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Unread 01-10-2004, 01:44 PM   #1
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NEW TO GUITAR? Here's the top beginners tips from the Members of the Guitar Forum!

This get's to be the first stop for newbies. Kinda like a FAQ section for beginning gutiar, only in reverse, because we are posting our most popular and commonly posted tips to the commonly asked questions.

This way, we won't have all the redundancy of post topics where people keep asking "Any tips for a newbie?" and so on. Nothing wrong with those types of threads, but we get the same ones over and over so maybe we can handle them all here.

Some Groundrules.

1. Let's not turn this into a "What beginner guitar to get" thread. I will be making a non-specific suggestion along those lines, but that's it. I mean, everyone has their favorite, and we don't need any more debates about whether an LP is better than a Strat and so on. Apples and oranges, the lot.

2. Also, let's keep this thread here in Guitar. Even tho it will reference other topics in other forums (Theory, Amps, Effects, etc.), Guitar is sort of the hub where all this concerns come up and usually the first stop for many newbies, and the second for newbies who first post their concerns in Genernal Discussion.

Plus, this thread will link to the important and appropriately placed threads in other Forums, so that way there will be less moving around of threads because newbies can come here, see their concern addressed, and then follow the link to the correct forum, vs. just posting an inappropriate thread here, which then our long-suffering Mods have to go move to another thread.

Let's see if we can make their jobs easier! Love you guys! Thanks for all the great work!

3. No bashing, flaming, or debating anyone else's tips. "Well, I think that tip sucks and you're really stupid!!" Please. Not here.

If you want to debate a point, then start a new thread specific to that debate in the appropriate forum. Now, you can ask for clarification or refinement, but no debate. That said . . .

4. Do not post the following tip under any circumstance!!! "Go to your local store and try out every guitar in your price range, and go with the one that sounds/feels/plays/you-like/whatever the best". Two reasons. First, there is an extensive sticky thread on that very point, explaining why that advice doesn't work, as well meaning as it is. I link said thread in my second tip. Second, everyone, upon seeing this thread's title, will invariably want to jump in with that advice. No, we don't need 20 people posting that same advice, and no doubt verbatim at that.

5. I would suggest one significant, salient tip per post, so that we have greater focus and clarity. If we all were to post longs posts (I know of which I speak ) with 10 tips in the same post trying to, ironically, save space, we might inadvertantly bury a few tips in a rather verbose passage, and then other readers, not seeing those tips, might then redundantly post the same entire tip, instead of maybe just adding a bit to what was already posted.

6. If you want to post a link to a recommended website, then email me the link and a blurb. They will ultimately go here.

7. Nothing patently or blatantly commercial unless it's really cheap (like under $30) and it's the only one of it's kind. Like, with the Earvana Nut, there are no substitutes, unless you want to pay up to $200 for a highly specialized, licensed modification to your guitar. This is specifically referring to someone saying something like "Get this distortion pedal, it's the best distortion pedal ever!" when it costs $100 and there are four other pedals that sound just as good, but maybe aren't to your taste.

Also, Book, Video, and DVD recommendations are okay because they are comparatively cheap and we can always get more than one book, i.e. buying one book doesn't exclude or prohibit us from buying another.

Now, for "essentials", like straplocks for instance, yes, everyone should have them, but their are different brands that all cost about the same, so make a general tip, like with "straplocks" and then give different brands as examples, or say it like "well, get some strapslocks! They're a must. Kind of like Schaller or Dunlop." That way, we get the point but avoid debates about different brands.

If you want to do a comparison of differnet brands of "essentials", start another thread so it can get the attention it deserves.

Alright, that said, let's begin!

I'll start, with what I am sure will be a startling surprise for those who know me here.

Go get Fretboard Logic SE and read it. Click here to go to the thread and read about it.

The most important thing for a newbie is to master Guitar Mechanics, i.e. how you make all the chords, learn all the scales you need, and so on. That's top priority. After that, you're ready for Music Theory because you'll have all the materials you need for Music Theory. If not, you'll be endlessly posting on here asking how to make every chord in the encyclopedia, and more often than not how to make that chord at certain locations on the neck and so on.

BTW, while it is pretty all-encompassing, and covers about 95% to 100% of what you need to know, it shouldn't be the only book you ever get, not by a long shot. I see it as being the first. It just get's a lot easier after that.

That's my big one, more on the way.

Who else?

Nate, any Music Theory book recommendations? Myron?

Chesh

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Unread 01-10-2004, 02:02 PM   #2
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Second tip,

If you haven't bought your guitar yet, but are looking to get one and need some guidance, go immediately here!!

That's the thread explaining why the conventional wisdom advice to "Go to your local store and try out every guitar in your price range, and go with the one that sounds/feels/plays/you-like the best" is the worst advice you could ever get/give in the entire world of guitar buying.

If you've been around long enough, but not so long that you still qualify as a newbie, you'll get that advice over and over and over again, from very well meaning people who are just telling you on what they were told when they had those same questions.

I use to tell everyone the same thing as well, but then after being on here for a while, and really seeing that "advice" thru the 3rd person, I had a chance to really examine it.

Thus, the thread.

Read the first post all the way thru, several times, in fact, if it helps, and then look at the other posts.

We are still working on a good methodology, and I have some thoughts on it, but I want to make sure that they are sound before I post them.

But either way, the initial post can save you from making a costly $150+ mistake.

Chesh
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Unread 01-10-2004, 02:53 PM   #3
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Third tip,

Whatever guitar you ultimately get, lean towards a guitar that can be easily hotrodded.

That is, upgraded, improved, parts switched out, so on.

The reason being is that as you get better, and you have more financial "possibilities", let's say, you'll want to upgrade your gear. Well, if you paid $200 for your guitar, for what is an excellent guitar in terms of basic, sturdy construction, and you might look at a virtually identical guitar for $400 that has just a few extra perks, well, you might be able to buy those additional perks for comparatively only a few dollars. Like, you're saving up $400 for the next better guitar, and $200 worth of upgrades will give you twice as good a guitar as the $400 one you've been eyeing.

Now, in theory, any guitar can be hotrodded, but some guitars like MIM Strats and what not make it easier. Either way, keep that possibility in mind as you research your future guitar.

Check out all the threads on hotrodding for tips and ideas.

Chesh
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:01 PM   #4
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Now, for those who have read the above tip and immediately thought, "Oh no!!!! What about the warranty!?! You'll VOID THE WARRANTY!!", I include here a treatise and analysis I did of this very subject.

Now, understand, I am not advocating that anyone do anything that patently voids a warranty, but then again, as you'll see, there really isn't much to void unfortunately.

What do I mean by that? Well, read along . . .




Hot-rodding is the great equalizer. With it, you are not limited in any way, shape, or form to what kind of gear you have to get, because of "stock availability". You have total freedom to play the gear that YOU want to play, totally to your spec. That's how I ended up building guitars in the first place. I had a Squier Bullet that had a plywood body, but decent everything else, so I thought I would do the ultimate hotrod and change out the body! Well, one thing lead to another, and before I knew it, I had a totally new guitar (which looked nothing like a Bullet!).

Hot-rodding is your friend!!

Now, there are those individuals who, upon hearing the term Hot-Rodding, play the waranty card (the same card they should have already sent in if they really cared about registering it) and say "No, don't do that! You'll void your waranty!!".

Okay . . .

Let's dig into this a little more and really analyze this.

Here is some of Gibson's warranty from the website.

Quote:
Your new Gibson instrument is warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the original retail purchaser, subject to the limitations contained in this warranty.

[Then, later on . . . ]

THIS WARRANTY DOES NOT COVER:

yadda yadda yadda

6. Any instrument that has been subjected to extremes of humidity or temperature.

more yaddas, then . . .

8. Any instrument that has been purchased from an unauthorized dealer, or upon which unauthorized repair or service has been performed.
9. Any factory installed electronics after a period of one (I) year following the original date of purchase.
Well, first of all, let's realize one thing here. If a guitar is built right, and treated well, there should never be any warranty issues of this nature. Gutiars are incredibly durable, and you would have to seriously abuse it before they would start to break down.

We're talking about a solid piece of wood here!! And metal. And plastic. These are very durable things indeed. That's why so much stuff is built with them!! (Guitars obviously being no exception.) If you know what you are looking at, you can pretty much spot faulty craftsmanship.

So, really, the warranty is a non-issue. That's why Gibson (and perhaps Fender, but they didn't have warranty info on their site . . . funny, you'd think they would) can offer these "Lifetime" warranties. They know darn well that there is absolutely nothing that you can do to their guitar to damage it, in any way, shape, or form. The only things you could, in theory, do to your guitar would be covered (read: cover their assets) by the limitations. So, it totally looks like they are covering your back, when, really, they are covering theirs.

Now, nothing wrong with that. You have to draw the line somewhere. I'm just saying not to let that get in the way of you modding your guitar to fit your needs. I mean, isn't that why you bought it? To fit your needs?

That all said, let's look at some interesting things in the warranty. (I'll assume, for practicality sake, that Fender's warranty is probably identical. Heck, I'll bet $$$ they use the same lawyers.)

Quote:
6. Any instrument that has been subjected to extremes of humidity or temperature.
Well, that covers the truss-rod. The only persnickity thing on a guitar is the truss-rod. ("persnickity" = techincal term ) That's also the only thing that can't be replaced. Well, it can, but it is a pain and a half!!!! A Witch with a capital B! Way pricey. They have to take the fretboard off, then pry out the trussrod, and replace it. They would just assume replace the neck, which on a Gibby also won't be cheap. On a Fender, they will, most likely.

So, if the truss-rod is bad, then odds are, the neck won't work (i.e. hold tension) and you'll find that out straight away. If, however, you have problems later, they can always say that it was extreme temperature, like having left it in your car on a hot day or something.

Not that they would purposefully defraud their customers, but I have heard tons of horror stories about warranty loopholes and how companies got out of paying up.

Other than that, the truss rod is the only real issue, if any.

Quote:
8. Any instrument that has been purchased from an unauthorized dealer, or upon which unauthorized repair or service has been performed.
Well, that pretty much eliminates everyone except Brook Mays, GC, or Sam Ash, (Musician's Friend?) plus a few guitar boutiques.

What does that mean in real world terms?

Well, how many posts have I seen on here about getting gear on Ebay? Tons, no doubt. Well, who here thinks that Ebay is a warranteed/authorized dealer? How about all of your local mom and pop shops? Very few of them, if any are actually authorized Gibson dealers, or Fender, Iby, and so on. So, you can get a brand new guitar there, or in excellent condition, and you can forget about any warranty coverage, period.

Also, check out the bit about only sending your gear to "authorized dealers". That pretty much precludes your friendly neighborhood Luthier or Guitar Tech down the street, unless, of course, he's an "authorized warranty repairman." That probably precludes that really knowledgable guy at your local shop. Also, GC's don't have repairmen. What if you live out in East BumbleFudge? What if you have to send your guitar to some guy two states away, just because he's "authorized"? Well, you're definitely paying for it (so much for the benefits of the warranty) and then you have effectively voided the warranty!! Remember? Any instrument upon which unauthorized repair or service has been performed has been voided. Now, I would hope that that sort of thing would be determined on a case by case basis, and within the context of matters both customary and reasonable, but, if not, they are covered legally.

So, what is an unauthorized repair? Well, how about a nut job? What about the electronics? What about a blown pot? You could spend $20 to have it repaired, or $50 to ship it to the warranty center so as not to void the warranty.

BTW, speaking of electronics, consider this:

Quote:
9. Any factory installed electronics after a period of one (I) year following the original date of purchase.
Interesting, yes? The only parts that can breakdown and be problematic in a real, practical way, are only covered for ONE YEAR!?!

See, guitars are not like regular electric appliances, except in one way. They don't have sophisticated, delicate, brittle moving parts or components, or circuits, like toasters, VCR's, and microwaves, except for the guitar electronics themselves. And actually, guitar electronics are usually more durable than all those other things. But you still get blown pots from time to time, or lousey, cheap wiring, and so on. For instance, a poorly soldered joint/connection could come loose, in which case the sound can go out on your guitar. Something might ground out. And that kind of repair is only covered for one year, which means you won't likely get any coverage for it, because it will probably work it's way loose after a year or so of playing. (As you turn the knobs, you apply a micronic amount of torque, which, on lesser parts can wear them out after repeated turnings, like turning your volume down to kill the sound.)

So, regardless of warranty, you're paying for that. Period. Tho, here's my question, if the electronics go on your guitar, after warranty no less and you have to pay for it, do you still have to send it to the warranty center? Even tho it isn't covered, and you have to pay for it, will having your local guy fix it - like replacing a $2 pot - will that count as an unauthorized repair? Will that void your warranty, even tho the repair wouldn't have been covered by the warranty? Hmmmmmmm . . . Don't know, but that would make for an interesting Catch-22. Not like you can just call up Orville Gibson and straighten that out. I'd like to know how they handle that. I mean, will the customer service dept. tell you to talk to the authorized tech, and he, in turn, will tell you to talk to the customer service department?

And, here's the biggest kicker of all!!!!! You guys will love this one!!!

Have you ever noticed how many do-it-yourselfers we have on here? Tons! All the way from Nate doing his on Tele work, all the way to some newbies trying to tweak their trusses. Well, who here is an authorized repairman for Gibson (Fender, Iby, etc.)? Anyone? I know I'm not. I'm betting Nate isn't either. Hmmmmmm. Isn't that interesting. If a single person on here even thought about trading out a blown pot on their Gibby, or maybe getting a better quality switch for their Tele, that would void the warranty, no?

Notice that I have not mentioned hot-rodding once in this whole section of this post on warranties? We are just talking about basic functioning of the guitar.

Now, I am not trying to make Gibson, or anyone else, out to be some big faceless corporation who doesn't care about their customers, but they are covered from every angle (which gives me pause to wonder), and that warranty doesn't strike me as very valuable. The most vulnerable parts are only covered for a year, anything that happens to the guitar is not covered, any truss rod issues can be written off as extreme temperature, the most durable parts that will probably last forever are covered for the life of the ORIGINAL OWNER (so much for "resale" value) and you can only buy from limited stores, meaning buying at retail price, or whatever you can haggle. Not to mention that you can't touch it, nor can anyone else who hasn't been anointed with the imprimatur of "authorized" by Gibson (Fender, so on).

There's really not much there to void, is there?




Well, like I said, I don't advocate carelessness nor recklessness, but if you want to make an improvement to your guitar, that's something you can definitely do without fear of voiding something which really doesn't have much to void.

Chesh
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Last edited by CheshireCat; 01-13-2005 at 12:04 PM.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:21 PM   #5
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Fourth tip,

Get a set-up job from a competent, professional Luthier or Guitar Tech.

BTW, that does not constitute the guy who works at the local music store and is making a few extra bucks doing this and tell's you he's set up his own guitar and his friends guitars "millions of times!" Go to a pro who earns his living from this and has for at least fives years. Set-up jobs are his/her bread and butter, and he will know what he is doing.

Seriously, it's amazing what a little tweeking will do. Millimeters = miles. That small amount of professional tweeking will make a world of difference in the playability of your guitar.

Now, the question is, what is a set-up job?

A set-up job is when a Luthier or Guitar Tech sets up your guitar to play properly. Specifically, that includes adjusting the intonation, nut action, neck relief action, and sometimes pickup height.

Intonation - Specific scale-length from the witness point off of the nut to the witness point over the saddle piece. Intonation is adjusted by adjusting the saddle piece by moving it forward and backward. Typically, the 12th fret node harmonic is matched against the pitch of the fretted 12th fret.

Nut Action - String Height coming off the Nut. The higher it is, the harder it is to fret chords (millimeters = miles). Usually, the slot height is measured by fretting the string at the 3rd fret, using the 2nd fret (in reverse) and the nut as a straight edge, and then gauging the amount of gap between the string and the 1st fret. The Luthier then files the slot lower until there is barely a gap between the 1st fret and the string, but gap does exist. A business card between the 1st fret and the string makes a good guide as how deep to go.

Neck Relief Action - The amount of bow or curvature in the neck, which elevates unwanted buzz and rattle off of the frets by the strings. That is measured by fretting the strings at the 1st fret and the 12th fret, and then using the string as a straight edge, and then measuring the gap between the string and the 5th to 7th fret. The Relief is adjusted with a few turns of the Truss Rod.

Pickup Height - In the case of passive pickups, if the pickups are too close to the strings, they can magnetically drag on the strings, thus cutting down on sustain. The Luthier will usually adjust the pickup, backing it away from the strings just enough to eliminate mag-drag while at the same time maintaining output. This is not a problem with active pickups such as EMG.

This, collectively, is known as a set-up, and is often the difference between whether a gutiar is playable or unplayable.

Chesh
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Last edited by CheshireCat; 01-10-2004 at 07:00 PM.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:30 PM   #6
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Great tips. More good ones fall under the *add on's*. Make sure you know what your buying. What may work for your friend may not work for your set up or taste. The same goes for buying guitars but that's been covered.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:47 PM   #7
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OK......here is a tip for newbies! DO NOT......LEAVE YOUR GUITAR IN A VERY HOT OR ICE COLD CAR OR ROOM! Why? because the wood in guitars in general can either "bow" in the neck or "spiderweb" in the finish. Let me try to explain....I will deal with two extereme tempratures that can cause damage to a guitar.


1. DIRECT SUNLIGHT and heat in general....When you leave a guitar out in a car with the sun beating down on it, it can become affected by DIRECT SUNLIGHT! Direct sunlight is when the sun usually shines through the window onto the guitar case.....thus HEATING UP THE GUITAR INSIDE! This can have catostrophic consequenses!! Why? Because if it is an accoustic guitar, the glue can detach from the body and wood can become warped and make the neck when you look down it to "bow" or to have a slight curve in it. If it is a solidbody electric, the same thing can happen to the neck, but since the body is one piece nothing but the paint could be affected....BUT....the ELECTRONICS inside COULD BE! I have actually heard cases from guitar techs that worked on guitars left in hot tempratures where the SOLDER that held the electronics in place actually became LIQUIFIED! When this happens, the wires come loose and have to be resoldered! THESE EXAMPLES ARE VERY BAD FOR A GUITAR! These should be avoided at all costs!


2.FREEZING TEMPRATURES! As well as direct sunlight can have an effect on a guitar, so too can freezing cold have an effect on the wood of a guitar. How? If a guitar is left in a freezing car overnight and the temprature drops below zero and the guitar is suddenly brought inside and opened, the guitars finish could CRACK! Why? Because the temprature of the freezing cold car is different from the temprature of a room with heat. If you can, ALWAYS leave your guitar where it is warm, but not hot. What you need to do is bring it in from the cold and let it sit inside the case for AT LEAST 45 minutes to an hour BEFORE you open it up. If you really want to be on the safe side of things, I would suggest leaving it in the case for 12 to 24 hours, this will insure that the guitar will not be exposed to the warmer air too quickly and cause the finish to crack! It will also give the guitar time to adjust to the warmer tempratures!


In conclusion, the BEST temprature for a guitar is what YOU are comfortable with! Would YOU want to sleep in a car overnight with no heat and freezing tempratures outside? If not.... THEN BRING THAT GUITAR IN FROM THE COLD! Would you also like it to be the middle of summer even with the windows rolled down and sit in a car and sweat? If not...THEN BRING THAT GUITAR IN FROM THE HEAT! Most professional and semi professional people know this, but most newbies do not! Yes, it DOES matter where you put your guitar! Try to store it wherever you go in a place that has a temprature you will be comfortable with. This will ensure your guitars last you a long time!

Last edited by webe123; 01-10-2004 at 03:53 PM.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:52 PM   #8
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Jeesshh!! You know, we never think about that sort of thing, yet how many horror stories have we heard around here about guitars damaged from extreme temperatures!?!

Good one, Webe!!!

Keep them coming!

Chesh
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Unread 01-10-2004, 03:54 PM   #9
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Is it you, or is it the guitar?

This is something that happens to many, many new guitarists. They play their axe, and it just doesn't sound quite right. Now one of two things may pop up. 1)"I suck!" or 2)"This guitar sucks!". Now which one is true?

The best guitarist in the world can't make a crappy guitar sound better. Sure, it'll sound a lot better then if you played it, but an Asian import no-name brand crappy guitar is still a crap guitar whether in the hands of Jimi Hendrix, or a two year old. So a newbie gets a cheap guitar for his birthday. Now any experienced player looking at that guitar will notice that the strings are fearfully high off the fretboard, the strings haven't been replaced for decades, the frets are dented in, and it buzzes worse then a chainsaw when plugged in. Now the new guitar own doesn't realize this. What does the new player realize after ony a few short minutes of playing the simple G chord out of the elementary school guitar method book? This instrument is hard to play! So what does this person do? They might get discouraged and give up, or put themselves through a lot of unnessesary pain to play a sucky guitar. The more experienced guitarist, knows that it is the guitar's fault, but the newbie may not know this. So the advice? It might be the guitar that's preventing you from learning! Solution? Get a new guitar!

That expensive guitar once used by Eric Clapton won't suddenly make a newbie an incredible guitarist. Sure, it's a heck of a lot easier to play then that cheap 70's guitar picked up at a yard sale for $20, but face it, most newbs aren't as good as Eric Clapton! A newbie might tell you that they can't play on a certain guitar. You get a luthier to look at that guitar, and he'll tell you that it has perfectly low action, and it plays like a dream! So the advice? Don't blame all your problems on the guitar, your playing might need some improving!

So how do you avoid this dilemma? Get a luthier or guitar tech to asess the state of your guitar, then do a set-up on it. You'll be amazed at how much better it plays. If your guitar is beyond hope, then get a new guitar and get it set up. Then you probably can't blame the guitar for struggling on it. Problem solved.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:07 PM   #10
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Next tip... Find a local luthier or guitar tech. In the event that your guitar needs some maintainance done, needs an upgrade, or (OH NO!) breaks, these people are indespensible!
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:10 PM   #11
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Next tip... In case there is no local luthier/guitar tech, find a local experienced guitarist. There are plenty of us here on the boards to choose from.
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:12 PM   #12
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Rainer 123....(reply to "is it you or the guitar" post) VERY GOOD ADVICE! I almost quit guitar playing 24 years ago when I first started on guitar because of this! Back then , when I began, I didn't realize at the time that the strings were a mile off the fretboard! If I had of known to have someone to look it over that knew guitars.....it might have saved me a LOT of pain! I didn't give up playing because of that, but it sure made my life as a guitar player harder starting out until I got a better guitar!
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:39 PM   #13
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One of you should probably give an indepth explanation of what a Luither is, I had no clue before I came to these forums and the only basic understanding I have now is, they make custom guitars
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:46 PM   #14
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Luthier: One who builds fretted instruments.
Guitar Tech: One who modifies and maintains guitars.

A luthier is a person that builds guitars. A luthier will likely be able to repair/maintain most guitars, also.

What do you mean "indepth" explanation? I think the whole idea of someone being a luthier is quite simple...
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Unread 01-10-2004, 04:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorshipinWeirdo
One of you should probably give an indepth explanation of what a Luither is, I had no clue before I came to these forums and the only basic understanding I have now is, they make custom guitars
No problem.

A Luthier is someone who makes Stringed Instruments, most notably Guitars, but that can often include Mandolins, Banjos, and many times Violins, tho Violins and the Violin family is highly specialized.

A Guitar Tech, (Technician) is someone who services Guitars but doesn't actually build them, tho he can come close given how modular Guitars are.

In short, they are the Doctors of your Guitars, or Auto Mechanics, however you choose to look at it.

Chesh
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