AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - April 13, 2017

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Dave LaBounty is a trained luthier. He brought in his personal Fender Telecaster to demonstrate how to do basic troubleshooting, change strings, and set up the guitar. First, he went through common issues and solutions.

First, there may not be no sound coming out of the amp. Many guitars are active guitars that require a 9V battery. In this case, a simple battery change would solve the problem. Another common problem would be loose audio jack. In this case, soldering would be the solution.

Another common issue is buzzing. There may be too much gain in the signal chain—active electronics, pedal, or amp. Interestingly, a dying battery could also be the cause of buzzing and noise. Finally, the bridge ground may be broken. Electric guitar and bass have a ground wire that connects to the bridge. If this contact is broken, it will lead to buzzes. To diagnose this, the strings must be loosened and bridge removed.

The guitar may not stay in tune. In this case, there are several things to check. First, guitars are optimally built to be tuned to the standard A-440Hz tuning, so make sure the tuner is set to 440Hz. It may also have old strings that need to be changed. The strings may be hung up on the nut or saddle. Or, the machine heads may simply need replacing. The intonation and action can also affect the tuning, which Dave addressed next.

After inspecting the overall condition, he unwound all of the strings. He recommended this is the best time to wipe some linseed oil on the fretboard, since the strings won't get in the way. With the new strings on, he adjusted the truss rod so that the neck has a slight bow inwards. After the truss rod is set, Dave adjusted the string height so that there are minimal to no buzz.

Finally, he adjusted the intonation of each string so that the open and 12th fret notes are in tune, only octave apart. After the intonation adjustment and polishing, the guitar is ready to play!

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