Help updated February 28th, 2024
Save this page to your favorites as it contains hundreds of hours of detailed information and video instruction on how to care for your Zager guitar. This page is updated by Mr. Zager personally so you’re getting your information directly from the man who built your guitar.
For detailed questions about the electronics system on your Zager guitar go to https://zagerguitar.com/electronic-problems/
Our family answers all emails in 24 hours or less (usually within 20 minutes if we’re in the shop) so if you did not receive a response it means we didn’t receive your email or OUR email is in the spam/promotions folder of YOUR email system. Email systems often block our emails or toss them in your spam and promotions folders so be sure to check those places. If you can’t find a response call us direct at 402-770-7747
I really enjoy helping our clients but last year my doctor made me give up the phone as I was losing my voice fielding over 100 calls daily. We’re a small family owned shop, but being in the guitar business 100 years we now have thousands of customers globally. To help everyone personally I now do all my communications by email so in this way you get your answers fast (I’m on 7 days a week) and they’re documented so I can keep track of your personal situation. In this way when you email me again in 5 or 10 years I can look back and see our previous conversation, something that’s impossible to do using the phone. I’m also now able to speak with my children nightly which is important to me. My nieces and nephews and uncle Henry are still available by phone 7 days a week to help with orders and basic guitar info but technical questions I like to handle personally as I want our customers to receive the correct information. DZ Jr.
This week we’re including a free lifetime membership to the entire Zager Guitar Video Lesson Library with all guitar orders. If you purchased a guitar simply follow this link and you will be set up with a lifetime membership http://www.zagerguitarlessons.com/freelessonstrial-4200
If you ordered a model that is in stock your guitar will get sent to Mr. Zager for his final inspection and will ship within 72 hours. If you ordered Saturday or Sunday, your guitar will ship within 72 hours starting on Monday. As soon as it ships FedEx will email your tracking info. Be sure to check your spam and promotions folders in your email as those FedEx emails often get sent there. Rest assured we insure our packages personally and also through FedEx so if anything happens to your package, we simply send you a brand-new guitar.
If you ordered over a weekend or holiday your guitar will not ship until Monday or the next business day when Mr. Zager can get to the shop to inspect your guitar. Be sure to check your spam and promotions folders in your email as FedEx emails often get sent there. Depending on where you’re located it will take 4-5 business days to receive your package. Rest assured we insure our packages personally and also through FedEx so if anything happens to your package, we simply send you a brand-new guitar.
If the model you bought is finished, we ship in 72 hours or less. If you purchased Friday night, over the weekend or during a holiday, the process begins the following Monday. If the model you bought was a “pre order” it means Mr. Zager’s still finishing your guitar and there will be a shipping date in red text on the model page. There are also situations where Mr. Zager finds a problem during his final inspection at which point he will have to start on a new guitar that can set the process back several days. If you continue to see no tracking please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and rest assured we will take care of you.
Heat is rarely an issue for woods and guitars. Cold can be a problem but only when it’s below zero. The only time we recommend delaying opening your package is if your guitar arrives in subzero temperatures. If this happens, we recommend leaving your package in your living room for 2 hours, then opening it. This allows the woods and fresh finish to acclimate to the indoor temperature. Rest assured we insure our packages twice, personally and also through FedEx, so if anything happens to your guitar we simply send you a brand-new one.
If you would like a signature required for delivery, please let us know and we’ll require it. The reason we don’t automatically require a signature upon delivery is that most of our customers are at work during the day so they’re not home to sign. If you’re not home to sign for your package FedEx will require you to come to their offices to pick up your package. This is fine if you’re close to your FedEx office, but many of our customers live far away from FedEx offices so it creates a real inconvenience. This is why we do not require signatures upon delivery of our packages.
After 50 years in Nebraska, Mr. Zager opened a second shop in Las Vegas Nevada where he works part of the year (usually in the winter months) and Dennis Jr. works in Nebraska. We have many recording artists using our instruments it’s a bit easier servicing them when they’re performing in Las Vegas as they rarely come to Nebraska. Nevada also allows us to be sales tax-free which saves our customers hundreds of dollars on our higher-level instruments.
No reason to panic as we see this daily. Often FedEx will leave your package behind a bush, behind the house, in your garage, or even at your neighbor’s house, and this is still considered a delivery. We’ve seen many scenarios where the neighbor has the package and brings it over later. We also have seen times when FedEx drove by and said they delivered but didn’t. In these situations your package usually arrives the next day. Rest assured we’re fully insured so if it’s lost, we’ll replace it.
This is common as Mr. Zager will often go through the line up of guitars going out daily and reinspect guitars to make sure each guitar is perfect and meets his standards. Sometimes Fedex will inspect our packages as well but it’s rare. If you have any problems rest assured we will take care of you.
New guitar questions
Mr. Zager works from a long wall of guitars inspecting multiple guitars daily and sometimes he’ll put one back in the wrong position and a guitar will go to the wrong person. If this happens just let us know and we’ll send a new replacement immediately.
If your guitar arrived damaged simply email us and we’ll send a new replacement guitar immediately. Once we know you have a new guitar we’ll make arrangements to pick it up and file a damage claim with the shipper.
Rest assured if you’re not happy with your guitar we’re not happy and we’ll either send a new guitar or issue a full refund. Mr. Zager inspects every guitar before it ships which usually eliminates these issues but sometimes there’s a computer glitch on the order and it will show to send a lower price discount model so Mr. Zager overlooks any cosmetic issues. Also, there are natural grain irregularities that some players look at as characters making that guitar unique that others consider a defect. Bottom line we want you happy with your lifetime guitar so let us know if you’d like a new guitar or an extra discount on price and we’ll make it right.
This is shown on the Fishman user guides at the top of our electronics page. https://zagerguitar.com/electronic-problems/ In brief, on the 900 and 80 Series guitars the control panel folds open after pulling on the clasp that holds the control box closed. On the 50 Series, 20 Series, Parlor and Travel Series guitars the battery is located on the lower outside box of your guitar. Pull the clasp and open the door and the battery will fall out. Fishman recommends Energizer 9 volt batteries as they’re slightly taller and make a better connection. We’ve had customers who thought their systems weren’t working who tried Energizer 9 volt batteries and their systems worked perfectly again.
If you’re having problems with your electronics on a new guitar please refer to our electronics page at https://zagerguitar.com/electronic-problems/
If you just received your guitar and the strings are buzzing this is common as fresh woods are still settling. To get rid of any buzzing make sure you’re in tune, then take the L-shaped Allen wrench that’s in your glove box and insert it inside the sound hole under the neck. Then turn counterclockwise to raise the action to remove a buzz or turn clockwise to lower action for easier playability. They can be hard to turn when new but rest assured you cannot damage your guitar by doing this. This video explains in greater detail: https://youtu.be/z6Nr88PBQFk. Mr. Zager sets string height at 3/16 measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string. He does this as we have many heavy-handed players who need that height, but if you’re a light-touch player you can go lower and make playability easier. We’ve had many players over the years who were unaware of this, but once dialed in playability was 50% easier. This is what they’re designed for. We’ve also had many players still pressing down hard out of habit from their old guitars, but you’ll notice on our guitars if you loosen up your grip chords still ring true. If you can’t lower string height to 3/16ths measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string without buzzing strings this means your woods are dry. This can be fixed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Mr. Zager lines up bridge pins perfectly on each guitar before they ship but shipping through different temperatures and humidity levels, especially heat, will cause the woods to condense and pins can push out, so they don’t arrive even. To line them up simply push the offending pins back into position.
Sometimes guitars woods look different in person than they do on camera, but we usually hear our guitars in-person look much better than our pictures online. With that said if you were expecting darker woods, you will soon see your woods darken. When woods are fresh and new they are their lightest in hue. As your woods settle and cure and are exposed to light they will darken. It’s, for this reason, we always warn our players that if they’re going to install a pickguard, plan on using it forever because, in a few months, you will see a tan line meaning the wood under the pickguard will soon be much lighter.
Mr. Zager tests each guitar 3 times before they ship for rattles and vibrations; but sometimes as fresh woods are settling, and also due to temperature changes during shipping, vibrations and rattles can creep up. In most cases these issues disappear as the guitar’s woods settle and cure but if they don’t here is a small list of things to check. If your guitar has electronics put your hand on them or open the electronics door when the vibration is happening. If the sound disappears, it means it’s the electronics box is vibrating. This video will guide you https://youtu.be/pKzrNXntYOA Another thing that will cause vibration and rattles inside your guitar is the electronic wires. We install wire holders to eliminate this, but sometimes those come loose or they need another. If you need one, email us and we’ll send some replacements. Any guitar shop can replace these for a minimal fee, and we’ll cover the costs. Lastly any jangling can be caused by a loose washer on the tuning gears (put your finger on those when the sound happens to test) or looseness inside the amplifier jack for which we have a video here that shows how to tighten it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cnbN8IXA_I
If you look at the most expensive guitars in the world they all have solid tops. What this means is the guitar builder takes one solid piece of wood and butterflies (or splits) it down the middle putting the 2 pieces back together. This is how Martin, Taylor, and Fender Gibson all pro luthiers build. It’s common for there to be some variation on the front because we’re using real solid wood. The guitars that have perfect tops are often not real solid woods or the woods are being bleached and filled which can impair sound quality greatly. As an example, I just looked at a $25,000 Martin on Gruhn’s website it only handles the highest quality acoustics in the world and you will also see a line down the center. https://guitars.com/inventory/ab11744-1939-martin-000-18 It’s because Martin uses real solid natural woods without bleaching or fillers. With this said if you were unhappy with this guitar we could certainly exchange it for another with a more even face. The bottom line we want you happy so let us know whatever we can do and we will take care of you.
Guitar builders always warn players that the worst their guitar is ever going to sound is the day that they receive it. When they’re brand new they sound what we call “tinny and thin.” This is because these are fresh woods that are still needing to settle and cure. Once those woods begin to settle and cure though your guitar will get much richer and deeper. There’s usually a 25% difference in sound the first 4 weeks and it only gets better. If you look through our customer reviews and testimonials you’ll see players comment on how much deeper their guitars sounded after the first month. You can also get a richer, deeper sound going up one gauge in string. If this is an issue contact us and we’ll send you a set on the house. Lastly, if you’re a beginner player understand that there’s a rule in guitar building that says, “the bigger the box, the bigger the sound.” What this means is the box of your guitar is a speaker and if you have a small box like on a Travel or Parlor size, you’re going to have a smaller sound. There’s no way around this other than going up to a larger boxed guitar. Due to Mr. Zager’s bracing designs Zager guitars put out more volume than other brands, but there’s only so much sound you can pull from a small box. This is the same if you’re comparing our OM size to our full size. The full size will always sound richer and deeper. If you’re truly unhappy contact us and we would be happy to send another model which will give you the sound you’re looking for.
After completing each guitar Mr. Zager does a final tune and inspection before shipping but unfortunately, it’s very rare for a guitar to arrive in perfect tune. This is because temperature and humidity changes during shipping cause the woods to move which will knock them out of tune every time. Every once in a while, when we ship inconsistent temperatures or somewhere really close by, we’ll have one arrive in perfect tune but it’s rare.
If you’ve played another guitar for many years with a certain size and shape of neck, a switch to a new neck is going to feel VERY different. With that said the Zager neck has been designed and fine tuned over 80 years for the absolute best in playability, speed and accuracy. Mr. Zager always tells his students to give it 30 days, then switch back to your old guitar. You’ll see there’s a reason behind Mr. Zager’s methods and you’ll be able to do things on your Zager that you can’t do on your old guitar. This is why the best players in the world use Mr. Zagers guitars, as they’ve been around the block and played the best, and they still come back to Zager. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9a9_aZShC4 One thing that can make a guitar feel very different is strings so you might want to switch back to your old strings as this may be the difference you’re feeling.
There are currently no other guitars on the market that duplicate Denny Zager’s string spacing. Mr. Zager’s string spacing is matched to his neck design for optimum playability and speed. It provides extra space between strings while at the same time balancing the big E and little E strings so the big E is close to the edge so you can use the thumb of the left hand, but not so close to where you’re pulling strings off the neck. It’s taken Mr. Zager 75 years to dial in these measurements and it’s why you can move faster on Zager guitars with fewer mistakes. If you’ve played a guitar with narrower spacing for a while, it may feel unusual at first, but you’ll soon realize you can move faster with more confidence and fewer mistakes on a Zager. Beginning players will sometimes have issues with this, but advanced players know that this spacing is essential as your guitar skills grow. (The #1 acoustic player in the world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9a9_aZShC4 ) With that said if you’re pulling strings off the fretboard here are some suggestions:
Lower string height. This is done turning the truss clockwise which takes only a minute and is covered on this page. This will also make your guitar easier to play.
Adjust the string spacing on the saddle inward or outward depending on your needs and style of play.
Move up 1 gauge in string weight. A heavier string is not as easy to bend off the fretboard. This will also give you a more robust sound.
Use uncoated strings. Uncoated strings grip better to the fretboard and are less slippery than coated strings.
Mr. Zager levels fret height on all of his guitars but sometimes we have a customer who measures and will find a small variance in fret height and insist this is the source of a buzzing string. If string height is 3/16’s measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string, and you have string buzz exactly on that uneven fret then yes, there is a problem fret. In 99% of these cases though we find string height is UNDER 3/16th which is too low on a brand new guitar whose woods are still setting and whose frets are still wearing in. Do remember most of our playability comes from lower string pressures, and NOT string height. Why? Because ultra low string height produces poor sound quality. This is why Mr. Zager uses these measurements and has found in 70 years testing this combination produces the best results. With that said, once your woods settle and the frets begin to wear in with little divots you’ll soon be able to see, you CAN set string height lower, but not now. Just remember for every millimeter lower you go in string height you WILL lose some sound quality.
Mr. Zager applies a special protective wax to each guitar before they ship which protects the new finish. You generally see it more on the darker finish guitars, especially the black lacquer guitars. He buffs each guitar by hand but sometimes you’ll still see the residue on the bridge, the fretboard and small areas where the buffer has a hard time getting to. You’ll soon see it disappear as it evaporates and turns into dust. If you wanted to remove more Mr. Zager recommends Old English spray polish you can buy at any Walmart for $3.95. We’ve tested polishes and found this one to be the best.
All customers are already registered if you purchased your guitar from Zager Guitars.
String height and playability
Mr. Zager designs his guitars so you can raise or lower string height for your own personal playing style. The paper inserted in the strings of your guitar when it arrived explains in detail, but to adjust string height make sure you’re in tune, then simply take the L-shaped Allen wrench that’s in your glove box and insert it inside the sound hole under the neck. Then simply turn counterclockwise to raise the action to remove a buzz or turn clockwise to lower action for easier playability. They can be hard to turn when new but rest assured you cannot damage your guitar by doing this. This video explains in greater detail: https://youtu.be/z6Nr88PBQFk. Mr. Zager sets string height at 3/16 measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string. He does this as we have many heavy-handed players who need that height, but if you’re a light-touch player you can go lower and make playability easier. We’ve had many players over the years who were unaware of this, but once dialed in playability was 50% easier. This is what they’re designed for. We’ve also had many players still pressing down hard out of habit from their old guitars, but you’ll notice on our guitars if you loosen up your grip chords still ring true. If you can’t lower string height to 3/16ths measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string without buzzing strings this means your woods are dry. This can be fixed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
YES! Playability will increase immensely as your guitar ages. As we have many customers who come back buying 2nd, 3rd and 4th guitars, we get into situations about why the new Zager doesn’t play as easy as the old Zager. This all revolves around woods settling and wearing in of the frets. When your Zager is new the woods have not had time to settle together and cure. Because of this the guitar is not working as well as a whole. Once the woods begin to settle and cure you’ll notice playability will get significantly easier. You’ll also notice other things like little divots forming in the frets which allows you to go lower on string height. None of this is there on a brand new guitar though, which is why we have customers wondering why their new Zager doesn’t play as easy as their old one. You’ll also notice sound will get deeper and richer as the woods settle and cure. If in doubt read the thousands of customer testimonials at the bottom of this page.
Mr. Zager sets action high when the guitars are new as woods have not had time to settle and cure, but if you’re a lighter touch player you can sometimes dial them in lower even on a new guitar using the truss key to make your guitar play easier. We’ve had a few customers over the years who were unaware of this, but once they dialed them in they said their guitars played 50% easier. Mr. Zager designs his guitars so the action is close at the head, but as you work your way down towards the sound hole action should rise to approximately 3/16th’s of an inch measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string. This is adjustable so if you’re a lighter touch player you can sometimes go lower depending on your playing style, but if you go too low you will lose sound quality. Mr. Zager’s goal is to make guitars that play easy, that also sound incredible, which is why he doesn’t go any lower. Secondly, having the strings raised over the sound hole makes it easier for your right hand to finger pick and strum. Third. Very little of our playability comes from string height. The majority of our playability comes from our neck design and shape, fret design and material, string spacing, and bracing system which lowers string pressure over 50% so you barely have to press to form chords. Sometimes we have customers still pressing hard to hold chords out of habit when they no longer have to. If you loosen your grip you’ll see you can and notes will still ring true. Lastly Mr. Zager always leaves a little extra room for the strings to lower as your guitar’s woods settle and cure. If he set action too low on a brand new guitar, as your woods settled you would begin to have buzzing. As the woods settle not only will your guitar play easier, it will also sound much more powerful. If you look through our thousands of testimonials and reviews you will see customers comment on this regularly. This video explains further https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRJvs-80vgM This is why players like the number 1 acoustic guitarist in the world enjoy playing our guitars as much as they do…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9a9_aZShC4
If you just received your guitar and the strings are buzzing this is common as fresh woods are still settling. To get rid of any buzzing make sure you’re in tune, then take the L-shaped Allen wrench that’s in your case and insert it inside the sound hole under the neck. Then turn counterclockwise to raise the action to remove a buzz or turn clockwise to lower action for easier playability. They can be hard to turn when new but rest assured you cannot damage your guitar by doing this. This video explains in greater detail: https://youtu.be/z6Nr88PBQFk. Mr. Zager sets string height at 3/16 measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string. He does this as we have many heavy-handed players who need that height, but if you’re a light-touch player you can go lower and make playability easier. We’ve had many players over the years who were unaware of this, but once dialed in playability was 50% easier. This is what they’re designed for. We’ve also had many players still pressing down hard out of habit from their old guitars, but you’ll notice on our guitars if you loosen up your grip chords still ring true. If you can’t lower string height to 3/16ths measuring from the 12th fret space to the top of the big E string without buzzing strings this means your woods are dry. This can be fixed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
If you have a guitar that played great, but is now starting to buzz or rattle it means your woods are getting dry. The good thing is this is very easy to adjust following a few easy steps.
Take the guitar and place it standing up on a wall facing you. Take 5 soaking wet washcloths, wring them out and drop them into the bottom of the guitar and plug the sound hole with your humidifier. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can cover the sound hole with a baggie, but its important to seal the moisture in. Let the guitar sit standing up and you should be good as new in 72 hours with no buzzing. If not, repeat adding more water. This video will guide you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2F-IX1JlnA
When woods get dry the face lowers 1 millimeter which throws off the geometry of the entire guitar causing buzzing, poor sound, and multiple issues. This is true for all quality solid wood guitars made by all manufacturers but happens more frequently on higher level instruments with thinner hand scalloped bracing which give you that deeper sound and easier playability. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4Ps67D2BaA
This method of sealing moisture inside the body raising humidity to 90% puts the face back into its original position. The video below explains the steps Mr. Zager uses in the shop on buzzing strings, but hydrating the woods (dropping 5 wet towels in the body) is now what he does before any adjustments because 99% of the time it’s all that’s required.
This technique Mr. Zager’s grandfather created has been used over 75 years now by millions of players on all brands of guitars with close to a 100% success rate. Once the process is complete simply maintain humidity over 60% (we keep our shop at 65%+) using a humidifier and you will have no other problems. https://zagerguitar.com/guitars/humidification-system/
If you question how well this system works read the comments of the hundreds of thousands of players who have used it in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UIvs2q3u6w
Mr. Zager has more info about this at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Storage and humidity
My dad and I argue about this regularly. As he’s a player he likes his guitar out and available to play at all times. As the person who repairs guitars I always recommend keeping your guitar in your case at all times at minimal 55% humidity…65% if you can manage it. When a guitar is stored out in the open air, it’s exposed to small changes in temperature and humidity all day long. If it’s near a vent, you will see movement in woods that can lead to warping and cracking. If you’re near a fireplace you will see warping and cracking fast. Direct sunlight daily on the face will cause movement and possible warping and cracking even if your home is humidified to exact levels. We’ve seen Zager’s come in for service that are 50-year-old that look brand new. We’ve also seen two-year-old guitars come in for service that look like they’ve been drug behind a truck. We always know which guitars were stored in their cases.
We keep our shop at 60-70% humidity depending on the season and recommend these numbers for all our models, especially our 80 and 900 Series guitars which have a higher-level bracing system. All guitars from all manufacturers must be stored in minimally 50% humidity at all times. On higher-level acoustics like our 80 and 900 series we recommend over 60%. If not the woods will warp causing playability and sound issues and will eventually crack. Damage can happen in a matter of weeks if conditions are severe. New guitars with high-quality solid woods and low action are most susceptible. Less expensive guitars with high action will not be affected like a precision-made solid wood guitar with low action. This type of damage is not warranted by any guitar manufacturer but it is repairable.
Leaving your guitar in a stand is very dangerous as it can get knocked over, but the more serious issue is it exposes your guitar to small ambient air changes and humidity changes 24/7 like being near a vent or exposed to sunlight, near a fireplace. Hanging it on the wall is the same as your guitar is constantly being exposed to small changes. Always store your guitar in a humidified case whenever possible if you don’t want issues long term with warping and eventually cracking.
Simply twist the two pieces of the humidifier counterclockwise in opposing directions to open the unit and access the sponge inside. Wet the sponge under a faucet. Soaking it will make it absorb even more water. Then put the unit back together and slide under the strings and plug into the sound hole as shown in this video: https://youtu.be/aCw3RhhIdyM
If your sponge gets dirty or moldy, to clean them throw them in the washer with a little bleach. They may not look new but this will disinfect them so you can use them again.
Mr. Zager talks about fine-tuning for the advanced player and how it can be done faster with more precision https://youtu.be/K8tWAITRBsw.
This is common on brand-new guitars with fresh woods that are still settling. The good thing is as those woods cure your guitar will stay in perfect tune. It’s for this reason you read testimonials from our players saying our guitars stay in perfect tune. Once they do though not only will it stay in tune but your guitar will play easier and sound richer and deeper. Mr. Zager also strings his guitars with a thinner 11-50 gauge of string for the best in playability, but thin strings can actually bend out of tune. Few players notice it (even our artists) but if you have a good ear you can occasionally hear it. It’s for this reason Mr. Zager Sr. uses the next gauge up on a few of his own personal guitars. By going one gauge up your guitar will stay in perfect tune and you’ll also get the benefit of a richer deeper sound. In this video, Mr. Zager Jr. talks about tuning problems on a brand-new guitar https://youtu.be/bvLZvaEq0qo
After completing each guitar Mr. Zager does a final tune and inspection before shipping making sure the tune and intonation is perfect on all guitars. With that said there are 2 ways intonation can be ever so slightly off, but it’s generally only noticeable by digital meters. Tuning and intonation can be ever so slightly off when using digital meters on all brand-new guitars with fresh woods that are still settling. This slight movement will cause your guitar to go out of tune easier. The good thing is as your guitar’s woods settle and cure your guitar will stay in perfect tune. It’s for this reason you read testimonials saying our guitars stay in perfect tune, but only after the woods settle which takes minimally 4-6 weeks. Once they do though not only will your stay in tune, but it will sound much richer and deeper. Mr. Zager also runs a thinner gauge of string for the absolute best in playability. Thin strings can bend out of tune easier, and if you have a good ear you can occasionally hear it. It’s for this reason Mr. Zager dad the next gauge of string up on a few of his own personal guitars. By simply going up one gauge it disappears totally, and you also get a benefit of a richer deeper sound.
A capo will always pull strings out of tune, this is common knowledge, but if the capo is too tight it causes excess pressure and can squeeze the strings too much causing much worse tuning issues. Placement of the capo can also cause issues. If it’s put on at a poor angle or without applying even pressure across the strings you can get intonation issues. Place the capo just behind the fret and check that the strings are still evenly spaced and parallel to each other. It sounds silly but if you’re out by the tiniest amount you can hear it. Here’s a good article on capos and how they will always cause intonation issues: https://blog.andertons.co.uk/learn/capo-intonation.
The owner of Goodall guitars also wrote a great article of how Capos will always cause intonation issues. http://goodallguitars.com/support/faq/intonationdissonance/
Here, in an older video, Mr. Zager Sr. talks about the caveats of playing with a heavy hand and how it can impair your playing, cause tuning issues, and actually damage your guitar. https://youtu.be/V_l6Q6mpyJY
The Fishman systems mounted inside your guitar will be slightly more accurate as they’re mounted inside the guitar. Most of these differences will only be seen on the units themselves and not heard by the human ear.
Nut spacing on guitars built after 2005 should be 1.53 inches from big E to little E strings at the nut.
If your nut is chipped or cracked contact us at email@example.com providing your shipping address and we will have Mr. Zager make a brand new nut for your guitar and we’ll send it free of charge.
This can be another sign of dryness as when a guitars woods get dry, the tray at the top of the neck that holds the nut will contract slightly causing it to open and your nut will fall out. It’s also not unusual for a nut to fall out of even a newer guitar. Mr. Zager uses as little glue as possible when attaching the nut to the fretboard because glue, if used in excess, will actually impair the sound quality of the entire guitar. You will see this on most higher-level acoustics as anytime there’s a layer of glue it dampens the vibration of the string which can ruin sound quality. Because of the pressure of the strings on the nut sometimes this bond can be broken, and the nut simply falls out of its tray at the top of the fret board. To reinstall a nut simply put 2 small drops of Elmers glue on the back of the nut and drop it in the tray at the top of the guitar. Because Elmers is water soluble any excess glue can be wiped off easily with a damp rag. This video will guide you: https://youtu.be/9B2b3guwXOw
This video will guide you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jDflwvgl6A Mr. Zager uses very little glue on the nut for better sound quality so they pop quite easily.
Saddle spacing on guitars built after 2000 should be 2.25 inches from big E to little E strings at the saddle.
If your saddle (white part) fell out of your bridge (brown wood part) which is extremely common and can happen when turning the guitar upside down, the way to put the saddle back in is with the square notch under the thinner strings. This video explains in greater detail: https://youtu.be/q94ylApDWvI
This happens when the woods of the bridge (brown part) get so dry that they contract actually making the saddle tray wider. One way to fix this is removing the saddle (white part) and humidifying your guitar heavily for a few weeks, especially around the bridge area in order to get water back into the woods of the bridge and close the saddle tray making it narrower. If that doesn’t work Mr. Zager recommends going to a thicker saddle. There are shops online who stock thicker saddles which will close that gap. Another option is replacing the entire bridge, but we do not recommend this as it’s very evasive and can lead to more issues in the future. In general, a saddle that’s leaning slightly, although not ideal, is nothing to be alarmed about unless you’re having playability or sound issues.
The saddle should always be loose and fall out when you turn the guitar upside down. When the saddle is too tight it can hang up in the bridge tray and won’t transfer sound to the transducer underneath (on electric models) and the face on pure acoustics. Also, when humidity is high the bridge can swell and tighten up around the saddle so again, we like saddles loose. If the saddle is really loose, we recommend humidifying the guitar as when woods get dry on the bridge the saddle tray can widen and cause the saddle to actually lean. Be sure to maintain at least 55% humidity at all times when storing your guitar.
This only comes from dry woods and is addressed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Mr. Zager sets up all of his guitars with our own Zager Pillow Touch custom light 11–50 gauge strings (11 14 23 31 41 50) hand wound in our shop in Nebraska, but we have players using all brands and gauges of strings on our guitars with excellent results. If you like the strings that came on your guitar (Zager Pillow Touch Coated 11-50 gauge) we offer them on our website at: https://zagerguitar.com/accessories/
Depending on how much you practice in general Mr. Zager recommends string changes every 2-3 months. With that said many things come into play regarding string changes. If you’re in a dry environment using our pillow touch-coated strings and play once a week, we’ve had players go 6 months and their strings were still sounding good. Now if you’re a high-level player with a great ear that’s in the recording studio regularly trying to get the absolute best sound, you’re probably going to change strings monthly, sometimes even weekly, but this again depends on how much you’re playing, humidity levels where you play and also if your hand perspires a lot. If you’re in Florida where humidity is high, it’s great for your woods but it wears down strings as humidity attracts dirt to your fingers and strings and can wear them out fast. If you perspire a lot, Mr. Zager’s had students who had to change strings every 2 weeks. With that said our pillow touch-coated strings defend against dirt and perspiration very well and play even easier, so technology has helped us a lot in these areas. In this older video Mr. Zager Sr. talks about the technicalities of high-level play and how it affects strings and string life but as a general rule, if you’re using our newest coated strings and play several times a week most of our players go 3 months between changes and have no issues. https://youtu.be/MumvBGm50L4
This video is over 20 years old so forgive the quality, but many have called it the best and most thorough string change video on the world wide web. Here you will see Mr. Zager’s 70 years of knowledge as a luthier and player. https://youtu.be/rRUFw6OvhJo.
Just because your strings are tarnished does not mean they must be replaced, but it does indicate wear on your strings and is an indicator that they may need to be replaced. Tarnished strings are caused by perspiration and dirt from your fingertips and you will see it more on the areas of the strings where you are playing the most. Some players perspire more than others and generally, these players will need to change strings more often. This is exacerbated more by living in a super humid climate. (although humidity is really good for the woods) Mr. Zager recommends all players to always wash their hands before playing as this will extend your string life greatly. We also recommend using coated strings as they will protect much better than uncoated strings and last much longer. Just because they’re dark doesn’t mean they need to be replaced but if they sound bad and won’t stay in tune this indicates they should be replaced. Mr. Zager talks more about strings here: https://youtu.be/MumvBGm50L4
Regarding how the string comes off the tuning gear. For 4 decades Mr. Zager strung his guitars as shown in this video with the string coming off the top of the gear because it prevented the string hang up. String hang-up is when you’re fine-tuning and turning the tuning gear and the string hangs up and moves all at once. The tuning gear companies always hassled him about this because they said it put more stress on the gear but in 50 years, we never had an issue. On our newest guitars, my father redesigned his nut using a new slicker coating which allows the string to slide easily in the groove so you can string conventionally the way the tuning gear companies prefer. My father’s always trying to improve his guitars and these new nuts truly are superior but if you want to continue stringing off the top of the gear for added ease, I’m sure you’ll be fine doing it that way as my dad did it for 50 years and never had a problem.
On our original strings we still hand wind them in our shop one at a time in Lincoln, Nebraska like we have for 50 years. Mr Zager doesn’t like to change the way we do things often, especially when our players and artists enjoy our strings as they are, so we don’t have any special numbering or color coding system, but our strings are actually quite easy to tell apart if you know how to do it. The 4 larger bronze strings are “wound” strings with little grooves and gold in color. They are easy to tell apart visually and see which is which. The two smallest strings are silver and unwound smooth. If you simply bend these two string between your fingers you’ll be able to tell which is thinner and which is thicker. As your skills advance you’ll be able to tell them apart easily just like Mr. Zager does, but if you use this system it will speed up your skills greatly.
If you have a brand new guitar it’s going to take a few weeks for the woods to settle and during this time you’ll see more tuning problems, but once your woods settle and cure our guitars lock into tune and will not waiver. You’ll also notice your guitar will sound much richer and deeper. If you just put new Zager strings on an old guitar be sure to stretch them as shown in Mr. Zager’s restring video at https://youtu.be/rRUFw6OvhJo When you stretch your strings you’re tugging on each string several times pulling the slack out of it. Don’t pull too hard or you’ll break them, but in stretching your strings you’ll see by pulling the slack out, your guitar stays in perfect tune.
As a way of offering lifetime support to our customers, if you break a tuner contact us and let us know which tuner you broke and if it’s gold or silver, provide your shipping information and we’ll send you a brand new tuner free of charge. This video will guide you on installation https://youtu.be/nIvnUZRdElM
This video will guide you on putting together your strap https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQqWXe49LQ
The thin end of the strap connects at the neck. The wide end of the strap connects at the bottom of your guitar. There’s a slit on each end of your strap. Simply loop the slits over the strap pegs on your guitar. The slits are tight when new as all quality straps are, but with use the leather will loosen and fit over the pegs easily. On our 80 and 900 series guitars you can unscrew and reverse the nut on the bottom peg so the flange makes the strap more secure.
All of our straps are full-size which are the same size as all of the most popular straps in the world and are uniform in size. For players who want even more room, we recommend using the string that’s included with your strap and tying it at the nut instead of using the upper strap peg.
This is a sign of dryness. Mr. Zager shows how to repair this on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Bottom pegs are installed loose on all high level hand built guitars as there are players who replace them with locks and others who wire custom electronics through that hole. If you want to secure your bottom strap peg long term Mr. Zager recommends 1 drop of Elmer’s glue as it’s water soluble and that will lock the bottom peg into position so it doesn’t fall out again. If you need to remove it a drop of water will loosen it. If you need a replacement peg let us know and we’ll send a brand new one free of charge.
When straps are brand new the openings that slide over your strap pegs can be tight but with a little force they will slide over the peg and after some use the leather will loosen and fit easy over the pegs.
Zager guitars will accept any strap lock system. On our 80 and 900 Series we use a combination amplifier jack strap peg on the bottom meaning if you wanted to use locks it would require drilling a separate hole beside the bottom jack. Instead we recommend this this strap lock system that integrates with the amplifier jack. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MN270–musicnomad-acousti-lok-strap-lock-adapter-for-standard-output-jacks It takes only a minute to install and does not require drilling any extra holes and if you want to make your guitar original again it’s simple to swap back. The upper peg can be swapped out using any strap lock peg.
Zager pins are genuine ebony snakewood with a pearl inlay. They are designated size 1 and have a 3 º tapered shaft with a diameter at the top of the shaft (just below the skirt) of 0.210″ and a string slot running the full length of the shaft, stopping below the skirt. This size pin will fit all Zager guitars, Martin guitars prior to 1994 (except HD-28), Collings guitars prior to 2002, as well as Blanchard, Garrison, Goodall, Ryan, Santa Cruz, and Taylor guitars.
Yes we have players using brands of pins and pin materials with excellent results.
Changing your pins is easy with the right tool. You won’t ruin the pins or the bridge of your guitar when you do it the right way. We also offer replacement pin sets in our accessories store. https://youtu.be/DpGfKphIIdc
Mr. Zager offers his guitars just like high end custom builders, without pickguards. There are many players who feel putting anything on the sound board impairs sound quality so he leaves them off. We use a special finish that resists scratches so most of our clients don’t use them. With that said we always include a pickguard with your package and we have a video that shows how to put it on, it takes only a few minutes. https://youtu.be/7Phno75hDTM
Our pickguards are translucent meaning you can see through them. They have a paper backing that you peel away before installing them and this paper backing gives them an entirely different look. Once you peel the paper backing and install them on your guitar, as they are translucent you see the woods through the guard and match perfectly.
We use something really soft like a cloth baby’s diaper slightly damp. If you want to use a polish look for “Old English Spray.” You can usually find it at Walmart for about $3. We’ve tried all polishes over the years, even the really expensive $50 a can and out of all of them we found this to be the best. For the fretboard all of our string sets contain fret board cleaner and conditioner to be used during string changes.
Mr. Zager only recommends the cleaner conditioner for your fretboard that’s included in our Zager string packs. He doesn’t recommend lemon oil or any oils on the fretboard. Oil attracts dirt and that builds up on your fretboard and gets onto your strings which ruins strings prematurely along with the sound of your guitar.
Zager guitars are designed so that in place of a conventional truss, Mr. Zager created an advanced truss system that allows you to raise and lower string height consistently down the fretboard. Most truss systems only allow you to adjust relief. Zager guitars allow you to do both.
On a brand-new guitar the truss rods can be hard to turn because they’re brand new and have not been used. If you push, you’ll find they eventually turn, and they’ll continue to turn easier with more use. If you have an older guitar that has not been humidified with dry wood that’s not turning this can be a serious issue. Our guitars are built strong meaning you can put your full arm into it and if the truss rod doesn’t turn it means it’s locked. This happens when the woods get dry and shift which prevents the truss from moving. If you continue to push on a guitar like this, you can break a truss and at that point, it can cost more to repair the guitar than replace it. The way to fix a guitar like this is to turn the guitar upside down and lean it against a wall. Take some penetrating oil and get inside the sound hole and put many drops onto the truss rod mechanism where you insert the key. Be sure to get enough oil in there so it can run down inside the neck over the entire truss rod. Give it 72 hours to sink in and try turning the truss again. It’s not foolproof but we’ve brought back 50% of guitars with locked truss rods using this method. If you’re having this problem please refer to our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar
The only time frets will move or pop on a guitar is from extreme dryness but it’s very rare. What happens most often is as your woods dry and contract your face will lower 1-2mm and this again is only caused by dryness. Mr. Zager shows how to repair this on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
If you look at a Zager after about a month of solid use, you’ll notice small grooves appearing under each of the strings on each fret going down the entire fretboard. This is part of the design of Mr. Zager’s guitars and poses no issues in playability, sound, or fret life. Our metal is slightly softer and because of this you will see little indentations in the frets after several months of use, but this is part of their design and why Zager guitars play easier.
Because of this design, our frets have an extremely long life. We’ve had customers with our guitars in excess of 30 years with original frets with no issues in playability or sound, so they actually last much longer. Now if you’re having a buzzing strings this is caused by dryness and is addressed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Mr. Zager uses a simple sponge sanding block to smooth rough frets or remove tarnish from the frets. You can get them at any Walmart in the hardware section for about $3. It’s basically a sponge with fine-grit sandpaper on the outside. Simply remove your strings and run it up and down the fretboard lightly. You can also run it down the edge of the fretboard which will take away any sharpness. This will not damage your fretboard in any way. When complete spray some guitar polish on the fretboard and it will look brand new.
This is only caused by dryness. Mr. Zager shows how to repair this on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
If you discover a crack or break in your neck, at some point the neck or headstock took a blow. If you have a small crack you might be able to glue the crack (with full string pressure so the crack is open) then remove string pressure so the crack closes letting everything dry for 72 hours. Mr Zager uses Elmers glue as it’s water soluble. These repairs generally last forever.
If you have a broken neck these guitars are not repairable as you can never get the neck back in proper alignment which leads to buzzes, rattles, tuning issues, and eventually due to string pressure they give way and collapse again. Yes, many shops will say they can repair them, but we’ve never seen a repair that did not have issues and eventually collapsed again.
If you have a guitar with a broken neck contact us as Mr. Zager will sometimes build a new guitar for those unlucky customers for material cost only.
This is only caused by dryness. Mr. Zager shows how to repair this on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
Cracks in saddles are common as it’s a point of pressure due to the strings. If you break a saddle let us know and we’ll have Mr. Zager build a brand new saddle and send it free of charge per our lifetime warranty.
Cracks and chips in nuts are common as it’s a point of pressure due to the strings. If you break a nut let us know and we’ll have Mr. Zager build a brand new saddle and send it free of charge per our lifetime warranty.
This is caused by an impact on the side of the neck. The binding will take the impact and protect the fret board, which is what it’s designed to do. The problem is the clear finish that’s applied to the outside of the binding will eventually form a small hairline crack that came from the impact. These may not appear immediately and show up months after the impact. On a positive note they are purely cosmetic and will not affect the playability or sound of your guitar in any way. You can get them repaired but it’s a time consuming task that can add up financially.
Many shops recommend refinishing dings, dents meaning removing the finish from the entire face, side or back of the guitar if that’s where the damage is, repairing it, then applying new finish.
If you talk with the best luthiers in the world though, most will tell you to leave them alone. The reason shops recommend refinishing is it’s an expensive procedure. You can easily spend $700-1000+ refinishing a portion of a guitar because of the hours involved.
The problem with refinishing is not only is it expensive, but you’re layering new finish over old finish and this ruins sound quality. There’s a reason players like Willie Nelson don’t refinish their guitar. https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/trigger/
If your guitar that was once quiet has something loose in the neck or headstock this is only caused by dryness as when woods get dry they contract but metal parts do not. We have more about dryness on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/ The most common things to rattle on the neck when woods get dry are the washers on the tuning gears so if you’re getting a jangle, when it happens grab each of the tuning are as there’s a washer that will jangle when the tuners get loose. If it changes when you touch a particular tuning gear you’ll probably notice the loose washer. Hand tighten and you should have no further problems.
Jangling or loose parts inside the neck involve the truss rod which can loosen as well which is only caused by dryness. If you have a loose truss rod, by simply turning the truss using your truss key left or right should tighten it to remove any jangling. Beyond this you would need to hydrate your woods which is addressed on our humidity page https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/
If you hear a jangling sound at the bottom or base of your guitar playing certain notes this is looseness in the amplifier jack. Mr. Zager shows how to tighten the amp jack in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cnbN8IXA_I
Please refer to the “Buzzing strings” section on this page.
All of our cases have digital humidity sensors that show relative humidity inside the case where you’re storing your guitar. This is vitally important to the woods of an acoustic guitar because if conditions are too dry, they can warp which will cause poor playability and eventually cracking. Guitars stored in cases have fewer problems long term because the guitar is protected not only from physical damage but also from subtle daily temperature and humidity changes in storage. We don’t include humidifiers with our guitars as most of our clients don’t need them unless you’re in an environment that is extremely dry. In those circumstances, we recommend this humidifier: https://zagerguitar.com/guitars/humidification-system/
If you look at our cases you’ll notice they’re very high level. Not too many know that we lose money every time we sell a case. Mr. Zager knows how important cases are for the durability of his guitars so we make them affordable for all players. Even though they’re only $200 they’re actually much more expensive to build as they’re built just like cases made for $10,000+ guitars. They are form fitted exactly to the specifications of the guitar so the finish does not chaff.
When a case is non form fitting like you see with lesser expensive cases, your guitar is not well protected as it can vibrate inside the case causing chafing and damage. Our touring artists appreciate this as it prevents damage during travel. Those cases are tight and smooth meaning when you drop your guitar in you feel a poof of air in your face. That’s the sign of a very high-dollar quality case. Because of their high-end design that protects your guitar they are not made to be used with the strap still attached to the body. With that said there is ample room for your strap in the glove box.
This is actually part of how our cases are designed and why they’re so effective in protecting your guitar. Our cases are designed and aligned this way for a reason. The bottom of the case and the top of the case are supposed to twist slightly in opposing directions to “grab and hold” the body of your guitar so it’s held tighter within the case. When there’s any looseness inside of a case it leads to chafing which can damage the finish. This design stops chafing as the guitar is held tighter within the case and is actually more protective for your guitar in the event of a drop or fall. When you release the latch your case it should “pop” open.
This video will guide you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUVa0V6OhXs
Yes we have artists and players who travel with our guitars regularly and our cases are perfectly safe if you check them into the storage under the plane.
Yes we have artists and players who travel with our guitars regularly and our cases will fit in the overhead storage.
This video will guide you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd0E7r-aquY. You can reset them by removing the battery for 60 seconds.
We’ve had clients with our lightweight ABS cases for over 30 years and sometimes the bottom grommets (or feet) can loosen but they never fall off. To tighten the grommets we use super glue or Gorilla glue and it holds extremely well.
We recommend our own capo that Mr. Zager designed exclusively for guitar guitars neck design. https://zagerguitar.com/accessories/
A capo will always pull strings out of tune slightly, this is common knowledge, but if the capo is too tight it causes excess pressure and can squeeze the strings too much causing much worse tuning issues. Placement of the capo can also cause issues. If it’s put on at a funny angle or without applying even pressure across the strings you can get intonation issues. If you need a new capo let us know and we’ll send you one. Place the capo just behind the fret and check that the strings are still evenly spaced and parallel to each other. It sounds silly but if you’re out by the tiniest amount you could hear it. Here’s a good article on capos and how they will always cause intonation issues: https://blog.andertons.co.uk/learn/capo-intonation. The owner of Goodall guitars also wrote a great article of how capos will always cause intonation issues. http://goodallguitars.com/support/faq/intonationdissonance/ On a positive note these tuning issues are usually so small they’re only picked up by digital tuners and not recognizeable by the human ear.
Mr. Zager designs his guitars so they need nothing more than string changes, string height adjustment and water which are all simple tasks anyone can do and are covered on this page. Issues beyond this revolve around guitars with dried woods which are addressed on our humidity page at https://zagerguitar.com/humidity-and-your-guitar/ If you’re not the type that likes working on your guitar, you can go to our service page at http://zager.com/service . If Mr. Zager’s backed up we recommend Guitar Center as they have 304 locations nationally. https://stores.guitarcenter.com/browse/ This saves our customers shipping expenses (usually $250+ both directions) and risk in damage, especially during really hot or cold parts of the year.
We have a lifetime warranty on all of our guitars that covers everything except damage from misuse or regular maintenance and care. Our warranty on electronics is 2 years just like $10,000 Martin, Taylor, Fender, Gibson but we’ll cover customers for life on electronics too as long as we have the parts. If you’re having an electronics problem go to our electronics page at https://zagerguitar.com/electronic-problems/ We also replace nuts, saddles, tuners and other parts free of charge and also pay for shipping as sometimes these go out over the years. We have a video about this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObDSHFb6x24&t=5s
Our warranty is the same as hgh level Taylor, Fender, Gibson, Martin and all top tier guitar makers which is lifetime for the first owner but it is not transferable. We do provide lifetime support for ALL Zager owners to our tuning and maintenance library and we always go out of our way to help all Zager owners as when you buy a Zager we consider you family. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObDSHFb6x24&t=5s
Since 1969 Zager Guitars has been the only guitar company in the world with a true 100% money back guarantee that pays all shipping fees both ways, but we do have 2 simple rules that allow us to continue this generous policy.
All returns must be made within 30 days of delivery. Most shops have 3 day policies. We extend this 10 fold and pay for everything including all domestic shipping fees both ways which no other guitar company in the world offers.
Guitars must be in brand new condition the way it was delivered to you with original strings and no signs of use, damage, finish impurities or custom work (pick guards, custom hardware, strap pegs, etc)
We have so few returns (under 1%) that when it happens Mr. Zager likes to know exactly what the problem is and handles all returns personally. If all criteria is in order to initiate a return contact firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, guitar model and your phone number along with a good time to call and you will be contacted by Mr. Zager personally.