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What to Do When a Bass Guitar Needs Minor Repairs

4 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Maintaining a Bass Guitar

At some point, your bass is going to need some repairs. You can do many minor repairs on your bass yourself in order to keep it in top-notch playing condition. The trick is knowing which repairs you can tackle and which you should turn over to an expert.

The connections

The parts of the bass guitar are held together in two ways: with glue and with screws. If anything that’s supposed to be glued comes apart, take your instrument to a qualified repairperson. There are specific glues that need to be used for each type of wood. On the other hand, if one of the screws comes loose, you can simply screw it back where it belongs.

There are many different sizes and types of screws on your bass; most have Phillips heads. Buy a set of screwdrivers at the hardware store and make sure that you have a perfect fit for each screw on your bass.

The finish

The finish is the thin glossy layer of lacquer that seals the wood of your bass. The finish serves a function: It protects the wood from severe changes in humidity. Low humidity makes the wood brittle and prone to cracking; high humidity causes the wood to swell and warp.

Over time, a bass can get dings and cracks in the finish. If you want that perfect look back, you have to take your bass to a pro for refinishing, which can be costly. If you don't need perfection (or simply aren't willing to pay for it), seal the cracks with colorless nail polish or match your bass’s color with a small bottle of model paint from a toy store.

Scratches on the back of the neck can be very irritating and distracting when you play. To restore that nice satin feel, repair small scratches by rubbing the entire length of the neck up and down with OOOO-grade (superfine) steel wool. If you still feel the scratch or if it is just too deep, have a repairperson refinish it.

Don’t get too used to sanding the scratches off the neck of your bass. No matter how gentle you are, you'll eventually sand off all the finish. If that happens, you’ll need to get the neck refinished.

The electronics

Keep in mind that the electronics on a bass guitar are very complex. There is really only one type of "repair" you should attempt on the electronics of a bass. If you hear crackling when you turn the knobs, try turning the knobs vigorously back and forth. Sometimes this eliminates the problem. But if that doesn’t do the trick, you'll need to take it to a pro.

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