Minor DIY Repairs for Your Bass Guitar - dummies

By Patrick Pfeiffer

You can do your own minor repairs to your bass guitar to keep it in top-notch playing condition — tweaking a few screws, touching up a bit of finish, soldering a couple of electronic connectionszzzzzzzzzap!…well, maybe not the electronics.

The screw(s)

The parts of the bass guitar are held together in two ways: with glue and with screws. A luthier (a person who builds stringed instruments) uses specific glues for each type of wood on the bass. If anything that’s supposed to be glued comes apart, take your instrument to a qualified repairperson.

If, on the other hand, a piece of hardware comes loose or starts rattling, you can simply screw it back where it belongs. Just remember one thing: Your bass has an array of different-sized screws. Most of the screws are of the Phillips variety.

Buy a set of screwdrivers at the hardware store and make sure you have a perfect fit for each screw on your bass. The reason for this is simple: If you force a screwdriver that doesn’t fit into a screw, you’ll end up stripping the head of the screw…and then you’re really screwed.

If you don’t feel comfortable attaching the screws to your bass, don’t mess around. Take your precious instrument to a qualified repairperson.

Take care of the finish

The finish is the thin layer of lacquer that seals the wood of your bass. The finish usually is glossy; it looks beautiful when the instrument is new. The finish also 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.

Collisions between your bass and other objects may leave dings 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’re not concerned with the look, or you think battle scars are cool, seal the cracks with colorless nail polish. You can also match your bass’s color with a small bottle of model paint.

Be vigilant in protecting the back of your bass neck. If you scratch it, you’ll be able to feel the scratch when you’re playing. If the scratch is shallow, try to get it out by rubbing the entire neck up and down with 0000-grade (superfine) steel wool.

Sand the entire length of the neck. The steel wool will give the back of the neck a nice satin feel. If you still feel the scratch, have a repairperson refinish the neck of your bass.

Don’t get too used to just sanding the scratches off the neck of your bass. Each time you sand the neck, even with the finest-grade steel wool, you take a layer of finish off. Eventually, none of the finish will be left, and you’ll need to get the neck refinished. Of course, you’ll be better off if you don’t get your bass neck scratched in the first place.

Leave the electronics to the experts

If you hear crackling when you turn any of the knobs, it may be a minor problem. Just turn the knobs vigorously back and forth to eliminate the crackling. If that doesn’t do the trick — you guessed it — take it to a pro.

With the advent of high-tech basses that feature complex pre-amps and pickups, you shouldn’t touch the electronics. Take your bass to a pro to have any electronic problem fixed — unless, of course, you have a graduate degree in electrical engineering.