action. Can you do this without the strings losing all the tension over the saddle and so moving across it when plucked. 

Another very important thing that would require major repair to fix is the correct alignment between the neck and bridge, proof of it is the well centred position of the strings into the fret board area. Look where the neck join the body, you do not want to see one of the two E strings (1st and 6th string) too near to the edge of the fret board compared to the other. 

Do not trust truss rod too much, in many occasions where a new guitar needs neck adjustment a truss rod will give more problems than solutions that way wasn’t adjusted already in the fires place, so be sure that the guitar is nice and easy to play as it is. 

Be in love with the sound and feel of the instrument, never mind the look. Your taste on the last issue will very probably change but sound and feel is what you’ll always want from your guitar. 

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                               WATER AND VAPOR    

    Water does not compress, vapor does.

    We would be wrong in thinking that a piece of wood  will be more stable in weather  and temperature

    changes only because it has been  sealed with a non permeable finish.

    Even if it was possible , unless the wood was previously totally dried of its moisture, in cool weather

    it will have water, and in warm climate vapor in it.

    When we have water in the fibres,  the piece of wood will some how be more resistant to  all forces applied

    to it,  the water property of not compressing will act as  reinforcement to the wood ;

    but in warmer atmosphere a quantity of this water,  proportional to the temperature  around it, will

    evaporate  leaving the wood more free to move in any direction that we  stress it to or just in any direction or

    form that its natural tendency tells it to. Now we can better understand the necessity of more or less need

    in truss rod  adjustment  depending on the  seasons .

    This also makes understandable why it is wrong to sand down , for example a swollen fret board ,      

    before proceeding in a so irreversible action it would be sensible to try to extract the humidity first

    instead of removing wood from a guitar and leave the water in it.                           

 

                                   Atmospheric conditions influences on sound and waves projection

 Any  musical instrument will sound better and louder in driest conditions .

Humid atmosphere on the contrary  dampen the wave propagation from the instrument to the listener, also humidity in the woods dampen their  resonance ,a sound board for example loaded of moisture will be heavier  and less springy, two very important  characteristics  for what it concern the optimum in loudness  ,tone and projection .


      DR Riki  says...

1)    Don’t borrow your friend guitar

2)    Don’t lend your guitar

3)    Panic before it happen

4)    Leave that glue alone now

5)    Your friend won’t fix it…………Dr Riki will !!

                                                              WWW.DR-RIKI.COM