How to fix three of your guitar's most easily overlooked issues

(Image credit: Future)

Come on, be honest we've all done it – you electric guitar's volume knob is getting loose and inaccurate but… well if it gets any worse you'll do something about it. And anyway, you might end up scratching the guitar if you get the spanner out on that nut. Let's just stop this now, because Jim DeCola is here to show us how.

Our pals at the Gibson Gazette (who often get a lot of the company's release scoops first btw) have been revisiting the Master Luthier's series on guitar setups and general maintenance over the last few weeks and this stuff will never get old; Jim's truths are universal and can save you money, time and just make your playing life better. And I'm watching this one too because my Mustang's tone control is getting a little loose goosey.

Jim's illustrating things on a Les Paul above – which of course has twice the knobs to maintain as my Mustang. And a lovely flamed maple top to potentially scratch… ouch. We needn't worry though, he's got it covered. And toggle switches are also a focus here, as well as the output jack – all potentially troublesome areas.

Now these three-way switches and jack sockets can be a little more complicated, as I recently found with a Fender DuoSonic where I had to replace the whole switching unit. If you've got issues with switching between pickups it can be a soldering issue rather than a mechanical one, but checking for loose nuts should always be your first port of call. And the unwelcome extra movement of loose nuts under a pickup switch can actually cause this kind of electronic failure. Best nipped in the bud early then.

Guitar pots

(Image credit: Future)

Jim highlights this link between mechanical and electronic issues, as well as the tools you need to address control, jack and pot issues. It's a comprehensive tutorial as we'd expect from a pro, and using the right tools – or the best substitutes – Jim recommends should not be overlooked.

"It's a pretty simple repair that occurs quite often on guitars," says Jim of the jack socket especially. "If you do it properly, you won't have to do it as often, and if you have the right tools it just makes it a lot easier."

Check it out in the Gibson video above – we certainly feel more confident dealing with these issues after watching it. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.