As you begin to break into your local music scene and gig more and more frequently, you'll quickly find that establishing a good working relationship with your local guitar repair technician will go a long way. Here are a few guaranteed ways to ruin that relationship before it even begins.
1. Naggy customers
Remember when you were a little kid and you would ask, "Are we there yet?" from the back seat to annoy your parents? Well, it seems that some people never grow out of that. When you bring a guitar into the shop for any sort of work, your tech will let you know when you can expect the work to be done. Please don't be that guy who calls every three hours asking if the work is done yet. The date you're given is the date you should expect the work to be done by. Sometimes you get lucky, and the tech gets to your guitar early. What a pleasant surprise! And it should be just that: a surprise. Your tech will call you if the work gets done early. Climb out of the car seat, and learn some patience.
2. Unnecessary problems
You bring your guitar in for a repair. Maybe it's because of a mysterious buzzing or humming that won't go away. Maybe you're not hearing anything at all. You explain the problem to the repair tech. He plugs it in and behold! Everything works just fine. Confused? Surprised? Embarrassed? Good. You should be. Eliminate a potentially unnecessary trip by doing some basic troubleshooting: test your guitar with a different cable, plug it into a different amplifier, and for the love of all that is good in this world, please make sure your volume isn't all the way down.
3. Restringing guitars
If you're bummed out about the cost of having your guitar restrung every time you need a new set, maybe its time to take the hint: watch a five-minute long YouTube video, and learn to change your own strings.
Techs aren't charging for this task because they're greedy. They're charging for it because it's time they could be using to do actual valuable work. To some, this may seem like a no brainer, but shockingly, there are people who have been playing for years without ever learning to do this very basic task for themselves. Of course, the first time you need new strings, you might need some help with it, and that's okay. Maybe even the next time after, you've tried yourself but not quite gotten the hang of it yet. But this is not something that should be a regular expense for you.
You don't bring a car to a mechanic every time it needs gas. So stop bringing your guitar to a tech every time you need new strings.
4. Playing guessing games
Often times, a tech will need to replace strings in the process of a setup or repair. In order to do that, he or she will need to know what strings you would like. If you have been playing guitar for more than a few months, you should know the answer to this question. Not knowing what strings you play is kind of like not knowing what size shoe you wear.
"Regular" and "average" are not acceptable answers here. Neither is, "I think they come in a blue box." Your repair tech has better things to do than to play 20 Questions with you trying to extract this very basic information.
5. Giving a solution instead of a problem
If you tell a guitar tech that your guitar doesn't seem to be staying in tune as well as it should, he or she will work with you and troubleshoot to find a solution that effectively solves that problem. If you tell a guitar tech that you want a new bridge installed on your guitar, It's not his or her job to second-guess you. If that new bridge doesn't solve the problem that you never told him or her about, the tech has still done the work he or she was given, and you'll still be expected to pay for that work. Save yourself the guesswork, and let your tech know what needs fixing, instead of telling him or her to do what you hope will fix it.
6. Blaming the truss rod for every issue
To expand upon the previous point, please stop telling your tech about your truss rod. No matter what foreseeable problem there may be with a guitar, about 90 percent of all customers follow it up with, "I think the truss rod may need a slight adjustment." Mysterious buzzing coming from the D string? It's probably just the truss rod. Can't get your guitar to stay in tune? It's the truss rod. Wishing you had gone with a different color? Truss rod. Lay off the freaking truss rod. If every problem could be solved with a truss rod adjustment, instrument repair shops everywhere would have gone out of business a long time ago.
We shouldn't have to tell you how important a well-maintained instrument is to your success as a musician. Therefore, the happiness of the person maintaining your instrument should be just as important to you!
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As a performing musician, John Tyler Kent has played with a wide variety of artists for all kinds of audiences, from small clubs across the country to international music festivals. In addition to his work as a performer, Tyler has working experience in marketing, production, and composition.