Help updated 9/14/22

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 daily by Mr Zager personally so you’re getting your info directly from the person who built your guitar.

Just ordered:

I emailed Zager with no response

My family and I answer 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 your 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 there. If you still can’t find it call us direct at 402-770-7747

I just ordered my first Zager, now what happens?

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 24 hours. If you ordered Saturday or Sunday, your guitar will ship 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.

I ordered my guitar yesterday and I haven’t received tracking info yet.

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.

I’m concerned about my Zager shipping in the heat or cold.

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.

Why isn’t signature required upon delivery?

If you would like signature required for delivery, please let us know and we’ll require it. The reason we don’t automatically require signature upon delivery is because 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 signature upon delivery for our packages.

FedEx says they delivered but it’s not here.

No reason to panic as we see this daily. Often FedEx will leave your package behind a bush, behind the house, in your garage, even at your neighbors, 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 where FedEx drove by and said they delivered but didn’t. In these cases, your package usually arrives the next day. Rest assured we’re fully insured so if it’s lost, we’ll replace it.

Why is my guitar shipping from Henderson NV?

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 so 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.

My guitar arrived damaged

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.

My guitar arrived but it’s the wrong model

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.

My box was opened as staples are undone and it’s been taped

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 customs will inspect our packages when we’re shipping out of the country but it’s rare.

Just received:

Adjusting string height for easier playability or a buzzing string

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 greater detail, but to adjust string height, simply take the L shaped Allen key that’s in your glove box and insert it inside the sound hole under the neck. Then simply turn counterclockwise to raise 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 considerably lower and make playability much easier. We’ve had many players over the years who were unaware of this and ready to return, 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’re raising action to remove a buzzing string and it’s not working, it means your guitars woods are slightly dry. This can be fixed easily by looking at the answer below for “how to fix buzzing strings on a guitar over 1 month old.”

Doesn’t sound good

Guitar builders always warn players that the worst your guitar is ever going to sound is the day that you receive it. When they’re brand new they sound what we call “tinny and thin.” This is because these are fresh green 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 every week after. If you look through our customer reviews and testimonials, you will 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 its 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 because it’s physics. 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 bigger sound you’re looking for.

Arrived out of tune

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 in consistent temperatures or somewhere really close by, we’ll have one arrive in perfect tune but it’s rare.

Not staying in tune

This is common on brand new guitars with fresh woods that are still settling. The woods are still green and because of this they’re moving and settling and this causes them to go out of tune easier. The good thing is as they settle and 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 but when they’re fresh the woods still need time to settle and cure. Once they do though not only will it stay in tune but your guitar will play easier and also sound much richer and deeper. Mr. Zager also strings them 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 most of our big artists don’t) 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 all of his own personal guitars. By going one gauge up your guitar will stay in much better tune totally and you’ll also get the benefit of a richer deeper sound. If you would like to try the next gauge of string let us know and we’ll send you a free pack. In this video Mr. Zager Jr. talks about tuning problems on a brand new guitar https://youtu.be/bvLZvaEq0qo

Intonation slightly off

After completing each guitar Mr. Zager does a final tune and inspection before shipping making sure tune and intonation is perfect. With that said there are 2 ways intonation can be ever so slightly off but it’s only generally noticeable by digital gauges and not the human ear.
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/
Tuning and intonation can be ever so slightly off when using digital meters on all brand-new guitars with fresh green woods. These woods are still green and because of this they’re moving and settling, and this will cause the 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 from our customers saying our guitars stay in perfect tune, but only after the woods settle which take minimally 4 weeks. Once they do though not only will it 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, and this can show up on digital gauges but is usually not noticeable to the human ear. Very few players notice it (even most of our big artists don’t) but if you have a good ear, you can occasionally hear it. It’s for this reason my dad uses the next gauge of string up on a few of his own personal guitars. By simply going 1 gauge higher it disappears, totally, and you also get a benefit of a richer deeper sound. If you like we can send you a pack and you can see (or actually hear it) for yourself.

INSTRUCTION MANUALS FOR ALL FISHMAN ELECTRONICS

If you look in the glove box of your case, you will find an instructions booklet directly from Fishman electronics that will guide you on how to run the electronics on your particular model. If you can’t find them here are direct links to the Fishman website where you can download instructions for each model. Presys, Presys II, Presys+, Aura

Electronics not working

Mr. Zager tests electronics during his final inspection and electronics are tested again before shipping so they should be working. With that said sometimes we’ll have a bad battery or heat or cold will ruin the battery during shipping. Contact us and we’ll send a brand-new replacement battery along with a free gift for the inconvenience. If you already installed a new 9-volt battery and it’s still not working, make sure the amplifier cord is fully snapped into the bottom of the guitar. When they’re brand new they’re tight and need a final snap. Also make sure your amplifier cord is good and working. If you need a new cord let us know and we’ll send you one. If you’re getting a hum that’s a sign of a low battery. If you’re getting an uneven sound between strings when plugged in watch the video called “Uneven sound when plugged in”. If everything is in order and you’re still having an issue, please contact us. This video will guide you on troubleshooting electronics: https://youtu.be/UguEw2NVBlU

Wires loose or dangling inside.

Mr. Zager checks every guitar personally before they ship but sometimes extreme temperature changes and vibration during shipping can cause the wire holder inside your guitar to come loose. In these scenarios we can either send a new guitar, or we can send a new wire holder along with a free gift for the inconvenience. Mr. Zager has a quick video that shows how it’s installed at https://youtu.be/gq7eDK0WB8k

Cosmetic defect

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 character 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.

Bridge pins uneven

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.

Vibration rattle inside

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 change 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 doors when the vibration is happening. If the sound disappears, it means it’s the electronics box that’s vibrating. This video will guide you https://youtu.be/pKzrNXntYOA
Another thing that will cause vibration and rattles inside your guitar is the electronics 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.

Wood color lighter than expected.

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 pick guard, plan on using it forever because in a few months you will see a tan line meaning the wood under the pick guard will soon be much lighter.

Electric sound is uneven when plugged in

This has to do with placement of the transducer under the saddle and is a very easy adjustment. When woods are fresh and still settling they can shift slightly causing the saddle (white bone piece) to become misaligned with the electronic transducer underneath meaning you will have one string with more volume than another. Now your heavier strings will always carry more volume than the thinner strings, so if you’re lacking volume on the thinner strings this would need to be adjusted using the dials on your electronics control box. In adjusting the saddle over the transducer the first thing we do is tap down hard on the saddle to make sure the saddle is seated securely and tightly over the transducer. It may sound a bit crude but in working on these guitars over 3 generations it’s sometimes the simple things that get the best results. If you’re still not hearing any sound differences after tapping on the saddle at that point we recommend loosening the strings (about 25 turns) and making sure the saddle is seated in proper position over the transducer. If they’re out of alignment and not touching fully you may hear some sound loss. Mr. Zager goes over this in more detail on this video: https://youtu.be/CnbYhbtZTtE If you just received your guitar and continue to have an issue let us know and we’ll replace your guitar.

Line down middle 2 tone face

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 pieces back together. This is how Martin, Taylor, Fender Gibson all pro luthiers build. It’s common for there to be some variation on the front because we’re using real solid woods. 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 Gruhns website who only handle 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. Bottom line we want you happy so let us know whatever we can do and we will take care of you.

How to:

How to store your guitar 

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 helps fix customer issues daily, 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 minute 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 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 40-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.

Proper humidity

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. If you have a guitar that once played beautifully that is now buzzing, hard to play, sounding poorly, or is cracking, you have sustained damage from dryness.  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. This video explains more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auAREznPYaM&t=1s

Signs your guitar has sustained damage from dryness

If your guitar has any of these issues it has sustained damage from dryness. On a positive note most of these issues can be fixed by super humidifying your guitar as shown in our answer to “Buzzing and rattling strings.” Buzzing or rattling on one or several strings especially near the sound hole. Getting the same note when fretting certain chords. A leaning saddle (from a bridge tray that dried out and expanded)  A peeling pick guard from the woods condensing which will loosen the adhesive. Loose wires on electrics from the adhesive  drying out that holds the wires down. Looseness around electronic system from dry woods shrinking around it. A cracked bridge or separation of the bridge from the face. Sharpness of frets when sliding your hand down the side of the neck. A hump in the fretboard that sinks down into the sound hole. Flatness or sinking of the face (a guitar’s face should bow outwards)  Flatness or sinking of the back (a guitar’s back should bow outwards)  Creaking in certain parts of the body. A crack on the face right next to the fret board.  A crack running from bridge to the bottom of the face.  Cracks around the screws of the electronics on electric models.  A crack on the back, neck or heel. 

Why high level acoustics are more sensitive to humidity

High level solid woods acoustics demand a little more care than less expensive laminate guitars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4Ps67D2BaA

How to use the Zager humidifier

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 sound hole as shown in this video: https://youtu.be/aCw3RhhIdyM

How does the Zager case work?

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/

How to clean your Zager?

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.

Oils on the fret board

Mr Zager only recommends the cleaner conditioner for your fret board that’s included in our Zager string packs.  He doesn’t recommend lemon oil or any oils on the fret board. Oil attracts dirt and that builds up on your fret board and gets onto your strings which ruins strings prematurely along with the sound of your guitar.

Changing strings and tuning

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 about guitars. https://youtu.be/rRUFw6OvhJo. 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 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 easy 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.

Strings, string life, when to change strings

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 effects 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

Tarnished strings

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 finger tips 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 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: ttps://youtu.be/MumvBGm50L4

Using a capo to make your Zager play even easier

Mr. Zager Sr. will guide you on how to use a capo on your Zager guitar. https://youtu.be/YIz70f849JU

Fine tuning for the advanced player

Mr. Zager talks about fine tuning for the advanced player and how it can be done faster with more precision https://youtu.be/K8tWAITRBsw.

Strap installation

This video will guide you on installing the strap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQqWXe49LQ

Traveling on a plane with your Zager

Our cases will easily handle being stored under the plane. They will also fit in overhead compartments. Mr. Zager never recommends loosening strings for travel as it is not required on our guitars due to lower string pressures. By loosening the strings, it will take pressure off the neck, and you will have movement of neck causing buzzing strings and or high string action.

Replacing batteries on acoustic electric models

Instructions for replacing batteries are found in your Fishman electronics instructions that are located inside your glove box in your case. On Travel, Parlor, ZAD20 and ZAD50 models the battery compartment is on the bottom ’bout near the bottom strap peg. Simply squeeze and slide out the battery tray. On our 80 and 900 Series guitars the battery is located in the head unit where the controls are. Simply squeeze the tab on the electronics head unit and pull. The unit will fold out and you will see the battery. All Fishman electronics use 9-volt batteries. We recommend rechargeable batteries as higher-level electronics consume a lot of power and can burn through batteries fast. This video will show you in greater detail how to change out the battery on all of our Fishman systems: https://youtu.be/iUY4abz-IHY

Replacing batteries in case humidity system

This video will guide you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd0E7r-aquY

Zager case how to lock and unlock

This video will guide you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUVa0V6OhXs

Buzzing and rattling strings

This is caused by dryness but is very easy to adjust. 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 it’s 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. 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 my dad uses in the shop on buzzing strings but hydrating the woods (dropping 5 wet towels in the body) is now what he does first before any adjustment because in 99% of cases it’s all that’s required. This technique my grandfather created has been used over 75 years now by millions of players on all brands of guitars with a very high success rate (about 100%). Once the process is complete be sure to maintain humidity over 60% (we keep our shop at 65%) using a humidifier (link below) and you should 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

Water…the secret most guitar shops won’t tell you about

Here’s a secret most guitar shops won’t tell you about.  99% of buzzing, playability and sound issues can be solved by simply adding water back into your guitar’s woods.  When a guitars woods get dry the face will lower 1-2 millimeters.  This lowers the strings closer to the fret board causing buzzing, playability, sound issues and throws off the geometry of the entire guitar.   To repair your guitar shops will recommend installing new frets. They will also recommend filing the frets and fret redressing. They will also recommend building a new bridge, building a new saddle, building a new nut, even replacing the entire neck, and all of this work can help alleviate some of the issues, but your guitar will never play 100% the way it was when it was new, and you will spend hundreds to thousands of dollars.  The other option is you can simply hydrate your guitar, adding water back into the woods, which will put the body parts back into original position fixing all issues.  Why don’t shops tell you this?  BECAUSE THEY CAN’T CHARGE YOU FOR IT.   We’d like to say these practices are rare but being in the guitar business three generations we’ve seen it’s actually the norm.  By simply hydrating the woods using a system luthiers have used since the early 1900’s (as shown in our answer above “buzzing and rattling strings) you can bring your guitar back to 100% playability without spending thousands of dollars and without causing more damage to your guitar as shops usually do.

Uneven volume on certain strings when plugged in on electric models

This has to do with placement of the transducer under the saddle and is a very easy adjustment. When woods get dry they can shift slightly causing the saddle (white bone piece) to become misaligned with the electronic transducer underneath meaning you will have one string with more volume than another. Now your heavier strings will always carry more volume than the thinner strings, so if you’re lacking volume on the thinner strings this would need to be adjusted using the dials on your electronics control box. In adjusting the saddle over the transducer the first thing we do is make sure humidity levels are minimally 60%. If not humidify your guitar as shown in our video “buzzing and rattling strings” as this alone can move things back into position and cause the saddle to to back into alignment with the transducer underneath. If you’ve humidified your guitar and you’re still having an issue the second thing we do is tap down hard on the saddle to make sure the saddle is seated securely and tightly over the transducer underneath. It may sound a bit crude but in working on these guitars over 3 generations it’s sometimes the simple things that get the best results. If you’re still not hearing any sound differences after tapping on the saddle at that point we recommend loosening the strings (about 25 turns) and making sure the saddle is seated in proper position over the transducer. If they’re out of alignment and not touching fully you may hear some sound loss. Mr. Zager goes over this in more detail on this video: https://youtu.be/CnbYhbtZTtE If you’re still having an issue most any shop can adjust this in 10 minutes which is much less costly and time consuming and risky than shipping your guitar across the country.

Electronics failure within 2 year warranty

Zager electronics are warranted for 2 years just like $10,000 Martin, Taylor, Fender and Gibson electronics. Most electronic problems are caused by either a bad battery or loose wire. If you contact us, we’ll send replacement batteries free of charge. If the battery is new, then it’s probably a loose wire. A loose wire is an easy fix that almost any small shop can do in 20 minutes or less. This saves in down time and expense versus shipping your guitar across the country for repair. Simply send us the bill and we’ll send a check covering all costs. If your shop says the electronics system has failed, contact us and we’ll send a brand-new electronics package from Fishman free of charge and pay all installation fees. Our players prefer this as it’s faster and safer than shipping your guitar across the country to our shop.

Electronics failure over 2 year warranty

Zager electronics are warranted for 2 years just like $10,000 Martin, Taylor, Fender and Gibson electronics. With that said if we have a customer having a problem with a guitar, we always help our customers. Most electronics problems are caused by either a bad battery or loose wire. If you contact us, we’ll send replacement batteries free of charge. If the battery is new, then it’s a loose wire. A loose wire is an easy fix that almost any small shop can do in about 20 minutes for a very minimal charge. This also saves in down time and expense versus shipping your guitar across the country for repair. If your shop says the electronics system has failed, we offer brand new Fishman electronics systems at wholesale price on our accessories page at https://zagerguitar.com/accessories/

Bottom amplifier jack loose on electric

This is a serious sign of dry woods. When a guitars woods get dry, they shrink. When this happens metal parts become loose. A good guitar vibrates a lot as vibration puts out big sound, but it also causes those metal parts to become even looser. This is an easy fix, and we have two videos that will guide you, but it’s imperative to check your humidity levels and make sure you maintain 60% humidity as dry woods will begin to warp and they will eventually crack. This video will show you how to tighten the amplifier jack if it’s only slightly loose: https://youtu.be/4cnbN8IXA_I . This video will show you how to tighten the amplifier jack if it’s really loose spinning and dangling: https://youtu.be/nJlp9YBiz6U

Bottom strap peg fell out on acoustic

The bottom strap pegs are installed loose on all hand-built guitars as there are players who replace them with locks and others who wire custom electronics through the hole. If you want to secure it longer-term, we recommend 1 drop of Elmer’s glue as it’s water soluble and that will lock it in position, so it doesn’t fall out again. If you ever need to take it out a drop of water will loosen it for removal. 

Grooves in frets

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 fret board. This is part of the design of Mr. Zagers 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 buzz or rattle or intonation issue, that is caused by dryness and can be fixed easily by going to the question called “Buzzing rattling strings on guitar over 1 month old.”

Truss rod doesn’t turn

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 woods and a truss 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. Then 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 about 72 hours to sink in and try turning the truss again. It’s not full proof but we’ve brought back 50% of guitars with locked truss rods using this method, guitars that would have been considered permanently damaged and unusable.

Saddle broken

It’s not unusual for a saddle to break. String pressure over time can cause this. As a lifetime service to all of our customers we provide free saddles for the life of your guitar. If you break a saddle, simply contact us providing your shipping address and we will have Mr. Zager make a brand-new saddle for your guitar and ship it free of charge.

Saddle is leaning

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 the 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, we recommend 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.

Saddle loose

The saddle should always be loose and fall out when you turn the guitar upside down. When the saddle is too tight, they can hang up in the bridge tray and don’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.

Saddle fell out how to reinstall

If your saddle (white part) fell out of your bridge (brown wood part) which is extremely common and should 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

Loose dangling wires inside your guitar

This is a sign of dryness as when woods get dry they condense and shrink causing the adhesive string holders inside your guitar to come undone. In this video Dennis Jr. will show you how to tighten down those wires and we’ll send you a new Fishman wire holder free of charge. https://youtu.be/gq7eDK0WB8k

How to reinstall saddle with spacers and transducer on electric models

If your saddle (white part) fell out of your bridge (brown wood part) which is extremely common and should happen when turning the guitar upside down, the way to put the saddle back in is with the square notch under the thinner strings. Underneath the saddle should be the metal transducer. Sometimes Mr. Zager uses spacers so if you have them the spacers go underneath the metal transducer. This video explains in greater detail: https://youtu.be/q94ylApDWvI

Nut broken

It’s not unusual for a nut to break, chip or crack. String pressure over time can cause this. As a lifetime service to all of our customers we provide free nuts for the life of your guitar. If you break a saddle, simply contact us providing your shipping address and we will have Mr. Zager make a brand-new nut for your guitar and ship it free of charge.

Nut cracked or fell out, how to install a new nut

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 fret board because any sort of 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

Bridge separating from the face or cracking

When the bridge cracks or separates from your guitar this means at some point the humidity levels got dry. When the woods of the face get too dry it causes the woods to contract and the face will actually lower a millimeter, sometimes two millimeters, which break the seal between the face and the bridge. No guitar company warrants this type of damage but if you have a broken bridge let us know and Mr. Zager will make you a brand-new bridge and we’ll ship it free of charge. Most any shop will install a new bridge for a minimal fee, and this is much less expensive than shipping your guitar back and forth across the country. It also minimizes down time and risk of more damage in shipping. Mr. Zager has a video that explains what happens in greater detail here: https://youtu.be/UIrH0agQl6k

Cracks

Cracks are caused by dryness. At some point the woods got dry and condensed and cracked either the finish on top which is purely cosmetic, or they cracked the wood too which can cause issues but in most cases is purely cosmetic. Something as simple as a vent nearby in your home or storing it on the wall or sunlight hitting it or just a really bad winter where the furnace is running drying the air in your home. You can look on the internet at any number of guitar sites and see it’s actually very common, but cracks are caused by dryness. As far as repair, it depends on the crack. If there’s a gap in the finish we glue them, but if there isn’t we leave them alone. There are shops who will advise you to repair them the “proper way” and charge you $700+ to refinish the entire side of the guitar. What they don’t tell you is the guitar will never look quite like original and you will lose great amounts of tone that have been gained in the aging process because removing old finish and adding new destroys sound quality. There’s a reason Willie Nelson hasn’t repaired any of the cracks on his old Martin. It’s because he knows if he did, he would lose all that great sound he’s attained from all those years of aging woods. If there’s actually a gap you can feel in the wood, my dad simply runs a line of Elmers glue down the crack and wipes off the excess as it’s water soluble. It makes it as strong as it was new without ruining your sound quality.  By simply maintaining minimally 55% humidity going forward, (we keep our shop at 60%) you will have no other issues.

Cracks on binding on neck

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 weeks 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.

Movement of inlay on face

This is caused by humidity and or temperature changes.  Depending on the temperature and humidity levels of where you’re storing your guitar the wood under the inlay can swell or contract causing part of the inlay to raise or lower.   If your climate is changing there will be some movement but this is common and generally nothing to be concerned about unless you’re having a playability or sound issue. Again ideal humidity to store your guitar is 60-70%.

Neck broken

Unfortunately guitars like these are irreparable as you can never get the neck back in proper alignment again which leads to buzzes, rattles and eventually they always give way and collapse again.  At some point the neck or headstock was struck by something hard. It usually happens when they fall to the ground or are tipped off a stand which will cause a hairline crack and a few days or weeks later they finally give way.  This is the only time something like this happens.  If you have a guitar with a broken neck contact us as Mr. Zager will usually build a new guitar for those unlucky customers for material cost only.

Grover tuning gear broken.

As a way of offering lifetime support to our customers globally, if you break a tuner contact us and let us know which tuner you broke and if it’s gold or silver, providing 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

Strap doesn’t fit over strap peg.

If you’re using another brand strap sometimes strap makers will make the slit for the peg small. They do this on purpose because they know as the leather wears in the opening will expand. Zager straps are made with a softer leather that will not damage your finish like harder leather straps, but it also makes it much easier fitting onto the peg. Brand new they can sometimes be tight but with some use they will go on easier.

I can’t store my guitar in my case with the strap attached

If you look at our cases, you’ll notice they’re very high level. Not too many people 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 in this way 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 chaffing 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.

Strap too short

We offer full size straps which are the same size as all of the most popular straps in the world and are uniform size. For players who want even more room we recommend using the string that’s included and tying one end at the neck.

Battery depleting too fast

Fishman systems burn through batteries really fast as they are a higher-level package that requires a lot of power. We recommend lithium batteries as they last much longer, and we also have many customers using rechargeable batteries which really work well. Most of our artists use the rechargeables. 

Mold damage from humidification

In 70 years of humidifying guitars we’ve found any mold that’s formed will eventually dry and come off as dust. Also, versus spending $500-1000 at a local luthier for results that are always less than stellar, a little discoloration inside the box is an okay trade for a guitar that’s playing perfectly again without spending a penny.

Adding custom inlay

As inlay work is really an art form that can take hundreds of hours in design and installation, we have a professional artist who’s a specialist in the field that we’ve worked with for many years who does all of our custom inlay work. He’s considered one of the best in the country and has done work for many of our artists. His name is Glenn Schoales. https://www.picknparlor.com/instrument-repair. It is very expensive as it can take many hours of installation. He did a small design covering 5 frets for Lady Gaga for us and it was $1500. For larger designs that could double. This is why you see high level guitars with large designs in the $15000 price levels. It’s all due to the large amounts of time inlay takes.

Tarnished frets

Mr. Zager uses a sponge sanding block to remove tarnish from the frets. You can get them at any hardware store. It’s basically a sponge with fine grit sandpaper on the outside. If you run it up and down the fret board lightly it will not damage the fret board, but it will remove any tarnish.

Strings

Mr. Zager sets up all of his guitars with our own Zager Pillow Touch custom light 11-50 gauge (11, 14, 23, 31, 41, 50) hand wound in our shop in Nebraska but we have customers using all brands and gauges with excellent results. If you like them, we offer them on our site: https://zagerguitar.com/accessories/

Rough frets from dryness

When a guitar’s woods aren’t humidified the wood on the neck will actually shrink and contract leaving the frets protruding out from the side of the neck. When you run your hand down the side of the neck they can actually be sharp and cut your fingers. The best way to fix this is to get a small piece of fine grit sand paper and fold it a few times so it’s firm. At this point gently run it up and down the edge of the fret board. Our fret material is very soft so by simply running up and down the edge of the fret board lightly you’ll smooth down those rough edges.

Bridge pins size

Zager pins are genuine ebony snakewood with hand laid pearl inlay. They are designated size 1 and have a 3 º tapered shaft with the 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.

Bridge pins how to remove and replace

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

Pick guards how to remove and replace

This video shows you how to remove the old pick guard and put a new one on with a helpful hint to keep it looking brand new. https://youtu.be/7Phno75hDTM

Electronics problems

Good video of things to check over if your electronics aren’t working https://youtu.be/UguEw2NVBlU

Caveats of a heavy hand

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 and actually damage your guitar. https://youtu.be/V_l6Q6mpyJY

Amplifier recommendation

We have artists using our guitars with all brands of amplfiers but being we use only genuine Fishman electronics and the Fishman Aura sound imaging system on our 80 and 900 Series guitars, they match really well with genuine Fishman amplifiers, particularly the Fishman Loudbox and Fishman Loudbox mini.  This is what Mr. Zager and many of our artists use.