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Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

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Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby trikibasey2 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 10:26 am

I was recently considering reading up and tuning up to become a guitar tech. I've been playing guitar for years and know some of my way around improving a guitar but thought I'd try to find out any advice or books/guides other people have used to help them.

What's essential for all guitar techs to know? What essentials are needed tool and gear wise?
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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:08 am

Welcome to the forum :thumbup:

'Guitar Tech' can mean anything from the guy who tunes and hands the guitar to the player on stage up to the guy who does full setups and repairs (and probably builds guitars in his spare time). How are you hoping to be employed as a guitar tech?
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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby zenguitar » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:34 pm

When I started in the late 1980's there was very little information available. And much of that was of poor quality or simply wrong. Around '89-'90 I took a year's evening classes at The London College of Furniture in Modern Fretted Musical Instruments. A couple of years later I completed a full time course at The Totnes School of Guitarmaking with the late Norman Reed (one of the finest teachers I've ever known).

In those days there were few specialist tools, you had to learn how to adapt and modify your own.

Today there is a wealth of good information online and in print. However, there's still a vast amount of dubious, poor, and simply wrong information out there. Some of which is propagated by people who really should (and do) know better; but there are magazines to fill advertisers to appease, and YouTube channels to fill.

The first thing you need to decide (as Sam has pointed out) is what exactly do you mean by a Guitar Tech?

Then you need to be prepared to re-appraise your existing skills and knowledge. I was very fortunate when I started because my self taught understanding of the mechanics of guitar set-up was essentially right. But others on the same courses who worked it out differently (or were taught by a guitar teacher) had a lot of unlearning to do before they got it right.

The best advice would be to look at a short guitar making course. A number of reputable guitar makers offer something along those lines and they offer a number of benefits. You get the principles laid out clearly, you get the opportunity to benchmark your existing knowledge to see what you worked out right and what need to re-assess, and you get to develop a relationship with a skilled pro who could become a trusted source of advice and support in the future.

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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby adrian_k » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:30 pm

zenguitar wrote:
The best advice would be to look at a short guitar making course. A number of reputable guitar makers offer something along those lines and they offer a number of benefits. You get the principles laid out clearly, you get the opportunity to benchmark your existing knowledge to see what you worked out right and what need to re-assess, and you get to develop a relationship with a skilled pro who could become a trusted source of advice and support in the future.

Andy :beamup:

I waited for Andy to reply before adding to this thread as he's the man, but this (above) is what I would have said. It's the only way to cut through all the (mis)information that's out there. There are multiple ways to do things, you need the opportunity to develop your basic approach and that involves being in an environment where you can ask - nay be expected to ask - dumb questions, and to make some mistakes safely.

One thing is for sure - you don't need all the tools that Stewmac say you do. :mrgreen:

{edit} But you did ask for resources. If you can find a copy of Dan Erlwine's book "Guitar Player Repair Guide" it's a pretty good read.
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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby CS70 » Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:07 am

trikibasey2 wrote:I was recently considering reading up and tuning up to become a guitar tech. I've been playing guitar for years and know some of my way around improving a guitar but thought I'd try to find out any advice or books/guides other people have used to help them.

What's essential for all guitar techs to know? What essentials are needed tool and gear wise?

On a different angle, if you want to do that for a living, the main thing is to establish a network of customers who know about you and repeatedly come for your services. Goes without saying that your work must be top notch, so the other comments are very relevant.. but a business is built on customers, not skill alone.

Musicians in general (and guitarists in particular) are a gregarious bunch and often quite traditionalist, so getting to know people and word of mouth are fundamental, as it is building a reputation.

A friend has developed a good business as guitar/bass tech/repairer/builder starting with putting out handwritten paper "ads" in guitar shops and offering relatively low prices for excellent work. He's also a bass player and used to work in guitar trade, which helped networking. It took a few years but now he's making a good living exclusively from that.
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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby ef37a » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:07 am

One thing you must be wary of in any 'repair' business is time wasters.
These are people that will turn up and drink your coffee or beer and chat for hours and 'promise' to bring a guitar in sometime for you to work on...never do.

I strongly suggest you have a deposit scheme. I would say £30 or so, non refundable to cover your initial inspection time and other fixed costs. If you don't do that you can soon end up with a room full of guitars you don't own and cannot get the punter to collect and pay for.
Make yourself VERY conversant with the current 'Uncollected Goods' regulations. Of course, friends and people you have built a rapport with can be excepted.

I don't know how much experience you have in dealing with Joe Public but if not much, steel yourself for some shocks! You will need the patience of a saint.

Sorry to seem so cynical but I have seen many service businesses go under over the years because the owners were afraid of offending potential customers. If anyone bristles at a 30quid deposit they are not likely to want to pay much more for the whole job!

And, quote for fixing EVERYTHING. Even if the guitar just came in for a fret dress some will expect that noisy pot to be replaced. IN the quoted price of course!

Dave.
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Re: Advice for becoming a Guitar Tech?

Postby adrian_k » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:30 pm

ef37a wrote:One thing you must be wary of in any 'repair' business is time wasters.
These are people that will turn up and drink your coffee or beer and chat for hours and 'promise' to bring a guitar in sometime for you to work on...never do.

Haha yes and then moan about you to their friends that you always seem to be sitting around chatting and no wonder repairs take so long..... :bouncy:
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