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Most guitar repairs deal with three things: the guitar neck, fretwork, and string buzz. The majority of these repairs (with a little patience) can be performed at home. (Note: these repairs apply to the acoustic guitar only.)

First, the guitar's neck: Most guitar necks over time will warp because of the constant string tension. If your guitar has become harder to fret (pushing the strings down with the left hand to create chords), it may be a sign that the neck needs adjustment. To check for warping, remove the guitar strings from the bridge, not the tuning keys; this way, you can put them back on without restringing. Take a yardstick and lay it edgewise across the neck. It should lie almost evenly across the frets with only a very slight V bend. A perfectly straight neck is not desireable as it will result in fret buzz. If not, then the neck needs adjustment.

Now that you have established that the neck is warped, check for a hex nut inside the body of the guitar or under a little coverplate in the headstock (the part of the guitar where the tuning keys are found.) This hex nut is connected to a metal rod called the trussrod. The trussrod runs through the neck of the guitar. By tightening or loosening the trussrod, you can adjust the neck.

To adjust your guitar neck, you need to tighten the trussrod by turning the nut clockwise. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? But wait. If you overtighten it, you can break the neck and that would be a bummer. So, turn the nut one eighth turn clockwise and let it sit overnight. In the morning, check the neck with your yardstick. If it is still warped, do the procedure again each day until the neck is straight. I know this may take awhile, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Now that the neck is straight, the next step is to check for uneven frets. Often you will hear “buzz” in your guitar caused by loose frets. To check for loose frets, press the ends of each fret with the tip of your finger and check for movement. Since you will have to press down hard, I suggest you use the point of pliers, but be careful. To repair loose frets, first determine which end is loose, place your guitar on its side, and hold down the loose fret. Use one drop of super glue or similar product and let it run down between the fret and the fingerboard holding the fret down while it dries. Again, this is not a hard procedure but if you are careless, you will cause more damage than what you had to begin with.

Straightening the neck and gluing down loose frets should take care of any string “buzz” you may have. However, if after performing the above repairs you still have string buzz, you may need to adjust the action. Adjusting the action is simply lowering or raising the string height above the fretboard. Remove the guitar saddle (the white plastic piece that the strings ride on) and place a piece of thin plastic inside the bridge where the saddle sits. This will raise the strings above the fretboard and hopefully stop the string buzz. This will take some trial and error because you may raise it too high and make the fretting harder. So take your time and when it feels right, stop. To adjust the action on an electric guitar, screw in or out the hex nut located under each string on the bridge.

So there you have it. The basic repairs you can do yourself. As with anything, it will take time and patience, but it’s a good feeling knowing you did it yourself.