In the last article we looked at tools you should take with you on a gig – this time we’ll take a look at things that you wouldn’t necessarily take to your regular Friday night gig at the local pub, but should have available at home, or if you’re going on tour.
On The Bench:
1. Soldering Iron. Soldering irons are your friends. A cheap one is usually fine for doing running guitar and cable repairs, but treat yourself and buy a stand with a little sponge on it too (Make the sponge damp and use it to clean the hot solder off the iron) and a solder sucker to remove unwanted hot solder.
It will take a bit of practice to get good with making solder joints, but if you can make and fix your own cables you’ll save a fortune, and guitar electronics are normally easily fixed too.
Be warned though, once you get good with it your mind will drift to the idea of ‘modding’ circuits and pedals, and that way madness lies… Oh, and don’t forget to buy some nice solder too!
2. Multi Meter/Cable Tester. These are great. As well as testing current, components etc, a multi meter can be used to test cables, although a dedicated cable tester will make it easier to see if your cables have a short or something equally troubling.
3. Portable Table Vice. Not essential, but really useful as a ‘third hand’ when you’re soldering.
4. Side Cutters. Get a set of these little snips so you can trim wires, cut components from boards, trim your finger nails etc…
5. Pliers. Smallish ones, to hold stuff with.
6. Tweezers. Because at some point you’ll drop a grub screw somewhere awkward to get at.
7. Allen Keys. You don’t need a whole set, but at the very least you should have all the sizes you need for every allen bolt on your guitars. Set your action! Adjust your truss rod! Impress your friends!
8. Socket Set. Again, you won’t need a whole set, but try and get ones in sizes to tighten up jack sockets on pedals and guitars, and one for your truss rod, if it needs one.
9. Screwdrivers. Get a few in different shapes and sizes, especially ones that are the right size for your gear.
10. Glue. Sometimes things break, and it’s nice to be able to fix them quickly, so get some super glue. Maybe put it in a little bag though, in case it leaks in your bag and sticks all your other tools together. Trust me, it happens…
11. Pencil. Get a cheap propelling pencil and put the softest leads you can buy in it. Then each time you change your strings, draw in the grooves on the saddles and the nut, as the graphite in the pencil acts as a dry lubricant and helps stop your strings sticking, and hopefully breaking.
12. Pots. Small pots with lids and a couple of tops from aerosol cans to put screws/nuts in when you’re fixing things.
There will be other things you’ll find you need, but these are the basics for doiing your own repairs. You’ll save money, and learn things about how your gear actually works.