As you may have noticed lately we’ve been featuring a series of really practical articles. Our hope is that we can equip you with a range of tools to help you and meet you where you’re at. So for this gear review I thought it’d be handy to cover the Guitar Maintenance Kit from D’Addario, especially for those of you who have been inspired by our article on Electric Guitar Setup 101.
The Guitar Maintenance Kit comes in a nice little case and that holds a variety of the tools needed for basic setup and maintenance of a guitar (I should note that they also have one geared towards basses as well). It contains a handy non-slip mat, fold up neck cradle, string winder/string snips, nut & saddle lubricant, NS capo, multi-tool, string action gauge, magnetic pad for keeping track of hardware, and a fret polishing system.
To start, I love the format of the kit. I’ve been playing for years and never had a streamlined way to hold my tools. It’s compact and well made, but has room for a few extras like a spare package of strings and I like to keep a polishing cloth in there as well. This has helped tidy up my guitar area at home, as well as made it easier to quickly grab my tools when I am heading out and want them with me either in case of emergency or just to work on a friends guitar.
There are a lot of different pieces to this handy kit, so I’m going to break things down into things that I really liked about it and things that I felt could be improved.
A few other things that I like about the kit:
I really enjoyed the non-slip mat and neck cradle. I have typically done most of my guitar setup work on the carpet or the couch, but with this mat and cradle I am finding I’m enjoying doing guitar work right on top of our dining room table. I now get to have better posture and lighting without worrying about scuffing the guitar or table finish.
The string winder is quite nice and it’s a pretty cool design including the string snips (which work really well by the way). This becomes an awesome all-in-one tool for string changes, especially with an acoustic guitar as it also includes a nice puller for the string pegs.
I’m also happy that D’Addario included some nut & saddle lubricant. This will come in handy for all my guitars, but especially those with a tremolo/vibrato arm. The applicator has a fine tip which makes it quite easy to apply the lubricant in those tight string slots on a guitar nut.
The string action gauge was nice and handy for doing string height measurements when setting bridge & saddle heights. It’s a simple but helpful little tool.
The inclusion of the NS capo was really nice. I like using a capo when setting neck relief so it’s nice that it’s right there in the kit when I need it. I already have an NS capo but I can totally see myself grabbing this capo for playing when I inevitably misplace my other capo (seriously I think my capos have legs sometimes-although having a toddler with sticky hands doesn’t help!)
A couple of areas where I think the Maintenance Kit could use improvement:
I think a key component missing from the kit is a set of feeler gauges for setting neck relief. I know the String Action Gauge has fine measurements on it, but I don’t believe a simple sight check like that for measurements as small as .010″ or .25mm is really adequate. The use of feeler gauges is fairly common practice, in fact guitar tech guru Dan Erlewine suggests using them in his writings on the subject. I already have a set of feeler gauges so I have just added my set to the kit, but if there ever was an update to the kit I’d love to see some added by D’Addario.
I really thought I’d love the multi tool included in the set, however it is actually difficult to use the screw drivers to adjust the saddles on my guitars due to the fact that the multi tool is bulky when turning. This makes for risk of scratching the guitar finish, so I end up using separate screw drivers and hex wrenches for the various tasks I need to perform. It’s quite the well made tool though so I must compliment D’Addario on the quality of the tool, and I’m sure for some guys this will be quite the welcome inclusion to the kit.
All-in-all the kit is great and quite helpful. Even with the couple of areas where I see room for improvement I still think the Guitar Maintenance Kit from D’Addario is a worthwhile tool for those looking to do their own guitar setups at home. It’s also the perfect grab-and-go format to keep with you on the road, with the addition of some feeler gauges it should be able to be a perfect resource to players of all levels.