Not long after I started playing guitar, I also starting tearing them apart. My first electric was a cheap Strat copy and I took that thing down to a pile of parts, much to my father's displeasure. He just said, "Get it back together.", and I did. It was a learning experience and one I don't regret. Since then, I have done pretty much all of my own repairs and regular tech work. Fret jobs is the only thing that I have not done, though that is about to change. Other than that, I do my own work and have done work for friends too.
The other day I was browsing the walls of one of the local locations of a very well known musical instrument chain. At one point I saw their "tech" go to their repair counter with a customer's guitar to work on it. The customer was there too explaining the issue. Then I saw it, and I cringed, and I wanted to say something, but I didn't because, well, he's the "tech". If he eff's up the instrument, it's his problem. What I saw was the "tech" using a power screwdriver to remove the jack plate screws. These are small screws and don't require a lot of torque. No power tool is necessary for that. That power screwdriver could slip and hit the guitar, leaving a nice scratch or worse. Just a big no-no. A simple hand screwdriver is sufficient, and the proper tool for the job.
Unless a new hole is being drilled, routing is being done, buffing a refinish and maybe stripping for a refinish, keep the power tools away. There are expert luthiers who use dremel tools to do inlay work and such, and that is fine, they are experts and trained in their craft. Since I like simple dot inlays, that's not something I see myself needing to do. I buy necks already done anyway. So remember, when working on your instruments, hand tools are your friends. Use them.
Here is a list of tools for a starter tech toolbox. A lot of these can be purchased at a local hardware store. Some of the more specialty tools, like nut files, can be purchased from Stewart-MacDonald or Warmoth.
- Phillips screwdriver (#1 and #2 at least)
- Flathead screwdriver (small and large)
- Nut files
- Rat tail file
- Flat file
- Feeler gauges
- Allen wrenches (for adjusting saddles and Floyd Rose trems)
- Small 6-inch steel ruler (w/ inches and mm)
- Small needle nose pliers
- Wire strippers
- Alligator clips
- Digital multimeter
- Strobe tuner
- Soldering iron
- Solder (rosin core)
- Caliper (dial or digital)
- Heat shrink tubing
- Utility knife
- Electrical tape