Book Review: Teach Yourself Guitar Repair & Maintenance – Alfred Publishing

| November 30, 2010 | 19 Comments

Alfred Publishing’s “Teach Yourself Guitar Repair & Maintenance” is billed as the ultimate beginner’s guide to guitar maintenance and that is an apt description of it. In short, it’s a high quality guide on how to setup and adjust a guitar. However it’s not a guide to the repair of guitars, so the title is a bit misleading.

The author of this book is John Carruthers. John was for ten years the author of the guitar workshop column in Guitar Player magazine. For 40 years he has run his own guitar repair and consulting business, Carruthers Guitars, in Venice, CA. His credits include working with top guitar artists including Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour and Joe Pass. He has done consulting and prototyping work for Fender, Music Man, Yamaha, Ibanez, G&L and EMG. John definitely has the credentials to write a book on guitar repair.

This title comes in a book-only and a book/DVD version. Guitar Kit Builder reviewed the version that includes both a book and DVD. The DVD contains about an hour of instruction that pretty much follows the topics of the book. We found the DVD to be an invaluable companion to the book as it covers most topics in some better detail. The demonstrations are done on a variety of electric and acoustic instruments. The DVD is nicely produced with two cameras switching between close-up and regular positioning.

This book is well written and includes plenty of close-up photographs that appear to have been created just for this publication. We mention that because some similar titles use an abundance of manufacturer provided illustrations that don’t always capture the concept under discussion as well as the photographs in this title. Special notes and cautions are highlighted throughout, and the step by step directions are clear and concise. What this book covers, it covers well.

Let’s take a look at the table of contents to see what it does cover:


B. GENERAL SETUP (56 pages)
1. Changing the Strings
2. Truss Rod Adjustment
3. Adjusting the Action at the Bridge
4. Adjusting the Action at the Nut
5. Intonation
6. Cleaning & Polishing Your Guitar
7. Electronic Maintenance
8. Your Setup




As you can see from the contents listing, the book uses the term “repair” a bit loosely, and a more accurate title might have been “Teach Yourself Guitar Setup.” For most beginners that’s as much “repairing” as they should be doing. If you are a beginner, and want to know how to properly setup your instrument, this book and DVD are a great choice. However if you’re trying to do actual repairs – such as replacing frets, fixing a cracked finish or rewiring electronics – this is not your book, though it covers many of the fundamental skills needed. The electronics maintenance section is really a tutorial on the basics of soldering, which while good, doesn’t cover the repair of guitar electronics.

The strengths of this book are the general setup section – changing strings, truss rod, adjusting the action, intonation and cleaning – and also the Floyd Rose section. About one third of this book is devoted to the Floyd Rose Tremolo system, and in this area the author does a particularly good job. If you’ve got a Floyd Rose trem and want to understand more about how it works and how to adjust it, this is a great guide.

The book and DVD both feature a nice Setup Specifications Chart that gives the measurements for 12th-fret action, nut action and truss rod for both electric and acoustic instruments.

We recommend this title to anyone who wants to do setups and adjustments of guitars. This information will be invaluable to the beginner or anyone who wants to know how to do it right. We suggest that someone looking for a real repair guide seek other titles, which we’ll be reviewing in future editions of Guitar Kit Builder.

Category: Electric Guitar Kits

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  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    I have this book and I use it all the time to walk me through the basic adjustments I make on my LP. I don’t have the DVD but don’t think I really need it. I agree that it’s not really a repair manual.

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