I’ve often seen advice to locate a good guitar technician or luthier to perform setups and routine maintenance. For example, Ali Maxwell advises, in “How do I set up an electric guitar?”:
The first time during your ownership of a guitar that you come to the point where it has to be set up, my suggestion would be to take it to a qualified guitar tech who will set the instrument up for you. If you ask him, he will talk you through what he is doing, so that you know a bit more about it for yourself. He will fix any problems on the action, nut, neck, truss rod, and bridge piece that will be affecting how the instrument sounds/plays/tunes.
But where do I find a helpful guitar expert like this? I looked into this online and found wildly varying opinions about guitar service options. Some people like the convenience of major shops like Guitar Center, but others complain about their expertise or attention to detail. Independent specialists have a lot of fans, but they also have a lot of detractors who claim they’re arrogant, difficult to work with, or sometimes downright fraudulent.
So how do I locate guitar technicians, and how do I figure out whether they’re helpful and competent? I don’t have much experience with hiring technicians in general, and in particular I don’t know what to look for specifically in a guitar technician.