Ottawa's guitar repair shop



Neck resets

A neck reset is a term that you often hear when you’re an acoustic guitar enthusiast, but what is actually involved in one, and why are they needed? Here, I wil discuss neck resets, the why and how they’re done. Of course, this is a very complex subject, and a book could be written on it, so I will only be skimming the surface in this article.

Why does a neck need resetting?:

Over the years, any steel stringed acoustic guitar’s neck pitch will tilt forward, causing the action to rise gradually over the years. You can notice this by comparing a new acoustic guitar on a store shelf to an older model. The new guitar will have a tall saddle protruding from the bridge, while the older guitar will have a noticeably lower saddle. In some cases, you can even notice that the bridge of the older guitar is thinner than that of the new one. This was done in a repair shop, where the bridge was sanded down in order to get the action to playable level.

Read more: Neck resets

Testimonials

Just a few testimonials I have collected from some of my customers. I will add to the list in time, but it's a start:

This is my second testimonial to Mr. Weston.  Unbelievably fortunate to know Ian.  He has repeatedly helped me out of technical jams with efficiency and aplomb.  I had been having intonation issues with a Manzer multineck due to the instrument settling in.  There's a lot of tension going on on a fifty stringed instrument and Linda was out of town for an extended period of time.  I went in to Ian's shop for ideas to amplify the instrument and as I was relating to him the instruments development and some of the issues Linda was going to address, he said he could take care of the intonation at the nut in short order.  I gave the go and in ten minutes I was out of there.  Excellent work.  Consistently.  

Thanks Ian.  See you again soon.

Terry Tufts

Ian,

I have played my  1931 Martin 0-18K for about six weeks since you completed a major restoration of this wonderful guitar and now is an appropriate time to review the results.  First let me comment on the quality of your workmanship; with the exception of the Evo frets with their obvious colour difference from the previous frets, there is no evidence that the guitar was the recipient of any work and certainly not such an extensive restoration (new bridge, neck reset, new frets, and new nut and saddle). This is the highest praise I can bestow; your workmanship and attention to detail far exceeded my expectations.  I have owned this guitar since 1978 and its current level of playability far exceeds any of my previous experiences with this guitar; hand fatigue is almost nonexistent and I can get to notes that were not reachable prior to this work.  Previously, the guitar's intonation never approached perfection; your work resolved all past issues in this regard and the guitar has never sounded better.

Since I purchased the guitar,  two other of Ottawa's supposedly great guitar technicians have worked on it;  their workmanship and lack of knowledge and experience created problems that only you were able to resolve and for that I am very grateful.  My previous experience had made me very cautious when choosing someone to work on my other vintage guitars (63 Gretch and a 56 Les Paul Jr.).  Your work on these and the Strat you built for me gave me the confidence to bring this pre-war Martin to you and I am truly grateful for the wonderful instrument that you returned to me!  Pre-war Martins are rare and uniquely constructed and Ian Weston is one of only two luthiers that I would now trust to work on such a precious instrument; of the two, Ian is the only Ottawa based luthier and the other (T. J. Thompson) resides in the U.S. and does Martin's pre-war restorations.  Full documentation, complete with pictures, of Ian's restoration of this Martin can be seen on his Facebook page.

Jim G.

 

Weston Instruments is a trusted and valued contributor to my playing pleasure.  Owning a robust collection of acoustic and electric stringed instruments, I believe implicitly, that the services of a luthier are essential to the welfare of my stable of beauties, and Ian Weston has been that and so much more.  Indeed, I think of him as a fine surgeon, an insightful psychiatrist, a sympathetic bartender, clever engineer, refined sculptor, brilliant designer … you name it … he’s a fine luthier.  But most importantly I’m proud to consider him friend for over a year now and I count myself fortunate to have someone of his exacting caliber, in my corner.
 
D. Wayne Dunham (entertainer/guitarist for over 40 years - Ottawa)

 

I had Ian work on a Fender Jagstang I found on the cheap. It was fairly beat up and thin-sounding. I asked Ian to recommend a decent humbucker and do a proper setup.
 
Ian took the time to find out my style of playing and what tone/sound I was looking to achieve with my setup. I provided him with some of my influences, a few sound clips and he recommended a 59/Custom Seymour Duncan pickup.
 
The turn-around was less than 5 days, which is pretty incredible. The guitar plays very smooth and the pickup sounds phenomenal. All in all, I brought in a mediocre guitar and was returned an axe that sounds great and I'd be comfortable gigging with.
 
It's refreshing to have someone care about your instrument as much as you do. I got more than I asked for -- Ian is one of the best luthiers I've had the pleasure of working with in Ottawa.
 
- Jordan G. M.
 
 
Just had my JV Strat refretted and set up by Ian and I am blown away by the difference in the way my guitar feels, plays and sounds. I've been searching for a good shop for a while and was very fortunate to come across Weston Instruments. I can't say enough about the top quality work and the fantastic customer service I received.
 
Do yourself and your guitar a favour and bring it in to Ian. You won't be disappointed!
A++
 
Pete M
 
 

For all you guitar players out there in the Ottawa area in need of work to be done on your instrument, definitely get in touch with Luthier Ian Weston. From repairs, alterations or setups, you won't be sorry you had him work on your baby. I have tried every luthier and guitar tech in Ottawa, and I can tell you that I have not had anywhere near the positive experience I've had with Ian (and, when it comes to my guitars, I am very picky). This guy knows his stuff, (the art and science) which is very, very rare these days!

Between me and my brother, we have brought Ian more than 15 guitars and he has made each and every one MUCH better. Do yourself a favour and contact him...

- Mark Baylin

 

Let’s talk about the sound of the thing. It does everything. Put it through clean, and it’s a jazz box, or a Tele, or a Strat. Beef it up a bit with a tubescreamer, and it’s a Les Paul. Hit that fuzz box, and it’s a shred machine. There just aren’t very many electric mandolins out there that are designed to be this versatile, but the Seymour Duncan Cool Rails pickup on Ian’s mandolins are the utility infielder of pickups — infield, outfield, catcher, pitcher, they’ll do it all. I’m surprised it didn’t cook me dinner after I was done playing it.

- Joe Brent, talking about the Weston 5-string mandolins

 

Hey Ian,
 
Thanks again for the work on the Tele and Strat! I can't begin to say how much I absolutely love these guitars now! You have completely transformed them and I can't believe I have been playing them the way they used to be before you worked on them.
 
I can play faster, and more accurately with less effort, and I my hands don't get tired anymore like before.  I'm dumbfounded and absolutely blown away!
 
Thanks so much again!  When I hear of someone needing a luthier, you're the guy! You're the best tech in Ottawa, and I've had work done by all of them at one time or another.
 
All the best,
Steve Koch

 

Just a quick note to say thanks for your excellent work on the Gretsch. I spent a good chunk of the day on it--- it plays beautifully. I thought I knew before what it sounded like---but I guess I really didn't. It now sounds like a totally different-- and much better-- instrument. Thanks again.....

cheers

- Steve

 

Hey Ian.

Just finished playing the Martin D42 for a couple of hours.  It's definitely at it's sweetest point ever.  Plays  great - nice & smooth - I notice certain progressions are much easier to pull off - no fighting the guitar - frets are very, very nice. Great work!

- Mark L.

 

Thanks for your great job guys, my les paul plays amazing now !
- Nik


Hi Ian. 
Very noticeable improvement. Plays like a dream. Great work.
- Ben

 

I almost cried with my Gretsch on the weekend by the way... best jam I ever had...

- Mark B.

 

Ian,
 
I tried the guitar and i like it...plays way better now. 
 
Thanks for the work on both guitars!! great job!
 
- Simon

Crazy electric mandolin

Glow in the dark mandolin - GuitarI had just finished building a Flying V electric mandolin. I thought it was pretty awesome, but I could see how the shape would turn off many players. The Mandolin circles still seem a bit conservative. So, I decided to design a new model, something a little bit more traditional. I was going to stay in the solid body realm, but it had do be a more "standard" shape.

 

I came up with a double cut design, similar to a PRS shape, but quite different at the same time. But I was always thinking in the back of my mind: "How am I going to make this thing awesome?".

 

I want to keep creating instruments that have never been seen before. And at one point, I'm not sure when, I thought a glow in the dark electric mandolin would be as awesome as it can get.

 

So, here it is. It has a two piece maple, neck through body. The body wings are made of ash, along with the headstock veneer. The fretboard is white bound ebony.

Profile view of a glow in the dark mandolin - guitar

As for the electronics, I have done something that has been done in the past, but seldom seen. I angled the pickup so that the treble side is closer to the nut, and the bass side closer to the bridge. This single pickup, opposite slant design produces a much more balanced tone. Usually, the bass tones are too basy, and can have an over coning effect through an amp, and the higher frequencies are too shrill. This configuration of the pickup on an electric mandolin balances everything in harmony. The volume and tone controls allow you to shape the sound to your liking.

Choosing your very first guitar

Making the right choice when it comes to choosing your first guitar will help you enjoy learning how to play the instrument. Even though all new instruments need a setup, there are things to look out for in the first instrument you will ever play.

Read more: Choosing your very first guitar

Bigger strings sound better

Its true isn't it? If you have every played around with string gauges on your electric guitar, you probably noticed a considerable tonal difference between light gauge strings and heavy gauge strings. A set of 11's or even 12's on a strat, or LP, just sounds truer, louder and clearer than 9's or 10's.

Read more: Bigger strings sound better