Tools Used to Adjust Your Guitar

What makes our guitars so special? The meticulous attention we give to each and every guitar to make it easy to play and fun learn on. Here are some of the tools we use.

Straight Edge


Checking the neck angle to make sure neck is installed level with the surface of the guitar top.


Checking that bridge height is level with top of fingerboard


Checking the amount of relief in the neck/fingerboard. Relief is adjusting the fingerboard to be slightly concave to allow clearance for the strings vibration arc.

String Action Gauge


Measuring the height of the strings above the 12th fret. This measurement is taken to determine how much the bridge saddle needs to be filed to bring the strings down to proper height above the 12th fret. This is critical adjustment for easy playability. 

Feeler Gauge


Checking the height of the strings above the first fret. This is another critical adjustment for easy playability in first position.

Inspection Mirror

Checking guitar interior, braces and bridge plate.

Truss Rod Hex Key


Used to adjust the truss rod in the neck of the guitar which, in turn adjusts the amount of relief in the fingerboard (see Straight Edge 3 above). This matches the shape of the fingerboard to the vibration arc of the strings. Unfortunately, many cheap and bad adjustments are made by over-adjusting the truss rod to bring the fingerboard closer to the strings. This gives the appearance of good action and playability but produces technical playing problems such as uneven playing action, fret buzz and difficulty in holding the strings down. It is faster and less costly for the manufacturer and repair shop but ultimately creates developmental problems for the guitar player.

Nut Slotting Gauge


Used to accurately and precisely measures the height of the strings over the first fret. With this tool, the nut slots can be accurately cut to the proper depth for even and consistent playability.

Nut and Saddle Vise with Nut and Saddle Files


A vise specially designed to hold nuts and saddles so they can be accurately shaped and cut to size with the appropriate files and sandpaper.

Radius Gauge


Measuring the radius of the fingerboard and comparing it to the radius of the bridge saddle. Having the fingerboard and string radius match contributes to the best possible action adjustment for overall easy playability. This also helps to promote proper technical development of the guitar player (see Under The String Radius Gauge 13 below).

String Lifter and Nut Slotting File


The String lifter is used to lift a string from it’s slot so the nut can be cut to the proper depth for easy playability.

Guitar Repair Vise


A specialty vise used to securely hold a guitar so it can be accurately adjusted or repaired.

Under the String Radius Gauge


Used to adjust the radius of the strings to match the radius of the fingerboard (see Radius Gauge 10 above). This helps to give the best possible feel, ease of playing and control with the least possible effort. When you see players that make it look effortless to play, it is largely the result of good technical development on properly adjusted guitars.

Assortment of Luthier Tools


Assortment of Luthier Tools for adjusting and repairing guitars This is a small assortment of specialty tools used by luthiers to make and repair guitars.

Fret Rocker


Used to find a fret that is higher than surrounding frets. A high fret will cause a string to buzz on the note fretted below or miss the note altogether. Also, string action (the height of the strings above the frets) cannot be any lower than the highest fret. The solution is to make all the frets level (of equal height).

Fret Leveling File


Used to level a high fret. A high fret is discovered by noticing string fret buzz and then confirming the issue with the fret rocker tool.

Fret Rocker


Notice the fret filings where the fret was filed and leveled. (See Fret Rocker description above).

Preparing the fingerboard for fret honing


Honing or “leveling” the frets so they are all even (same height) for the best possible consistently and easy playability.

Radius Sanding Block with sand paper to level uneven frets


This tool is used when many or all the frets are slightly out of level. The Radius Sanding block has a radius that matches the radius of the fingerboard. The end results are a level and even playing field which also allows the action (string height) to be lowered to specifications.

Fret Crowning File


This file is used to reshape frets to their original shape after being honed/leveled.

Fret Polishing Wheel


The polishing wheel is used to smooth and polish the frets back to their original smooth texture and luster