The most beloved possession any live musician will own and take care of is their instrument. Playing in a live band over the years I’ve seen guys play on the most beat up and improperly setup instruments you could imagine. They still loved them but they loved them even more when they were setup correctly. I’ve been setting my own guitars up now for about 20 years and I have become extremely good at it. My guitars really play silky smooth. I take the time to properly set up the string height, pickup height, neck relief and intonation as well as maintain my guitars very methodically. I set my students guitars up for them and they often say “I didn’t know my guitar could be so easy to play!”.
Today I want to tell you about one of the most valuable books in my collection. It is by legendary guitar builder and repairman, Dan Erlewine. I bought his book “The Guitar Player Repair Guide” when I was about 19 years old and it has been very well used over the years. This book is packed with information about setting up, maintaining and repairing electric and acoustic guitars. It covers Fender style bridges, Floyd Rose style bridges and Les Paul style bridges. It goes in depth about how to setup each type of guitar as well.
The book covers things as simple as stringing your guitar to things as complex as doing fretwork. The book is laid out very logically and in the early chapters it discusses the proper cleaning and care of your guitar. As the book progresses the tasks increase in complexity taking you through installing strings, neck evaluation and adjustment, setup and action, intonation and compensation all the way to doing body repairs, fretwork and nut replacement. There’s a great chapter on guitar electronics for electric guitarists that even discusses winding your own pickups. You may never wind your own pickups but understanding the procedure gives you a new appreciation for what guys like Seymour Duncan have done with pickup winding. The book also covers shipping a guitar or an amplifier which is great if you’re taking your equipment on the road with you.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re up to the task of dressing the frets on your expensive guitar, you can use the book as a reference so you don’t look too uneducated when you take your guitar in to the repairman. All of the information in the book will help you understand your instrument and that can help you anytime you want to repair it yourself or take it in to the repairman. So today I’m highly recommending The Guitar Player Guier by Dan Erlewine. You can check out this and other great books at the Live Musician Central Store.