Waiting for the house lights to go down, I noticed that the neck humbucker on my guitar had dropped into the body. Vibration had loosened the adjustment screw on one
Waiting for the house lights
to go down, I noticed
that the neck humbucker on
my guitar had dropped into the
body. Vibration had loosened
the adjustment screw on one
side, and when the pickup’s
mounting leg had reached the
bottom, the pickup just fell in.
Panic stricken, I fumbled with
the screw only to realize the
internal tension spring wouldn’t
allow me to re-thread the adjuster.
With only seconds before
show time, I did the only thing
I could think of. Tearing the
cover off a pack of cardboard
matches, I fashioned a folded
wedge and stuffed it between
the pickup cover and the surrounding
pickup into a stationary position.
Luckily, it held for the set.
I’ve had a few such episodes during my tenure as both a guitarist and guitar maker, and I’m not alone. Almost every musician or tech I meet has stories about improvised fixes. Sometimes a simple solution can be the source of a feature adapted by a guitar builder—or an entire company. I call them MacGyver moments and here are a few of my favorites.
Alan Rogan, guitar tech to some of the most iconic players in history, such as Neil Young, Keith Richards, and Peter Townshend (the undisputed king of catastrophic gear failure), tells a tale similar to mine. Townshend has a well-known habit of using his guitar as a percussion instrument—banging on the face of the guitar with the heel of his hand, boot, or whatever suits his fancy. More than a few times, he’s driven a pickup straight down into the guitar as a result. And if it’s a pickguard-mounted unit, the screw usually takes a large portion of the guard with it. Alan’s remedy is cutting a plastic 9V battery cap in half, spearing it with the screw, and re-threading it into the pickup. Rogan says a guitar pick is another option, if you don’t have a battery cap handy.
Less specialized—but one of the most obvious and ubiquitous fixes—is the practice of looping your cable through the strap. Just surf chronologically through live videos on YouTube, and I’m certain you’ll find the exact moment guitarists got tired of getting shut down by stepping on their cords and invented this fix. The “curly” cord may be an intermediate step, but if you’re still going unplugged by accident, take note.
Sean Beresford cites temperature as an often-overlooked gremlin. Both a tech and a studio engineer, Beresford has had long stints with Living Colour, Lou Reed, Third Eye Blind, and a host of others. He has quite a story about Lou Reed storming offstage in a fury when a rackmount guitar synthesizer decided to bust out solo. “About halfway through the song,” Beresford winces, “the synth started playing these wild and random arpeggios all by itself—and not remotely in the same key as the music. I don’t really remember how we made it through the remainder of the show—I’d rather forget it.” A frantic rewiring of the entire rack during the show failed to bust the ghost in the machine, so Beresford contacted the manufacturer the next day and was told the main microprocessor was particularly sensitive to heat. The short-term fix? The synth spent the rest of the tour sitting on top of the rack with a small fan blowing into it. The lesson and tip is to pay attention to the temperatures in your equipment cabinets—rackmounted or not. If it’s hot in the venue, get a fan to blow on your gear.
Sometimes a small thing can be a big solution. Gavin Menzies, currently Joe Bonamassa’s tech, shares this great tidbit. If a screw hole gets stripped and needs a quick fix, inserting part of a wound guitar string into the hole and replacing the screw is a much more permanent solution than glue and toothpicks. With that said, Bonamassa recently added a vintage 1959 sunburst Les Paul to his live show stable—Gavin knows better than to fix this guitar with halfway measures!
Although not really a fix, covered pickups deserve an honorable mention. There was a time when every pickup had a cover, but some hotshot (probably Jeff Beck) decided to remove the metal lid from his guitar’s humbucker. The reasoning for the popularity of removal isn’t exactly clear, though it was probably like taking the hood off a 1932 Ford hot rod. Almost overnight, covered pickups became as uncool as saddle shoes and golf shirts. I imagine the extra groove factor was viewed as an upgrade, though some players claimed to be able to hear the difference. Manufacturers of aftermarket pickups were certainly happy and willing to skip the expense of making the metal parts, but like the fashion industry, something cyclical happened. As dead-stock vintage guitars became desirable and their prices soared, covers became cool again.
If you’re a touring player on a budget, these simple remedies can be inexpensive lifesavers. But if you are a big-time stadium draw, your fixes may end up being more elaborate. One fail-safe apparatus is having a seasoned, pro guitar tech that is also a musician. Jim Survis has been employed by Kiss, Jimmy Page, Aerosmith, and is currently with Slash. He recalled a time when Joe Perry ran out on Aerosmith’s stage extensions at the end of their encore song, “Draw the Line.” Perry threw down his Lucite Dan Armstrong guitar (in open A tuning), removed his shirt, and began whipping the strings with it. Unfortunately, the fall to the stage had shattered the plug on the wireless and the guitar was dead. Thinking quickly, Survis switched on Perry’s spare guitar. “I watched him closely and timed it perfectly,” Survis recalls. “I strummed in time to his windmills.” As Perry lifted the guitar and ended the song using his bottleneck, Survis mimicked his every move. Later, when Survis told Perry what happened, he was shocked. Perry hadn’t even realized anything was wrong. Sometimes it’s good to have a MacGyver who can play on your payroll, but for the rest of us, a sense of humor will have to do.
Jol Dantzig is a noted designer, builder, and player who co-founded Hamer Guitars, one of the first boutique guitar brands, in 1973. Today, as the director of Dantzig Guitar Design, he continues to help define the art of custom guitar. To learn more, visit guitardesigner.com.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.