Whether you recently purchased your first guitar, upgraded to a new one, or are using the same guitar you have owned for years, you probably want to do nothing other than sitting back, relax, and practice. It’s such a good feeling to have a favorite instrument to play with, but sometimes things just aren’t set up correctly.
Whether they haven’t been strung to your liking, the action feels a bit off, or the electrics just don’t add up, guitars sometimes need maintenance, and it is important to know what to do in these situations.
If you are going to conduct any maintenance on your guitar, you’d be crazy to tackle the job without acquiring the correct tools first. With so many tool kits on the market though, it’s difficult to know which one to buy.
Luckily for you, I’ve gone through all sorts of different guitar tool kits and have a lot to say on the matter. So, I’ve put together the following guide on the best guitar tool kits – if you’re looking to purchase one, look no further!
Bottom Line Up Front: If you’re looking for a guitar tool kit that is going to help out with literally any maintenance or repair scenario, all-in-one tool kits such as the MIFOGE 45Pcs Guitar Repairing Maintenance Tool Kit are solid options.
However, if you are simply looking to restring your guitar or adjust the truss rod, all-in-one kits may be overkill, and you may be better suited to cheaper and specialized tool kits.
Why You Need a Guitar Tool Kit
Before we start taking a look at the ins and outs of guitar tool kits, let me answer a classic question – “what do I even need a guitar tool kit for”? I’ve heard this comment made so many times.
Guitarists get used to taking their guitars to the local Guitar Center or another guitar shop, asking for a service, re-string, or action adjustment, and leaving it at that. It’s easy to do and it means that you don’t have to learn any new schools, easy right?
It’s certainly true that you can rely on music stores to take care of your guitar maintenance needs, but it’s far better to learn this stuff. There’s a variety of reasons why I would always recommend that you learn to use your guitar tools, and the first one is convenience.
Think about the main times when your guitar needs maintenance – it always tends to be during times of heavy use, such as on a tour, during a rehearsal, or right before a gig.
What exactly do you expect to do when your action needs adjusting or a string snaps right before a late-night gig? You can’t exactly pop down to the shop to get it fixed – you need to take the matter into your own hands, and you can’t simply rely on another guitarist to come along a save the day!
You are going to need your guitar tool kit to hand, combined with your guitar maintenance skills!
Another key reason to purchase your guitar tool kit is the classic phrase “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. This is so true when it comes to guitars – I remember before I had my tools and maintenance skills, I used to take my guitar to Guitar Center and ask them to fix my action.
Every time they returned it to me, it was better, but still not perfect. It wasn’t until I learned to make these adjustments myself that I finally nailed my action. Learn how to do it yourself, and then the quality of maintenance is all down to you!
Ultimately, owning a guitar tool kit is going to help you in all manner of ways. You are likely to be the guy with the tools when things go pear-shaped, and as long as you know what you are doing, you can ensure that you have everything you need to get your guitar sounding exactly how you want it. Without a tool kit, this ain’t happening!
What to Look for in a Good Guitar Tool Kit
So, you’ve decided that you want to take the plunge on purchasing your very own guitar tool kit, allowing you to make adjustments to your guitar, restring it, and maintain it completely independently.
Good for you! However, purchasing a kit isn’t going to be easy – there are so many different kits that it can be difficult to know which one will work for you.
To help you make this decision, I’ve prepared the following list of qualities that you should always look for in a good guitar tool kit. Remember these criteria whenever you are browsing the options!
Variety of Tools
The first and most obvious criteria to look for in a guitar tool kit is a kit that contains a variety of tools. Sure, having a kit containing five different sizes of truss rod adjustment tools is great, but that’s not much use if it doesn’t come with string cutters!
When you are shopping for a guitar tool kit, you should be looking for kits that contain everything that you could need for guitar maintenance.
The whole point of a tool kit is to prepare you for any situation, whether it’s adjusting the action of your guitar, filing down a fret, or adjusting the bridge. The specific tools within a toolbox will always vary to a certain extent, but in general, you should be looking for the following:
– Allen wrenches
– Luthier files
– Radius gauges
– Bridge pins
– Action rulers
– String cutters
– String winders
– Wiping cloths
There are a lot more tools out there that could be included, but these are some of the essentials. It will cost more money to have a toolkit that contains an all-encompassing selection of guitar tools, but this is going to be worth it in the future when you never have to buy an individual tool again!
Price Vs Quality
The next thing that you are going to want to consider when choosing a guitar tool kit is the quality and the price. I can always remember when I was first shopping around for guitar tool kits – I found one in particular that only cost $10 and included everything included on the previous list.
I thought that I had found the bargain of the century until the toolkit arrived and I opened it up.
The quality of every single tool was flimsy, fragile, and cheap. Basic things such as the string cutters broke within just a couple of uses, and other items such as the fretboard files barely even worked in the first place.
My father was laughing at me explaining that it was a lesson well learned that “you get what you pay for”, and this could not be more true when it comes to guitar tool kits.
It’s important to remember that tool kits are intended to serve you for a lot of different purposes across many years. You probably are not planning to upgrade your tool kit after a few months – it’s supposed to be something that you can stick by, that will get you through pesky guitar problems, year in and year out.
Therefore, in my opinion, it is almost always a better option to splash out on a more expensive tool kit. You might be on a budget, but the high end of tool kits is only around $100.
However, spending $10 on a tool kit is just going to be a waste of money – it’s way more worth it to save up for extra hours at work and grab something worth spending your money on.
Weight and Compactness
We’ve spoken about some of the obvious selling points of a guitar toolkit such as the variety of tools it contains and the quality of the tools themselves, but here is something a little less obvious – weight and compactness.
When it comes to manual labor, DIY, and other tool-involved jobs, toolkits are going to be pretty heavy. They are likely to stay in a van, and items will be taken out of it individually as and when they are needed on a site.
However, this isn’t quite how things work with guitarists – maintenance might be required at any moment, from inside a tour bus, a rehearsal room, a bedroom, or even on public transport! Therefore, a super heavy tool kit isn’t quite going to cut the mustard.
In my opinion, the best guitar tool kits are always lightweight and compact. No one wants to lug around a heavy and chunky tool kit with them on the road, especially if you don’t have a tour van or any large means of transport.
Furthermore, you don’t need heavy tools for guitars such as hammers and drills – the heaviest tool you will need to work with is probably the string cutter. So, always check out the overall weight and size of a guitar tool kit, because if you don’t, you may find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew!
This last factor is something that ties in with the variety of tools heading from earlier. I mentioned how it is useful to have toolkits that contain every tool that you could need. After all, this would mean that no matter what problem you have, you can guarantee that you can fix it, right?
Whilst all of this is true, it’s important to consider that not everyone is going to need every tool. Take my brother as an example – he loves to play the guitar just like me, and will happily use a tool here and there for essential maintenance such as restringing his guitar or adjusting his truss rod.
However, when it comes to fiddly jobs such as filing fretboards, he is not interested – he claims he doesn’t have the right hands for small jobs like that!
This is completely fair enough, and you might be similar. Perhaps instead of having a large tool kit for every single maintenance job, it might be worth considering a dedicated toolkit for guitar restringing.
This is all down to your personal preferences and the intentions that you set out for yourself. Ultimately, less is sometimes more, and if you only want to achieve a couple of basic things out of your toolkit, your money could be best spent on specialized toolkits.
My Top Recommendations for Guitar Tool Kits
We’ve so far taken a look at why tool kits are useful to have as a guitarist and what makes a good one stand out amongst the crowd, and it now feels like it is time to provide my top recommendations.
For several years I was attempting to find the perfect guitar tool kit, a process which was significantly harder than I thought it would be. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the best examples that I came across. Let’s take a look.
Jim Dunlop Guitar String Change Tool Kit
When discussing what to look for in a guitar tool kit, I mentioned how it is worth considering the purpose that you are seeking out of a kit, as some people will not benefit from all-in-one toolkits.
A fantastic example of this is the Jim Dunlop Guitar String Change Tool Kit. As the name suggests, this toolkit is specifically curated to help guitarists change their strings.
It contains a durable and sleek-looking string cutter, a string winder, a multitool for the more fiddly restringing jobs, and a Superlube Gel Pen for lubricating tuning pegs. I’m a big fan of this toolkit because it doesn’t complicate things – there are no unnecessary extras, and the price reflects that.
It’s a simple, compact, and effective little restringing toolkit, and if restringing is all that you are concerned with and would rather leave the rest of the maintenance to the pros, this tool kit is ideal.
– A compact and simplistic kit specifically curated for restringing
– The string winder rapidly increases the speed of restringing
– Superlube Gel Pen is a unique addition not found in most restringing kits
– Packaged in a compact and portable soft case
– Not suitable for any jobs other than restringing
MusicNomad Premium Guitar Tech Truss Rod Wrench Set – 11 Pcs
The next tool kit that I wanted to mention is another specialized product much like the previous example, except this time it is for truss rod adjustment. If you have played the guitar for a while, you are likely to have encountered some problems such as fret buzz or bad intonation that require truss rod adjustment to be fixed.
This can be a pain as truss rod adjustment wrenches come in different sizes depending on the guitar, but this MusicNomad wrench set helps settle this problem.
By providing 11 different truss rod adjustment rods, this tool kit ensures that you not only have the right tool to adjust the action of your guitar but for everyone in the music school!
It’s incredibly unlikely for you to come across a guitar that won’t benefit from one of these sized wrenches, and it’s all stored within a cute little box. The only downside is that the wrenches are quite small and do not come with lengthy handles, and I find that this makes them fiddly to use.
– Contains every size truss rod adjustment wrench that you could ever need
– Ideal for guitarists looking to tackle action-related issues such as fret buzz and intonation
– Packaged in a portable and compact plastic box
– Only suitable for truss rod adjustment, and not much else
– The wrenches are small and fiddly to use
MIFOGE 45Pcs Guitar Repairing Maintenance Tool Kit with Carry Bag
We’ve investigated some of the smaller and more specialized guitar tool kits on the market, which could be excellent options if you are only looking to tackle some small and specific tasks.
However, if you are one of those people that want to have everything set out for you to tackle any guitar-related maintenance task, this MIFOGE 45 piece guitar repairing and maintenance tool kit is going to be ideal for you.
You heard that right – 45 pieces. This bad boy features 10 different fret crowning luthier files, 9 under-string radius gauges, 8 Allen wrenches, and 6 bridge pins, providing a ridiculously wide range of sized tools. This means that you don’t have to worry about having a guitar that will not benefit from this tool kit because it will.
In addition to those tools, the kit also includes a string winder, string cutters, a feeler gauge, an action ruler, a grinding sponge, grinding stone…. honestly, there are too many parts to list, I would be here all day!
Everything is stored in a useful soft case, which I must say is rather large and not the most portable thing in the world, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one package, it doesn’t get much better than this!
– Includes tools for just about any guitar maintenance and repair scenario you can imagine
– Combines every other product listed in this guide into a single soft case
– Very good value for money considering the price
– Generic tools such as wrenches and files come in huge ranges of sizes
– The many different sizes of tools can feel a bit unnecessary, and most of them will likely gather dust
– The kit can generally seem overwhelming, especially if you simply want to restring your guitar or adjust the truss rod
We sure have covered a lot of information throughout this guide to guitar tool kits! From explaining why you might need one to my top recommendations, I challenge you to find a more comprehensive tool kit guide!
However, if you have any remaining questions that you feel I did not cover, perhaps the following FAQ might help!
Question: What Tools are Required for Restringing a Guitar?
Answer: If you are just looking to restring your guitar, you will need a toolkit that contains string cutters and a string winder, but a multitool and tuning peg lubrication could help!
Question: What Tools are Required for Truss Rod Adjustment?
Answer: If you simply want to adjust your guitar’s truss rod, you will just need a truss rod adjustment wrench, although the required size will depend on your guitar model.
Question: How Much Should You Spend on a Guitar Tool Kit?
Answer: Guitar tool kits are generally cheap, so spending up to $50 should guarantee you a high-quality all-in-one option.
I hope that you have learned a lot from this guide to purchasing the perfect guitar tool kit for you! There are so many options out there that it can become a little overwhelming, but I think it can generally be narrowed down to three key types: all-in-one tool kits, tool kits specializing in restringing, and tool kits specializing in truss rod adjustment.
If I were to purchase one of these today, I would easily choose the MIFOGE 45Pcs Guitar Repairing Maintenance Tool Kit – I love a bit of guitar handy work and it’s great knowing that this kit contains everything that you could need.
However, if you are just looking to handle the smaller stuff such as restringing, it’s probably going to be overkill.
I wish you all the best and don’t forget to ask a professional if you are stuck with how to use any of these tools. The last thing you want to do is go in on your guitar without knowing what you are doing! Good luck!