If you’re like me, you’re probably starting to go a little stir crazy being stuck in your house. So while plenty of people will use this time to get in shape, learn how to cook, or drink, let’s focus on some easy/fun guitar related tasks to take your mind off of the quarantine! Pretty much all the tasks listed below require a fairly small time or financial commitment but will definitely keep you occupied and productive while hopefully learning some new tricks.
Assemble A Guitar Kit
I’ve written about this at length before a bunch for this site and Ultimate-Guitar.com and I won’t stop anytime soon. Guitar kits are basically how I learned everything I know about guitars. The first kit I ever assembled also directly lead to me being hired by UG and set off this whole career in guitar journalism. So who knows what putting a guitar together will do for you!
Really all you’re gonna need is probably a $15 soldering iron you got off Amazon and an electric drill. Finishing the guitar is up to you, as I do a really simple Polyurethane finish that I just sand in, but you can always go as hard as you want and try to a Nitro spray on finish. My recommendation, get a kit from The Fretwire, they have a ton of options, good prices, and on the off chance something is wrong with your kit they will be responsive to messages and compensate you.
Install New Pickups
Whether you have soldering experience or not, there are now more aftermarket options available than ever before. Try Guitar Fetish’s Kwik-plug system that takes no soldering and has crazy pickup options from Lipstick to Filter’Tron to EMG-style pickups. Want a really premium setup that will last a lifetime? Shell out a few more bucks to 920D for a custom, hand-wired harness with premium brand name pickups or boutique works of art and then just drop the pre-wired pickguard into your guitar! Or do what I do and endlessly search Reverb for cheap used pickups that you want to wire into something crazy. Again, get a $15 Amazon soldering iron, watch a few YouTube videos, and get off to the races.
Set Up Your Guitar
Hearing fret buzz? Is the action too high or low? Now is a great time to dig into some of the basic guitar tech skills needed to set up your guitar. Easier things like adjusting the truss rod to correct a forward or backwards bow can solve some action or fret buzz issues. While adjusting the string height at the bridge is another simple action adjustment. Feeling more adventurous? Look into how to properly level and dress frets and sand down those annoying fret edges you’ve been complaining about. All these skills are easier to master than you may be expecting and while you’re working on the neck, don’t forget to condition those dark wood fretboards with over the counter conditioner or an oil finish such as tung or lemon!
Refinish Your Guitar
Admittedly, I’ve always been hesitant to jump into the world of finishing guitars with anything more than some sand on Poly. But if I’m gonna be stuck home then it may be time to invest in some clear coat, spray cans, and study up. Likewise, if you’re in the same boat why not jump into guitar finishing while stuck at home, especially with the crazy amount of resources I’ve found on YouTube to set us all in the right direction.
Record That EP or Mixtape or Demo You Always Wanted To
No, this isn’t a guitar tech project, but it is just as important. If you have an audio interface, recording gear, or even just a smartphone with a decent mic, take the time to finally get those riffs and melodies down. Even if you don’t record formal versions of your songs, having as nice a demo around as possible can save you endless hassle in the future. Plus, once you have your ideas down I always found it easier to add new parts or really finish the song. It’s a great feeling hearing your favorite riffs and ideas played back to you, so take all that time you’d spend at the bar and make a record!
Try Your Hand At A DIY Pedal Kit
This is something I’ve wanted to try ever since I saw Var Guitar try one of the Korg Nu:Tekt kits. It doesn’t seem all that much harder than soldering in some pickups. Plus it may give you some excellent insight into taking better care of and repairing your beloved pedals when they suddenly stop working. Maybe this will be the next project I work on after the partscasters and bigsby install video…