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Trade Secrets! Issue 162 April 12, 2012
"I wired this guitar, but it didn't work. Can you fix it?"
Is it a good idea when a repair shop recommends that a customer try some do-it-yourself wiring? Erick Coleman's customer rewired a Les Paul, but ran into trouble. Now Erick's re-rewiring...
Trade Secrets! Issue 71 October 02, 2008
"Which binding tools should I choose?"
Erick Coleman answers a frequent question from customers: Which tools to use for routing channels for instrument bindings?
Trade Secrets! Issue 124 October 14, 2010
1955 Gibson TV finish: recreating that unique see-thru yellow
Erick Coleman fixes a chip on a 1955 Gibson TV Model, which means figuring out how to recreate that unique see-through yellow finish.
Trade Secrets! Issue 199 September 12, 2013
1966 Telecaster pickup torn down and rewound
Erick Coleman has a 47-year-old pickup that's nearly dead: It's making a little bit of sound, but not much. Erick opens it up to find the trouble, and we get a good view of the guts of this vintage Fender pickup before he rewinds it.
Trade Secrets! Issue 98 October 15, 2009
3 tips for cutting finely detailed custom inlays
Dan Erlewine's cutting a curvy script letter "L" out of pearl. It's a spidery-thin shape, so he uses some tricks to cut it cleanly without breaking. He also talks about his favorite headgear...
Product Instructions I-1611
3PDT Stomp Switch Instructions
How to install the 3PDT Stomp Switch as a true bypass in old and new effects pedals.
Product Instructions I-2000
3-way CRL Lever Switch
Installation and wiring diagrams for the 3-way CRL Lever Switch.
Product Instructions I-3191
3-way Lever-action Switch
Installation and wiring instructions for the 3-way Lever-action Switch.
Product Instructions I-2001
5-way CRL Lever Switch
Installation and wiring instructions for the 5-way CRL Lever Switch.
Product Instructions I-3192
5-way Lever-action Switch
Installation and wiring instructions for the 5-way Lever-action Switch.
Trade Secrets! Issue 172 August 30, 2012
A curious fact: why the 1970s Musicmaster Bass had such a thin sound
Erick Coleman opens up a 1973 Fender Musicmaster Bass and is surprised by what he finds!
Trade Secrets! Issue 195 July 18, 2013
A kitchen cutting board makes a great binding jig!
Dan Erlewine modifies a plastic cutting board from Walmart to solve a guitar binding problem. He needs four matching pieces of black-white-black binding, and he shows a clever trick for doing this. From the free Trade Secrets newsletter at
Trade Secrets! Issue 95 September 03, 2009
A knife in the back! Popping the back off a 1929 Gibson L-5.
Dan Erlewine's trying to pop the back off a pre-War Gibson, while keeping the binding intact. He hopes to put it back on the guitar just like snapping a lid back onto Tupperware. (Well, maybe not quite that easily...)
Trade Secrets! Issue 159 March 01, 2012
A neat trick for drilling perfectly centered holes in guitar tuners
Dan Erlewine shows how to put a round peg in a square hole, literally. Check out this handy drilling idea, and you'll probably find lots of uses for it in your shop.
Trade Secrets! Issue 165 May 24, 2012
A pain in the necks: Gibson doubleneck with a broken truss rod
Dan Erlewine has a Gibson doubleneck with a broken truss rod -- a problem that sends lots of guitars to the trash can. What will it take to rescue this one? The answer might surprise you: it takes 65 minutes of work.
Trade Secrets! Issue 177 November 08, 2012
A shrinking pickguard cracks the guitar top!
In Dan Erlewine's shop: This Martin D-35 has a cracked top due to the pull of a shrinking plastic pickguard. Dan fixes the problem and shows how to keep this happening from happening again.
Trade Secrets! Issue 170 August 02, 2012
A sign of truss rod trouble, and an easy solution.
Dan Erlewine with a common truss rod problem: an over-adjusted rod that just won't work anymore. Luckily, there's an easy fix!
Trade Secrets! Issue 81 February 19, 2009
A traveling guitar repair kit for duty in Iraq
Erick Coleman helps a serviceman put together a complete carry-all kit for service in Iraq with the Air Force Band.
Product Instructions A-DANERLEWINE
About Dan Erlewine's New Repair Videos
A brief introduction to Dan Erlewine and his new instructional repair videos.
Product Instructions A-DONMACROSTIE
About Don MacRostie
A brief introduction to Don MacRostie of Red Diamond mandolins.
Trade Secrets! Issue 7 December 07, 2006
Acoustic guitar pickups: installation problems to avoid
In this week's newsletter, bad sound from a good acoustic guitar pickup: the problem and the solution.
Product Instructions I-4783
Acoustic Neck Joint Routing Template Instructions
Routing instructions for acoustic neck joints.
Trade Secrets! Issue 64 June 26, 2008
Adding color to hide glue for an invisible repair
Dan Erlewine's got a neat trick for a mandolin repair, and he makes his pitch to get us all to join the hide glue club!
Trade Secrets! Issue 126 November 11, 2010
An emergency pickup transplant for Skeletonwitch
Erick Coleman gets an urgent call on a Friday night: the Heavy Metal band Skeletonwitch needs some custom pickup work in time to head to Ozzfest in 24 hours!
Trade Secrets! Issue 109 March 18, 2010
Are you supposed to slot Tune-o-matic bridge saddles?
Customers often ask how and why they should put slots in the saddles of their new Tune-o-matic bridge. Erick Coleman provides the answers in this issue of Trade Secrets.
Trade Secrets! Issue 83 March 19, 2009
Bad news: a stripped truss rod nut. Good news: an easy solution.
Erick Coleman's using the Gripper truss rod wrench to solve a problem that's familiar to all of us.
Product Instructions A-BANJOBUILDING
Banjo Building Instructions
Comprehensive, downloadable instructions for building an open-back banjo.
Trade Secrets! Issue 51 December 27, 2007
Banjo Killer? The scoop on forward X bracing for greater guitar volume.
Todd Sams gives a simple and clear explanation of how to position dreadnought braces for the sound and volume of an early-30s Martin.
Trade Secrets! Issue 214 April 10, 2014
Banjo setup tips
How do you set the tension on a banjo head? If you're more familiar with guitars than banjos, Dan Erlewine has a few quick tips for you.
Product Instructions I-BARDEN
Barden Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Barden Humbucking pickups.
Product Instructions I-3910
Basic Set-up Instructions
Erick Coleman walks you through basic set-up instructions to have your guitar playing great in no time.
Product Instructions I-3578
Battery Box for Acoustic or Solidbody
Installation instructions for the acoustic or solidbody battery box.
Product Instructions I-3576
Battery Box for Solidbody
Installation instructions for the solidbody only battery box.
Product Instructions I-0866
Behlen Lacquer Stick Kit
An overview of burn-in procedures using the Behlen Lacquer Stick Kit.
Product Instructions I-0689
Bending Sides With a Bending Iron
An introduction to bending wood using a Bending Iron.
Product Instructions I-5270
Benedetto Archtop Tailpiece Installation Instructions
Installation instructions for the Benedetto Archtop Tailpiece.
Product Instructions I-4173
Benedetto Fingerrest
How to install a Benedetto Fingerrest.
Product Instructions I-BENEDETTO
Benedetto Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Benedetto Humbucking pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 25 April 12, 2007
Better tone with a lighter Tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece
This week, Erick Coleman steps into the ring for Round Two in the Battle for Better Tone: his secret weapons area lightweight Tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece.
Product Instructions A-BINDINGAPICKGUARD
Binding a mandolin pickguard
Don MacRostie of Red Diamond mandolins explains the steps of binding a mandolin pickguard.
Trade Secrets! Issue 49 November 29, 2007
Binding and fretting a Red Diamond mandolin fingerboard
Don MacRostie shows us his methods for fingerboard binding and fretting on a Red Diamond vintage model mandolin.
Product Instructions I-4200
Binding Laminator Instructions
The Binding Laminator presses multiple pieces of binding material together, so that acetone can bond them.
Trade Secrets! Issue 188 April 11, 2013
Binding repair on a '55 Gretsch Roundup
A truss rod fix leads to a binding repair: Dan Erlewine has to remove the fingerboard from this great old cowboy guitar, and some of the red side dots disappear. He shows two techniques for replacing them.
Product Instructions I-6065
Black Ice Wiring Diagrams
Manufacturer's installation instructions.
Product Instructions I-4137
Blend Pot Wiring
An explanation of various wiring options with a blend pot.
Product Instructions I-BLUEGRASS_RESOMAST
Bluegrass Resomaster Assembly
Downloadable assembly instructions for the Bluegrass Resomaster.
Product Instructions I-5290
Blues Resomaster Assembly
Downloadable assembly instructions for the Blues Resomaster.
Product Instructions I-4005
Bolt-On Necks
How to install, adjust, and set up a Bolt-On Neck.
Product Instructions I-0200
Brace Gluing Wedge Instructions
Shim open the glue joint under the brace and inject glue where you want it.
Product Instructions A-BRIDGECLAMP
Bridge clamps: practical production tip
Bryan Galloup modifies bridge clamps for increasing speed and clamping precision.
Trade Secrets! Issue 158 February 16, 2012
Bridge collapse! Carving an archtop guitar bridge in a hurry!
Erick Coleman got a text message on his cell: his customer's archtop bridge broke the night before a recording session. Can he replace it overnight? Here's how he carved a new one in a jiffy!
Product Instructions I-5046
Bridge fitting for archtops
How to fit, sand, and install bridges on archtop guitars and mandolins.
Product Instructions I-0459
Bridge Pin Hole Chamfer Tool Instructions
Instructions for using the Bridge Pin Hole Chamfer Tool.
Product Instructions I-5803
Bridge Pin Hole Slotting
How to cut and file bridge pin hole slots.
Product Instructions I-5240
Bridge Plate Repair
How to repair most fractured bridge pin holes with the BridgeSaver.
Product Instructions A-BUFFERBASE
Buffer Base Plan
Instructions for building a wood platform to securely mount the buffing arbor and motor onto a bench or stand.
Trade Secrets! Issue 134 March 03, 2011
Build this bypass pedal to turn your stompboxes OFF!
Erick Coleman's got a simple wiring project that most guitarists need: a true bypass stomp switch to take your effects pedals in/out of your signal chain.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 226 September 25, 2014
Building upbow into the guitar neck
If you turn the truss rod and nothing happens, the trouble could have been built into the neck at the factory. The time to avoid it is when you glue on the fingerboard. Dan Erlewine shows how to fix this problem before it happens.
Product Instructions I-2105-K
Build-Your-Own Pickup Winder
Assembly instructions.

Online video available
Burn-in Procedures Using Behlen's Lacquer Repair Kit
A demonstration of the proper technique for repairing a nitrocellulose lacquer finish using the Behlen Lacquer Repair Kit.
Trade Secrets! Issue 59 April 17, 2008
Carlos Santana's Strat: repair and setup
Dan Erlewine tells what happened with two guitars sent to him recently by Carlos Santana.
Trade Secrets! Issue 218 June 05, 2014
Chopping the ends off bridge pins
If you're not careful, installing new strings can create a problem that throws you out of tune or damages your bridge pin holes. Elliot John-Conry of EJC Guitars shows us an easy fix.
Trade Secrets! Issue 141 June 09, 2011
Christine's inexpensive guitar needs a bridge repair: fix it or pitch it?
Should you put $100 worth of repairs into a guitar you can replace for $200? Erick Coleman tells why his answer is yes. And he hands over the repair tools to Christine, who works in StewMac's office.
Product Instructions A-CLAMPATTACHMENTS
Clamp Attachments
Dan Erlewine's tips for making soundhole clamps even more useful.
Trade Secrets! Issue 215 April 24, 2014
Clamping a guitar neck really tight (without damage)
Working on a 1938 Gibson lap steel, Dan Erlewine needs to clamp the neck way more tightly than usual. He comes up with a special jig by modifying a Rock-n-Roller neck rest.
Trade Secrets! Issue 39 July 19, 2007
Clean up your old electric guitar saddles
Erick Coleman shows why brushing your guitar saddles is as important as brushing your teeth!
Trade Secrets! Issue 91 July 09, 2009
Cleaning up after sloppy fretwork: fixing chips in the fingerboard
Erick Coleman's got a neck to fix, including a broken peghead. One thing leads to another, and it turns out the toughest job is hiding the fretboard chips left by the last repairman to work on this guitar.
Trade Secrets! Issue 153 December 08, 2011
Coil-cuts: how to hop up your humbuckers
Erick Coleman shows tricks you can do with those four colored wires coming from your humbucker pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 217 May 22, 2014
Coloring epoxy for guitar inlays
A little bit of glue hides imperfections... Dan Erlewine personalizes a fretboard with the customer's name in pearl: "Hoss." There are small gaps around the inlays, and dan shows how to make those gaps disappear. Dan also shows a neat magnet trick for cutting thin slices off the end of a fretboard.
Trade Secrets! Issue 212 March 13, 2014
Coloring new binding to match the old stuff
We've watched Dan Erlewine repair this 1930s Kay over the previous 3 Trade Secrets. It's time to finish it up. Elliot John-Conry of EJC Guitars ages Dan's patch of new plastic binding so it blends in with the old binding around it. About the guitar in this video: This 1930s Kay Deluxe is a fixer-upper that Dan Erlewine repaired in order to sell. Now that it's in great shape again, maybe Dan'll keep it!
Product Instructions I-1850
ColorTone Aerosol Finishing Kit Instructions
Tips and instructions for achieving a professional finish with the ColorTone Aerosol Finishing Kit.
Product Instructions I-3881
ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquers
Application instructions for ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquers.
Product Instructions I-5577
ColorTone Clear Grain Filler Instructions
Directions for application
Product Instructions I-3863
ColorTone Fretboard Finishing Oil Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Fretboard Finishing Oil.
Product Instructions I-5230
ColorTone Liquid Pigments for Lacquer
Directions for using ColorTone Liquid Pigments for Lacquer.
Product Instructions I-5360
ColorTone Liquid Pigments for Waterbase Lacquer
Directions for using ColorTone Liquid Pigments for Waterbase Lacquer.
Product Instructions I-5032
ColorTone Liquid Stain Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Liquid Stains.
Product Instructions I-1201
ColorTone Polishing Compound Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Polishing Compounds and Swirl Remover.
Product Instructions I-5880
ColorTone Tinted Aerosol Guitar Lacquers
Application instructions and a finishing schedule for ColorTone Tinted Aerosol Guitar Lacquers.
Product Instructions I-6090
ColorTone Touchup Marker Instructions
Tips for using ColorTone colored and clear Touchup Markers on a sunburst finish.
Product Instructions I-5566
ColorTone Waterbase Brushing Varnish Instructions
Application instructions for ColorTone Waterbase Brushing Varnish.
Product Instructions I-5570
ColorTone Waterbase Lacquer Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Waterbase Lacquer.
Product Instructions I-5575
ColorTone Waterbase Retarder Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Waterbase Retarder.
Product Instructions I-5573
ColorTone Waterbase Sanding Sealer Instructions
Directions for using ColorTone Waterbase Sanding Sealer.
Product Instructions I-5167
Compensated Saddles for Telecaster
Installation instructions for Compensated Saddles for Telecaster.
Product Instructions A-COMPOUNDRADIUS
Compound Radius: Explained
An explanation of compound radius fretboards.
Product Instructions I-0029
Conductive Shielding Paint Instructions
Directions for using conductive shielding paint.
Product Instructions I-5245
Correct saddle intonation with The Intonator
The Intonator finds the correct locations for acoustic flattop guitar bridge saddle placement.
Trade Secrets! Issue 169 July 19, 2012
Crack repair on a Gibson ES-350T ("Byrdland Lite?")
Semi-hollowbody crack repair: Dan Erlewine compares Gibson's ES-350T to their more famous Byrdland. Includes 1955 catalog descriptions of these two great Gibsons.
Product Instructions A-DECALS
Custom Peghead Decals
Tony Nobles of Precision Guitarworks in Austin, Texas shares his tips on making custom peghead logo decals.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 238 March 12, 2015
Custom walnut bindings for an 1800s German guitar
You’ve got to see this German guitar from the 1830s! Dan removed the back to repair it, and now he needs to duplicate the wood binding that’s nearly 200 years old. He shows how he started from a plank of walnut to create custom-sized wood binding strips.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 231 December 04, 2014
Custom-fit styrofoam clamping caul
How to clamp a guitar bridge without crushing the braces inside: Dan Erlewine uses a chunk of insulation from the home improvement center. In this short video, Dan shares a trick for custom-shaping the foam to fit any guitar.
Trade Secrets! Issue 45 October 04, 2007
Custom-fit your bridge pins for better sound
Erick Coleman talks about why each guitar he works on gets six custom-fit bridge pins. It's all about hardware coupling, energy transfer, and tone.
Trade Secrets! Issue 96 September 17, 2009
Custom-shaping a replacement pickguard for a 1990s Gibson
Erick Coleman's got a busted-up pickguard, and off-the-shelf replacements don't fit. He shows how to make and use a custom-shape template for a new guard.
Trade Secrets! Issue 3 November 09, 2006
Cut binding strips with an upside down Dremel tool
In this week's issue, Don MacRostie shows Dan Erlewine a neat trick for making custom wood bindings: using an upside-down Dremel tool.
Product Instructions I-5243
Cutting Custom Pickguards with the Pickguard Bevel Cutter
How to cut and bevel custom pickguards with the Pickguard Bevel Cutter.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 230 November 20, 2014
Dan Erlewine's do-it-yourself neck shaping jig
A different sort of Erlewine Neck Jig: Dan’s building guitars out of black walnut that he’s saved for forty years. For carving and shaping, he comes up with an easy-to-make jig to hold a neck at just the right working angle. It spins and tilts too!
Trade Secrets! Issue 139 May 12, 2011
Dan Erlewine's Facebook fretless bass
Dan Erlewine's been posting photos on Facebook, creating this photo story on how to convert a fretted bass to fretless. It's a Trade Secrets story and it's on Facebook too!
Trade Secrets! Issue 157 February 02, 2012
Dan Erlewine's low-tech "spray booth" for a small shop
Dan Erlewine shows how he sprays finish touchups in a small shop with no spray booth.
Trade Secrets! Issue 89 June 11, 2009
Day of the Zombie: curing an undead Telecaster pickup
The multimeter tells Erick Coleman that this pickup is dead, but nobody told the pickup: it's still playing!
Product Instructions I-5291
Delta Resomaster Assembly
Downloadable assembly instructions for the Delta Resomaster.
Trade Secrets! Issue 194 July 04, 2013
Dick Boak of Martin Guitars talks about pre-war tenors
Dick Boak of the Martin Guitar Company visiting Dan Erlewine's guitar repair shop. The conversation is about pre-war Martin tenor guitars, and Dick really knows this subject. From the free Trade Secrets newsletter at
Product Instructions I-DIMARZIO
DiMarzio Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for DiMarzio Humbucking pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 164 May 10, 2012
Does this bone nut fit my guitar?
Erick Coleman answers a question that's come up a lot lately: how to find the right size replacement nut. He introduces a new Sizing Sheet that makes measuring easy for anybody.
Trade Secrets! Issue 184 February 14, 2013
Do-it-yourself banjo bridge lifter
Dave Collins at Herb David Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan shows an easy-to-make tool for swapping banjo bridges.
Product Instructions A-RESOPHONIC
Do-It-Yourself Resophonic Guitar
Al Rorick guides you through constructing a 1920's National Triolian-syle resophonic guitar while saving time and money.
Product Instructions A-RESOPHONIC_1
Do-It-Yourself Resophonic Guitar
Al Rorick guides you through constructing a 1920's National Triolian-syle resophonic guitar while saving time and money.
Part One: Constructing the Body
Product Instructions A-RESOPHONIC_2
Do-It-Yourself Resophonic Guitar
Al Rorick guides you through constructing a 1920's National Triolian-syle resophonic guitar while saving time and money.
Part Two: Making the Neck
Product Instructions A-RESOPHONIC_3
Do-It-Yourself Resophonic Guitar
Al Rorick guides you through constructing a 1920's National Triolian-syle resophonic guitar while saving time and money.
Part Three: Final Assembly
Trade Secrets! Issue 33 June 07, 2007
Don't be nervous about adjusting that truss rod!
Erick Coleman shows how quick and easy it is to evaluate a neck and adjust the truss rod.
Product Instructions I-3161
Don't mix buffing compound
An overview of the basics of buffing with compounds.
Product Instructions I-5295
Dreadnought Guitar Kit
Downloadable assembly instructions for the Dreadnought Guitar Kit, including a recommended tool and supplies list.
Product Instructions I-3479
Dual Concentric Control Pots
Sample wiring of Dual Concentric Control Pots.
Product Instructions I-4915
Dual Fret Scale Template Instructions
How to determine where to cut fret slots using the Dual Fret Scale Templates.
Product Instructions I-0280
Dual Rim Rod Set for Banjo
Installation and adjustment instructions for a Dual Rim Rod Set for Banjo.
Product Instructions I-0308
Dulcimer Kit Instructions
Downloadable instructions for Dulcimer Kits.
Trade Secrets! Issue 84 April 02, 2009
Easy, affordable way to make your own custom-fit guitar case
Hardshell cases are sold for a few of the most common guitar sizes, but what if your guitar is a different shape? Todd Sams shows an easy way to make a great custom case.
Trade Secrets! Issue 74 November 13, 2008
eBay mandolin: fret work and using JB Weld to rebuild a truss rod nut
Dan Erlewine's customer got a deal on eBay. Whether it was a good or a bad deal depends on how much it takes to make it playable. Dan fixes fret buzz and a warped neck, then rebuilds the truss rod nut using JB Weld repair epoxy.
Product Instructions I-4003
Electric Guitar and Bass Assembly Guide
General assembly instructions for electric guitar and bass.
Product Instructions I-4003_2
Electric Guitar and Bass Assembly Guide
Recommended Tools and Supplies
Product Instructions I-4003_3
Electric Guitar and Bass Assembly Guide
Hardware Installation
Product Instructions I-4003_4
Electric Guitar and Bass Assembly Guide
Wiring and Shielding
Product Instructions I-4003_5
Electric Guitar and Bass Assembly Guide
Trade Secrets! Issue 154 December 22, 2011
Electronics cleanup in a beautiful '58 Gibson: "Little Lefty"
Inside a "miniature Les Paul case," Dan Erlewine finds a beautiful 1958 Gibson in 3/4 size. Cleaning the electronics gets it playing again. PLUS: Dan shows his shop-made "Guitar Testing Gizmo"
Product Instructions I-0215
Emerson Pro CTS Blender/No-load Pot Instructions
Installation and wiring diagram for Strat® with Emerson Pro CTS Blender Pot.
Product Instructions I-3547
EMG ACB Banjo Pickup Installation Instructions
Installation and general operation.
Product Instructions I-3484
E-Model Megaswitch
Installation and wiring instructions for the E-Model Megaswitch.
Product Instructions I-5399
Erlewine Neck Jig Instructions
How to assemble and jig up a guitar.
Product Instructions I-5390
Erlewine ShopStand Instructions
Installation and anchoring instructions for the Erlewine ShopStand.
Product Instructions A-0570
Example Repair Shop Forms
Dan Erlewine created two useful forms to plan and estimate the work that comes into his shop, it's also helpful for showing your customer the work you plan to do or did on their instrument.
Product Instructions I-5976
Eyelet Setting Tool and Bit Instructions
How to use the Eyelet Setting Tool and Bit set to install eyelets in flatwork.
Product Instructions A-F5BINDING
F5 Mandolin Binding Laminations
An explanation of the multiple black and white binding layers on an F5 mandolin.
Product Instructions I-1120
Fender Neck Joint Routing Template Instructions
How to rout a neck joint pocket using the Neck Joint Routing Template for Fender.
Product Instructions I-5342
Fiddle Kit Instructions
Downloadable assembly instructions for the Fiddle Kit, including a recommended tool list.
Trade Secrets! Issue 101 November 26, 2009
Final-shaping a D-18 or D-28 style guitar neck
Guitar maker Todd Sams directs the production of our StewMac guitar necks, and he uses the necks in his own custom Sams guitars. Todd shows how to spend twenty minutes final-shaping a neck to get it to look and feel exactly right.
Trade Secrets! Issue 198 August 29, 2013
Final-shaping a neck with files and scrapers
Neck shaping a neck is all about feel. Chelsea Clark learned from Dan Erlewine, and by honing her skills on abandoned "project guitars" found on Craigslist and eBay. Chelsea gives a good intro to shaping a great-playing neck.
Product Instructions I-4462
Finding saddle location with the Saddlematic
How to find saddle placement location with the Saddlematic.
Trade Secrets! Issue 6 November 30, 2006
Finding the right location for a guitar's saddle slot
This issue shows how to locate and cut the saddle slot for an acoustic bridge.
Trade Secrets! Issue 132 February 03, 2011
Fine tuning a bolt-on replacement neck
Erick Coleman pulls his old Strat out of mothballs and gives it a new neck. He shows what's needed to get a replacement neck ready to play.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR
Finishing a Blue Guitar
Dan Erlewine shows how to achieve a PRS-style finish with stains and aerosol lacquer. Introduction
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_6
Finishing a Blue Guitar, Final sanding and rubbing out
Part 6: Dan Erlewine uses sandpaper and polishing compounds to achieve a PRS-style finish using liquid stains and aerosol lacquer.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_3
Finishing a Blue Guitar, PRS-style binding
Part 3: Dan Erlewine shows how to achieve a PRS-style finish using liquid stains and aerosol lacquer.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_4
Finishing a Blue Guitar, Sealer and scuff-sand
Part 4: Dan Erlewine shows how to build sealer coats and drop-fill any imperfections that may occur for this PRS-style finish using aerosol lacquer.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_2
Finishing a Blue Guitar, Staining the guitar
Part 2: Dan Erlewine shows how to apply the stain for a PRS-style finish with aerosol lacquer.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_5
Finishing a Blue Guitar, Topcoats and touchup
Part 5: Dan Erlewine sprays the clear topcoats to achieve a PRS-style finish using liquid stains and aerosol lacquer.
Product Instructions A-BLUEGUITAR_1
Finishing a Blue Guitar, Wood preparation
Part 1: Dan Erlewine shows how to prepare the wood for a PRS-style finish with stains and aerosol lacquer.
Trade Secrets! Issue 94 August 20, 2009
Fishing a volume control out of a semi-hollowbody for soldering.
Erick Coleman's got a guitar with one dead pickup and a volume control that spins around when you turn the knob. That's trouble. And it's inside a semi-hollowbody guitar -- that's double trouble!
Trade Secrets! Issue 19 March 01, 2007
Fitting an archtop bridge, easily and accurately
Did you ever try to fit a bridge to an archtop guitar or mandolin? (Or a violin?) This week Dan Erlewine shows how it's done with sandpaper and a bridge-fitting jig.
Product Instructions I-3250
Five-Star Banjo Pickup
Installation instructions for the Five-Star Banjo Pickup.
Trade Secrets! Issue 197 August 15, 2013
Fix a broken nut with baking soda?
"Can a broken nut can be fixed with baking soda and super glue?" Lou, a singer here in Athens, Ohio, brought this question to Dan Erlewine (along with the broken nut on his Yamaha guitar). As it turns out, the answer is yes and no... Neck shaping a neck is all about feel.
Trade Secrets! Issue 175 October 11, 2012
Fixing (and breaking!) a 1957 Gibson P-90 pickup
After 55 years, the original owner sells a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Junior because the pickup's dead. Erick Coleman tells the story of bringing that pickup back to life.
Trade Secrets! Issue 70 September 18, 2008
Fixing a 1937 Martin bridge. The first step is fixing a sandwich!
Dan Erlewine's got an unusual bridge problem and an unusual repair.
Trade Secrets! Issue 167 June 21, 2012
Fixing a 1965 Gibson Firebird with holes in its head!
Dan Erlewine fills holes in the peghead of a 1965 Gibson Firebird.
Trade Secrets! Issue 114 May 27, 2010
Fixing a badly worn neck: super glue as both fill and finish
Somebody's wrung this guitar's neck with years of string bending -- the wood is gone from the edge of the fingerboard. The customer doesn't want a new neck, so Dan Erlewine improvises a great solution.
Trade Secrets! Issue 171 August 16, 2012
Fixing a loose bridge on a yard sale special
Dan Erlewine fixes a 1980s Harmony guitar with a bridge that's falling off. To see how fast he can do this repair, Dan decided to play Beat The Clock!
Trade Secrets! Issue 146 August 18, 2011
Fixing a potbelly with the Belly Reducer
Dan Erlewine's got a Martin with a potbelly: string tension has pulled the top into a hump on this 1928 0-18. To make things tougher, the guitar top's encased in a thick layer of epoxy finish! It's an interesting puzzle...
Trade Secrets! Issue 174 September 27, 2012
Fixing a small chip in your guitar's finish
This issue of Trade Secrets is a video: Dan Erlewine demos three of his favorite finish repair tips: 1. Super glue drop fills. 2. Frank Ford's razor blade trick. 3. Strip-sanding with fingertip pressure.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 228 October 23, 2014
Fixing a Tune-O-Matic that won't tune
This bridge is in the wrong spot, so the guitar can’t play in tune. Rather than drill new holes in a vintage guitar body, Dan Erlewine comes up with a clever solution.
Trade Secrets! Issue 57 March 20, 2008
Fixing an acoustic pickup fast—it has to be onstage in an hour!
Dan Erlewine does some emergency surgery on an undersaddle transducer in time for it to make it on stage with Emmylou Harris.
Trade Secrets! Issue 156 January 19, 2012
Fixing Bill Kirchen's "Hot Rod Lincoln" Telecaster
Dan Erlewine's doing some Telecaster body work for Bill Kirchen. Bill's famous Tele riff drove Commander Cody's "Hot Rod Lincoln" into the Top Ten back in 1972
Trade Secrets! Issue 150 October 13, 2011
Fixing dirty, scratchy control pots on a Supro lap steel
Dan Erlewine's fixing nasty-sounding control pots on a great-looking Supro lap steel from 1960.
Trade Secrets! Issue 221 July 17, 2014
Fixing fret buzz: raising the saddles
A P-Bass with fret buzz: Dan Erlewine fixes his brother’s bass, and answers the question, “To get rid of this fret buzz, should I adjust the saddles or the truss rod?”

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 232 December 18, 2014
Fixing fret buzz: spot leveling and re-crowning
Dan Erlewine found a 1935 May Bell and fell in love with her. She has some fret buzz due to worn frets that are flat and wide. Dan shows how a little leveling and filing got her playing again.
Trade Secrets! Issue 13 January 18, 2007
Fixing fret ends that stick out in dry weather
This week, Erick Coleman answers a wintertime question: What to do about fret ends that stick out of the sides of the neck?

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 219 June 19, 2014
Flat-sanding a guitar fingerboard
Dan Erlewine has a quick tip for sanding anything truly flat. He demonstrates with a guitar neck and fingerboard that he's prepping for glue-up.
Trade Secrets! Issue 46 October 18, 2007
For ebony streaks, use black fingerboard stain
Erick Coleman shows why black fingerboard stain is a standard item in any guitarmaker's shop, including the big name builders.

Online video available
Free-Way Switch
Explore the possibilities of a 6-position toggle switch. Coil tap, 3-pickups, piezo activation... you decide!
Product Instructions I-0055
Free-Way Switch Instructions
Installation and wiring diagrams
Product Instructions I-0072
Free-way Ultra Switch Instructions
Wiring diagrams
Product Instructions I-4363
Fret Barber Instructions
The Fret Barber lets you "take a little off the sides" to adjust the width of the fret tang by removing metal from the barbs.
Product Instructions I-3760
Fret Beveling Files
Downloadable instructions for smoothing fret ends with Fret Beveling Files.
Product Instructions I-0800
Fret Scale Rule Instructions
Tips for using our fret scale rules for building and repairing guitars, mandolins, and banjos.
Product Instructions I-2230
Fret Slotting Miter Box
Using the Fret Slotting Miter Box to accurately cut fret slots with a fretting handsaw.
Product Instructions I-6387
Gerstner Guitar Display Case Kit Instructions
Manufacturer's assembly instructions.
Product Instructions I-5387
Gerstner Tool Chest Kit Instructions
Manufacturer's assembly instructions.
Product Instructions I-GIBSON
Gibson Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Gibson Humbucking pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 5 November 23, 2006
Give your buffer a haircut, and store it on the wall
This week's issue is about instrument finishing: a good tip about setting up new buffing wheels, and an idea to save space in your workshop.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 224 August 28, 2014
Gluing a broken peghead
Dan Erlewine's got a nasty broken peghead on a yard sale guitar.
He shows how to fix it, and shares his thinking on which glue to use and how he does a glue test. This is actually a double break needing two repairs at once.
Product Instructions I-4733
Go-bar Clamping Deck
Assembly instructions for the Go-bar Clamping Deck.
Trade Secrets! Issue 44 September 20, 2007
Go-bar decks: fast, flexible gluing
This week, Dan Erlewine asks Todd Sams to show how a go-bar deck in his home shop turned two hours of work into twenty minutes!
Product Instructions I-5412
Golden Age Bass Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age bass pickups.
Product Instructions I-5400-2
Golden Age Humbucker
Product Instructions I-GOLDENAGE
Golden Age Humbucker Color Codes
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age Humbucking pickups.
Product Instructions I-5400
Golden Age Humbucker Wiring Diagrams
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age Humbucking pickups.
Product Instructions I-5426
Golden Age Lipstick Humbucking Pickup Instructions
Wiring diagrams and color codes
Product Instructions I-5427
Golden Age Lipstick Single-coil Pickup Instructions
Wiring diagrams
Product Instructions I-5414
Golden Age P-90s
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age P-90 pickups.
Product Instructions I-5408
Golden Age Parsons Street Humbucker
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age Parsons Street Humbucking pickups.
Product Instructions I-5410
Golden Age Pickups for Tele Instructions
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age Tele pickups.
Product Instructions I-1935
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for Gibson SG Instructions
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1937
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for J-Bass
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1933
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for Les Paul
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1936
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for P Bass
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1930
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for Stratocaster Instructions
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1931
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for Telecaster Instructions
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-1932
Golden Age Pre-wired Harness for Telecaster with 4-way Switch
Installation and wiring diagram.
Product Instructions I-5422
Golden Age Single-coil Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Golden Age Single-coil pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 182 January 17, 2013
Good tone from 0-10: easy clip-on mod
Trade Secrets On The Road: Dan Erlewine visits the repair shop at Herb David Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He brings back this great, simple tone tip from repairman Brian Delaney.
Product Instructions I-GOTOH
Gotoh Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Gotoh Humbucking pickups.
Product Instructions I-GRAPHTECH
Graph Tech Instructions
Manufacturer's instructions for nut and saddle installation.
Product Instructions I-4737
Guitar Neck Removal
The Neck Removal Jig applies gradual, controlled pressure for safely steaming the neck out of a dovetail joint.
Trade Secrets! Issue 92 July 23, 2009
Guitar repair money talk: estimate hours, not dollars
While Dan Erlewine gives a relic finish to new tuners on a 1945 Gibson J-45, he talks about making money with a guitar repair business.
Product Instructions I-1813
Guitar Repair Vise Installation Instructions
Set up directions for the Guitar Repair vise.
Product Instructions I-1709
Guitar Screw Rescue Kit Instructions
How to use the Guitar Screw Rescue Kit to remove small damaged screws.
Product Instructions I-3789
Guitar Shielding
An overview of guitar shielding with the Self-Adhesive Shielding Kit, including a list of required tools.
Product Instructions I-2070
Guitar Tuner Drill Jig Instructions
Tuner installation instructions using the Guitar Tuner Drill Jig.

Online video available
Hand-spinning Replogle Cones
Mike Replogle shows the complete process of hand-spinning in the old-school tradition. From circle-cutting and center-punching the metal, to the spinning of both the spider resonators and the biscuit cones.
Trade Secrets! Issue 206 December 19, 2013
Helpful repair magnet gizmo, and 1970s Earthwood Bass!
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! These repair magnets snapped together with a CLACK!, drawing blood from Dan Erlewine's finger just as he was about to show his gizmo for avoiding pinched fingers and separating stacked magnets! Also, Dan explains a radical bracing change on an original Earthwood acoustic bass guitar.
Trade Secrets! Issue 161 March 29, 2012
Hiding an "evil smile" peghead break with the Razor Blade Trick
After gluing a broken peghead, Dan Erlewine still a finish repair to do. In this Trade Secret, he shows you how to save time by using amber super glue and his favorite razor blade trick.
Trade Secrets! Issue 216 May 08, 2014
Homemade bushing puller to protect the peghead
Dan Erlewine needs to pull the tuner grommets/bushings from the peghead of this old Gibson. The lacquer is already damaged, and pulling the bushings can yank finish off too. Dan rigs a jig that holds the finish down while the bushing comes up.
Trade Secrets! Issue 222 July 31, 2014
Homemade dust collector
Dan Erlewine's homemade dust collection system: Dan used to go outdoors to trim binding, because without dust collection the job got really messy. That’s all changed now: Dan's homemade dust collection system is a simple plastic storage bucket turned into a downdraft routing table!
Product Instructions A-HOMEMADEWINDER
Homemade hand drill pickup winder
How to turn a power drill into a pickup winder.
Product Instructions I-0975
Hot Rod Adjustable Truss Rods
Installation and adjustment instructions for Hot Rod Adjustable Truss Rod.
Trade Secrets! Issue 128 December 09, 2010
How (and why) to use templates to rout control cavities
If you sometimes think of making a custom electric guitar, Erick Coleman has tips to make one part of the process a lot easier. Here's how to rout the neck pocket and control cavities so they look as good as a factory build.
Product Instructions W101-TONECONTROL
How a tone control works
An overview of how a tone control works.
Product Instructions A-SHELLAC
How and why to mix fresh shellac
Dan Erlewine shares his experience working with, and knowledge of, shellac.
Trade Secrets! Issue 119 August 05, 2010
How Boogie Fever led to a Neck Transplant
Erick Coleman's buddy wanted a guitar just like the one he saw on Soul Train in the 1970s. Curing his Boogie Fever required a neck transplant, but Fender's Micro-Tilt neck adjustment makes that tricky. Here's how to do it.
Product Instructions I-FRETCALC
How do I calculate a fret scale?
A link to our free, online Fret Scale Calculator for determining fret and bridge placements and saddle compensation.
Product Instructions I-CONVERSIONS
How do I convert measurements?
A link to our free, online unit convertor.
Product Instructions A-PURFLING
How much purfling?
A handy chart for determining how much purfling is needed for the specific parts of dreadnought and 000-style acoustic guitars.
Trade Secrets! Issue 65 July 10, 2008
How not to mess up a soldering job
Erick Coleman shows how easy it is to do a pro-quality soldering job.
Product Instructions A-FAMOUSSETUPS
How the stars set up their guitars
An excerpt from Dan Erlewine's "How To Make You Electric Guitar Play Great", including celebrity setups from Jeff Beck to Jim Weider.
Trade Secrets! Issue 131 January 20, 2011
How to bind a fretboard, Gibson-style
Erick Coleman's restoring a 1950s Les Paul, and returning the bound fretboard to its original condition. With small files and elbow grease, he shows how to create the fret-end "binding nibs" for that distinctive Gibson look.
Trade Secrets! Issue 21 March 15, 2007
How to choose a fret-crowning file
Erick Coleman answers an important tech-support question: What's the best fret-crowning file?
Trade Secrets! Issue 73 October 30, 2008
How to choose the right pickup for your acoustic guitar
Erick Coleman clears up the confusion about acoustic pickups: separating them into different types and helping you figure out what's what.
Trade Secrets! Issue 97 October 01, 2009
How to clean a guitar that REALLY needs it!
Rock's a dirty business, but somebody's got to do it: Dan Erlewine cleans up a Les Paul that hasn't had a bath in four years -- and 650 gigs!
Trade Secrets! Issue 213 March 27, 2014
How to clean and lube dirty old guitar tuners
Dirty tuners filled with dried gunk: Dan Erlewine's working on a guitar that's been sitting untouched for over fifty years. The tuners are too stiff to use, but he gets them going again by using heat, naphtha and an injection of lubricant. He makes a nifty little tuner-holder jig, too.
Trade Secrets! Issue 192 June 06, 2013
How to fit a Les Paul pickup ring to the curved top
Don't ruin your pickup rings by skipping this step! Dan Erlewine nibbles, files, scrapes and sands to create a curve that matches the top of his Les Paul.
Trade Secrets! Issue 178 November 22, 2012
How to fit a preshaped nut on a guitar
Tips for fitting a shaped and slotted nut. Dan Erlewine tries a preshaped nut in his own Fender Strat: it's so easy "it's almost like cheating!"
Trade Secrets! Issue 142 June 23, 2011
How to fix this guitar if my elbow's stuck in the soundhole?
Dan Erlewine needs to fix the inside of a classical guitar, but can't fit his arm through the soundhole. Thinking outside the box, he finds the solution to this puzzle!
Trade Secrets! Issue 110 April 01, 2010
How to French polish for a fast finish without spraying
Dan Erlewine finishes up a last-minute present for his granddaughter: a tiny-size Gibson J-45. With her birthday just around the corner, he needs a good finish and he needs it fast!
Trade Secrets! Issue 186 March 14, 2013
How to get a good clean solder joint!
The three basics to keep in mind if you want your work to be as good or better than the guitar's original wiring. -- Erick Coleman
Product Instructions A-4895
How to hammer frets
Gene Imbody explains the basics of installing frets using a fretting hammer.
Product Instructions A-HOWTOHOLDIT
How to Hold a Spray Gun
How to use spray equipment to get the best possible coverage.
Trade Secrets! Issue 31 May 24, 2007
How to install a Fender style (bolt-on) neck
Erick Coleman shows the steps involved in replacing a Fender-style neck, with tips for tuner installation, truss rod adjustment, and correctly positioning the neck.
Product Instructions I-0522
How to install a skin banjo head
Dan Levenson explains how to install an unmounted, skin banjo head.
Trade Secrets! Issue 145 August 04, 2011
How to install a Strat tremolo and get it right
Erick Coleman has a quick tip that will save you a lot of trouble.
Product Instructions A-BINDINGS
How to Install Bindings
Overview of binding, purfling, and other instrument trim, including binding recommendations and installation techniques.
How To Install the ZerO Glide
How to install the ZerO Glide Nut in your instrument.
Trade Secrets! Issue 107 February 18, 2010
How to know a bridge will play in tune before gluing it on
Dan Erlewine finds an old bridge to fit a 1950s Gibson, but will the saddle slot be in the right place? He measures and calculates, but still wants to prove it's in tune before gluing. Here's how he did that.
Trade Secrets! Issue 190 May 09, 2013
How to let your ears find the best tone cap for your guitar
Ever wonder whether a different capacitor would affect your tone? It's between you and your own ears, nobody else can tell you what you hear. Erick Coleman's got a simple way to prove to yourself which cap is the choice for you.
Trade Secrets! Issue 63 June 12, 2008
How to make a string nut for the first time
Why you might need a new nut: Cracked nut. Poor string spacing. Hollow plastic nut sapping tone. Nut slots are too low, causing fret buzz on open strings. If you're nervous about replacing the string nut you've got company, and this week Erick Coleman shows that making a nut is no big deal.
Trade Secrets! Issue 116 June 24, 2010
How to match color on vintage binding repairs
Working on an aged Les Paul, Erick Coleman has to sand part of the yellowed binding. The sanded spots are a glaring white mismatch. Erick makes turns the repair invisible with a little ColorTone spray and stain.
Trade Secrets! Issue 196 August 01, 2013
How to notch the saddles on your Les Paul
Erick Coleman uses a hammer and X-Acto knife before filing. On this video he also talks with Dan Erlewine about how a 1954 Les Paul went from Bondo Mess to Relic Goldtop, with multiple luthiers contributing to its restoration.
Trade Secrets! Issue 69 September 04, 2008
How to open a humbucker and reverse the polarity
Erick answers a customer question about reversing a humbucker's pickups, and finds that the hardest part is getting the cover off the pickup!
Trade Secrets! Issue 99 October 29, 2009
How to see inside a guitar body if you don't have X-Ray Specs
Dan Erlewine says he has the last working pair of X-Ray Specs on Earth, and he won't share them. At least he has some alternatives for the rest of us.
Product Instructions I-3416
How to sharpen a scraper
How to burnish and sharpen a scraper.
Trade Secrets! Issue 54 February 07, 2008
How to spray a sunburst using aerosol cans
Erick Coleman uses tinted aerosols to recreate a vintage Strat 3-tone 'burst.
Trade Secrets! Issue 151 November 10, 2011
How to strip a modern poly guitar finish
Erick Coleman's got a Fender bass with a purple metallic finish. He wants to spray an 1960s-style sunburst, but first he's got to get that hard plastic coating off of there...
Product Instructions A-THREADTRUSSROD
How to Thread a Truss Rod
Cut clean factory-quality threads using these steps.
Trade Secrets! Issue 41 August 09, 2007
How to use a Fret Hammer
A fret hammer was one of the first lutherie tools Erick Coleman ever bought, and it's still an essential in his shop. In this issue of Trade Secrets, he shows how to use it.
Product Instructions A-MAGNETS
How To Use Guitar Repair Magnets
These powerful Guitar Repair Magnets can serve a number of different functions in the shop.
Trade Secrets! Issue 123 September 30, 2010
How would you reach inside a guitar to do this gluing?
Dan Erlewine's got a puzzle on his hands: this guitar's center strip fell out along with the braces. These parts are meant to be glued BEFORE the guitar is assembled. How do you reach inside to do this on a completed guitar?
Product Instructions I-5961
Humbucker Pickup Kit
Assembly instructions for the humbucker pickup kit.
Product Instructions I-0463
Humbucking Pickup Cover
Directions for installing a cover on a humbucking pickup.
Product Instructions A-INSTANTADHESIVES
Inside Story on Instant Adhesives
Dan Erlewine explains the ins and outs of working with instant adhesives and "super" glues.
Trade Secrets! Issue 10 December 28, 2006
Installing an endpin jack
Ever have trouble installing an endpin jack? Did you chip the guitar's finish, or drill the hole out-of-square? Did you goof up on a customer's guitar? You'll want to read this week's Trade Secret from Dan Erlewine.
Trade Secrets! Issue 12 January 11, 2007
Installing an old-time banjo dowel stick
This week, Don MacRostie invents a new technique for an old technology: he shows how to accurately install a banjo dowel stick. Also, Bart Reiter sends a dowel-stick tip.
Trade Secrets! Issue 140 May 26, 2011
Installing side dots with the help of plywood scraps
Dan Erlewine shows the easy way to install side dots in guitar neck binding. And he has some tips for using plywood scraps around your shop, too!
Product Instructions I-1673
Introduction to engraving
An introduction to engraving using the Essential Engraving Kit.
Trade Secrets! Issue 185 February 28, 2013
Is this bridge saddle in the right place?
The free Fret Position Calculator at does the math, but can I trust its numbers for placing a Martin bridge? I tested the computer against my "stone age" method. — Dan Erlewine
Trade Secrets! Issue 100 November 12, 2009
It's a crime to cut pickup leads this short!
Erick Coleman has been rooting around in the parts drawers at Dan Erlewine's shop, and he's found a 1960s Gibson patent-sticker humbucker. It would be valuable if somebody hadn't cut off the pickup lead. Erick shows how to fix that.
Product Instructions I-0163
JackPot Wiring Diagrams
Manufacturer's installation instructions.
Product Instructions I-4380
Jaws Handheld Fret Press
An overview of and instructions for using the Jaws Handheld Fret Press.
Product Instructions I-4266
Jaws2 Fret Press
An overview of and instructions for using the Jaws2 Fret Press.
Product Instructions I-4272
Jaws3 Fret Press
An overview of and instructions for using the Jaws3 Fret Press.
Product Instructions I-3694
JLD Bridge Doctor Instructions
How to install the JLD Bridge Doctor in an acoustic guitar.
Trade Secrets! Issue 130 January 06, 2011
Keep that body in shape! Go-bar/neck jig gluing rig.
Dan Erlewine has to leave a guitar body with the back off for months. How to keep the sides from going out of shape during this time? Believe it or not, the answer is blue foam insulation from the home improvement store.
Product Instructions I-1977
L.R. Baggs FIVE.O Ukulele Pickup System Instructions
Installation instructions.

Online video available
L.R. Baggs presents Sierra Hull and Justin Moses
Sierra Hull & Justin Moses performing with LR Baggs Radius Mandolin Pickup and Lyric Acoustic Microphone.
Trade Secrets! Issue 40 July 26, 2007
Lacquer drop fill: hiding a scratch on a customer's Les Paul
As Dan Erlewine was packing a customer's Les Paul for shipment, he noticed that somebody in his shop had scratched the top! Time for some fast finish fixing -- here's how he made the scratch go away.
Product Instructions I-4406
Laskin's Engraving Filler Instructions
How to use Laskin's Engraving Filler.
Product Instructions I-LAWRENCE
Lawrence Research Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Lawrence Research Humbucking pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 38 July 12, 2007
Lesson in pearl engraving from Doug Unger
Doug Unger restores and reproduces exquisite turn-of-the-century 5-string banjos and early archtop mandolins. Doug shares a lesson in pearl engraving with Trade Secrets readers.
Product Instructions I-FRALIN
Lindy Fralin Humbucking Pickups
Wiring diagrams and color codes for Lindy Fralin Humbucking pickups.
Trade Secrets! Issue 208 January 16, 2014
Lindy Fralin on how to set pickup height
Lindy Fralin, of Lindy Fralin Pickups, shows how he sets pickup heights. Lindy shows it's not about measuring, it's about listening. Recorded at last Summer's Northwoods Seminar in Michigan.
Trade Secrets! Issue 152 November 23, 2011
Loose brace in a Martin D-35: how to fix the rattle
Dan Erlewine has a Martin D-35 with a loose brace inside, and it rattles. He shows how to make your own brace-fixing gizmos for a clean repair.
Trade Secrets! Issue 20 March 08, 2007
Lubricating guitar tuners
This week, we're in Dan's Guitar Garage for a Tune-up Special: how to clean and lube old guitar tuners, and get them working smoothly again.
Product Instructions I-LUGMAP
Lug maps for lever switches
Key to lug positions of popular 5-way switches.
Product Instructions I-8010
Lutherie Schools List
A list of reputable lutherie schools and programs of instruction.
Product Instructions I-2400
MacRostie Binding Trimmer Instructions
Assembly and operation instructions for the MacRostie Binding Trimmer.
Trade Secrets! Issue 103 December 24, 2009
Make a "stunt double" guitar body for benchtop work
Erick Coleman shows how he made a surrogate body for neck and fret work, following the free plans online at
Trade Secrets! Issue 129 December 23, 2010
Make custom labels for your guitars!
Dan Erlewine's making a forgery of an old Gibson label, using his brother as an accomplice (he's got a good excuse). While he's at it, he shows how you can make new custom labels for your own guitars.
Trade Secrets! Issue 8 December 14, 2006
Make this brad-point bit for installing side dots
In Trade Secrets this week, Dan Erlewine shows a trick for installing side dots that are perfectly positioned: he modifies a hardware-store drill bit to make the job easy.
Trade Secrets! Issue 88 May 28, 2009
Making a custom fire stripe pickguard to fit a baby guitar!
Dan Erlewine's in his guitar shop (or is it a toy shop today?) making a custom "fire stripe" pickguard just like the one on his 1939 Gibson J-35. He shows how to make a custom pickguard in any color variation you like.
Trade Secrets! Issue 209 January 30, 2014
Making a glue scraper/saw
Dan Erlewine went to the Columbus Guitar Show to sell some fixer-uppers. Nobody bought this beautiful 1930s Kay Deluxe; its neck joint problem must have seemed like too much work. The guitar came back home and volunteered for this Trade Secret about making a tiny saw for cleaning old glue joints!
Trade Secrets! Issue 48 November 15, 2007
Making a Les Paul clone look more vintage
Erick Coleman's finished tweaking a budget-priced Les Paul copy. It plays great, but one last thing's needed: making it look more like Jimmy Page's 1970s original.
Product Instructions A-NUTS
Making a Nut, Step-by-Step
Dan Erlewine, of Stewart-MacDonald's R&D Team, walks you through making and installing a new nut.
Trade Secrets! Issue 37 July 05, 2007
Making a pearloid pickguard with a 1950s vibe
Dan Erlewine's got an unusual 1951 guitar: a National with a Gibson body. The old pickguard came off in an earlier Trade Secrets, and now the new one goes on: it's an oddball pearloid guard that's worth checking out!
Trade Secrets! Issue 24 April 05, 2007
Making a perfect bridge with the Sanding Station
Dan Erlewine's getting fancy with his Sanding Station: with his shop-made jig, he's making better bridges than he ever has before.
Trade Secrets! Issue 207 January 02, 2014
Making a sharp-edged razor file for binding channels
Bad news: the binding on this old Gibson is crumbling to bits.
Worse news:that binding is the only thing holding the body together!
Dan Erlewine's plan is to replace the binding bit-by-bit, so the top doesn't fall off.

By grinding a new edge on a razor file, he creates a tool for cutting crisp square binding channels without a router.
Trade Secrets! Issue 211 February 27, 2014
Making custom guitar bindings when stock sizes don't fit
Replacing a section of this binding from the 1930s requires thicknesses that are no longer available. Dan Erlewine has to custom-size some new wood bindings on his drill press. It's not hard to do: watch the new pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Trade Secrets! Issue 82 March 05, 2009
Making custom-colored patching filler baking soda
Dan Erlewine's cooking with baking soda and ColorTone stains -- fixing a hole in his granddaughter's birthday present.
Trade Secrets! Issue 1 October 26, 2006
Making new bridge pins look old on a vintage Gibson
This week, Dan Erlewine reveals the seven-pin bridge that's hidden by Robert Johnson's hand in that most-famous photo of the King of the Delta Blues.
Trade Secrets! Issue 17 February 15, 2007
Making new tuners look vintage
This week, Erick Coleman shows how to add 50 years in 30 minutes: he makes a new set of tuners look like they've been around since the 1950s!
Trade Secrets! Issue 202 October 24, 2013
Mamie Minch on guitar oxidation: instant aging
Chemicals that add or remove years: Mamie Minch shows how she fades away old brown oxidation ù or adds it, to make a new patch of spruce match the surrounding wood.
Product Instructions I-5148
Mandolin Kit
Assembly instructions for the Mandolin Kits, including a recommended tool and supplies list.
Product Instructions I-0781
Mandolin Truss Rod Instructions
Instructions for the installation and adjustment of mandolin truss rods.
Product Instructions I-5008
Mandolin Tuner Drill Jig Instructions
Tuner installation instructions using the Mandolin Tuner Drill Jig.
Martin Guitar Bridge Shaping Gauge
Build a shaping gauge to fit the contours of a Martin Bridge.
Product Instructions I-1217
Metric 3-way Toggle Switch
Installation and wiring instructions for the 3-way Toggle Switch.
Product Instructions I-0670-M
Metric String Action Gauge
How to determine string action with the Metric String Action Gauge.
Trade Secrets! Issue 205 December 05, 2013
Michael Greenfield shows how to sand guitar bodies
Michael Greenfield of Greenfield Guitars explains clearly why it's critical to have properly shaped and sanded guitar bodies before you rout them for binding. Michael shared this great Trade Secret with us during the 2013 Northwoods Seminar last August.
Trade Secrets! Issue 201 October 10, 2013
Michi Matsuda's gunpowder scorched guitar
West/East concept guitar: Michihiro Matsuda taught guitar design at Galloup Guitars' Northwoods Guitar Seminar in August. We were lucky enough to get this video as Bryan Galloup interviewed Michi about his unique gunpowder scorching.
Product Instructions I-5561
Micro Finishing Papers
Micro finishing papers cut more quickly and smoothly than other finishing papers, leaving no scratches when used properly.
Trade Secrets! Issue 135 March 17, 2011
Mixing active and passive pickups in a jazz guitar
Dan Erlewine wants to install two very different pickups in a jazz guitar. When there's no place to fit active system's battery he comes up with a simple, flexible solution.
Trade Secrets! Issue 11 January 04, 2007
Mixing red epoxy for cherry-finish repairs
This week, somebody's attempt to fix a 1960 Les Paul is an example of what not to do. Dan Erlewine tries an experiment that saves this smashed-up guitar's finish: he creates cherry-red epoxy.
Trade Secrets! Issue 72 October 16, 2008
Money talk: estimating prices for repair work
Dan Erlewine shows the steps of inspecting a customer's guitar, and gives advice on repair prices for the work required.
Trade Secrets! Issue 136 March 31, 2011
Moneytalk: an easy repair -- until it blew up in my hands!
Dan Erlewine started a simple, quick repair, but one unlucky hammer tap created a whole new problem to solve!
Trade Secrets! Issue 133 February 17, 2011
Moneytalk: Quickly installing an acoustic pickup
In our Money Talk series about operating a repair business, Dan Erlewine tallies up the time and expenses of a profitable pickup installation job.
Product Instructions I-5068
Mounting a Kent Armstrong Suspended Jazz Pickup
How to mount and wire a Kent Armstrong Suspended Jazz pickup.
Product Instructions I-5869
Mounting Instructions for Mandolin Pickguard
How to mount a mandolin pickguard.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 234 January 15, 2015
My friend Carl's bridge gluing tips
From Dan Erlewine: “My friend Carl, visiting from Hong Kong, spent a couple days in my shop. I was making this Trade Secret about gluing a bridge, and Carl chipped in with an additional tip. Thanks, Carl!”
Trade Secrets! Issue 149 September 29, 2011
My guitar's too vintage for club gigs, so I created a backup
Erick Coleman's 1967 Melody Maker is getting too old and pricey for knockaround club gigs. With some simple mods to an affordable new Gibson, he's made himself a good backup guitar.
Product Instructions I-4330
National-Style Biscuit Bridge
Installation instructions for a National-style Biscuit Bridge.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 227 October 09, 2014
Neat trick for peghead binding (tiger inlay)
Dan Erlewine’s building a guitar for a tattoo artist. It’s solid black walnut, with a fancy peghead inlay: a tiger image drawn by the customer.

In this Trade Secret, Dan tells about that inlay and shares a neat trick for exactly sizing the binding that goes around the peghead.
Product Instructions I-5200
Neck Construction Tips and Techniques
An overview of neck construction tips and techniques.
Product Instructions I-2004
Neck Relief Gauge Instructions
The Neck Relief Gauge is a quick and easy way to measure a guitar's neck relief/curvature when adjusting the truss rod.
Product Instructions I-5249
Neck Set Gauge Instructions
How to use the Neck Set Gauge for a neck reset, to calculate a new bridge thickness, and setting the neck for a newly built guitar.
Trade Secrets! Issue 87 May 14, 2009
New pickups and new sound, with Golden Age Prewired Pickguards
Erick Coleman responds to a tech call emergency: "This guitar sounds bad, and I'm supposed to record with it tomorrow night!"
Trade Secrets! Issue 16 February 08, 2007
New ways to use the Guitar Repair Vise
In this issue of Trade Secrets, Dan makes his Guitar Repair Vise sit up and roll over. Who knew cast iron could be so flexible?
Product Instructions I-NITROCELLULOSE
Nitrocellulose Finishing Schedule
A step-by-step flow chart of nitrocellulose finishing.
Trade Secrets! Issue 187 March 28, 2013
No-cost tools for shaping Martin guitar bridges
Two do-it-yourself tools that I've been using for years to shape the bridges on Martins: I show you how to make one in a jiffy, and there's a free downloadable plan for the other one! -- Dan Erlewine
Trade Secrets! Issue 168 July 05, 2012
None of your beeswax? Potting pickups with paraffin.
Erick Coleman answers a frequently-asked question: how (and why) to wax-pot a pickup.
Product Instructions I-5350
Nut Making and Setup
How to replace a nut and setup your guitar, with setup specs from different players and factories.
Product Instructions I-2003
Nut Slotting Gauge Instructions
How to determine nut slot depth with the Nut Slotting Gauge.
Product Instructions I-2002
Oak Grigsby 4-way 2-pole Lever Switch Instructions
Installation and wiring diagram for the Oak Grigsby 4-Way 2-pole Lever Switch.
Trade Secrets! Issue 32 May 31, 2007
One dead string driving me crazy! (Transducer trouble...)
I thought I'd fixed this acoustic saddle pickup, but the customer sent it back because the problem wasn't solved (STRIKE ONE)! I took another swing at it... (STRIKE TWO)! I almost struck out! -Dan Erlewine
Product Instructions I-5981