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Getting Started Repairing Instruments

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Ok, so I've got and read the books, and I've been reading the forums. I'm ready for the next step; some practical work on guitars. The problem is that I'm having difficulty sourcing guitars.

I've had a look at eBay (I'm in Australia BTW), and found basically nothing. I guess postage would be more than the cost of a trashed guitar, so no suprises there. I've had a look in the Trading Post, and the cheapest I could find was $120AU (a little more than I'd want to be spending, my max would be $80-100 a guitar), apart from those crappy starter kit guitars, which are sold new anyway. I've also had a look at the local Cash Converters and found pretty much the same thing. Next stop is the pawn shops, but I'm not too hopeful about that either. So, question 1 is, what kind of places can you get crappy/trashed guitars that are good for repair practising? In fact, if anyone knows of an actual venue/event in Melbourne, Australia that would be awesome as well.

Second question is, is it worth buying some proper tools (ie nut and fret files) first up, or should I make my own/improvise? Do you reckon buying the tools is worth the money for a beginner, or should I make an investment once I've got some more experience and understanding?

Third question, any techs in Melbourne, Australia interested in taking on a very keen apprentice? I'll work for nothing! :D

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I found an Epiphone bolt-on neck acoustic out for the trash a few streets from me, then a couple months ago, someone else found the exact same model guitar out for the trash and gave it to me. Last winter, a lady gave me a 1961 Kay "thinline" hollowbody, because she was ready to throw it in the trash (she said it was only good for parts, because some black paint was worn off the neck). Recently, my wife found a spruce-top acoustic in the trash, in Germany. She says the back is loose in one corner.

I did my first neck-reset on a "folk" acoustic a friend bought at a yard-sale for $1.00.

I also had practiced my first fret-job on a good Fender, which was a huge mistake, so let that be a warning to you.

Pawn-shops here in the US are *usually* not a source for good prices on stuff. For some reason, they are able to hold on to the stuff forever and keep a high price tag on it.

I suggest if you would place an ad looking for old guitars, you just say you are looking for one guitar, so it doesn't look like you're trying to round up a supply for re-sale.

Shipping is pretty much out of the question if you are trying to keep costs for experimental repair subjects to a minimum. Packing a guitar is not that easy, and most people won't do it without some kind of compensation.

I say do all you can with you willingness to be an apprentice. I turned down opportunities to do that long ago, because I was even too much of a control freak back then.

The books and vidoes give you a jump start, if you don't have any experience. They're not all equal, so search for discussions on the various books/videos.

You'll have to use a mirror to read them, since you're down under and everything is backwards. :D

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Thanks for the info soapbarstrat. I think garage sales are an excellent idea, except you gotta find them and check it out for each guitar. I'll have a looky, but I'd prefer to find somewhere I can get a regular source from.

Haha, I'm trying to avoid refretting my only guitar at the moment! Although it stinks, I haven't got anything else to play if I stuff it up, which would be a total disaster.

Maybe I'll but a wanted to buy ad in the trading post.

Thanks again :D

Anyone have any other ideas?

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I'm in Melbourne too :D

I've been having the same problem, been trying to find cheap POS guitars from which to salvage necks etc, and the best I've found was a cash converters special with a jackson style headstock for $120. I even thought that was a bit pricey...especially when it fell off a shelf and the headstock snapped off....i guess i can practise my headstock repair...

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If you're going to hit garage sales on Saturday and Sunday mornings you better get up early and get there first. The things that are worth anything to you, like guitars, tools, etc. are usually gone within the first hour. The rest is a sad collection of knickknacks and baby clothes. I've made a few scores but only because I got lucky. I found a fully functional Jackson-49 tube tester for 5 bucks one day and an Este No. 3 plane for 5 bucks another day. Finding guitars even worth doing practice work on is mighty rare. But I still fantasize about finding a near mint '54 Tele for 50 bucks, :D.

Edited by Southpa
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I've wondered a few times if you can get really good deals on music equipment at those police auctions, where they sell unclaimed property, or wherever they get that stuff from. I've never gone to one, because I always hear about it after it happens, like on the news.

Quite the juggling act : to find something that CAN be repaired, yet not experimenting on something like a 50's Tele for $50

It would help to narrow down the types of repair, instead of " I want to do it all". I believe strongly in specialization. The ability to do a good *set-up* should be first on the list, and that works out quite well, because there's much less chance of doing irreversible damage.

Also, if you are just starting out, I can't imagine that you could buy all the tools needed for all the types of repair and set-up.

And I don't mean to get your wheels stuck in the sand with one specialized skill. You can get good at fret-work, then take up Neck-resetting and keep expanding from there.

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Your family and the people that know you can be a big help in finding axe-salvage. When I lived at home, everyone called my mom to say they were getting rid of a car or truck and did I want it. Got some real beauts that way. Now that I have graduated and live away from home, people call me with cars, guitars and reptiles (long story) that they think need a new home, other than a dumpster. They give me a lot of trash but 1 out of ten is a jem. Got a 12-string with only six strings and tuners on it for nothing and spent about $20.00 for 6 tuners and a decent set of strings and it is good to go. Let people know what you are doing and interested in and the supply of crap will follow. At least in my case.

Almost forgot, helped my aunt clean out her mom,s house and found a Carlson radio/phonograph that ways about 200 pounds and took it south with me. Plugged the Jackson into the "mag" RCA plug in the back and it is way cool! Shocks me when I reach for my beer but I think that can be fixed with the right line cord.

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