On Wednesday I had a long distance phone call from Sweden. It was Russ Garett, Steve Earle’s guitar tech. Steve Earle is currently on a European tour
One of the two guitars that is being used on the tour had developed a nasty buzz on the G string, could I help? On arriving in the UK could I make time available to make the necessary repair to Steve’s Martin M-21? The tour was scheduled to leave Sweden after the Malmo gig in the early hours and arrive in London Thursday evening. A performance is scheduled at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon on Sat 31st Oct.
So with an appointment organised and directions from the crew’s hotel in Knightsbridge, Russ headed off to the workshop in South East London on Friday afternoon.
Once on the workbench I was soon able to ascertain that the nut slot had been cut slightly too low resulting in the G string buzzing when the string was played in the open position.
Steve Earle’s Signature Martin M-21
Steve Earle’s signature Martin guitar was designed by Steve Earle and Matt Umanov, a New York based guitar specialist
This type of string buzz can be easily remedied. There are two options available, to make a complete new nut or repair the defective nut slot. On closer inspection it was decided to make a repair to the nut.
Rebuilding nut slots can be achieved very successfully using bone dust (or baking powder) and superglue. The idea is to build up the faulty nut slot layer by layer until there was enough height to re-cut the slot anew.
Rebuilding the nut slot
This was done and the guitar was strung up and the rebuilt nut slot cut to match the other nut slots.
Whilst Russ waited for the repair to be finished he lucidly chatted about life on the road. He told me that he was a freelance guitar/sound technician and tours with many artists in the US and Worldwide
He mentioned that the Steve Earle tour has only a basic crew. Russ, an outhouse sound engineer plus one other selling Steve Earle merchandise.
Russ’s responsibility on this tour is to re-string the two Martin guitars after each gig and keep them set up to performance standard. Also he is responsible for the stage set up of microphones, stands and monitors. Russ has to be on hand during each performance in case of any onstage eventualities. He also takes his turn in driving the tour bus.
Russ tells me that he enjoys the travel aspect of touring and enjoys exploring new places. His work as a stage tech has taken him to many cities in the US, Europe and the Far East.
Meet Russ Garett, Steve Earle’s guitar tech. He mentions “When on tour the main thing is to get your laundry in”
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