How to Install 'Pinned' Tuners

How to Install 'Pinned' Tuners

Why do some tuners have pins sticking out the back and no screw-holes? How would you go about installing tuners like this on your guitar? Well, it’s a little more involved than a screw-secured tuner but it’s still pretty straightforward.

Check it out…

Stuck Stuff: Removing tun-o-matic Bushings

Stuck Stuff: Removing tun-o-matic Bushings

It’s occurred to me that a lot of a guitar repairer’s time is spent removing things from guitars. Sometimes that just involves unscrewing some screws but, other times (often?), some additional effort and knowledge is required to safely remove something. 

Like various ‘bushings’. Read on…

The Importance of a Snug Wrench

The Importance of a Snug Wrench

If you’ve read Sketchy Setups, you’ll probably have spotted that I mention the importance of using the right sized wrench for adjusting your truss rod.

Well, let me just mention it again:


Seriously. Really important.

This is especially true of guitars and basses that use an hex/allen wrench.

Snake Oil: What To Use On Your Fretboard

Oh, the endless, endless debate. Pick your favourite guitar/bass forum and there’s a good chance you can find at least one multi-page thread about what oil to use on your fingerboard.

What Fingerboard Oil Should I Use?

Lemon oil, baby oil, mineral oil, Three-In-One oil, linseed oil (boiled or raw?), lavender-scented essential oil, Honest Dave’s Super-Duper Never-Been-Bested Slinky Fretboard Juice, etc.

Opinions and viewpoints. Everyone’s got one.

Me too.

So who’s right?

Well, I am, obviously.

Nah. It’s not really that simple. Let me tell you what I mean.

First up, though, we should mention that some guitar manufacturers recommend against some oils. Martin Guitars, for instance, recommend you don’t use lemon oil. You should consider whatever I say on this topic against what your guitar manufacturer recommends. I certainly won’t be offended if you want to follow their advice and play things safe.

If you want my advice, here’s how our conversation will go:

You: So, which of the many, many oils do you recommend?

Me: I don’t think it matters much.

You: Whaaaat?! Have you gone nuts? Have you lost your mind?

Me: Meh.

You: Well, what do you actually use then?

Me: Linseed Oil. You’ll probably find a fair bit of opinion about whether to use boiled or raw linseed oil. I use boiled.

Here’s the thing though…

I don’t think it matters much.

You: Why? Tell me why.

Because we’re not going to be using enough of it that it’ll make a huge difference.

It’s a rookie mistake to saturate your fingerboard with oil every couple of weeks. Let’s say this clearly:

  • You DO NOT need much oil.
  • You DO NOT need to oil often.
  • Your fingerboard IS NOT as dry as you think it is.

Oiling once or maybe twice a year is usually more than enough. Honestly, it’s almost certain that your fingerboard isn’t too dry (and if it is, you've probably got humidity issues, not oil issues).

Also, if you’re going to oil, you only need a very small amount. I know you’ve probably been squirting and smearing this stuff all over the fingerboard like a Texas oil baron, but no more. From now on, you’re a frugal oiler.




Almost none.

If you use oil properly and infrequently, in my opinion, it’s much less critical what oil you actually use.

No ‘soaking’ with oil. Don’t pile it on and wait for it to ‘penetrate’.

You want to dampen a rag with some of your oil of choice (see above for why it shouldn’t matter too much). Rub it into the board, cleaning any grime that’s accumulated. There shouldn’t be a film of oil left behind—maybe just the lightest sheen. Start at one end and by the time you get to the other give the whole thing a good wipe with a dry rag to make sure there’s absolutely nothing left soaking.

If you do this right, you shouldn’t need to overly concern yourself with dire warnings about rotting fingerboards, or corroded hardware, or oil build-up, or oil demons living in your fretboard. You shouldn’t need to worry about what oil you actually use.

And, because you’re just using a little oil on a rag, it’s easier to control and keep away from areas where you don’t really want oil (i.e. everywhere else). If you get a smear on your lacquer or hardware, it’s easy to clean off quickly.

By the way, if there's an accumulation of fingerboard gunk, use an old plastic card—like a credit card to scrape away most of it before you start oiling. Of course, you don't let this gunk build up, do you? Also, if you're planning on polishing your frets, do that before oiling too. 

The Bottom Line

I reckon you should stop worrying about the many, many forum threads discussing the pros and cons of various oils and concentrate on oiling your fingerboard properly and far less often. ;-)

Feel free to buy Old Ma McGarnagle’s Pressed Komodo Dragon Fingerboard Oil for a hundred bucks a bottle if you like. Or, just buy a bottle of linseed oil in your hardware store for next to nothing and you can pass it on to your grandchildren.

Your call.

Don’t Burn Down Your House

No discussion of this subject should occur without a warning about fire risk. Most of these oils are flammable and, while you’ll likely be careful around the oil itself, remember that the rags you use are a REAL FIRE RISK.

Seriously. I know it seems slightly far-fetched but in the right conditions those rags can spontaneously catch fire.That's SPONTANEOUSLY! All by themselves.

Do NOT crumple them up and throw them away—that’s bad. Heat can build up in the folds and catch fire. Lay them flat outside (weighed down with a stone) to dry. Once they’ve dried, and gone a bit hard, things are a little more safe but don’t get complacent. It can be a good idea, once dry, to keep the rags in an old paint can or a jar. Top up the container with water and you’re good.

Be safe.

Oh, and check with your local authorites for any requirements you might have to adhere to when you dispose of this sort of stuff. Be nice to the planet—I kinda like it here.

guitar fretboard oil

Setting Intonation on a Wrapover or Stop-Tailpiece Bridge (Including PRS)

Some guitars have a wrapover tailpice style bridge. If you’re not familiar with these, imagine the tailpiece where the strings anchor on a Les Paul. That’s it.

The strings go through from the front, wrapover the rear of the tailpiece and then make their way up the neck.

“Why?” you cry, “Why would you do such a thing?”

Well, originally, because it was cheap. Costs less to just bung on a tailpiece than to pay for a tun-o-matic bridge as well. The ‘student’ model, entry-level guitars like the Les Paul Junior came with just a wrapover bridge when they started out.

And here’s the thing… They can sound great. You see, good coupling between bridge and body is a big part of good guitar tone. With one of these wrapovers, there’s nothing else. It’s a hunk of metal bolted to a guitar. Not much to get in the way of tasty tone.

The problem, of course, comes when we consider intonation.

On your regular Strat bridge or tun-o-matic, we can individually set each string saddle to the optimal location for that string’s intonation.

On a wrapover… not so much.

It’s compromise city. The bridge is adjustable ‘overall’.

By that, I mean that, on the bridge, behind where it mounts on each post, is a small ‘grub-screw’. Adusting the screw on either the bass or treble side can change the angle the bridge mounts at.

Intonation on wrapover/stop-tailpiece bridge is accomplished by adjusting overall angl

For instance, if you adjust the bass-side screw clockwise, it pushes against the mounting post and moves that side of the bridge further back. Essentially, the overall angle of the bridge can be changed and this can be used to approximate a good intonation.

On a guitar, this isn’t really a recipe for perfect intonation. That’s the thing though—if you’re playing one of these, you’re accepting the compromise.


First up, let’s recap our intonation prerequisites.

The rest of your setup must be right for you before you start. Intonation is the last thing to set so get your action, relief, nut and pickups sorted out first. You should have fresh strings (of your usual gauge and brand) installed, properly stretched, and tuned up as normal.

Remember, always check intonation and tuning with the guitar in the playing position (i.e. not lying on a table or counter but upright as if you were playing it).

The basic theory is the same as any other guitar:

  1. Pick the open string and verify it’s in tune.
  2. Fret at the 12th fret and pick this note. Compare it to the open string—is it flat or sharp?
  3. If the 12th fret note is flat, the string must be 'shortened' by moving the bridge forward a little.
  4. If the 12th fret note is sharp, lengthen the string by moving the bridge back a little.
  5. Retune the open string and go back to 1.

Of course, on a wrapover tailpiece bridge, you can’t do each string individually. Instead, you'll adjust the angle of the bridge to get things in the ballpark. 

I like to set the outside strings first. Get them correct first.

Then check the middle strings and see how they seem.

From there, you can tweak the overall angle a little to ‘balance up’ the intonation so that no one string is too far out.

Remember… compromise.


Some wrapovers come with a moulded or carved ‘intonation line’. This gives you an advantage over the straight line of the simplest of these bridges. The intonation line provides a ‘good for most people’ intonation by replicating the stagger of a properly intonated guitar.

The PRS bridge is probably the most recognisable of these pre-intonated models. Each string bears off a differnt point on a 'staggered front end’ of the bridge. Using the grub screws to get the bridge to a good angle will generally give a pretty good overall intonation.

Again, start with the outside strings and then check the others.

'Gibson-style' pre-intonated bridge


You can get wrapover bridges that have adjustable saddles built in. These can be a good way to improve your intonation without changing your guitar’s look or vibe too much. Think of these as a tun-o-matic built into a stop-tailpiece. Use the grub screws to set the overall angle and get things close and then adjust each saddle the same way you would for a tun-o-matic.

If you're planning to buy one of these, make sure it's right for your guitar. Some of them can be taller than the regular tailpiece bridge which might cause problems getting a good action. 

Intonable Wrapover bridge - individual saddles can be adjusted for each strin

Quick Tip: Stiff Truss Rods

Just a quickie.

Sometimes, you’ll try to adjust a truss rod and it’ll feel… ‘wrong’. Maybe it’ll be a little hard to adjust or it might just feel ‘gritty’ or reluctant to turn.

Trust your instincts on this. Don’t force it.

Here’s an easy little trick that will often help.

Before you tighten it, loosen it. This on its own can sometimes be enough to free things up a little.

However, even better, is if you remove the adjustment nut completely. Then, clean the threads in the rod and nut as best you can. A small wire brush is helpful but be careful of the headstock finish.

The pièce de résistance… Lube it up.

A little grease or Vaseline works wonders. Don’t go crazy with it but work a little into the threaded hole in the nut and even leave a thin film on the nut’s ’face’ (where it bears against the neck).

Screw it back on and you’ll probably find things much easier to adjust. 

Lube it up with Vaseline

Happy truss rod moves freely

Sketchy Setups Now Available

It's done. 

It took some head-scratching and a very late night but Sketchy Setups is now available.

It's twenty-eight, digital pages of hand-drawn illustrations showing the easy way to set up your Strat (don't worry—more instruments will be available soon).

So, if you've always wanted to set up your own instrument, Sketchy Setups will guide you through it, in as simple and friendly a way as possible.

Sketchy Setups #1: The Fender Strat is on sale for $4 (twenty percent off) right now.

This offer only lasts for the next day, though, so get moving. Offer ends on the 7th August at noon Eastern Time.

Get your discounted copy of Sketchy Setups here – Just click the buy link.

It would be a massive favour if you could give me a shout-out on whatever social media place you hang around it. That would help me out hugely and I'd really appreciate it. 

It'd be great if you could say something nice and include the link

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You rock!

Now I'm off to curl up somewhere and gnaw nervously on my fingernails. 

Thank you again. 

Sketchy Setups Launches Tomorrow

Wow, my hand hurts. 

But, I'm working through the pain because Sketchy Setups launches tomorrow. 

I'm currently putting the finishing touches to the download package, but I think it's coming together nicely.

My aim was to write a simple and fun guide to let anyone setup a guitar. No digging through thick books, no trying to make sense of the manufacturer's vague instructions, no searching for the pearls among millions of forum posts. 

Easy and no fuss. 

I've hand drawn and written everything in this guide to give a friendly, painless, path to great setup. 

I'll post tomorrow as soon as it's available. There are a couple of photos of original inked (pre-scanning) pages below.

I'm excited. And nervous. And tired. Mostly excited, though. 

Haze Setup Sale 2015

Setups may make me blind. I hope you're happy.  ;-)

Setups may make me blind. I hope you're happy.  ;-)

It's time.

Time I take my sanity in my hands and risk it all for the sake of beautifully set-up guitars and basses.

Time for the Utterly-Crazy-What-On-Earth-Am-I-Doing Haze Guitars January Setup Sale.

I don't know why I do it every year. By the end of the month, I end up a gibbering wreck, huddled in a corner, in a feotal position, rocking back and forth and muttering, "Why can't the tun-o-matics match the fingerboard radius?" over and over and over.

But still I do it. In many ways, I'm like some sort of hero. Let's not get into that now, though. All that blushing won't help my blood pressure.

The details:

Any guitars and basses dropped off for setup between January 5th and January 31st will get a Haze-quality setup for clearly crazy prices.

If you've a guitar, a setup will cost €30 and will include a fresh set of strings*. This will apply to acoustics, electrics and even pointy, Floyd-equipped, axes for the duration of the sale.

If you've a bass, a setup will cost €25 (plus the cost of strings if you want or need them).

Drop me a line and we'll get your guitars and basses playing their best.

*A little info on strings. As standard, I fit D'Addario for electrics and Martin for acoustics. If you prefer something else, feel free to let me have a set. Alternatively, I can supply some and sort out any difference in costs (although this might add a little time if I need to order something).