SO when and why should you take your guitar for a bit of a check up?
Over time general wear and tear, vigorous playing, temperature and humidity can all affect the playability of your guitar. The action and the intonation are crucial contributing factors, and you can set these yourself, but if you don’t have the necessary experience it’s probably best to take your guitar to your local luthier. Because your guitar is a living, breathing, and evolving organism then change will be inevitable but just how can you tell if your guitar needs a little medicine?
Well, the key signs to look for are string buzz, general playability difficulties, tuning anomalies up and down the neck, and action problems. Although fret buzz can also be caused by significant problems, in many cases, simple adjustments like raising string action can make these problems go away
When it comes the the action, ideally your strings/action should be set at a height that allows you to fret easily and comfortably at any position on the neck but without ANY buzzing. Buzzing can be caused by a combination of factors such as the saddle heights, uneven and heavily frets, the setting of the guitars nut, the string action and the situation of the neck. You should not be struggling hard to fret or voice chords up and down the neck. If you are finding that chords become progressively more difficult to voice the further up the neck you play then your action may need a little tweaking.
If the neck has become bowed then the truss rod will need adjusting (do not do this yourself). The truss rod is an adjustable metal rod that runs down the center of the neck. Problems with cheap guitar nuts or poor quality bridges and saddles can ruin your playing experience too.
Uneven frets can contribute to buzzing and your expert luthier will be able to locate any inconsistencies and redress them through grinding, replacing or adjusting your frets.
As a guitarist it’s very important to develop a healthy and positive relationship with your local guitar specialist. Take the time to find out which luthiers in your area have a solid reputation for quality and excellence. Preferably your luthier should have a long history of building and repairing instruments. Take your guitar and ask them to have a look at the current set up and show you how and where any adjustments can be made.
Choose your luthier wisely because your luthier can contribute so much to the quality of your guitar playing experience. It`s highly worthwhile cultivating a healthy and positive relationship with them.
In New Zealand`s north island Simcha Delft is one of the most highly respected luthiers and Steven String in the South Island.