Guitar Shop 101

Photo by Andy Ellis

Whether you want to tech for a touring band, open a repair shop, or simply maintain your own instruments, there are important things to consider before stepping into the world of 6-string repair.

Okay, you love guitar ... some folks might claim you're obsessed with it. Maybe you're a weekend warrior or even play in a touring band. When you're not gigging, however, the big question arises: How do I parlay my passion for the instrument into an activity that can support me? Of course, one option is to teach guitar independently or through a local music store or institution. Or you can work in music retail. But for those with the requisite skills and determination, there is another path: become a professional guitar tech.

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After replacing or upgrading a nut, finish the job with fast-acting cyanoacrylate adhesive.

In my previous column (“Using Super Glue in Guitar Repair”), we explored techniques for using fast-acting adhesive to seat frets and secure a string nut. We’re not quite done with this topic, but before we put super glue to work on another project, please take a moment to review the safety tips I outlined last time around. As I mentioned before, super glue can be your best friend or worst enemy, so before you start slinging the cyano, it’s important to refresh your memory of these crucial dos and don’ts. Right? Thought so.

String nut touch-up. Super glue is handy for making small repairs to a guitar’s finish. Here’s an example: Most guitars have a little finish at either end of the string nut to create a smooth transition between the edge of the fretboard or binding and the nut itself. But after replacing the string nut—let’s say you’ve upgraded from a plastic nut to one made of bone—there’s usually a small edge or drop off where the nut meets the fretboard (Photo 1). As you may recall from our prior column, super glue is available in a variety of thicknesses. To smooth out the transition between the nut and where it joins the fretboard, you can fill that area using a few drops of medium viscosity or gel-formula super glue.

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The fast-acting adhesive can work wonders ... if you know how to handle it safely.

Super glue plays an important role in many types of guitar repair. At our shop, we use it in dozens of ways, but unless you understand its properties and know how to handle it safely, you can wind up in trouble in a matter of seconds. Let’s spend some time exploring super glue and ways to use it effectively in common projects.

Some background. Super glue is cyanoacrylate, a fast-acting adhesive commonly referred to as CA glue. You’ll find it marketed under various names—Super Glue, Krazy Glue, Gorilla Glue, Hot Stuff, etc.—and it’s widely used in manufacturing, woodworking, medical, dental, forensic, and automotive fields. Super glue is basically an acrylic resin that dries quickly.

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