I first heard about CruzTOOLS from a review of one of their tools published a few years ago in Motorcyclist magazine. They are manufacturers of top-quality tools and tool kits for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and personal watercraft. Right around the time that I was ordering one of their signature T-Handle drivers from an online retailer, I serendipitously received an email from the company asking me if I'd like to review one of their new tool kits for guitar and bass players. I told them that given their reputation in the motorcycle world, I'd love to check out any of their products for musicians. Soon afterwards, a GrooveTech T-Handle Drum Key and a GrooveTech Guitar Player Tech Kit arrived at my studio. The T-Handle Drum Key is actually CruzTOOLS' standard 1/4" T-Handle socket driver mated to a removable drum-key socket. Both pieces are made of polished, heat-treated chrome-vanadium alloy with a polished chrome finish, just like a high-quality garage tool. The sliding torque bar of the "T", which is grooved at its center where it "clicks" into place, gives you plenty of leverage and lots of options for holding the tool and applying force. With the top bar centered, you can even spin the tool quickly. Changing and adjusting drum heads (which I tend to do a lot of when I'm recording drums) has never been faster, easier, or more precise! Plus, being a tool geek (I have more toolboxes and tool bags-all full with tools sorted by purpose-than my wife has handbags), I quite enjoy using a well-engineered tool that balances just right in my hand. So now I have two T-Handles, one in my studio tool cabinet and one in my garage. The Guitar Player Tech Kit is a serious set of tools for guitar players who like to tech their own instruments. Included is a high-quality 6-in-1 screwdriver with 1/4" and 5/16" socket-ends for truss rod nuts; a heavy duty, spring-loaded, flush-cut diagonal cutter for strings; a 15-blade, automotive-style thickness gauge; a steel ruler with clearly-marked gradations in various fractions (including inch-tenths); 11 hex keys, both SAE and metric, with ball ends on truss-rod sizes for angled use; a rugged LED flashlight; a string-winder; and a capo. A clear-vinyl carry-pouch houses all the tools. Unfortunately, the pouch is too big for most guitar hardcases (although it will fit into the exterior pocket of most gig bags). At first glance, I thought a roll-up pouch like the ones supplied with some of the CruzTOOLS motorcycle kits would make more sense, but then I realized that the flat pouch has an inside rear pocket that can not only store extra strings or other tools, but it also holds a "manual". Huh? Hand tools need a manual? Well, it's actually a well-written setup guide, and it describes in detail how best to use the included tools to complete maintenance tasks ranging from the seemingly-simple re-string (e.g., swap and tune one string at a time to maintain tension, and before cutting a string, detune it to reduce risk of injury or damage when the string snaps) to the guitar wizardry of tweaking neck relief (use the capo to help you hold down a string at two points and use the thickness gauges to get precise readings of string/fret clearance after each adjustment of the truss rod). Although it's quite concise at only six pages in length, it's the most readily comprehensible guide for guitar teching that I've read, and it speaks to how much thought is behind this kit. Bass players shouldn't feel left out as there's a similar GrooveTech Bass Tech Kit too. ($18.95 MSRP T-Handle Drum Key, $61.95 Guitar Tech Kit, $59.95 Bass Tech Kit; www.cruztools.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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