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New, narrower nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bass guitar remodelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A bit of protection helps against bits of metal produced when doing fretwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Refinishing back of 1970's 12 string guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The joys of working on semi-hollow body electrics through the 'F' holes

Guitar and Ukulele Repair and Maintenance Services

Using experience gained over the years making guitars and ukuleles, modifying older ones and setting up newer ones, I offer a range of services aimed at getting the best out of your instrument.

Some of the services offered include setups, restringing, fretwork, nut and saddle work as well as some repairs and electrics.

If you know what you want just go to the 'Prices' tab on the menu bar. If guitars and ukuleles are a mystery to you, read on and then look at the prices.

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Neck surgery underway to thin the neck on a classical guitar whilst rejuvinating the rosewood fretboard

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Wide necked classical guitar thinned to a more manageable width together with a fretboard radius and a full refret

Setups

For those of you who don't know, a setup can be the difference between an instrument that just doesn't feel right and one that feels a part of you. Whatever the price or quality of the instrument, it can make a difference and can be tailored to your style of playing. The set up I provide includes:

Action

Adjusting the action (height of strings from the fretboard). At the headstock end, the height of the strings at the nut can make a huge difference to how playing open chords feels, whilst at the bridge end the height of the saddle plays a critical role in how the rest of the fretboard plays and sounds (e.g. fast metal riffs on an electric guitar calls for a lower action to playing slide on an acoustic guitar).

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A fairly radical improvement on the action of an old guitar requiring a combination of neck angle adjustment, bridge height reduction, fret dressing and nut height adjustment

Intonation

Fine tuning the length of each string from nut to saddle to ensure that the instrument plays in tune anywhere on the fretboard. Changing the action or changing string gauge will affect how accurately an instrument will tune. Sometimes this is barely noticeable but sometimes, without re-intonating, it can make the instrument nearly useless or extremely annoying.

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Saddle adjustment on a tune-o-matic style bridge with luckily just enough travel on the G string saddle to intonate properly

Relief

Given that the middle of a vibrating string is not straight, having a perfectly flat fretboard can, particularly with a low action, result in the middle part of the string vibrating against the frets, causing an annoying buzz. The mysterious truss rod, that many dare not touch, enables a varying degree of neck curve to be provided, to eliminate this buzzing. The degree of relief required can depend on the action required, the quality of the fretwork or personal choice. Reasons for checking relief can include a poorly set up new instrument, changes in temperature and humidity (after all the neck is wood), and lowering the action.

Minor fret dressing

Sometimes, there can be localised fret buzzing that seems to only be sorted by raising the action or by providing more relief than desired. Minor fret dressing can make the difference between having the action you desire without the fret buzz or living with the fret buzz or a less comfortable action. If the existing fret job is good enough, the set up service includes minor fret dressing.

However, with some existing fretwork, the problem can extend further down the fretboard and this can only be properly sorted by a full fret dress which is additional to the basic setup service.

Replacement nuts and saddles.

Many less expensive guitars and ukuleles will have a plastic nut and saddle, with the saddle often being a loose fit. A fairly simple way of improving the tone, intonation and playability of the instrument is to replace the nut and/or saddle with one made of bone or a denser man made material.

The replacement nut service I offer includes making, slotting and fitting the nut and adjusting to maximise playablity.

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Replacement of a zero fret with a new bone saddle and rosewood insert on a 1970's 12 string guitar

The replacement saddle service I offer includes making and fitting a compensated saddle and adjusting action. If the original saddle slot was located to allow for proper intonation all will be good.

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Replacement saddle with correct radius to improve action across the fretboard

However, sometimes saddle slots are inaccurately located and the only way of getting proper intonation is to relocate the saddle. This can often be most simply achieved by widening the saddle slot and fitting a wider saddle or, in some cases a new saddle slot would need to be cut, requiring filling of the old slot. An inspection before work starts will dictate what may be required (and if it's worth it depending on the value of the instrument).

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Removal of adjustable saddle, filling with rosewood insert and fitting new bone saddle

Fretwork

Whist frets are made of metal, they are subject to the pressures of metal in the form of the strings, which results in fret wear. This occurs unevenly across the fretboard depending on where your favourite fingering patterns are.

The point at which this becomes a problem is when you start getting annoying buzzing where it didn't occur before. You have a choice. Put up with the fret buzz, raise the action so it doesn't play as comfortably or look to having work done on the frets.

Fret dressing

Minor fret wear can usually be rectified with a fret dress involving relevelling and recrowning the frets. This results in a slight lowering of the fret height, requiring a slight lowering of the nut slots and saddle to maintain action.

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Fret dressing brings new life to an old fretboard

Partial refret

Sometimes, if it's just one area of the fretboard where the wear is severe (such as at the nut end where open chords are your main playing style), a partial refret might be all that's required. This involves replacing just a few frets and redressing the whole fretboard.

Full refret

If there are multiple areas of the fretboard with severe wear, then it may be that, if you want the instrument to play as it once did, the only way of sorting it out is for all the frets to be replaced.

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A refret on a maple fretboard, including replacement of zero fret

This service includes reprofiling the fretboard to a consistent radius (unless it's a compound radius fretboard), fitting new frets (with your choice of fretwire gauge), levelling, re-crowning fret tops, profiling fret ends and refinishing the fret board edge where necessary.

Other services

I also offer some repair services and electrical work (pickup, switch replacement etc) depending on what is required and will provide an honest assessment of whether I can fix it and a price.

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Garage sale classical guitar with plywood soundboard removed and replaced with a new solid cedar one plus full refret. From junk came a very playable, nice sounding guitar

 

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