You must first know the ENEMIES of your Zach guitar.
It should not be surprising that the biggest enemy of your guitar is none other than YOU. By doing stupid things you will destroy whatever guitar you own. You will have to answer to your conscience if it comes to this. In the least you will feel like a total loser.
The second biggest enemy of your guitar is someone you may trust in handling or repairing it. This can be a very dangerous scenario. Keep in mind that even in the "greatest nation on God's green earth" there are only a handful of people who are competent at working on guitars. This may surprise you but it shouldn't. Instrument repair is not only a skill one learns, its also a talent one is born with (or not). As with most talents, not many have it but many pretend to have it. This is where the danger lies. You must also understand that anyone can put up a sign or be hired by any music store to butcher guitars. No training or qualifications are needed, no regulations are followed, no talent is a prerequisite. Its like going to a plumber to do your dental work and its completely legal. Am I telling you something you don't already know? I sure hope not. I hope I am only reinforcing what you already know.
There are definitely a few talented people in the USA and even less elsewhere, who would do a good job on your Zachary guitar. More importantly they would be smart enough to contact me or read the Owners Manual page before even touching your guitar. This is a sign of a professional. They will research and learn before they take out their tools and start cutting, drilling and hammering. However, most are know-it-all smartasses with larger egos then brains and only want to show off for you, the stupid guitar consumer. These people may have positions to impress you or intimidate you but they will not admit at being hacks which can add up to an awful situation for any guitar owner and any type of guitar, not just a Zachary.
Am I telling you something you don't already know or suspect? Have you ever had a bad experience with repair shops and repair techs? I know I have especially as a kid starting to play. I went through it myself. Its good if you have as well because maybe you have learned your lesson. Be careful who you trust to touch your guitar. Remember there is no room for error on your part. You make a mistake by touching your guitar or by letting a hack touch your guitar and you lose your guitar. As simple as that. You make one mistake and if you are not careful, that will be the end of whatever guitar you may own. What I mean is that your guitar will never be the same again.
If you really have the need to tinker, buy several cheap guitars and hack away but don't do it on your Zach or any other high end instrument. This only takes brains, does it not?.
A Zachary is a very different beast. Its made differently with different techniques and procedures. It has design elements which I may not disclose or which are not easily apparent to a repair guy who has never heard of or seen a Zachary. While many repair shops may be familiar with a Fender or a Gibson products, they will not be familiar with the Zach and they will fuck up by simply not knowing how its designed and put together. When they do screw up, they will hide the fact and hand you back a damaged instrument or simply a poorly executed repair and adjustment, which has altered your guitar for ever.. They will not know things like how I install frets, what type of frets to use, how to disassemble the neck in sequence and what screw sequence to use to assemble it. They will not be familiar with the wiring schematic to preserve your Zach electronics scheme. They will not know the grounding method of the wiring, or how the hardware was secured or installed. They will not know the properties of the finish or the uniqueness of the nut material. They will also not have the original replacement parts, which have specific measurements and specifications to fit your Zachary. So its a serious matter folks. Use your brains if you have any before you do anything stupid..
Be very careful what you do and who you let touch your guitar. Guitar repair demands serious knowledge, skill, talent, judgment and humility. Every successful guitar repair however begins with YOU and YOUR judgment in terms of who you trust. If you are knowledgeable you will enter into a positive situation. If you are ignorant you will enter disaster.
A positive experience starts with you knowing enough about guitars to know what may be wrong and what has to be done to remedy the problem. You should know the terminology and some of the common procedures having to do with adjustments and repairs. This includes the specifications for the optimum set up of your Zachary.
Most importantly you shouldn't trust anybody, unless you are totally familiar with their background, personality and their abilities.
Two Repair Horror Stories from the same person. This could be you or anyone for that matter.
So listen up before it happens to you.
Eli is one of the smartest people I know and this is why I often ask him for his opinion and advice on various matters. I respect his judgment and comments about anything to do with guitars and music. However, in these situations he let his guard down for one reason, because he was trusting in people he did not know. This is not to embarrass Eli in any way but to blatantly use his experience to prevent anyone in getting into the same unfortunate and harmful situations. Eli agrees that his experiences should be heard as a form of prevention for everyone.
Horror Story 1
Eli thought he heard the volume pot and switches crackle and start to malfunction. He did not want to bother me with it and though it would be a simple problem that could be taken care of locally in NYC buy any number of "experts". I must add that Eli lacked technical knowledge at the time about his guitar problem and this is what led him on the wrong path. He was not aware what was wrong or what it may take to repair it. This is the first step into dangerous territory. The second mistake Eli made was to trust someone he did not really know and was unaware of the person's skills and background. Eli didn't feel he needed to know since the "expert" would know what to do. Wrong!!! This is a great mistake to presume that anyone is an expert without even knowing them, their abilities and attitude. The third mistake Eli made was to leave his beloved Korina there unattended for several days to be repaired. I know its difficult not to do that but in your absence anything can be done to your guitar and you will never know it.
The place Eli took his guitar is mainly a used music store in NYC. He did not tell me the name of the store and I did not ask for fear that I may do something that will get me into serious trouble. Eli also explained that he will not even complain about his negative experience because this store generates some students for him from their customer pool. After the fact Eli thought there was no use anyway, he will just never go there again. I mostly agreed and respected his wish.
So Eli took his guitar down with a scratchy pot to the store owner and repair person, who is described as a really "nice" guy, being jolly and friendly with everyone. The most dangerous hacks usually are very nice and friendly. They are charmers by nature. Right away this makes me really nervous. People who will cause you the most harm are the so called "nice" people. They will suck you in much easier and you will trust them sooner, letting your guard down. In my experience, if you run into a rude person, chances are he is very competent at what he does and harmless. Its the overly friendly ones you have to fear.
So Eli unsuspectingly leaves his Zach there in the hands of this murderer. I must say that Eli was ignorant of technical issues. He should have known some basics, like what would you do if your pot was scratchy? Simple, you would carefully spray it with some contact cleaner and 90% of the time the problem is solved for good. Well this piece-of-shit, charming, jolly, asshole, used Strat store owner, decided to unsolder the original spec pot and also the switch to replace them, which he did. End of story? Not quite.
Eli then pays him and takes the guitar home, unaware of what had happened. A few days later he indirectly mentions to me that he had the guitar repaired. I then fear for the worse and start asking some questions like, "do you notice more hum from the wiring". Eli said that he does. I then told Eli that the POS did not ground the new pot he installed. This is an elemental point, which is a mandatory and standard practice to ground all the components. Anyone not knowing this has just proven to be a hack of the first order. The guitar buzzed because the jerk did not ground the new pot.
I also feared something else, more serious. I asked Eli to inquire if the guitar was drilled in order to accommodate the new pot. Eli is not a confrontational person as I tend to be. Eli, after my urging and insisting, did call the store and asked the repair person/store owner specifically if he drilled the guitar. The repair person said to him NO. I was somewhat relieved yet unconvinced. Something was not right with this scenario, I could feel it. I told Eli to take the guitar back to the store to have the guy ground the switch to the circuit. Its like a car mechanic forgetting to inflate the tires after the repair is done and handing the keys over to the owners. It also shows that the POS did not test his work before releasing it. Grounding and testing would have been a simple and basic thing to do by any experienced repair tech. Logically, what he should have done is simply hooked up the wires, including the ground wire, exactly as he found it originally. Remember however, that most likely the pot did not even need changing, only spraying with contact cleaner. No brains even needed. This "nice guy" apparently did not give a shit what type of guitar he was butchering. I was told by Eli that he makes his living selling used guitars mainly.
After hearing that the new pot was not grounded, which is a very basic requirement, I was starting to get nervous and feared for the worse. I felt that this "charmer" was hiding something. Eli got his guitar back for the second time and it was still not right. At this point I was getting really curios about the whole situation. I asked Eli to call the POS again and ask him if he drilled the body hole for the pot or switches when replacing the parts with any non original item. I found it unlikely that the POS would have the exact diameter pot and switch for replacement. Eli did not know enough technically to be able to investigate the work. I was strongly suspecting that the nice and friendly POS was lying to Eli.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this and possibly restore any damage that was done to the guitar so I told Eli to ship me the guitar and I was willing to take time off from my boring job of building guitars to check out and repair/restore his guitar properly. I will try to undo whatever damage this scumbag had made. I was concerned as to what pot was put in there. Remember the POS did not even care to ask Eli to contact me about the correct parts. I could have sent him the parts in a matter of days. It turns out the POS did not care what guitar he was butchering or what parts he was sticking in there and even how he was sticking them in.
To my horror, upon receiving the guitar I immediately noticed the cocksucker had lied and he DID drill the guitar. He simply stuck in the first pot he could find. It was a mini pot but one with a very long and much wider stem. This needed a much bigger hole for it to fit into the guitar. So the bastard had drilled it without even a thought. The POS had drilled Eli's pride and joy and beloved first Zach. The worst part was that he also lied to Eli about it several times. Thinking Eli is too stupid to ever find out anyway. The jerk had no respect for Eli's guitar and treated it like a $100 Wal-Mart special, the guitars he is most likely most familiar with. He butchered it with no feeling and the cocksucker lied about it after even charging Eli for his butcher job. To top it off, he did not even know that the pot has to be grounded. He is a "nice" guy however. How can anyone be angry at a "nice" guy?
Well I had my work cut out for me to try to restore Eli's Korina to its original spec. Since I have lots of spare time, as you know, I did not really mind. I am bored most of the day anyway. I was driven by anger. Throughout the whole time working on Korina I imagined trampling on the cocksucker's ugly face, not so much because it was a Zach he ruined but because of his atrocious attitude towards any guitar in general.
So he drilled the hole in which the pot fits because he put a much thicker shaft pot in there. The original pot no longer would fit in this oversize hole. The shaft of the pot was much longer as well, since it was made for an archtop electric like a LP. It was not the appropriate pot for the Zach. To make up for the longer shaft he put about 3 different washer on the inside to make up for all the space.
It turned out that he did not replace the mini switch because I think it was obvious there was nothing wrong with it and also because he wouldn't even have one to replace it with. He did take the switch out however but discarded or lost the strategically prepared and placed fiber washer with aluminum contact bands, which I prepare for each switch in a Zachary guitar. The critical washer gives each switch a stable footing as well as proper spacing and grounding in the cavity. So it serves several important purposes. The contact bands achieve the electronic grounding. Its quite obvious that without this washer the switch has no solid footing in the control cavity and gradually an elevated part at the base of the switch if not covered by this washer, will just gradually sink into the wood under the pressure of the lock nut, making the switch always loose and impossible to tighten securely..
This is what I had to do to restore the guitar.
I had to remove all the electronics, drill the two damaged holes even larger, so I could plug them with some dowel stock. After the holes were plugged, the holes could then be drilled again to the proper size for the original size replacement pot and switch.
Plugging the hole is difficult because in the inside of the cavity the plug will protrude after its glued and those areas of the cavity had to be deepened to the proper depth once again. This is very tricky when having to work on a fully assembled guitar on a drill press and having to keep everything perfectly straight, aligned and motionless.
In the end the damaged holes were plugged, re-drilled to the proper diameter, the original parts were used for replacement and the repair is undetectable and as good as new. Well, after a tremendous amount of careful work that is. The sad part of all this, is that it could have all been avoided. Even if the pot or switch had been defective a competent professional repair tech would have requested that Eli get the original replacement parts.
All this could have been avoided had Eli contacted me, asked for advice beforehand and not taken it to a POS who should not be allowed to even go near guitars.
Horror Story 2
A while later, after a long dry winter, Eli needed to have a trussrod adjustment and general setup done to his Zachary bass. Remembering the previous repair experience, Eli looked for a better place in NYC to take his bass. He chose Rudy's (world famous since 1978 as they claim) on the famous music store row, on 48th street NYC. So let's make them just a little bit more famous now. Tell them I say hello if you ever go there.
Again Eli was trusting. This time he thought he was trusting true experts. After all these people are hyped all up as the place to go. WRONG!!!
I am just sick of these places. Just because they are in NYC they get all the stupid hype but the reality is quite disappointing and often disastrous. These places are nothing more than frauds and crooks.
What a disgrace these people are at Rudy's, they are no better than your neighborhood Guitar Center repair dude who doubles as a sales boy. I told Eli to not leave his instruments out of his sight. There is no reason that they cannot do the simple adjustment while you are watching. When it comes to a one-of-a-kind instrument, its understandable not to want to leave it our of your site.. Who the hell can trust these monkeys in what they will do when you are not looking. They will lie and deny their atrocities, while charging you for wrecking your instrument. Well this is exactly what happened.
Looking at the bass they told Eli that they don't want to touch it, being unfamiliar with it. This was a good move on their part but sort of surprising in a way. It may have been because they felt a bit guilty for doing something they shouldn't have. They did a bad thing and wanted Eli to just go away.
So Eli gets his bass back and I tell him to just send this one back to me as well and I will take care of it for him. Eli packs it up and I get the bass back in the shop. I then noticed something funny. To adjust the trussrod, only the neck pickup needs to be removed to gain access to the rod, however I noticed that one of the mounting screws for the bridge pickup was mismatched. Why would they even need to remove the bridge pickup? It did not make sense. I was puzzled because there is no reason to even touch the bridge pup or to remove it.
I looked at the two mismatched bridge pickup mounting screws and noticed that one of them was not like the screws I use. I proceeded to remove this mismatched screw and noticed that it was sort of tight and stuck. It would not more in or out very well. I did remove it and noticed that it was much shorter than what I use and luckily did not go far into the threaded brass insert in the pup cavity. The reason it would not move very easily was because it was not the proper screw, which had a totally different thread on it. The repair person at Rudy's forced it into the threaded insert, which had a mismatched thread. Luckily because the screw they used was too short and could not thread into the brass insert very far, it did not strip it.
For all my pickup height adjustment screws I use machine screws, not wood screws. I like the solid and permanent system with the machine screws threading into a small brass threaded bushing, instead of wood. The brass bushing is pressed and glued into the wood in the pickup cavity and the two pickup mounting screws for ZachAttacks thread into this brass insert. As you may know that brass is still a soft metal and one cannot cross thread it with an improperly threaded screw. This is exactly what they had done at Rudy's. They obviously lost the original screw and instead of telling Eli about it and asking him to contact me for a replacement, which I would have sent them in a matter of days, they simply found another screw which was much shorter and had a completely different thread on it. They then forced this mismatching thread screw into the brass bushing threads, jamming the threads. Luckily the screw was too short and could not thread into the bushing deep enough to strip it completely. It also looked so stupid and like such a hackjob with this screw barely holding the pickup. This is the way they handed the bass back to Eli. They were swine but it gets even better.
The most disrespectful thing was that I noticed that only the head of this wrong screw was black. How could that be? They had apparently colored the head of the screw black with a marker, just so Eli would not notice they put in a different screw. This screw was not even black in color, it was silver and this is why they had to color its head to fool Eli. I thought this was totally disrespectful and despicable. Eli was not vigilant enough to look but it was quite noticeable if you looked closely.
Luckily they did not totally strip the brass bushing. Being pressed into the wood with very strong glue, these inserts are not removable and had they stripped the thread I would have had to extract it by drilling it out, consequently enlarging its hole in the wood, plugging the hole with wood dowel, redrilling it, and inserting a new insert. In other words it would have been a big and frustrating job, all because they did not give a shit about their work and had no professionalism. This is the type of workmanship you should expect from Rudy's Music (famous for hackjobs since 1978). Next time you go there tell them I say hello and would like to piss on them to show my respect. I wonder if this is what they do for all the famous rockstars who go there. You may want to look at your guitars closely Mark Knopfler, see what horrors you find and let me know.
So luckily the insert was not totally damaged and I could replace the screw with the original. I setup the bass and it was fine.
So here you have it. Two examples for you to learn from and use for your own wisdom and try to avoid such situation. This does not only apply to Zachary guitars, it applies to any guitar you may own and cherish. These assholes are out to get you, destroy your guitar and then have the indecency to actually charge you for it. When you leave they will laugh at you, like the bastards did who colored the head of the screw so Eli would not see they used the wrong screw. Or the other asshole who drilled the guitar volume pot hole to put the wrong size pot into it and then lied about it. This could be you and if you are unlucky, the damage will not be reversible. So be smart and know a bit about guitars and how they work so at least you will know what needs to be done and at least you can check on the work and judge its quality. Otherwise, these know-it-all assholes will fuck up your guitar and then ultimately the fault will be yours for trusting them. Don't trust anyone with your guitar, unless the person was gifted by God to repair guitars. I can tell within seconds of talking to a person if they have the talent but you may not be able to tell.