We all know what the acronym stands for “Do It Yourself” Well, these past few months, specifically, have once again confirmed that I should alter the acronym to: “D.I.Y.W.A.C.S.A. What does that stand for? The answer is simple and one that I would hope all of you readers will heed during any thought of repair work.
“Do It Yourself With A Common Sense Approach”. We have all heard the saying that you gotta start somewhere, I couldn’t agree more, It’s just not a good idea for the somewhere to be a 1969 Les Paul Standard and the job to be a Fret dress. That has just got disaster written all over it. Like many , many areas of guitar and instrument repair, fret dressing is a skill learned after watching, reading, and maybe a few dozen mock fret dressings on a bargain bin special.
To state the obvious,if you had a problem with your cars engine I doubt very much that most people would open the hood, grab a tool and “get on with it”. Not if you know nothing or next to it, about the engine. Well, let that be your gauge and guide before you decide to mess up or all together ruin,a guitar, any guitar.
There is a reason why mechanics charge you a lot of money to fix a car. That’s because they have worked and worked to accumulate their knowledge and have invested thousands of dollars into learning about their craft and honing it. They have spent the seriously big dollars for their tools and they are well versed in the specialized areas that we common folk are not.
Likewise about guitar techs, luthiers and craftsmen. We are the mechanics for your gear and guitars. We have spent hours and hours learning and honing our craft, reading & researching, we have bought the tools that we need to do the job.While we love to fix, mod and hotrod, whatever piece you want us to, we also cringe at the amount of “Tim Allen” type mentality when it comes to repairing guitars.
Like anything you want to know about, guitar repair takes a lot of hours to learn. Very rarely have I seen a job that is exactly the same as one that I have done before. It’s never the same twice and I think that I speak for most techs when I say that.Each guitar is different and every owner is also different. Point being that each guitar is treated different and thus wears out, breaks down, and craps out, differently.
If you are seriously thinking about trying to become a guitar tech, I would advise that you find a tech that is willing to take you under his/her wing, yes, there are several very highly skilled female guitar techs in the industry, and learn as much as you are able to from them. You may find it tough to get into the loop and that’s just something that comes with almost any field of specialized service. You just have to keep trying (don’t ever be rude and don’t ever be a know it all. These are two of the very fast track ways to ensure you get doors slammed in your face even before they are open) – and show that you really want to learn and are willing to do whats needed in order to learn.
There are different kinds of techs for different kinds of situations. Rock bands carry different techs and often have them pull double duty. Meaning that you may be a guitar tech but if you are out with a certain band you will have to handle bass tech duties, as well. Drum techs, light techs, sound techs, electrical techs and so on. Know what field you want to specialize in and go for it.
As mentioned earlier, reading, researching, studying, anything that will garner you more knowledge about you related field, that’s what you want to store in your head. Now, another aspect of repairs. Most of us techs are also players. We like to plug in and rip just as much as you do. Each of has a different story to tell about how and why we are now the technician,but we all have loads of stories to tell about lack of common sense repair.Rather than see a great piece destroyed by lack of knowledge, I think I speak for most techs when I say that when in doubt, don’t.
Call us at the store, bring it in, read an article in a trade mag, ask a friend who knows or friend of a friend who knows, however you want to go about it. Just don’t try to start at the top of the mountain when you want to start somewhere.