For a long time, I have called my 1983 Fender Strat ‘quirky’.
It has an amazing neck. That is the main reason I have kept it around for the last fifteen or so years. Plus, it has a great sound. Classic Fender tone matched with a neck that feels oh-so comfortable in my hands.
But, for at least the past few years, it has been… quirky. Odd buzzing has cropped up at various spots on the fretboard. But it happened so slowly that I began to think that maybe it had always been that way and I just hadn’t really ever noticed before. I figured it was part of the guitar. The price of admission for playing a cool old Strat.
Fortunately for me, I brought the guitar along with me to Blisstock in Nashville this past May. Also fortunately for me, luthier and all around nice guy Steve Benford of Benford Guitars happened to pick it up.
He took one look at the guitar and said “You like to play the D chord.”
Guilty as charged.
It didn’t take more than a minute or two with the guitar before Mr. Benford turned to me and said, “PT, your guitar needs a fret job.”
A fret job? Sure, I’d heard of this mythical and invasive-sounding procedure, but I had never even considered having it done. I may not have actually went through with it, but something about the authoritative tone in Steve’s voice convinced me this was not an optional repair.
The guitar ended up going home to Milwaukee with Benford, and I made the drive back to the mountains of eastern Tennessee one guitar lighter. But a few weeks later, a large box arrived for me, and inside was a familiar case covered in Spider-Man and Ho-Chunk Casino stickers.
I picked up the guitar, strummed my beloved D chord, and my world was rocked.
Here was my comfortable old guitar, with all the tone it ever had, but now it was different. And it wasn’t just the fresh shine on the frets. It played like a new guitar.
For some reason, I had never considered that I might be able to keep the feel and sound of nearly thirty year-old Strat and enjoy the playability of a fresh out of the factory guitar. And all for the price of a relatively painless refret!
So the moral here is that we do not have to live with imperfect instruments. What you think of as the inherent imperfections of your instruments may be solvable. Taking your guitar in for a checkup with a talented luthier could solve the problems you didn’t even know you had.