10.25.2014

First Act - Guitar Fix

   After playing guitar for a couple decades, my interests have shifted towards setting up entry-level guitars to be better, playable instruments. Through much experimentation, I have come to believe that any cheap guitar can be made playable and more enjoyable.
   It is my love for stringed instruments that makes me look at these poor, orphaned guitars with puppy dog eyes. While a good friend was visiting last year, he mentioned that he desperately wanted a backpack guitar for the rest of his wilderness journey. That next day, we happened to be browsing a flea market when we spied an inexpensive child's guitar. It was the size he wanted, and I felt strong that we had a winner.

Backpacker Guitar
   The filthy little axe appeared to be an old First Act guitar. These are bottom of the barrel, beginner guitars sold at Kmart. Still optimistic, I scrubbed away all the dirty kid, paw prints and revealed a solid build with a decent neck. Before removing the rusted strings, I checked the action and was able to lower it considerably by shaving the bridge saddle. Miraculously, with little effort and a new set of extra light D'Addarios, this baby sang! Best souvenir ever, and total cost was $10 including the strings.
   One more bit of advice, if you are a guitar player, please learn to set up your own gear. It is incredibly easy and it will give you an intimate understanding of your guitar. Guitar set up is highly subjective, much like asking a stranger to taste your dinner and tell you whether you will like it. And once you get comfortable with the basics, any new issues will not necessarily mean an expensive trip to the shop.
   With all this said, a lot of my knowledge came form reading "Dan Erlewine's Guitar Player Repair Guide." This book covers everything that a luthier would need to know, while being simple enough for a novice to understand. It might even give you the confidence to try instruments that you would not have gambled on previously.

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