Different kinds of instrument jacks, on a Stratocaster (top), Telecaster (middle) and Precision Bass (bottom). These inevitably loosen, but small and inexpensive tools are available to keep them properly tightened.
Once in a while, guitarists and bassists are bound to experience the annoyance of a loose instrument jack.
You know, you go to plug the instrument cable into your guitar or bass, only to find that the nut has loosened and the output jack is wobbling around all over the place (and by the way, it is an output jack, technically; not an input jack). So you keep tightening the nut with your fingers, but that’s not enough force and it quickly keeps loosening again. Pretty annoying. So then you dig out an adjustable wrench or a socket wrench or pliers to fix it, only to find that you’re twisting the entire jack assembly around rather than just the nut. Doubly annoying.
This isn’t an if. It’s a when. Your instrument jack will eventually loosen, because guitars are machines of many parts and it’s natural for them to inevitably experience gradual loosening of nuts and bolts and screws once tightly fastened (especially basses, with all that low-end vibration going on year after year).
The culmination of the loose instrument jack problem is when the nut comes off entirely and the entire outer portion of the jack socket vanishes into the dark recesses of your guitar’s interior. Now you have a real problem rather than a mere annoyance, because now you can’t plug the instrument in at all.
The good news is that a small and inexpensive tool designed specifically to deal with loose jacks is available. It’s called a … wait for it … a loose jack tightener. There are several types of these small but very handy devices available under various names. Most work on the principle of an inner stopper with a handle that fits snugly in the jack and holds it in place while a free-turning outer socket sleeved over the stopper fits around the nut. The stopper firmly holds the jack in place with no twisting while the outer sleeve socket tightens the nut with sufficient force, and you’re back in business.
Available from many guitar parts retailers and online dealers, they’re simple but ingenious little devices well worth having in your gig bag. Should run you about $15.
If you need replacement parts for your output jack, shop here.