A great skill to have as a guitar player is to be able to do your own setup work. But tools can cost quite bit for quality tools, and can also take up quite a bit of space. Putting together a compact tool kit for gigs can also be of great importance for some players. I’ve put together a sizable collection of tools for maintaining my guitars over the years, but they do take up a bit of space in a toolbox.
Jim Dunlop have released some great tools and maintenance products over years, and now they’ve taken it up a notch, by bundling together a range of products for various jobs. I was lucky enough to win the System 65 Complete Guitar Setup Kit in their 12 days of Christmas Instagram competition, and now that I’ve spent some time using an array of the awesome gear contained within, I thought I’d write a bit of a review.
The System 65 Complete Setup Kit includes the following: Gig Light, Micro Fret Cloth, Fret Collars, String Cutters, Screwdriver, Formula 65™ Cleaner-Polish, Superlube® Gel Pen, String Action Gauge, Microfiber Polish Cloth, Multi-Tool, and Stringwinder. This is almost everything you need to do a string change and setup. To do this review I pulled out my 2018 Squier Deluxe Stratocaster, which was waiting for a string gauge change from 9-42 to 10-46 strings, and the general setup that’s required for the aforementioned gauge change.
I started of with removing the guitar strings, and giving the guitar body and frets a bit of a polish. The string cutters are a brilliant piece of kit, with nice sharp blades that make short work of the strings, and an excellent spring action built into the handle.
Jim Dunlop have always made a nice range of polishes and treatments for finished and unfinished parts of guitars, and the System 65 Guitar Polish and Cleaner is no exception. Along with the micro-fiber cloth, it did a nice job of cleaning up the Deluxe Stratocaster’s body and pickguard, giving them all a nice bright lustre. Working with the fret collars, the micro fret cloth did a great job of cleaning up the frets to a lovely shine, without risking any damage to the fretboard, or spreading metal dust like working with steel wool is prone to do.
Whilst I was giving the guitar a once-over I noticed that the volume potentiometer’s nut was a little loose. The Dunlop Uni Wrench is a brilliant little simple wrench that is easy to use. There’s no adjusting the wrench to fit particular size nuts, and the teeth on each side do a great job of gripping onto a nut to tighten or loosen.
I pulled out the string winder when I got to re-stringing the guitar, and quite frankly, couldn’t understand how I’d been doing string changes without a quality winder all these years! The tuning key button section has two notches to accommodate for a variety of tuning key buttons, and the movement of the winder is nice and smooth, making string winding a breeze.
The multi-tool contains a range of allen keys and a 8mm socket wrench. I used the allen keys to adjust the truss rod and string saddle heights, and found the keys to be forged nicely, with no slippage or damage to the keys or nuts. I set the string height with string action gauge, which is set up with both metric and imperial measurements.
You typically need a range of screw drivers when working on a guitar, and Jim Dunlop came up with a great way of making efficient use of space, by making the shaft removable, and adding two screw driver pieces to it, with a different size set of flat had and Phillips head ends. The build quality is fantastic on with this, with well forged ends that should stand up to the rigors of years of use.
Lastly I lubed the nut with the Superlube Gel Pen. This was a simple way to ensure that the nut was lubed, keeping the tuning of the guitar at it’s best. The application was nice and easy, with no excess lube ending up on the nut.
Also included in the kit is the Gig Light. I’ve not needed to use it on the spot, but it’s a brilliant little torch that is small enough to make it easy to manage while working, yet bright enough to let you see everything you’d need to while working in low-light situations at a gig.
Overall, the Jim Dunlop System 65 Complete Guitar Setup Kit is an amazing package, combining all the necessary tools for the guitar player to set up, and perform basic maintenance on their guitar. The all the tools are well built, and the case is nice and compact, yet keeps the tools neatly together while stored. If you’re looking for a space-efficient, well built tool set to keep your guitars maintained then this may very well be the kit for you.