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Previous pages known as 'Tales from the Workshop' can now be found here in PDF format - Thank you.

Guitar Blog

November 2020 - Work Update

Hi Folks

It's been a bad year for 'normal' business this year, for many people with the 'lockdown' in March, and for me. In the summer my wife had an operation, so we had to self-isolate for 6 weeks. Now we have another lockdown. This has meant that my 'Waiting List' just got longer. Many of my old customers would not go anywhere else and so diligently I have progressed through the list in time order. Some customers have been invited in but have not replied and so I moved on to the next on the list.

Additionally, adding to the problem, as I am near 70, I reduced my working week so limiting days of work from Wednesday to Saturday. I seem to get a lot of problem guitars that other people cannot fix and this means that they take longer to do. I also have to be extra careful because of having an autoimmune disease which makes me extra vulnerable.

I have emailed all the people on my 'Waiting List' to find out the 'true' extent of the work still required. If people don't reply, I assume that they no longer need any work doing.

For new customer set-ups I am afraid that I wont take on any more to add to my list as this is unfair, expectation wise. In better times I will lift this restriction. Small repairs can still be done depending on the repairs - so email and ask and maybe provide a picture and information about the guitar.

Thanks for your patience.

July 2020 - Work and COVID-19 Update

Hi Folks

So the latest update is that, despite the coronavirus, the majority of my customers have opted to stay on my waiting list. Thank you - that even surprised me!

Customers will note that I don't participate in social media - it never appealed to me - so this blog is my statement on my current workshop situation.

Slowly, I have been working down my waiting list but, with the current necessary safety measures in place, progress has not been as the 'normal situation'. This leads me up to another crisis point.

From mid-July, I won't be taking in any more work for at least 4 weeks due to having to self-isolate pending my wife's operation. Sorry about this. This will bring me to mid-August when I will review the situation further and give you another update.

Given the option, some customers are leaving their guitars with me to work on over the next 4-5 weeks so at least I can work down some of the current backlog during my isolation period.

There is no point in putting more people onto an already full waiting list even though it appears that people are very willing to go on it. I suppose this is an act of faith/vote of confidence based on past work done. Again, I thank my loyal customer following for this support. These are not normal times and it doesn't take a genius to work out that we could still be at a 'coronavirus status quo' this time next year.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) March 2020

Hi Folks

Since my reduced hours of working following state pension retirement a few years ago, I have carried on doing repair work and set-ups. This has entailed a long 'waiting list' of up to 8 weeks at times. My customers have been very patient with me, however the current situation and my age being one of the 'vulnerable' ones has led me to stop taking in any work for the duration of the current crisis. Obviously this will be reviewed as the virus situation progresses. Those people that I would have called in during the next few weeks will still be on my list and first in the queue as soon as I start up again.

Thanks to all my past customers for their loyalty.

In the mean time I have plenty to do - so see you on the other side!

Welcome to Peter Allen's Monthly (and past Weekly Blogs)

If you have been directed here by a Search Engine to this page, it is because the relevant information is in one of my weekly/monthly bulletins known as 'Tales from the Workshop'. Thank You.

January 2021 - Recap & Update

Hi Folks

So the year 2020 didn't get any better as it went along and the run up to Christmas and the rampant CV19 Virus led me to the decision to stay safe and stop work completely until I get vaccinated. Not an easy decision, as I feel I have a duty to my customers.

As for my 'Waiting List', that is remarkable in itself as most of the customers on it are past customers so they know what to expect. In November I sent out an email asking people if they wished to stay on it. This was to verify the 'real' extent of the work to do. Remarkably, 50% of those people said "Yes, just let me know when it's my turn." I still predicted 6 weeks waiting time! Well, clearly I should have invested in a crystal ball because that assessment of the workload is now put on hold. I shall be glad when it's all over and we can get back to normal.

The other all consuming project is a Video of the Professional Set-up which I started on iMovies but (thanks to Apple's failure to maintain) became problematic and so had to switch to a Windows App. and redo it all over again. Thanks Apple.

Thanks for your patience and Stay Safe! Happy New Year!

March 2021 - Buying in the UK

Hi Folks,

With regards to buying from Music Shops I am just like any customer. In the past 30 years I have never had a bad experience until recently. There are 2 fundamentals that are required to aid a feel good factor in business: one being honesty and the other is good communication.

So recently I did a search to find a good price on a specific microphone. Availability was a problem and the retailers I would normally choose stated that the back-order time was 8 weeks - too long for me to wait. So I looked for other available UK shops, found an outlet called DV 247 and placed an order. Somehow, my sixth sense kicked in at the end of the following day when there was no confirmation of shipping, only money taken and order placed.

I wrote an email asking when they were sending my order – no answer. I wrote to cancel the order and suddenly got a reply, stating that it had been sent the previous day. Bad communication! That seemed a relief so I said ok, but then got an email from UPS requiring additional payment of £66 for ‘Import Duties and Broker charges’. This was in addition to the UK VAT already paid at £248. I thought that I was buying from the UK but it turned out the company’s main operation seems to be in Germany and this this is where they hold most of their stock. I cancelled the order even though the company said that there were no additional fees to pay but they said they would cancel the order anyway and refund me once they have received the item back. So, my unwanted goods sat in a German UPS hub for 10 days before moving. Instead of being recalled it still got sent to the UK and a week later was out for delivery. UPS don’t come out of this well either, as they sent me 4 emails saying that they had attempted and failed to deliver and collect funds over the past week even though I was at home all the time and they didn’t come to the door at all! On the day listed as their ‘Final delivery attempt’ (attempt 5), I just happened to be looking toward the bottom of the road when I saw the infamous UPS van pass by. I waited for half an hour and then got an email saying delivery would be that day followed by another email 10 minutes later stating that they had ‘Failed to deliver’ on the ‘Final Attempt’. I looked at the time of the UPS attempt and found this to be the very minute that I had seen the UPS van flash by! Go figure!

By this time a whole week had gone by and I had given up on trying to turn the delivery around. I had emailed and phoned UPS without success. I had even sent a message and the supplier’s email to UPS Accounts Dept. with their hand delivered Invoice. On the following day, I answered the door to the sudden appearance of UPS trying to deliver the parcel - unscheduled. Eventually, I was able to get UPS to ‘return to sender’ . PayPal are not interested in reimbursement unless agreed by the supplier and following a failed delivery. Current status on UPS now says ‘Delivered’ and then Rejected by: ‘receiver has cancelled the product order and refused delivery.’ PayPal say that until the item is returned they reserve their decision.

So having spent the past month watching the progress of an unwanted order I am now doomed to watch its progress back to Germany. Maybe another month will pass before the experience is at an end. Apart from honesty and good communication being part of the purchase experience, there is the ‘feel good factor’. One should feel good about getting an item you want. None of these boxes got ticked and so the warning is out there: To check on Trustpilot and Google reviews and ensure that the item is being sent from within the UK. It is not safe to accept its British because the price is in GBP. (example: BAX is a Dutch company selling in GBP and exporting to the UK). Brexit has a lot to answer for and I don’t think we are out of the woods yet. One of my German customers has decided to buy and store guitars in the UK for fear of issues with Brexit border crossings. I understand that gigging musicians also face customs problems crossing boards into the EU. I hope this is a warning to people to be vigilant in their purchasing.

April 2021 - Lockdown ends - Service Begins

Hi Folks,

I am waiting to email all my customers on the infamous ‘waiting list’ as April looms up and lock-down ends. Once I have replies, I can then assess how long the ‘waiting list’ is. New customers are being told to come back in a couple of months but soon as I know the real demand for services, I can amend this advice. See you on the other side.

June 2021 - Update

Hi Folks

Contrary to my going back to full time work, it seemed the only way to make an inroad to the work backlog. Now at the end of June the waiting list is about 6 weeks in length. For new customers the waiting time from before Covid times was always about 3 to 4 weeks and this is the aim for the future. The length of time is due to demand and reserving time for myself at the grand old age of 70. I enjoy working on guitars but there needs to be 'me time' as well. From the demand point of view, I seem to get the guitars that are problematic and from people that have been to other luthiers and technicians. From people who have experienced my work before, they are happy to wait for work and so the backlog has grown. Lets look forward to the Government relaxing restrictions and then people will be invited back into the workshop.

February 2022 - Update

Hi Folks,

Just an update to say that I am now back working. During the run-up to Christmas it was obvious that the Omicron Virus was taking hold quickly and so, given my over-70 status, I decided to play it safe and wait things out. This meant that during the whole of January no work was done. As some customers decided to put off work requests, suspending my set-up work balanced things out. Had I not done so, I would have had a 3 month waiting list but as it currently stands I have between 6 to 8 weeks waiting time.

Again, thanks to past customers for their understanding.

The nature of set-ups and repairs is that, because each instrument is individual, the problems facing me go from straightforward to complex. Recently, I had a Fender Relic Vintage bass in for just a ‘simple’ set-up. The customer said that the guitar had not been touched for 10 years. It was not so simple though, as I found the relief was 6 times what it should be. Undoing the strings found that the truss rod was loose, and the neck without tension had a massive forward bow so I had to heat straighten the neck. When levelling the frets I found that they were loose in their slots, so I had to stop and glue in the frets. Next, now that the neck was straight, it appeared that there was a massive twist in it, culminating in a very high section at the corner end of the fretboard. This required removing the upper frets, lowering the fingerboard wood and then re-fitting the original frets. Finally, I was able to dress the upper section of frets and start on the set-up. When things like these happen, the job takes so much longer.

I had 2 Classical guitars in with bridge de-laminations. One was so badly fitted by Cuenca Guitars of Spain that it was inevitably going to come off. It was caused by a large amount of lacquer under the bridge. Only half of the bridge came off requiring a custom made bridge, replicating the exact dimensions of the original. That alone took a whole day to do before it was ready to be fitted. The second, a Manuel Rodrigues guitar only 2 years old, left me gob-smacked. Normally the bridge is fitted wood to wood AFTER the lacquering of the soundboard. Masking tape is removed and then glued. Not these comedians. I have no idea how the bridge was fitted but the whole bridge and soundboard was lacquered in one go. So when the back of the bridge started to lift, it caused a shattering of the lacquer around the edge of the bridge plate. I spent a considerable time cutting through the lacquer to find the bridge plate to enable me to heat the bridge up and put a pallet knife under to separate it. Again most of the day was spent doing what would have been a 15 minute job. It appears that Manuel Rodrigues are using some sort of epoxy resin as a glue and that clearly doesn't work. All these delays on a job has the effect of lengthening the waiting list.

April 2022

Hi Folks, Currently I am on track to catch up on my waiting list.

One of the things I have explained to customers with acoustics is the importance of having the guitar kept at the correct humidity. This is somewhere between 45 and 55% with a target of 50%. It best that guitars are kept at this before set-up work is done on them. This prevents the guitar moving after the set-up has been done.

To illustrate the problem - I had a chap bring in an £8000 Martin in January 2018, I set-up the guitar and 3 months later he said I can't play it, “the strings are on the deck”. I shimmed the saddle and sent him away to re-hydrate the guitar. In June he phones and complains that the guitar now has a high action. I take out the shims and give it him back and the action is back where I put it in January. I said that if he had not said anything, the guitar would have developed splits in the top from drying out. He said funny thing is I have 6 guitars at home all with splits in – is that how they got like it? Go Figure.

Recently a customer thought that he had done the right thing by hydrating his Taylor guitar.

I set-up the guitar and after one week the guitar geometry had moved – the action had raised itself by 1/64 or 2/64th at the bridge. This is 0.8mm. When I drilled down on the humidipak he used, he said that he was only able to get the restoration packs from Amazon.

I then went on to investigate and it appears that there is limited information on the D'Addario website. I have since read that a customer used the restore humidifier packs and they dried out, he switched them to the "Maintain" packs, and only then noticed that the Restoration Packs had the marking "72%" on them, apparently meaning that they're meant to keep the rh at 72%. He asked D'Addario about this and they said that they're indeed rated at a higher rh and have the potential to bring the rh higher than desired. So there is a danger of over humidification if the packs are rated at 72%.

So to be clear the Maintenance Packs will keep the guitar ar 50% BUT the Restoration Packs will try to maintain a 72% water content. So beware when buying.

July 2022

Hi Folks,   No sooner than I got up to date with my waiting list – usually stands at about 10 day to 2 weeks – I had an accident that took me the best part of 3 weeks to recover from. So I am afraid I am back to an extended waiting times.

On the subject of customers waiting, I have emailed invites but recently found that many customers don't always check their junk mail. It's happened a few times - calling customers in and finding they don't reply. I am not going to chase customers, so I move on to the next customer 'waiting'. Then said invited customer comes back a month after the invite and asks 'am I near the top of the list yet?' - as they haven't seen my email as it's gone into their junk folder?

As I have a 'Gmail' account I realise that, as wonderful as Google is, they have designed the 'Junk Folder' to be hidden from sight at the bottom of the page. I am not sure about other email accounts but do know that Microsoft put the'Junk Folder' right next to the inbox at the top of the page so you can spot whether or not there is mail waiting to be sorted.

I am guessing that if customers don't sort out the so-called 'junk' folder,  then its (if Google) probably going to create its own rule and automatically delete future emails. So I guess it's a polite way of saying – check your 'junk mail' and if my email is in there you may have to make a 'safe rule' to make it safe – like a 'Normal' email.

For 2021 I moved my Server so there was some 12 hours off line due to problems with the pointing of the DNS.

So the answer to the question "What are you doing if you're not working on guitars?" is that I have been making another website to replace the old antiquated one that has served me well - even though it took some adapting. And here is the end result

November 2022

Hi Folks,  

In these times of inflation its difficult to get away from price rises. Some of my suppliers have been sending me amended prices every 2 months over the past 6 months when it used to be an annual event.

I once never adjusted my prices until I found that I was the cheapest person working on guitars. That hurt, based on the other people doing bad work and getting paid more for it.

Adjusting the price has therefore been a yearly event but ironically, I had not realised I had not adjusted the price for at least 2 years! So, inevitably that time has come to adjust prices by only 4%. So a set-up of £125 is now £130.

December 2022

Strings are an interesting topic and one that I covered a few years ago when I befell counterfeit coated strings from eBay. On that topic I was informed by Elixir that they shut down many operations of copying their strings in China each week but it doesn’t stop them being sold. I was also informed that these counterfeit strings often have heavy metals (poisons) left on the string as the producers are not in the least concerned about guitar players safety. Think of eating while playing and you get the idea of ingestion of heavy metals.

For that reason I always recommend buying from a reputable shop or outlet. Don’t be fooled by cheap eBay prices.

So, on the subject of coated strings, I remember how years ago D’Addario spent a lot of time on getting their coated strings right. Recently they sent me advice on their new ‘coated strings’. This led me to ask what were the differences?

D’Addario replied as verbatim:

There are now 2 coated string types:

XT – the coating on XT is only applied to the wrap wire BEFORE it is wound around the core string. This means that the coating is much thinner and less noticeable, it feels like a natural string with maybe a tiny bit of added slickness, but overall a very natural feel. These sets should last up to 3 times more than an average set.

XS – this way, the construction of the string is completed and AFTER sprayed with our PTFE coating and baked in the oven to melt it on. This way, the entire string itself is coated so there is a much slicker feel (similar to a well know brand). This style of coating means it will last a lot longer, up to 6 times more than an average set.

XT and XS both share the same coating when it comes to the plain steel strings (G, B and E). So the difference is only noticeable with the wound strings.

These are the only styles of coating we D’Addario currently offer, we used to have our EXP coated strings but XT has taken over that range now.

We offer XT for all strings from Electric, Acoustic, Bass, Classical etc. XS is just Electric and Acoustic for now as it’s a much newer product.

Hope this information helps clarify coated strings

March 2023

Out of the blue I was contacted by Simon O'Nions last year. He reminded me of how he had brought a guitar to me for set-up and how my passion for guitars had set him thinking he would like to do something similar as a job. It's not for the faint-hearted and so he enlisted a mentor and teacher Alan Marshall in Hulland Ward Derbyshire, for the task of teaching him to build an acoustic guitar.

Simon asked me to have a look at a guitar he made and said he would accept any criticism given. Odd thing is that word 'criticism' which seems to have changed meaning over the years. Being an old geezer, when I went to school it mean commenting on both the good and the bad.

So I checked out the guitar and it was very pleasing to see and play. Obviously I could make it more playable but that was not the objective - it was to point out a few things to improve it and to give praise where it was due. Simon took it back to his bench and remedied the points I made.

I explained to him that one guitar maker I knew always made two guitars so that the customer could choose the best of two. This is because two seemingly identical guitars will never sound the exactly same.

I explained to Simon that I had chosen a Taylor guitar to buy after going through some 30 guitars in 2 shops, just to find the one that 'sounded' best to me. You should never choose with your wallet, always with your ears, and take a partner for confirmation/corroboration. But not the wife if she is holding the purse strings! The one I chose happened to be a V brace construction which was, at the time, something of an innovation in guitar making. He continued by saying, would I check these guitars out too? Yes, they sounded different and it was interesting to see how his passion for tone had sparked off this experiment. He then gave the two guitars to the artist Joe Dolman who I understand is very undecided as to which to keep - he says he loves them both!

Simon even had the Observer Newspaper do a small spread entitled 'Warwick Guitar Maker Teams Up With Leamington Musician Joe Dolman For Guitar Project'

Since then I have give advice on various subjects in order to help advance his knowledge. Simon has his website where you can contact him at

Arden Guitars

April 2023

Seymour Duncan Hyperswitch 5 Way Pickup Selector Switch

As the price of parts and services rises across the UK, it's no surprise that guitar parts prices are also rising, probably faster than I have ever remembered. It was only a couple of years ago that a Stratocaster switch was about £7 to £9 and now they are £26 !!!!!

It was a surprise to see a new switch being advertised by Seymour Duncan that is battery operated and is Bluetoothed to your phone! I had no idea of the price until today and the cost is just short of £200. That is the switch without any fitting charge!

The hype on the advertising is interesting if you have 3 sets of humbuckers fitted to your Stratocaster. But like so many new toys, once the wedding is over and the novelty wears off, there would be less phone tapping or even the switch would be left just where you like it. You would lose your settings once the battery is replaced and have to re-map the switch again. I have to say that some engineer has gone to a lot of trouble to allow people to use the phone with the guitar. Personally I think it is overkill. But there again I am a bit of a Ludite.

July 2023

Unfortunately my land line is causing me problems. This is being investigated but anyone phoning in is being subjected to massive noise on the line. I apologise for this and so the best way of communicating if you are subjected to this noise is to email me. I am sorry for this problem but we hope it will soon be sorted out  - Thank you.

January 2024

And we are into another year. In total its been 30 years of independence. I hadn't realised that its been nearly 10 years since I updated the 'Testimonial' Page on the website. It was only when I got a 'thank you note' in the form of a card as opposed to an email made me look up the Testimonial PDF. Emails are appreciated but this customer felt the need to go one step extra.

Thank You Card
Thank You Card

March 2024

Recently I am getting ridiculous requests for set-ups with low tuning. People don't understand that you cannot just lower the tuning with normal strings used for normal tuning. Yes, some people have understood that a heavier gauge is required but still don't understand that the string – when its made – has a working tension.

For an example – a bass  E tuning is at e2 as a reference to the piano. This has a tension of 17.47 with a 46 wound gauge string. Enters (stage left) a customer with a request for a set-up at c♯1 using a 54 wound gauge. This only has a tension of 4.35 but should be around 16 or 17 .

This customer complained that his last set-up was awful. Its not surprising. So am I going to take on the challenge? Certainly not. The law of physics is there for a reason and I cannot make a tuning work with a floppy string. What is also not realised is that the mass of the string has to be increase – in this case excessively. Unfortunately my calculator I use runs out a 100 wound gauge for a 25.5 inch scale length only achieving 9.30 tension – nowhere near 17.  So my reluctance to offer help is reduced to advising that he buys a baritone guitar. To this customer I would appear unhelpful but I am not going to try the impossible.

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