I have a strat that has some high frets. Under two of them, I can slide a piece of paper. From what I read, that means they need to be reseated. Ultimately, I can't get the action as low as I'd like. It has a 9.5" radius so I feel like I could make it lower if it weren't for those two frets causing buzz.
This puts me at a crossroads. Generally, I take care of my own instruments. Setups are pretty easy and I can tune the guitar how I like. However, I don't have any clamps or even a workbench. Yes, I sit on the floor and deal with leg pain.
My question is: should I just pay someone to do the fretwork or should I invest in some tools? I already have a few essentials: 1200 grit sandpaper, a metal ruler, feeler gauges, etc. Enough for a setup and basic maintenance.
Do you think it's worth it to step it up and get a sanding block, clamps, glue, files, etc. or will it be better to just take it to someone whenever one of my instruments needs more work? How open do you think the guy will be to teaching me/letting me watch/letting me pay him for advice?
I do some very basic work too since I just like working with instruments... but for me there comes a point where I won't tackle bigger jobs for all kinds of reasons and one is the cost of tools etc. I'm sure you know of StewMac.com and their videos. I watch all that come my way but for some jobs, I don't ever plan on doing the work...but it is tempting.
If you think you might do more work than your own guitars, it might be worth it to start investing in a bench (I just put an old bath towel on my bench and roll up another smaller one to support the neck) and some tools and do some side work. I have some friends that give me their guitars to restring, clean up the fretboards and lightly dress and/or polish the frets, work on electronics etc. just because they won't do it themselves.
Your idea of paying another tech to teach you is good of you find the right guy. Working as an apprentice or even going to a guitar school or class might work too. And/or find some cheap guitars in need of TLC maybe even make a few bucks reselling them. I have a buffing wheel that can take scratches out with rubbing compound etc. so there's a lot you can do. Bottom line, you can do a lot yourself and it's especially worth it if you have enough time to do enough work to get really good at it.
Thanks, rock. So far, I've done my own setups with relief, action, and intonation. Recently, I got some oil and sandpaper and cleaned up my fretboard. Also, I've replaced electronics and hardware. Everything else is uncharted water.
The place I'm going to go is the same place Slash bought his original Les Paul copy. It's the one on Appetite so that's cool. I'm not sure if it's the same guy but maybe. I'll have to ask.
While I'm pestering him about history, I'll see what he says about learning. I've thought about taking a few classes as well as buying a cheap eBay kit or getting my mitts on a Harley Benton or whatever.
I'll let you know how it's going. First we're going to build a few more acoustic panels. After that, we'll see. I go to the place on Monday.
The update is that the guy there, Jim Toole (Foote?) I think his name is, didn't sell the guitar to Slash directly. I guess his manager came in and the guy who sold it has since died. Still, the irony isn't lost on me how much money that fake Les Paul must've made Gibson.
The route we're taking is to get that bench you mentioned. The diversion which popped up is humidity so we just received our dehumidifier. Wood is a demanding sponge.
Interesting saga about that LP copy. I knew nothing of it at all so thanks for bringing it up. Building a guitar from scratch is quite a project. 20 some years ago I read a book by Melvyn Hiscock and started building a guitar but got side tracked by a move to a new house. I did start making neck blanks on a band saw and making a fret slot cutting jig but that's about as far as I got. But even if you're not planning on building one, Melvyn's book might still be worth a read. Realistically, it's probably better honing your luthier's chops working on existing instruments but I guess you can start building them them too.
Yeah, it's good to have a place to work even if it's not dedicated for only guitar work. Yeah, controlling humidity extremes is a very good idea.
Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, cutting blanks etc. is certainly over my horizon. Frankly, all I want to do is buy a new Jazzmaster but I'm using that as the proverbial carrot. I feel like there's something wrong about buying a new guitar when I can't even fix the ones I have.