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Blood on Satan’s Claw & other guitar horror stories

We’re very proud to present a guest article from Rod Vaughan, our resident luthier & guitar tech! Let’s hope you’re not feeling too delicate, this one’s definitely for those of you with a strong constitution:

I was working in the lab late last night when I beheld a terrible sight … Actually it was in my workshop, about three in the afternoon … however, the blood and the evidence of manic scratching were certainly real. The pristine maple neck of a brand new Stratocaster, horribly scarred with unsightly scoring and compression marks, inflicted by the talons of persons unknown was only slightly worse than the sight of copious amounts of dried blood, spattered all over the top and the absorbent interior of an almost brand-new electro-acoustic.

Most folk can appreciate the aged patina which develops on a well used guitar – heck, they’re now even making you pay extra for it – but there is a definite downside to this condition.

In basic terms, a guitar is a machine with movable parts. The adjustment of said parts requires them to be in a fully operational condition.

When saddle screw threads are locked solid beneath an impenetrable layer of dried skin-cells, mucus and various other body fluids they are unlikely to ever work properly ever again.

Whilst I acknowledge that we can have an extremely personal relationship with our chosen instruments, often using them as a means of expressing various pent up emotions, things can get a little out of hand.

I remember one customer who, judging from the state of its case, clearly loved his mandolin – Monica Lewinsky would have had a field day!

If you value your guitar, look after it. A sensible wipe over with a soft cloth every now and again will work wonders, even if it isn’t the proverbial ‘lint-free’ variety but please don’t go crazy with the oil-based products – too much can act as a solvent, ungluing things which need to remain glued.

Similarly, I understand why it might be useful to have the nails on your plucking hand a bit longer for finger-picking playing styles but please keep the ones on your fretting hand nice and short. Not only will it prevent you from creating a great deal of difficult to remove damage on the guitar’s neck, it will actually enable you to be more precise with your fingering and ultimately, play better guitar.

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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