- Can you repair/tweak my guitar?
Sorry, no. I’m not a professional guitar tech. I’m just an amateur tinkerer and do this for fun in my limited free time. In my blog and videos, I’m sharing my experiments and tweaks on my own guitars, and hope you can learn from my mistakes and my successes, and gain confidence to try this stuff yourself! However, if you think you have a question I can help you with, feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to help.
- Are you a professional guitar tech?
See question 1! While I’m not a professional guitar tech or luthier, I do have a solid background in music and audio engineering. At my day job at Korg R&D, I design and develop audio synthesis and processing software for embedded real time systems. In other words, I build electronic musical instruments.
- You seem like an electronics genius! Please explain everything!
You’re asking the wrong guy! I’m no expert, but I have a fair amount of experience in tinkering with electronics, building and tweaking circuits. I have a common sense approach to all this, and firmly believe the best way to learn is by experimenting and observing the results. I’m also in awe of the fact that any of this stuff works at all- that we’re controlling flows of electrons through conductors and components, and influencing their behavior to produce things like computers, guitars and synthesizers.
- How do I wire up my guitar’s X, Y and Z?
First, please search on line for wiring diagrams and resources. There’s some great sites like GuitarElectronics.com which have tons of diagrams. Often schematics are available from the manufacturer’s website (like these Fender Wiring Diagrams).
Secondly, use alligator clip leads and a multimeter to assemble, learn and test your circuit, before soldering anything. This allows you to experiment and really understand what’s happening.
- My wiring is broken, what should I do?
Check your wiring, double-check it. Then check it again 🙂 See #4. Use a multimeter to confirm that each two points that should be connected together really are connected, and that there’s no undesirable short-circuits. (Set your multimeter to resistance mode, any scale, and test by touching two points with the test leads- if they’re connected, you will see zero resistance. If you see infinite resistance, that means no connection).
- What potentiometers, capacitors and pickups should I buy?
This stuff is really subjective, so I try not to give out recommendations. What works for one person may feel or sound terrible to someone else. Read my thoughts and suggestions about this here.
- How can I learn more about how to set up and fix my guitar?
I recommend Dan Erlewine’s Repair Guide and Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. You could also try the guitar building books by Martin Koch and Melvyn Hiscock.
- How can I learn more about electronics?
For good non-overwhelming introductory books, I recommend Kenn Amdahl’s There Are No Electrons – it’s witty, clear and demystifying. The first four chapters of Craig Anderton’s Electronic Projects for Musicians are a great intro, but I don’t particularly recommend his projects. Also, Forrest Mims’ Getting Started In Electronics is a classic – very short and succinct. For more in depth study, check out the Tab Electronics Guide to Understanding Electricity and Electronics by G. Randy Slone (an accomplished audio engineer), and Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics by Stan Gibilisco. And really, learning by experimentation is key – I recommend an electronics learning kit like this one from Radioshack (which also includes a couple books by Forrest Mims).
- Why do you say “saw-der” instead of “sole-der”?
You wouldn’t believe how often I get asked this! In the US, it’s pronounced “saw-der” (ˈsɑːdər) without the L. My family is Australian, so I was raised pronouncing it with the L as “sole-der” (ˈsɒldər). I have to really make an effort to say it the American way. For more references, including etymology, see my blog post about this.
- What software did you use to show the colorful audio analysis graphs in some of your videos?
I used the 60-band spectrum meter in Steinberg Wavelab on Windows, e.g. in Guitar Tone Capacitors, part 1: Evaluating Material Types and Replacing Tune-o-matic with Wilkinson Roller Bridge.
- Ask me a question frequently and I’ll put it here!