How to Create a Guitar Maintenance and Repair Tool Kit

By Mark Phillips, Jon Chappell, Hal Leonard Corporation

Assemble a permanent tool kit containing all the tools you need for your guitar. Don’t “cannibalize” this set if you’re doing other household fixes. Buy two sets of tools — one for general use and one that never leaves your guitar case or gig bag.

Look at your guitar to determine what kind of tools you may need should something come loose. Determine (through trial-and-error) whether your guitar’s screws, bolts, and nuts are metric or not.

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • A set of miniature screwdrivers: A quick inspection of the kinds of screws on an electric guitar reveals different-sized Phillips-head and slotted varieties in several places: the strap pins, the pickup cover, the pickguard, the tuning-machine mounts, the set screws (the screws that hold the tuning button to the shaft), the string retainers (the metal devices on the headstock — between the tuning posts and the nut — that hold down the strings on Strats and Teles), the volume and tone controls, and the on-the-neck back plates.

  • A miniature ratchet set: You can also find several places for nuts: the output jack and the tuning-post collars (hex-shaped nuts on top of the headstock that keep the posts from wobbling). A miniature ratchet set gives you better leverage and a better angle than does a small crescent wrench.

  • Hex keys/Allen wrenches: The truss rod takes its own tool, usually a hex key, or Allen wrench, which usually comes with the guitar if you buy it new. If your guitar doesn’t have one (because it didn’t come with the guitar when you bought it or it’s gone missing), get the right one for your guitar and keep it in the case at all times.

    Floating bridge systems, including those by Floyd Rose, require hex keys to adjust the saddles and other elements of the assembly. Keep these devices on hand in case you break a string.