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Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Lesson 7 of 18

Electronic Maintenance

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

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Lesson Info

7. Electronic Maintenance


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Problem Areas of Maintenance Duration:14:08
3 Proper Stringing Techniques Duration:04:31
4 Proper Standard Rock Setup Duration:34:10
6 Proper Drop Tuning Setup Duration:39:49
7 Electronic Maintenance Duration:22:11
8 Electricity Basics Duration:24:06
9 Reading a Schematic Duration:06:53
10 Using a Multimeter Duration:10:20
14 Preamplifier Circuit Design Duration:28:25
15 Power Amplifier Circuit Design Duration:10:36
16 The Phase Inverter Duration:03:58
17 The Power Supply Duration:15:03
18 Final Q&A Duration:08:44

Lesson Info

Electronic Maintenance

You know sports ginny and we're setting up a guitar for, you know, like a harder player or whatever there's not really that much difference if you're if you're you know ah rhythm guitar player maybe you know, traditionally the singer in the band wants to play guitar sometimes they're a little bit ham fisted or what not you know the guidelines are still the same you might want a little extra relief in the neck because you're going to be whacking at the thing a little bit harder and you know, you might be using a little bit heavier strings than somebody who's playing lead guitar not necessarily, but maybe in so if you're playing eleven through fifty, you know it would be not that much different than the first guitar we did just, you know, let a let it have a little more relief in the neck with a lot of people will just one of the way it is they don't they don't want extra relief, you know, they want to get hard that plays really easy and and and it's not a is not like not fighting them a...

t every at every wow not fighting them at every every turn now this is a guitar that I'm told has some elect electrical issues or maybe a comptel right there the jack itself is a little is a little bit loose and if we look at it the the jack plate is probably in need of being replaced you know I don't think they're expensive so it's I don't have the extra money here but it would be just a question of taking the screws out and replacing the little plastic thing you could also get the same plate that's made out of metal so it would tend to a break less you know works otherwise works just the same way okay then so this whole pickup switch here is reversed on this this side is going so this this thing has probably been turned around one hundred or one hundred eighty degrees so let's have a quick look see what we can uh see what we can do most of these things they're not very hard to fix and um easy to ignore but but it's good to it's good to not ignore mu khun on on this sort of guitar any of best year les paul it is pretty easy to get out all the controls on other guitars it could make it a little bit a little bit tougher to actually get at them and spray cleaner into them but the theory is the same always put your screws if you have even a tape roll or something just to keep them all together there is it's it's really easy tio start losing stuff sometimes a little pick will help you get the thing out without gouging up the finish and in this case waken see here the whole switch has come loose and rotated one hundred eighty degrees so now weaken take that bag take that back to the where it is and it looks like this for a second um it does look like it's fairly corroded so there's this little guy that slips on here and helps you take this off it's a great little invention that you know definitely not everybody is gonna have that you know everybody will say don't use pliers for this task but sometimes you just never know what you're getting into it things haven't been turned for ah for decades you can use a little tape ones just to see if we can loosen that up and this thing looks like it's pretty corroded so we might want to spray a little uh a little cleaner in there and make sure the connections are good looks like they're still on their um in thes little contacts could be pretty you can do to spray a little uh cleaner on a piece of paper and just you can you can see where the actual contact contacts just get your piece of cleaners so paper in there, switch it back to the middle and then move it around a little bit it's still got plenty of pretty plenty of spring left in it it's just dirty you don't need much of this stuff just the tiniest bit but get it right in there the other side and then close it so the spring springs on it pull it through there you can see a little of the corrosion coming off and then uh back in there little balancing act of getting this thing back where it needs to be on all these things they're gonna want to turn and always that you don't want them to turn but you can you can adjust the sort point sort of any way you want but keeping one hand on the back of it so the actual thing doesn't turn might be the wrong thread for this and then get it so rhythm and trouble still lines up right? I'm just going to give it a little creek with the with the tape covered players on day we have the the pots assembly back here which are also going to be a new issue you know when you're doing things and if you could get at the back at him of them you can right where the there there there's a clear opening in the pots that you can spray the spirit, spray the cleaner into you know much toll and then bring it around it's just just cleaning the uh a little of carbon traces that cause things to get louder and quite it and I'm guessing it is a little bit loose in there and sometimes you could sort of save these things by re bending the connection but I have a feeling if we took this off it wouldn't go back but I think the I think the plate is kind of a gone are but I bet if we just tighten that up a little bit it'll uh things not being a good is not being a good little guy um so let's just let's just that's just flirt with disaster way like you kurt keep us on the edge of mercy now would be the perfect time to replace this thing because once it once it starts getting loose it's just going to get looser and looser and looser but uh you could do the same thing here it just gets uh in a little bit of corrosion on its it's parts and it is a little physically lives so it has been that in a little bit you could probably get away with that a few times before it breaks make sure your uh little insulation is set good if we can get it back on looks kind of cool and tough but not in a place that anybody will actually see it a place that they will think you're tough because there were you like that kind of plastic things trashed manning cool that plastic thing and here's another good way if you can't get at you the jack there you can just spray a tiny bit of this on the actual plug time to get that get that going way look closer at this guitar it's adjusted in sort of a strange way probably we want to bring this down a little bit since it's really close to the strings there looks like it probably hasn't been attended to for a while is phillips head there and a a slot here so there again screwdriver safety it has a bunch of gunk in it so before you start turning it clean out the slot and then be very careful turning it over that thing a little bit and then this one sort of sideways but as as I was saying earlier the pick up height I always tend to get the bridge pick up where you want it and then uh then adjust the neck pickup so it's good for your what you want to get out of it whether it is closer or for the way it looks like this has been put on their reverse too so who knows what that means it could be good could be bad let's tune it up and follow all the things we did these strings are kind of nasty probably changed cleaned up a little bit get a new one of these and just follow all those other things and you know at least everything's working now everything's quiet not in not in perfect tune but you know at least it's quiet and working good looks like everything else definitely use a fret polish on this thing. You could tell me if you get a close up on the green france and the upper range there, but that's classic classic green fret style there which, you know, you can just do your triple. O steel will get that going. And but that good, you know, a good basic thing and how to keep the pots clean and the switch clean so, like, the switch can be really bad. If if it goes out, you can lose, you know, one or both of your pickups will not work if the if the switch gets corroded and is not intended to go to switch your pick up and it just shuts off. And so a lot of a lot is riding on that little switch up here as it is in any other guitar that has this kind of switch or, you know, the other, the other kinds, you, you just pay attention to them, and if they need to be need to be cleaned out, just do it. Maybe it's once a year, maybe it's, you know, everybody has different everybody sweats a different amount. Everybody has different amount of finger gunk, that's going to come off when they play everything plays, you know differently, and some people have so much sweat and perspiration that you mean you could feel here this this tail piece is starting to get pitted and stuff and as long as it's not a problem it's not a problem but you just have to pay attention to things and if if you're the kind of person that's going toe get everything coming up after every show white for strings down you won't have to change him as much if you just go in and you know clean them off get all the gunk off him you can tell if you're really needed changing your strings go to your d string and just feel the bottom of it and if it's all pitted where the threats are like the warnings will start first I'll start getting dented a little bit and then they'll start to fail the winnings won't work anymore than it's probably good time tio change the strength you know if not you can still change of if they're getting corroded or what not but that's sort of a personal choice some people can't be bothered to change your strings and some people you don't need to change them unless you really want to you don't have to change him every show we're being a panic about it if they work they're fine you know if if they don't work then they're not fine and um I guess we didn't we didn't touch on the bridge like keeping sharp edges off of things I could be tend to break strings like popular to break the the the d string of a guitar because it's got it's got a thinner core than some of the other strings and it tends tends to be one to break a lot the low e string breaks let the high east during that you know, some of the thinner the thinner inter inside one's um and if you break it often in the same place if it breaks at the bridge over and over over again like one string than it's, probably there could be little roughness in there and it doesn't matter if the top of the thing is a little bit rough it's the slop that matters and so you can, you know, use a threat file you can use a friend fall with a piece of sandpaper like, you know, fine sandpaper foreign grit wrapped over it or if you really if you really cool, you can have this it's ah it's, abrasive cord and it's basically sandpaper string and you could just go into with the slots and just smooth the mantle. You know, not everybody has a problem with it and I think the harder you play the thickness of your pick you know, just the attack that you tie into those things some people never break strings, some people break strings constantly and I think you'll find your your way how many shows you can get out of a set of strings, you know? And then every few every often go in there, smu those things that you don't want to, you want to change the depth of them because then you'll have to readjust the whole thing, but just make sure there's you know, this fine sandpaper, the fine things were not going to change this depth and just going to take the little rough spots that might develop in there because they're chrome plated steel things in that chrome is sharp and the string winding of the strings khun diggin there's lots of things that could make it bad, but when they're just make sure those were smooth and you know, you should you should have an easier time with things and, you know, you guys, luke, cars like this should the should treat you well regards toe low action slash fred out's, how often do you recommend leveling threats? Well, that they're going that so depends on how how quickly you wear out the threats. Um, you know, you see people who have had one guitar for six months and you look at the threats and they're just dividend and they're just wrecked, you know, down here and it's like, wow, you know, you're tough on those frets and it's what you gonna do you're like well I guess I just will play as much I mean it's not like the saddest thing of all time but if you get divots in those frets it's like those there were lower and the playing surface of the friend not only is lower but it will migrate you know that millimeter from the ideal place where the notice fred it is at the top of the threat you know it's got a crown on the top and you want that where the note is playing to be that the top of that now if it gets worn down the flatter the threat or the warn divots in them it'll make it harder to play because some of the friends will be lower than others and the place where that note is going to be is going to be at the end edge of the front because it's kind of it's got things worn into it so it's it's going to cause a lot of problems and you're not gonna like that so I mean it's natural for fretz toe where adult they will but just keep an eye on it and if if they're really divided you usually can get one or two like threaten leveling jobs done where you know pull of threats out they just take the strings off get the fretboard to be level and then go over with you know some sort of an abrasive thing to re level of threat, so there will be flat and then go with the threat file or something similar to that which will re crown the top of each fret. So it's rounded again so you're you're fret point will be at the top, the middle of the french at the very top, and that is you will like that better to, you know all these things, it takes months or years for people to wear out the front so you don't notice it as you're going, you know you don't you don't notice it because it's it changes so suddenly over the course of a month or six months or whatever. Andi, you notice all of a sudden you're like to everything I ask just doesn't play the way that you still have to adjust it differently, or I don't really like it as much, and it could be the need of the threat level and re crown, which is, you know, general upkeep, you probably need to take that to a to a specialist it's beyond our scope here, too, start doing that, but you know it's, not the end of the world you can usually you can usually have that done once or twice on on a guitar, and then once it gets filed down too far, you know you're not gonna like that if it will be really low and and usually the person working the guitar will go where you might need to refresh this. And then they pulled him out, put new ones in re level of fingerboard and it's. Quite a quite an undertaking, you know, but people do it all the time. If you really like your guitar it's totally worth getting a riff fretted. And then when you get it back, it's like having a new guitar it's like, whoa, this is awesome everything's a balancing act, you know, things, they change one thing and things sort of change slowly over time and you just more you just pay attention to things and stuff you find that you like the guitar better and, you know, you won't. I think I get it. I got to get a new guitar, even getting new guitars. Great don't don't don't get me wrong. I think people should have boxer guitars, but if there's one that works for you and all of a sudden you don't like it as much or you're getting, you know, tired of it, you know, you might as well try to get it playing as great as it can before you decide that it's, you know, not what you want

Class Description

Performing a proper setup for your guitar can seem like a dark art requiring a copper chalice filled with incense. Reading a schematic of a tube amplifier can seem like you’re staring at ancient Sanskrit. Guitar and tube amp masters Kurt Bloch and Ben Verellen are here to help.

In this two-part workshop, Kurt and Ben will show you exactly how to get the best sound out of your gear.

In part-one Kurt will teach the basics of setting up your guitar – you’ll learn about:

  • Truss rod adjustment
  • Bridge and nut adjustment
  • String gauge and playing style
  • Guitar maintenance and upkeep
  • Guitar electronics and pickups

Part-two is your primer on tube amplifiers. Kurt and Ben will explain how they work and show you how to keep them sounding great. You’ll learn:

  • Tube biasing
  • Block diagrams and understanding schematics
  • Basic amplifier maintenance
  • Capacitor, resistor, and transformer replacement
  • Speaker repair and power-matching

Kurt Bloch is not only Gibson Guitar’s in-house guitar guru, he’s a legend in the Seattle music scene. He plays in The Fastbacks and Young Fresh Fellows and has a producer credits for his work with The Presidents of the United States of America and Tokyo Dragons. Ben Verellen started Verellen Amplifiers in 2000 and now has a full-time staff churning out hand made custom tube amplifiers for some of the most respected artists in rock and metal. He also fronts Helms Alee, a rock band based in Seattle.

Don’t get caught with crappy tone and blown out speaker – let these two masters show how to take care of your gear and get the best possible sound.


Patrick Marc

This is a fantastic course. I was forever looking up Youtube videos on how to set up all of my guitars for different things, and opinion varies wildly on-line, so it's really great to have these videos detailing the entire process in clear and easy terms. The information on the amplifiers is intensely interesting too. Fantastic!

Alan Williams

Excellent course. Slow start with the guitar set up but Kurt knows his stuff so worth watching it to the end before deciding you don't like it. I came across valves (tubes) at the age of 12 (I'm 66 now) and it was a great refrresher for me. Ben really knows his stuff but he can put it into layman terms that are easy to understand. I definitely recommend this course.

Andrew Synowiec

I bought this course for the amplifier section and skipped straight there. It's fantastic. Right at the perfect level for me, a newbie DIY-er with a few pedals, a kit amp and an Electronics 101 course under my belt. Well done! I'll update my review if I have time to watch the guitar section.