Repair and Maintenance Tips

Sharp Frets:  If your frets seems sharp to the touch, your fretboard is dry!  Your instrument needs some humidity in its life.  Maple fretboards are more susceptible to dryness than rosewood.  Hydrate your instrument – there are case humidifiers in better music stores and room humidifiers at the local drug store.  After 24 to 48 hours of rehydration, if the frets are still sharp they need to be gently files.  Tape off the board or get some guards from a guitar supply store and use a fret file (or metal emery board in a pinch) to file down the sharp edges.

Fretboard:   Oiling - it is easy to overdo this!  For most of the country, the fretboard should be oiled once or twice a year – no more.  But in dry climates or in cold weather where you are using lots of dry forced air heat, you may need to do it more often.  We use Guitar Honey at the DBG shop but any fine furniture oil will do.  Be sure to careful rub all excess oil off the fretboard.  It can gunk up your strings (and your fingers) if you don’t.

Maintaining Hardware:  Wipe down your hardware!  Especially if you have very acidic hands. It is never fun to get rusted set screws out of a bridge saddle. Your instrument will function and look/last much longer!  A little WD40 on a cotton swab will help clear up lightly rusted parts. Check and if necessary tighten the tuners - both the nut around the string shaft and the screw on back of headstock (be careful, don't be a gorilla!) - as well as adjust the tension on the button. 

Routinely check the Tuning Key hardware -  the threaded grommet/ sleeve that goes through the headstock and also the Phillips head screw on the backside of the headstock, and the one going into the tuner shaft (in the middle of the "knob" on the tuner).  That screw adjusts the tension - too loose and the tuner is sloppy.  With instruments as resonant as the MTDs, these do loosen.

Check the Strap Buttons- these loosen up quite often especially in basswood bodied instruments.  Per our Artist Bill Hill “I changed mine to Schaller strap locks, and these tend to loosen as well, even with heavier threads. I use a drop or two of wood glue on the threads to make sure they don't back out.  If they "strip" - dip a heavy toothpick (round) in some wood glue, and place that in the hole, then screw the button back in.  I also check the nut on the strap lock itself.”

Batteries: If you have active electronics, be sure to change your batteries every 3 or 4 months.  And use good batteries!  You can try storing them m in the freezer – supposed to last longer that way.

Loose Control Knob:  The knobs are friction fit on the splines of the pot shaft.  We use a pot puller, which is just like a bearing puller.  Pulling them off without the benefit of this handy little tool from StewMac often requires a little mechanical advantage from the Archimedes school of levers and fulcrums. We use a thick guitar pick as a fulcrum and a small screwdriver as a lever.  The guitar pick protects the finish on the bass.  If you gently work your way around the knob lifting slightly in 3 or 4 equidistant locations, you will quickly reach the point that you can get your fingers under to pull the rest of the way off.  Never use a screw driver as a lever without using a pick or something similar to spread the force and protect the finish.

Tightening the pot involves holding the back of the pot to keep it from rotating while you tighten the nut on the top.  We use an 11 mm nut driver or socket, You can use an 11 mm open-end wrench (2nd best after the nut driver/socket,), a  small crescent wrench or even pliers, but be very careful. If you slip off the nut, you risk putting a gougie in the finish.

“Buzzy” input jack:  There is no industry “standard” for input jacks – therefore the marriage with a cable can be imperfect.  But if it isn’t the marriage, then a little squirt of contact cleaner solves the issue in 95% of the cases.  Every musician should have a bottle of contact cleaner (We use Caig DN5 or D5) and it is available at better dealers everywhere.  It is like WD40 but safe for electronics. 

“Noisy” Knob/Potentiometer:  One again, contact cleaner can save the day in about 95% of the cases but it has to be applied properly in the potentiometer (see photo). 

Broken Tuning Keys:  The tuning keys can be unwitting “shock absorbers” if the instrument is knocked over or is dropped.  As a result, they have been known to crack or break.  If you are on tour or gigging a lot – be sure to get a couple extra keys in case the worst happens.  Also carry an extra set of strings – in case one breaks!

Tuning the Rubicon Guitar:  Like the Kingston basses, the Kingston Rubicon guitars, are equipped with the Buzz Feiten tuning system. A Buzz Feiten equipped tuner must be used at all times when tuning the guitar and/or setting intonation. The DBG warehouse and the MTD USA warehouse uses a Peterson Strobe tuner.  Peterson (http://www.petersontuners.com) has tuners all shapes sizes and prices.  Korg (http://www.korg.com/us/) also makes Buzz Feiten tuners as well.

Damping down overtones or sympathetic resonance:  If you are a slapper or a tapper, www.GruvGear.com has a nifty little product called the FretWrap.  They make a MTD version as well.  It is easy to put on/adjust and slides over the headstock when not in use.  Go to the GruvGear website for more information.

Natural Gloss finish versus Satin Amber finish on the Z series:  We did a series of informal comparison shots between the two so you could see the difference.   They are equally popular – the Natural Gloss is a gloss finish and is clear.  The Satin Amber has a satin (but not matte) finish and has a golden color to it. Some people claim they can hear a difference between gloss and satin finishes – that a gloss finish is “brighter”.  Dana of Dana B. Goods doest not hear any differences on a bass or electric guitar – acoustic guitars he does but not on electric instruments.  Be aware that all satin finishes becomes “shiny” in areas of wear.

Satin Amber vs. Natural Gloss