Guitar repairs are a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ for guitar owners so having a collection of the basic repair tools on hand for minor jobs will be of great benefit. In this post we’ll discuss how to establish a guitar repair tool kit for working on your instrument whether you’re at home, or out on the town playing a gig…
If you enjoy doing your own basic guitar upkeep and you have an interest in doing your own general guitar maintenance, you will need to collect a few tools to get each job done.
With a few simple tools, some basic knowledge, (and patience), you’ll save yourself money and you’ll have the satisfaction of personally keeping your guitar in excellent playing condition.
This post will cover how to organize a guitar maintenance tool kit.
In order to gain a general understanding for setting up guitars you will need to arm yourself with some experience. Luckily, general maintenance is not complex. Most guitar players can handle many of the more common guitar repair and maintenance projects.
Fortunately, maintaining your guitar will not require a complete workshop. But, it will be necessary to have a few essential tools to help with moving through the different types of projects that fall within the context of, “general guitar repair.”
PRECISION SCREWDRIVER KIT:
I recommend starting with making sure you own a good quality, “Precision Screwdriver Set” (one that includes Magnetic Screwdrivers). These kits will generally include several different screwdrivers such as; flat-head and Phillips in large, medium, and small sizes.
You’ll need all of these (at some point), when working on guitar maintenance jobs that will require removal, repair, or just simply doing a few minor adjustments.
A precision screwdriver kit will help you with; pickguard screws, jack plates, neck parts, tuning key screws, bridge plate screws, certain truss rod covers, and bridge saddles. Having several sizes lets you handle most types of screws used on guitars.
NUT DRIVER SET:
Nut drivers are another great tool to keep in your guitar maintenance kit, so purchasing a decent quality “Nut Driver Set” is a definite must. These nut drivers will come in handy for; tightening output jacks, adjusting the tone and volume pots, removing and replacing switches, working on tuning key collars, and they can even be used for adjusting certain types of truss rods.
I’d suggest that you keep seven different driver sizes in your kit:
- 3/16″ and 11/32″ for switches
- 5/16″ for Gibson truss rods
- 1/4″ for Taylor, Guild, and other truss rods
- 1/2″ for most potentiometers and jacks
- 7/16″ for other input jacks and potentiometers
- 10 mm for tuning key collars
HEX KEY WRENCH SET:
A hex key, (Allen wrench or Allen key), is a simple tool that is used to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets in their heads. Owning a, “Hex Key Wrench Set,” is essential for adjusting your guitar at home and on the fly. To cover the wide array of hex-head nuts and screws that are found in most guitars you’ll want to have about 13 different sizes on hand.
You may not need all 13, but it’s a good idea to collect all the hex keys that fit your guitars. Here are the go-to hex keys that I recommend for your toolkit:
- Inches: .050″, 1/16″, 3/32″, 1/8″, 9/64″, 5/32″, 3/16″
- Millimeters: 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm
Having both metric and imperial (U.S.) sizes means you’ll be able to adjust most bridge saddles, truss rods, locking nuts, tremolos, and nearly anything else as well.
MOBILE GUITAR MAINTENANCE KIT:
When playing gigs or traveling to rehearsals it is always good to have a simple “mobile” guitar care kit with the common tools that you’ll need to make repairs on the go. It won’t compare to your at home workshop tools but the mobile kit will be helpful to make quick repairs in a pinch.
In the video, I show my own personal guitar care kit with a collection of tools that I have found to be valuable when outside of my workshop. The kit is nothing more than an old pencil case. In it I have the following items…
- Good quality flashlight
- Adjustable wrench
- Small pair of side-cutters
- String winder tool
- Allen wrench (for the guitar you have)
- Deep socket that fits your input jack nut
- Light oil for wood or lubricating parts
- Screwdrivers that fit your guitar’s parts
- Ear Protection
- .0000 Ultra fine steel wool
To really get things together most efficiently (with both your mobile maintenance kit and your “at home” guitar repair area), you’ll probably want to take it slow and get all of the various tools organized over time.
The tools that have been discussed here will more or less be the full group of tools that you’d require through your lifetime of owning guitars. However, if you decide to take things to a whole new level of guitar repair there will probably be additional wood-working tools you’ll want in the future.
Start with the tools that you need to maintain the instruments that you own right now. As your guitar collection expands, so will your needs and so will your interest level for conducting repairs and other related instrument maintenance projects.