How to Repair an Acoustic Electric Guitar

Written by kirk maltbee
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Acoustic electric guitars offer you the best of both worlds when it comes to guitar tones: You get to keep the woody acoustic tone of the guitar, while the on-board electronics allow for better attenuation of the pickup signal. Acoustic electric guitars, sometimes referred to as AEGs, have been popular for decades for that reason, but like any instrument, they can require some TLC every now and then. You may need to fix your guitar's intonation and pitch, common problems with AEGs.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Electronic guitar tuner
  • Towel
  • Small pillow
  • Metal file
  • Small bone piece (i.e., discarded saddle piece)
  • Cotton swab
  • Industrial-strength adhesive gel
  • Small hacksaw

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  1. 1

    Use the tuner to determine which string(s) are registering too sharp or flat upon tuning the guitar to standard. Place the guitar on a flat and stable work surface with the towel underneath to protect the finish on the back of the guitar from possible scratches, then place the small pillow under the headstock/neck for stability.

  2. 2

    Gently file either end of the bone piece down to .040 inches in thickness. Loosen the guitar's strings considerably, then pull them away from the guitar, thus dislodging the strings from the nut at the top of the neck to allow for more work room. Dab one end of the cotton swab with the adhesive gel and apply a small amount to the thin (filed) end of the bone saddle piece.

  3. 3

    Hold the piece vertically and press the piece down onto the fingerboard, flush to the side of the nut closest to the first fret. Use your fingernail to apply pressure to the side of the bone piece and press it into the side of the nut; hold it until the glue takes hold (at least one minute). Saw the thicker part of the bone piece away.

  4. 4

    File the top of the newly attached bone piece smooth and level with the nut, then turn the file on its side and file a slot into the bone piece that's congruent with the slot on the nut. Blow away filing dust and slide the string(s) back into the slot. Retune the strings and use the tuner to ensure proper pitch.

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