We Have Moved!

Yes, you are correct. We have moved. The most frequently asked question lately is "Where to?"

Well, we're now at 16462 Gothard St Ste E. It's on the northeast corner of Gothard and Heil. While heading North on Gothard, turn right at the second driveway after the stop light.

Yes, I realize we're harder to find. We've eliminated the store front and gone back to our roots as a repair shop. That leads us to our other frequently asked question: "Why the move?"

Well, simply put, the rent was going up at the old spot. A lot. We're not a music store... and that's never what we wanted to focus on. We are a repair shop. This new location puts a lot more focus on the service side of things. More shop square footage. Much less retail product. (just strings and accessories)

We're settling in to our new place. We look forward to providing faster and better service than ever to our clients. We want to keep costs down and turnaround time down. Quality will never go down, however. We're better than ever.

Thanks for the support!

Hugh Thomas

Not all Plek jobs are equal

Many guitars come into the shop that were Plek'd at the factory. We've seen some of these that still have fret issues. This scan pictured above is an example of a very expensive guitar from a major manufacturer. It has high frets in prime playing areas. The customer complained of it being buzzy and some notes hardly ringing at all. (mostly on the 4th fret, where the 5th fret is so high the string is hitting it) So while this guitar was Plek'd at the factory, it unfortunately needs more fret work. A Plek job is only as good as the technician who does the job. We are experts at fret work. You won't have this problem with us.

Get Plek'd!

13th Street Guitars is now offering Plek services. This amazing robotic machine gives us an incredible level of precision in our fret work and setups. Combining our skills from thousands of fret dresses done by hand with this tool gives you the best playability possible. Click to our Plek page to learn more!

Why tone caps aren't that big of a deal

There's a lot of talk about tone capacitors. People have theories and ideas about them. A lot of this information is not founded in reality, but rather in marketing and "mojo."

Your tone capacitor does almost nothing until you turn your tone control down. While potentiometers do allow for a tiny, minuscule bit of bleed-through, they are essentially an open gate or a closed gate when turned all the way in one direction.

Think of it like this:

Sound comes out of the pickup. It meets with the volume control. The volume is a gate that limits how much sound can get through. When it's turned all the way up, the gate is wide open. The guitar is loud. You hear everything that pickup has to offer.

The tone control is like a side gate. When it's turned all the way up, it is closed. Everything goes out the main gate - through the volume control. As you turn down the tone, it opens the side gate. It allows sound to hit the tone capacitor.

The tone capacitor only allows high frequencies (treble) to pass through. The treble that gets through is then sent to ground. It's gone. You don't hear this sound. What you hear is what didn't go to ground.

People have an idea that their tone cap will have a huge effect on the overall tone of the guitar with everything turned up. That is just not true. If you don't turn your tone controls down while playing, you can't really hear what your tone cap is doing. That's because it's just sitting there doing nearly nothing. Now, as mentioned above, there is a tiny bit of bleed through. We say the difference between having the tone control there and not is like turning your tone up from 10 to 11. It's really more like turning it up from 10 to 10.2 or something. It's almost undetectable. The bulk of your tone, with the exception of a tiny bit of high frequencies, is all getting through. You're not "hearing the cap."

In this graphic above, I tried to make it pretty simple to understand. This is a simplified diagram rather than a schematic that scares people off. Take note of the blue line - and how it passes straight through. See how the tone cap is down off the side? The tone you hear does not pass through that cap at any time. Even when the tone is turned down, what goes through that cap is gone. It's not heard.

Now as far as type of capacitors:

My advice is use a good quality cap. Don't spent $50 on super ultra special NOS oil in paper bumble bee etc... mumbo jumbo. Scientific studies using spectrum analyzers and oscilloscopes have shown that the differences in audio frequencies passed by capacitors inside a guitar is almost negligible. As long as the quality of the cap is decent, and the value of the cap is accurate, the sound will be nearly indistinguishable from brand to brand, type to type. There is a lot of marketing and mystery that goes into selling tone caps. There's also a lot of boutique brands just stamping their name on other products that are cheaper elsewhere. You pay the markup and still can't hear the difference.

The human mind seems to have more effect on what tone you perceive than anything. You just spent $100 on two caps for your Les Paul. You fire it up, and you're convinced it sounds better. Why wouldn't it? You spent a bunch of money. You should get something for your money.

Next time, spend $5 or $10 on Orange Drops or similar caps. Get the same sound at a fraction of the price. Go buy a bunch of beer with the money you saved.

Also good to note: Some people will go through cap after cap and then swap pickups, etc... without ever investigating whether the pots are doing their job properly. Sometimes you'll find a 500K rated volume pot that actually reads 200 or 300K. This will have a massive impact all the time at any volume. If your pots are excessively scratchy when you turn them, clean them. If cleaning doesn't work, replace them. The scratchy sound is corrosion or debris, or other failure of the pot inside. Since all of your tone passes through the volume pot, it needs to be working well... or you're definitely losing something.

Fretboard Conditioning Oil

Fretboard/Fingerboard oil serves a few purposes.

  • Beautifies the wood - A dried out old piece of wood looks sad and neglected. Oiling it up makes it look all shiny and new.
  • Protects the wood from shrinking - drying out leads to shrinkage
  • Preventing shrinkage eliminates "fret sprout" or sharp fret ends. When the board shrinks inward, the metal fret wire does not. This results in fret ends that stick out and many times hurt to play.
  • Prevents cracks - In more extreme cases, sometimes the fretboard will crack down the grain lines. This usually happens after many years of drying and shrinking. Sometimes this is irreversible, and the cracks must be filled.
  • Smooths the wood to touch - When your fingertips contact the board, they move smoothly across it. If the wood is dried out, it tends to be a little more "grabby" and can slow your playing.

Oil is used to condition unfinished woods such as rosewood and ebony. If there is paint on the board, do not oil it. Just keep it clean.

Almost all Maple fretboards are painted with a clear-coat finish. In some cases, it's an oil finish. This type of oil is not the same as fretboard conditioner. It is typically a gun stock oil like Tru-Oil. That is a semi-permanent finish and should just be kept clean. If you start wearing through the finish, we can discuss refinishing it. These days it's considered cool to wear out the fretboard finish though. It means you played it a lot, or you paid someone to make it look like you did.

In some cases, such as Rickenbacker, you will find a clear coat finish on woods such as rosewood that most companies would leave bare. If there is paint on it, do not oil it. If you're not sure, come see us.

Q: How often should I condition the fretboard?

  • When it appears dry - Obvious one, but if the wood looks a little dry, oil it up
  • When changing the strings - Great chance to do it, with the strings out of the way
  • At least a couple times a year, just to be safe - If you're the type of person who lets your guitar sit for long periods of time without playing it: You should pull it out and give it some attention once in a while. Clean it, oil it, inspect it. That way when you want to play it again someday, it's ready to go.

Years ago, I ordered one bottle of every type of fretboard conditioner I could find. I used the cheap stuff. I used the super expensive handmade stuff. I used the major brands that we all see regularly. After a lot of searching and testing over the years, I finally found the one I like. Music Nomad F-One Oil. They're somewhat of a newcomer to the market, but they've hit a home run with this product. It's about eight bucks a bottle, so it won't break the bank. The amount you get for that price will last most people for years. We burn through this stuff pretty quickly here at the shop. It's used on every guitar it can be applied to.

It's made of all natural oils. It doesn't smell like machine oil like some of the big guys' stuff. They don't have to add a lemon scent and Yellow #5 to mask the fact that it's just cheap mineral oil, either.

The packaging does a good job of keeping the oil inside the bottle until you want to use it. As with all bottles of oil, however, some care should be taken to make sure it doesn't get on mom's tablecloth. Store it upright after opening and keep it shut tight. It will last you a long time.

We sell this stuff here at the shop. Come pick up a bottle. If you have your guitar setup or restrung by us, this is what we will put on it during the process.

When Should I Change My Strings?

These strings are worn out and should be replaced. The bronze has turned brown/black in areas. New strings will sound much better. Click for larger image.

The strings on your guitar are not a permanent part. When you first buy your instrument, they usually don't mention you should change them out once in a while. The strings should be treated as a disposable item. You're expected to change them frequently.

Signs your strings should be replaced:

  • Heavy discoloration or rust - they should be shiny and somewhat clean looking. Nickel strings should be nickel color. Bronze strings should be bronze color.
  • Coating peeling off - if your strings are coated and the coating is peeling off, it's time to replace them.
  • "Dead Strings" - Dead strings don't have any pop or sparkle to the tone. They make more of a thud and a muddy sound. They won't hold a tune very well, and intonate poorly. If your strings seem to have lost all the treble, then they're dead. Note: Sometimes a brand new string can be dead. It will buzz everywhere - usually even on open notes. Intonation will be poor. (sounds out of tune when you fret it after you've tuned it open)
  • Breaking strings - If the first sign you need a new string is you broke one after a few years of ownership - It's time for a whole new set. Playing heavily on good strings can break one, but if you run them so long they just give out - don't change the one string. Put on a new set. Most strings are inexpensive.
  • Buzzy guitar that used to play clean - As the strings die, they get buzzy and floppy. Many times a new set of strings will clean up the sound a bit.

How often should I change my strings?

This depends on a few factors:

  • How hard you play - This one is obvious.
  • How often you play - While unused strings will go bad, they go bad faster as you play
  • Type of strings you use - Coated strings generally last a lot longer
  • Weather/Environment - Most strings are metal and very susceptible to moisture
  • If you keep it in the case - Weather will have less effect and generally preserve the strings a little longer
  • If you wipe down the strings after play - Getting your sweat, acids, and oils off can save them

Knowing when to change your strings is going to be something you have to figure out for your individual situation. It varies from player to player. If you're using standard steel strings with nickel or phosphor bronze winding: expect to change them anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months at a time. If you're using coated strings: you may get away with a few months longer. Pay attention to the signs of bad strings listed up top, however. Setting a schedule is nearly impossible when there are so many factors involved. If you're unsure, we can tell you.

Nylon strings will last substantially longer than steel strings. Those used on classical guitars and ukulele take a long time to stretch out, break-in and start to stay in tune. It would be a real hassle to change these strings too often. Our advice is that if they're holding up pretty well, leave them on until the sound starts to deteriorate. If you run your finger underneath the string and feel indentation marks from the frets, that's a sign they're worn out.

Note: Nylon strings are not intended for guitars built for steel strings. They do not fit the nut or bridge properly. The neck is much too narrow for the fatter strings. They won't play well or sound nearly as good as the steel strings. If you want to put easy-to-play strings on, consider Extra Light Phosphor Bronze or Silk & Steel Strings. We stock both of these. Also, if your guitar has high action, bring it by for a setup. We'll make it easy to play with proper strings on it.

Never put Steel Strings on a Nylon String guitar. The guitar is not built with proper bracing to withstand the tension the steel strings apply. The top will flex and bend out of shape. The bridge will eventually rip off the top. The neck can twist or bow to the point it's unplayable. The standard nylon guitar strings all have a nylon core. The three lower strings are wrapped with metal, but they are still nylon strings.

Guild & Cordoba Guitars Factory Service Center

We're proud to say that we have added Guild and Cordoba Guitars to the family of brands we get factory support for. We do warranty and out-of-warranty repairs for both brands.

Guild Guitars Repair Center Huntington Beach - Cordoba Repair Center Orange County

A little back story from Hugh Thomas

I was recently featured on the Résumé podcast with Chris Laxamana. It's a show on the Adam Carolla network where people tell stories of the jobs they had in the past and how they got to what they're doing now.

I went on the show and talked about 10 years in the Marine Corps, crappy jobs before and after, and what pushed me to start my own business. I also talk a bit about the ups and downs of starting and running 13th Street Guitars.

It's a good listen for anyone who wants to know more about me, or that is interested in being an entrepreneur. Check it out HERE if you have some time. Warning: Adult Language

Fake Gibsons


While Gibsons of today may not be what they used to be, they're a far cry from the fake copies (AKA Chibson) that are coming out of China. The fakes owe more similarities to an Epiphone guitar, but don't even meet the quality of one.

I get asked all the time: "What do you think? Is it worth a couple hundred bucks." The answer is always "No."

The build quality is horrendous. The hardware is a joke. The fret work and necks are so bad that the best fret level many times cannot correct all the issues with it. Some would need a refret to get them right. The pickups are almost always Epiphone pickups. The rest of the wiring makes Epiphone stuff look like high quality work. A look inside at the cavities gives you a clue as to how poorly they are constructed.

The Grover tuners are completely fake. If you take a string off of them, they rattle like crazy. Epiphone level "Grovers" are much better, and they're still nowhere near the quality of high-end Grovers that would come on a USA Gibson.

Your money is much better spent on a lookalike guitar that was built to decent quality. The only positive point about these is the headstock shape and logo look pretty legit from a distance. Otherwise, no good at all.

People say "Well, what if I buy it and then upgrade everything on it?" Then you'll have something that is decent, but you just spent as much as you would on a good used Gibson that doesn't need any upgrades. We've seen this happen a few times, and the owners are usually not pleased in the end.

Identifying A Fake Gibson:

Gibson has an article on their website that is somewhat outdated. This is still a good place to start. Note that some fakers have moved to a two-screw truss rod cover because they've read the article, as well. Here is a photo of one I saw recently side by side with a real cover. The thing was obviously hand carved, and the logo is not only crooked - Gibson doesn't even write all that on there!

Seems legit!

Seems legit!

The truss rod cover is very easy to swap, however. If someone is trying to sell it as real, they will likely upgrade that part.

An obvious giveaway on many of these is the nut and the binding at the nut. If I'm looking at a suspect guitar, I analyze that area.

Photo Credit Gibson.com

Photo Credit Gibson.com

The nut on a fake usually looks more like an Epiphone nut. It's thicker than a Gibson. Gibsons are built with a head-cap that lays against the back of the nut. (the left side) Epiphones and the fakes have a thicker nut that lays on top, with nothing against the back of it. UPDATE: I recently had my hands on one of these that had a head-cap more like a real Gibson. Removing the truss rod cover revealed a couple of obvious details, however. The cover itself was hand made, very poorly. Under the cover you find an allen (hex) wrench truss rod in a messy hole. Gibsons should have a rod that protrudes outward so a nut driver can be slipped over it. If it's just a hole in there, that's wrong.

If you're buying a Gibson from someone online or on Craigslist, you need to look carefully at this part. They may have upgraded everything else on the guitar, but this part can't be hidden.

The bridge and tailpiece usually have sharp edges under the chrome plating. If you run your finger over the edge, it should feel smooth. If it has a harsh edge, it's not a Gibson part. The bridge usually has 6mm posts you would see on an import. Gibson doesn't use these. They use the skinny posts that don't have a slot in them for adjustment.

If you're buying an expensive guitar, the seller should take no issue with you opening the control cavity to look inside. You should see braided wires, large pots (that usually say Gibson or possibly CTS on older models). The routes should be clean and not left with burrs and sawdust inside. If you see a rat's nest of red and blue and green wires, then it's not real.

Finally, my advice to anyone buying their first Gibson: Go to an authorized dealer of Gibson guitars. Play a couple of them. Get a feel for what they're supposed to be. Then you'll have a little ammunition to keep you from making a terrible mistake. If buying from a private seller, meet at their home. If they want to meet at a 7/11 at night, don't do it. Have them meet you at my shop or bring someone else who knows for sure if it's real or not.

We've seen a handful of people who had no idea their Gibson was fake. Tracking down the seller later will be impossible. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it just might be.

My Stratocaster Hums Loudly

This is a very common question we get here at the shop. "Why does my Strat hum in some positions on the switch, but it's dead-silent in two places?" There is nothing wrong with your guitar. This is how it was built.

For a guitar to be silent, it typically requires more than one coil to cancel out the hum. Stratocasters were designed with 3 single coil pickups. Each of the pickups on it's own produces a loud humming noise. This noise comes from the electrical system, and any other electrical noise that may be around you. The most common noise you hear is the 60 Cycle Hum coming from the power system.

The modern style Stratocaster has a middle pickup which is used in reverse. This means that when you mix the middle pickup with either the bridge or the neck, you cancel out the hum. This is why your guitar is silent in two positions, and loud on the other three.

If your guitar has a double coil pickup, commonly known as a "humbucker," then it will cancel hum by itself in position 5. Often times this is wired to turn off one coil in position 4. This allows you to mix the middle with one coil of the bridge. This is known as a "Fat Strat" and is also a popular modification for Strats.

Switch position 1 uses the Neck only

Switch position 2 uses Neck and Middle

Switch position 3 uses the Middle only

Switch position 4 uses the Middle and Bridge

Switch position 5 uses the Bridge only

Positions 2&4 Are Hum Canceling

The volume control works on the entire guitar. The tone controls do not. The knob marked NT is the Neck Tone. The knob marked MT is the Middle Tone. The knobs will interact with the other pickups in positions 2&4.

Our favorite Stratocaster pickups cancel hum in every position. These are known as "Noiseless" Single Coils. They are actually humbuckers in diguise. There are many different types available. Many don't sound like traditional Strat pickups. We have our favorites and we'd be happy to advise you. Feel free to email or call us if you want more information.

Batteries are expensive

Batteries are expensive! Well, not really. A good quality battery isn't that expensive when you consider what we spend on our music gear. When you put a cheap battery in your instrument, you may not be seeing it's full potential.

For example, we had a Taylor acoustic guitar come in for work. It was being used nightly to perform with Cirque Du Soleil on tour. The sound guy was complaining of the Taylor ES system being noisy. He could hear it through his headphones and nobody could figure out what the problem was. When I opened it up to see what's going on, I found a rechargeable 9 volt battery. Upon closer inspection, the battery was actually rated well under the required 9 volts. I swapped in a Duracell alkaline 9V, and the problem was solved.

These pickup systems, pedals, wireless units, etc... that are built to operate on 9 volts are expecting to see a proper battery. If the battery is weak, the quality degrades. You get symptoms such as noise, distortion, or failure.

You can find studies that have been done to show which batteries hold up over the long term. The basic big name brands like Duracell and Energizer are excellent choices. Usually anything that says "Heavy Duty" or the like is not heavy duty at all. These batteries die quickly and sound quality dies with them. Anything from the dollar store or discount bricks of batteries are fine for toys... but not for professional instruments. Spend the extra couple of bucks.

If you have a multimeter, check your battery's DC Voltage output. A good one will read a little higher than the rated voltage. If it reads a little under, then it's on the way out. I consider anything less than 9V to be a throwaway.


My guitar is new, why should it need a setup or fret dress?

My guitar is new, why should it need a setup or fret dress?

There are various reasons why a guitar may not play well when new.

  • Poor Setup from factory - Most guitar manufacturers do not put a lot of effort into the final setup process. This work takes time and precision. Large factories are concerned about the bottom line, and must turn out many guitars per day.
  • Poor fret work from factory - Many factories don't level the frets at all after pressing them into the neck. This leaves lots of room for error.
  • Effects of shipping and environment - Wood shrinks, expands, twists and flexes over time. Depending on the condition of the wood when the neck was made, the conditions it has been through getting to you, and the conditions where you are now playing the guitar - you may have some issues. Your guitar may have been built 18 months ago, shipped across the ocean on a boat, sat in a warehouse, and then hung on the wall at the store for a few months or shipped again bouncing around on a truck getting to your door. Don't be surprised if it encountered some issues. It likely needs some adjustment and definitely some new strings.
  • "Plek'd" at the factory - The Plek is a wonderful machine and does amazing work. Plek requires a talented operator to turn out good results, however. Not operating it properly can end up with poor fretwork. The setup is still performed by a person, and even though your frets might be perfect, the setup could be horrendous. (we've seen this a lot) There are some really great guitars being produced by several manufacturers with Plek, but there are also a few duds in the bunch. The effects of shipping and environmental changes still apply. The guitar may have been perfect, but again gone out of whack since the factory. It is made of wood, after all! If your Plek'd guitar isn't perfect, come see us.
  • "Inspected & setup in the USA" - This means someone took the guitar out of the box after it arrived from overseas and checked it out. If there were any major issues, these would be addressed or the guitar rejected at that point. This does not mean someone spent an hour or two dialing it in. The people who do this job will tell you it's usually only a few minutes per guitar. (they've got a lot of guitars to get through)
  • "Setup by the store" - Setup by.... the sales guy? Do they have a full time technician who is talented at setting guitars up? The person who sets up your guitar should be an expert at it. Otherwise, you may not be getting the full potential of your instrument. It's nice that they'll string it up and adjust the truss rod for you, but this free service is usually not quite the same as a full-blown job done by a luthier or setup technician.
  • My new guitar feels just fine - Great! You may not need anything at all. Feel free to bring it by and we'll give it a once-over. We'll address any issues we find. We'll also let you know if we can improve on the way it plays now. This inspection is free. If we don't believe we can make it play better, we will not pressure you to do anything. We don't want to charge money and not deliver a better playing instrument. We rely on the trust and repeat business of our clients.

So all this said - there's actually some companies that turn out very nice playing guitars. Unfortunately, these are the minority.

Contact us if you have any questions. Feel free to bring your guitar in any time to have it checked out.


My Neck Is Broken. Can You Fix It?

Yes. We most likely can fix it. We fix these breaks all the time.

How much? $50 and up. Something like this will run you about $150, though:

Example of a broken Ibanez Wizard Neck that we saved from the trash bin. Chances are your neck is broken cleaner than this.

Example of a broken Ibanez Wizard Neck that we saved from the trash bin. Chances are your neck is broken cleaner than this.

The most common neck breaks we see are on Gibson and Epiphone instruments. This has to do with the design of the headstock. It tilts back across the end-grain of the wood. Many of these necks are mahogany, and that is a soft wood. If you own a guitar with this type of headstock, please be extra careful not to drop it. Don't even drop it in the case! We can repair 98% of them, but it will kill the resale value of your instrument. It also leaves you with scars that can only be hidden by repainting. (an expensive and time consuming process)

Don't throw that broken guitar in the dumpster. Bring it in and we'll see what we can do to save it.


Hard Case vs Gig Bag

There's no doubt that a quality hard shell guitar case is really going to protect your investment from damage. It won't be invincible in there (as we've seen some guitars break inside a case that was dropped) but it certainly doesn't hurt to have it.

Gig bags range from the thing that comes in a beginner guitar kit for $99 that isn't worth as much as the picks that were included all the way up to luxury soft cases that cost hundreds of dollars and/or fit multiple guitars. There are some quality pieces to be had somewhere in the middle, too.

If you've ever loaded your gear in for a performance, then you know what a hassle each large heavy object can be. A quality hard shell case can weigh more than the guitar inside. It always has a handle for one hand to carry it, and that means one arm is loaded down with just a guitar.

A good gig bag should have shoulder straps, and many times backpack straps. These can be invaluable when you load a couple guitars on your back, pick up an amp in one arm and another piece of gear in the other.

Now gig bags certainly won't protect your guitar if they get run over by the van... but neither will most hard cases. They give you a pretty safe way to transport easily and avoid bumps and bruises. Stacking them for long term storage may not be the best option. Hard cases win in this category.

If your guitar is acoustic and you're in an area where humidity is a concern (anywhere with less than 50% humidity) then a hard case helps to contain the humidity of your soundhole or case humidifier. A porous gig bag will likely leak out the humidity over time, allowing your guitar to dry out. A quality hard case will seal it in and preserve your guitar from the ravages of drying out.

So you may find that a hard case is best for long term use, but a gig bag can be helpful when it's more convenient. Just don't think your guitar is impervious to damage in any case... as we've seen the results to prove that wrong. Be sure your roadies don't throw an amp on top of your case.... and Gibson headstocks can break just from knocking a case over on the floor.

Craigslist: The Good and The Bad

Vintage Bass Guitar with a very twisted neck

Vintage Bass Guitar with a very twisted neck

You really can find some great deals on Craigslist. There are some drawbacks, but you can't deny it's a great resource for used gear.

First of all: It's free. If you can get on the internet and use email, you can use Craigslist. Sites like Ebay and other musical instrument specific resources charge fees for their services.

Most people don't like the prospect of someone coming to their home to buy or sell something. Many people meet up in public places. This is cool unless it's something you need to test out - like an electric guitar, for example.

We extend this offer to all of our clients: Feel free to meet with your seller or buyer here in our shop during business hours. If you're buying a guitar you're not sure about - we can give our opinion as professionals as to what work it may need, if the neck is straight, and in some cases - if it's genuine or not. (we've seen too many unsuspecting people who bought fake Gibsons, for example.)

We don't charge anything for estimates, so have us check it out before you buy if you're not sure. If the seller won't agree to having a pro look at it, you may have cause for concern.

*The fine print: We assume no liability for any personal sales conducted here or elsewhere. Our verbal opinions are just that, and the decision is ultimately up to you. We're just providing a free service to help people out, and provide no guarantee.


Purchasing an instrument online


Guitars, Basses, Ukuleles, or any stringed instrument can be funny. Sometimes you can play five of them that look identical, and one will be the stand-out perfect piece. The other four may be OK... or one of them might be a dud.

When you walk into a large music store with a big selection, you can sit and play the instrument you're thinking of buying. You can ask the salesman to try out more than one, and pick the one that feels or sounds right to you.

Keep in mind at this point that things like nice action are not the most important concerns. Tone, resonance, weight, feel and looks are. We can correct a setup for you. We can set the action low, or improve the intonation. We can level uneven frets. We can't make a dull sounding plank of wood suddenly come to life, however. This is something you can't know beforehand when ordering your guitar online.

Not all guitars are created equal. CNC machines may cut them exactly the same each time, but the wood grew from a tree in the ground. There's no accounting for how it grew before man cut it down. Finish work and fine details are done by people, and there is room for variation in each one.

This is why it's important that you order from a company that has a good return policy. Also, don't be afraid to return it if you're not happy with it. If it shows up and everything is great - except it needs a setup, well that's typical. That goes for 90% or more of new and used instruments out there anyway. Again, we can fix the setup. If the neck is twisted or the paint looks awful, send it back.

If you receive a new instrument and want to have it checked out professionally just to be sure: Bring it in to us during your return period. We'll look it over and tell you what we think. We may recommend you send it back for another one, or we might make you feel really comfortable with your purchase when we confirm it's a nice piece. You don't have to leave it with us for work right away. Our estimates are still free.

We never know until we see it, and we'll be completely honest with you. We count on repeat business to keep our doors open and the lights on. Even if you don't need any work on this instrument, we're confident we'll see you on the next one.


Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick Two.

There's an old saying that goes, "Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick Two."

Good work done Cheap, won't be fast. Good work done Fast, won't be Cheap. Cheap work done fast, won't be good.

We pride ourselves in our quality of work. We prefer not to be rushed, but we understand sometimes there are special circumstances. We will work with you, but you may be paying a higher rate.

If your main concern is price, then you may want to look elsewhere. We don't do cut-rate work at lesser quality. We always strive to be the best. There is always someone who will do it cheaper. If you haven't experienced what we can do for you, then you don't know what you're missing.

Why "13th Street" when you're not on 13th St?


I started this business out of my garage on 13th Street in downtown Huntington Beach. After I outgrew the garage, I moved on to Gothard Street. At that point, I thought "Well that sounds like a bad name for a shop, and nobody is gonna know who we are."

Now we're on Gothard Street, and people still recognize the name.

So 13th Street Guitars is reminiscent of my humble beginnings in Downtown H.B.

Everyone knows the name, why change it?