What Does a Guitar Technician Do?
A guitar technician maintains and sets up guitars for performances, in addition to handling more complex maintenance and refurbishment of instruments in a workshop. Some technicians prefer to focus on working on the road with touring bands, while others may work primarily in workshop environments on complex restoration and maintenance projects. People usually acquire the skills for this job through apprenticeship training, where they work under the supervision of a skilled guitar technician to develop their abilities. Like other technicians who work with instruments, some proficiency with the instrument is also necessary.
Guitar technicians who work with bands pack up the instruments and equipment for events, make sure they are loaded and unloaded carefully, and set up at the venues. This can include stringing guitars, tuning them, and making any necessary adjustments. The guitar technician works with other staff to set up and test amplification systems, and set up effects pedals and other equipment the musician may need while on stage.
This work requires familiarity with the musician, and with the musical style, as the tuning and setup process must be customized carefully. The guitar technician usually needs to be able to see the set list to determine which tools the guitarist may need, and may need to set up multiple guitars to allow the musician to choose from a range of instruments. Extra instruments can also be necessary in the event of equipment failure and other issues.
Technicians working on the road also maintain instruments. This can include cleaning and polishing between events, restringing, checking for damage, and performing minor repairs. This may need to occur while on the road in one of the trailers maintained by the van. In some cases, it's possible to have access to a guitar workshop for maintenance and repair work, by prior arrangement with a venue. The guitar technician may spend a lot of time traveling, and time off can be hard to get when a musician relies on a specific technician and prefers not to work with others.
Other guitar technicians work in a fixed workshop. Clients bring instruments to them for inspection, maintenance, and repair. This work can include delicate or complex repairs on antique and valuable instruments, along with collector's items. Familiarity with guitars can also lead to side work in identifying instruments. This may be necessary to return stolen property to its original owner, and for activities like authenticating rare guitars before they are sold at auction or donated to charity.
@Markerrag -- and that is one of the reasons those local guitar shops with techs on staff are great. A lot of them take care of the setup as soon as guitars a delivered to the store, so they are ready to go as soon as you buy one.
Any good guitar shop has a tech on staff and you might want to pay that professional a visit if you grab a guitar used or off an Internet-based retailer. A good setup is critical to the overall sound and feel of a guitar. Guitars rarely roll out of the factor with a good setup, so having that done after the sale is one of those important steps that a lot of people skip.
What is a setup? The tech simply adjusts the intonation so the guitar will get in tune properly, makes sure fret buzz is eliminated and in some cases even files down frets so they won't cut your finger when you glide across them. Don't get me wrong -- you might get a great deal on a guitar that you pick up used or from an Internet retailer, but setting up that instrument is important. Fortunately, a good setup doesn't cost just a whole lot.
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