There are some repairs best left to a Luthier, such as finish work, re-frets, and neck resets, but basic setups, restrings, and minor adjustments can all be done at home, and save you money in the process.
Even if you are not a budding luthier, these basic repairs are a great skill to learn and can save you the hassle of taking your guitar to a shop multiple times a year. Of course, these repairs require specialized tools, and this is where custom-made guitar repair kits come in handy.
A basic guitar tool kit or repair kit is an essential item for every guitar owner. There are dozens of small parts on guitars that can easily be affected by dry weather, humidity, travel, or a small knock.
Even a change in the gauge of strings you use will require some guitar maintenance and minor adjustments to your guitar, and if you have the rights tools, these adjustments are actually a lot easier to perform than you’d expect!
A good toolkit can help you adjust almost any aspect of almost any guitar short of a broken neck! Of course, the tools you use on your beloved ax need to be high quality to ensure they do their job properly. To help you find the best repair kit for the job, we’ve scoured the internet to help you find the best options. Let’s get started!
What to look for in a guitar repair toolkit
Guitar repair and tool kits can vary fairly widely in terms of what they include, but the following are the very basics you’ll need that will cover all the required bases:
There are several different sized screwdrivers needed for guitars, especially electric guitars. Small, precision screwdrivers are thus an essential piece of repair kit, and you should have a variety of both Philips’s head and flat-head screwdrivers at the ready.
A good, strong handle with a comfortable grip is essential, and an extender to get to those hard-to-reach places is also a great addition.
Wrenches and Allen keys
Most standard wrenches and Allen keys will not work on guitars, and you’ll need several different sizes to successfully work on guitars. Most guitars will need at least 3-5 different sizes, but some models with tremolo bridges or Floyd Rose setups may need more. These wrenches and Allen keys are used for a variety of purposes, including setting up bridges, neck action, and intonation.
Changing strings is one of the fundamental aspects of setting up a guitar, and you’ll be doing this more than anything else. We’ve all used blunt pliers to cut excess string length or simply left them hanging off the end of the headstock, but string cutters are a hugely helpful accessory to have for a quick string change on stage.
A string winder will save you hours of time in the long run and save your hands and fingers from cramping! A string winder latches onto the tuning pegs for fast string changes and is an inexpensive addition that is essential if you’re changing strings frequently.
String action gauge
Setting up a guitar solely by eye is difficult, and a string action gauge can help remove the guesswork. This small ruler will tell you the exact height of your strings above the fretboard and help you adjust accordingly to the most accurate height.
A good repair kit will include files for both the nut slot and frets. Nut slot files are super useful for making a new nut and making a string slot that the string fits snugly into to reduce the chance of them getting stuck.
Fret files are used for fret shaping and leveling and usually have dedicated slots that fit perfectly over the fret for a uniform shape and height. It’s highly recommended to have a fretboard guard too, which fits over the fret to ensure you don’t file your guitar’s fretboard.
When working on a guitar’s neck or fretboard, you’re inevitably going to put stress on it, and over time this can cause some serious damage. A neck cradle or pillow easily sits under the headstock of your guitar to protect it from scratches and extra stress.
There are a wide variety of neck cradles available with various additional features. If you’re going to be working on guitars a lot, we highly recommend getting a good quality model.
The last thing you want to do when working on a guitar is scratch it, and a smooth, high-quality work mat will protect your guitar’s finish while you repair it. An anti-slip mat is best, but even a soft towel or cloth will also do the trick.
The last thing you want to do after fixing a guitar is shining it up and get rid of any fingerprints or sweat. A microfiber cleaning cloth is an essential item in any repair kit, and it should be replaced often and kept as clean as possible.
We recommend having multiple cloths at your disposal: one cloth for the dirty work of cleaning frets and sweat and grime, and another for the final polish.
These are all the basic items needed for guitar setups and repair, but of course, there are a ton of other useful additions too. Now that you know what to look for, let’s get into the reviews!
The Best Guitar Repair Kits – Reviews 2021
1. Genuine Fender Custom Shop Guitar Repair Tool Kit by CruzTools – Our favorite choice overall
This repair kit from CruzTools has almost everything you’ll need in a guitar repair kit and is our favorite choice overall. The kit features some of the tools used in the hallowed Fender custom shop, and every included tool is of the highest quality and sure to last you for years of repair work.
All organized in a compact nylon case, the kit includes a heavy-duty 4-in-1 screwdriver (#1 and #2 Philips, 1/4″ slotted, 2.5 mm slotted), 1/2″ nut driver socket, 2 hex (Allen) wrenches (1/8” ball end, 3/16” ball end), 2 hex drivers (.050″, 1/16″), and a 15-blade feeler gauge set. It also includes high-quality string cutters and a string winder, plus a steel-string action gauge.
There is little to fault with this repair kit, although it does have a fairly hefty price tag and doesn’t include a cleaning cloth or cleaning products.
- High quality included tools
- Compact nylon case
- Includes a 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Included 15-blade feeler gauge set
- String cutters and winder included
- No cleaning products included
2. Ernie Ball Musician’s Tool Kit – Musician’s choice
The Ernie Ball Musician’s Tool Kit may be inexpensive, but it is certainly not lacking in quality or functionality and comes with a wide variety of repair essentials.
This repair kit covers all the bases and comes neatly organized in a handy carrying case for quick repairs on the go. The 17-piece kit has all the most important items for repair in all the most common sizes in one convenient package.
The kit includes 13 hex wrenches, a pair of string cutters, a 6-in-1 screwdriver, a 6-inch ruler, microfiber polishing cloth, a peg winder with bridge pin puller, plus fretboard conditioner wipes, string cleaner wipes, and instrument polish wipes!
- Compact carrying case
- Includes a microfiber polishing cloth and cleaning kit
- Includes a peg winder
- No fret files or spare parts
3. Jackie Guitar Repair Tool Kit – The best budget choice
If you are looking for a repair kit that won’t break the bank, look no further than this guitar repair kit from Jackie Guitar Accessories. The entire kit is enclosed in a handy, lightweight case for quick repairs on the go, and has everything you need and more for basic guitar repair and maintenance.
The kit includes all the essential tools like string cutters, string action gauge, string winder, ruler, screwdriver, 3 hex keys, and 3 needle files, plus some handy spares including a pick holder and 4 picks, plus 6 bridge pins. The case is compact, measuring 8×4-inches making it easy to stash in any guitar bag.
Unfortunately, the kit lacks a variety of screwdriver heads and doesn’t including any cleaning products or cloths.
- Lightweight and compact case
- Includes a pick holder and 4 picks
- 6 spare bridge pins included
- All essential tools included
- Lacks a variety of screwdriver heads
- No cleaning products
4. IOppwin Guitar Repairing Tool Kit – Most variety
For the budding luthiers out there, it doesn’t get much more comprehensive than the IOppwin guitar repair kit. The kit includes everything you need for basic setups and fast string changes, plus a host of spares and tools to get your guitars in peak condition.
The convenient storage bag contains string cutters, a fingerboard protector for fretwork, 3 fret files, 3 hex wrenches, a steel ruler, string action ruler, a multi-spanner wrench, and a screwdriver and string winder. The kit also contains 6 spare bridge pins, and 4 guitar picks with a picking bag.
While the kit does contain both a Philips and flat head screwdriver, there is only one size of each which is a bit limiting.
- All essential tools included
- Convienent storage case
- Included fingerboard protectors
- 6 spare bridge pins
- Guitar picks bag with 4 picks
- Limited screwdriver head sizes
5. D’Addario Guitar Maintenance Kit
From one of the biggest string manufacturers in the world, the D’Addario guitar maintenance kit is a great addition to any guitar case. All the tools are of high quality and come in a sturdy carrying case for repairs on the go.
The kit comes with all the standard setup and restrings tools including a string cutter, string winder, a multitool containing all the screwdrivers and hex wrenches you need for most guitars, string action gauge, plus a few spare screws and washers.
This kit differs from the rest though, as it also includes a capo, a non-slip working mat, a headstand, and a unique polishing system for quick cleanup.
This kit is fairly expensive, and the headstand is easy to knock over. Also, we found that the multitool was a bit tight, making the tools difficult to use.
- High-quality tools
- Sturdy carrying case
- Handy multitool design
- Includes a capo and work mat
- Headstand included
- Added polishing products
- Headstand falls over easily
- The multitool is very tight to use
6. MIFOGE 45Pcs Guitar Repairing Maintenance Tool Kit
Another essential kit for budding luthiers, the MIFOGE 45Pcs Guitar Repairing Maintenance Tool Kit includes more than just basic setup tools, allowing you to take on more complex jobs such as fretwork.
The kit includes 10 steel fret crowing files, 9 stainless steel radius gauges, 8 Allen wrenches, a string winder, string cutting tool, a feeler gauge, 13 stainless steel needle files, a string action ruler, fret protector guards, plus a grinding stone and sponge for fret leveling, and a cloth, all inside a convenient carry case. There is also an included string spreader that doubles as a nifty string cleaner, plus 6 spare bridge pins.
Some of the tools have poor machining quality and there is an overall lack of quality control. The kit is inexpensive though and is great for those just getting started in guitar repair.
- Included carry bag
- 10 steel fret crowing files
- 13 stainless steel needle files
- Grinding stone and sponge
- String cleaner
- 6spare bridge pins
- Most of the tools are of inferior quality
7. Music Nomad Premium Guitar Tech Screwdriver and Wrench Set
The Premium Guitar Tech Screwdriver and Wrench Set from Music Nomad is high quality and will last you a lifetime. This 26-piece kit will fit in your pocket, making it the ultimate portable repair kit.
The kit comes with 18 different screwdriver bits including 3 Philips heads and 3 flat heads plus 6 different Allen heads that are sure to fit almost any guitar, 7 different hex wrenches, and a spanner wrench, all inside a lightweight, portable, and durable metal case.
We love the high quality and portability of this kit, but the tool selection is a bit limited compared to some of the other available kits. There are no string cutters, winders, action gauges, or clothes, but the kit will fit in your guitar case with ease!
- High-quality tools
- Durable metal case
- Variety of hex and screwdriver heads
- Limited tool selection
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What tools do I need to set up a guitar?
Answer: The basic setup of a guitar is a fairly easy process, especially with electric guitars, and beyond restringing, it’s a valuable skill that every guitar player should learn as it’ll save you a bunch of time and money.
That being said, it does take some unique practice and skill, and more advanced repairs should definitely be left to a luthier. The tools you’ll need to set up your guitar depends on how accurate and precise you want to be, but the basic requirements are:
• Screwdrivers, hex keys, wrenches
• String cutter
• String winder
• Feeler gauges
• Straight edges
• Precision tuner
Question: How often should a guitar be set up?
Answer: This question depends on a variety of different factors, including humidity, how often you play your guitar, and whether you transport it a lot. Also, if you are changing the gauge of strings you use, you’ll need to do some minor tweaking.
As a general rule of thumb, for an average player who practices an hour or two every day, you’ll need to do some minor tweaking every 6-8 months or less.
Question: How do I know when my guitar needs a setup?
Answer: There are several warning signs that will let you know it’s time for a setup — firstly your sore fingers! Additionally, the strings will be too high, intonation will likely be off, there may be some buzzing when you fret a note, or your neck may appear bowed.
Question: Is it hard to set up a guitar?
Answer: At first, setting up a guitar can be difficult and somewhat stressful, but the more experience you gain the easier it becomes. Once you know what to look for and the process you need to follow to fix the issue, it becomes a fairly easy and quick process. Of course, things can get more challenging when you are faced with bigger problems like fretwork, neck resets, and pickup wiring.
The Fender Custom Shop repair kit from CruzTools is our favorite choice overall, providing everything you need to do a basic setup on guitar in one high-quality, convenient package.
The kit includes a heavy-duty 4-in-1 screwdriver, nut driver socket, 2 hex wrenches, 2 hex drivers, a 15-Blade feeler gauge set, plus high-quality string cutters and a string winder.
If you are looking for a repair kit but are on a budget, look no further than the guitar repair kit from Jackie Guitar Accessories. The kit has everything you need and more for basic guitar repair and maintenance, including all the essential tools like string cutters, a string action gauge, a string winder, ruler, screwdriver, 3 hex keys, and 3 needle files, plus some handy spares including a pick holder and 4 picks, and 6 bridge pins.
We may not all be luthiers, but there are certainly basic repairs and setups that can easily be done at home — with the right tools, of course. Hopefully, this list of reviews has helped you narrow down the options to find the perfect toolkit to repair, set up, and maintain your guitar for years to come.
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