Guitar Maintenance Tips & Tricks

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Changing Strings  
Tuning Problems
Neck Adjustment 

Changing Strings
When changing your guitar strings, replace and tune one at a time, starting with the thickest ( low E ). This maintains the tension on the instrument and you will have less trouble retuning because the guitar does not have to stabilize again. Also reduces risk of error when selecting string / tuning peg.

Secure the new string at the bridge. Acoustic guitars, remove string peg place ball end of string in hole and replace peg firmly. Pull the new string until firmly anchored. Electric guitars pass the strings thru the tailpiece or tremelo block and over the bridge. Pass the string end thru the tuning peg on the headstock and wind around the peg 2 or 3 times and turn the tuner away from you to tighten the string to pitch. 

    Don't try to tie knots in the string to stop it from slipping ! Rather cross the string over the previous wind on the peg. This will effectively lock the string to the peg and prevent slippage. 

New strings will stretch for some time, until they are 'settled in'. You can speed up the process by playing a series of bends up and down the neck on each string and by gently pulling the strings away from the fret board. Don't pull too hard though, there's nothing quite so depressing as breaking a new string as you put it on ! 

When your done trim off any excess string at the tuning peg with wire cutters. Be sure to trim the string close to the peg, if it's left too long and the string end touches the headstock you create  perfectly circular scratches every time you tune ! Strum on.  
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Tuning Problems 
A common tuning problem is when the string sticks in the nut. This is often characterized by a 'pinging' sound as you tune. Loosen the strings enough to lift out of the groove in the nut. Take a soft pencil and apply it to the groove. If you play an electric guitar with a whammy bar, always have a pencil handy, or invest in a graphite nut. Graphite is a perfect lubricant and this will generally solve the problem. If not, 
you may have a more serious problem and need to consult a qualified repairman. 

Don't start filing and cutting unless you really know what you are doing ( or you're really brave )  
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Nothing strikes fear into the novice more than the word intonation. True, correct intonation on a crappy guitar can make it sound sweet and bad intonation on a great guitar will make it sound like a dog ! but the actual principle is pretty simple.
*Acoustic guitars do not generally have individual adjustable bridge saddles so you can't use this method. 

You are going to need a tuner and whatever tools are necessary to adjust the bridge saddles on your guitar ( screw driver, allen wrenches etc. )

First put new strings on your guitar. Don't waste time setting intonation with old strings !

Tune your open strings to the tuner. Play the harmonic at the 12th fret of the first string ( E ). The harmonic is the absolute center between the nut and the bridge. The principal here is that when you actually PLAY the note at the 12th fret, it is also the absolute center just like the harmonic. 

Hold the note down at the 12th fret and check it on the tuner. If it's dead on E your intonation for that string is good.

If the note is FLAT it means the distance between the nut and the bridge is a little TOO LONG. So you have to adjust the bridge saddle to move it closer to the nut, in other words shortening the string length.

You will probably have to loosen the string in order to allow the saddle to move. Then retune and check the note at the 12th fret again. Repeat the process until you have a perfect E at the 12th fret.
This requires some patience, but it's worth it.

If the note is SHARP it means the distance between the nut and the bridge is TOO SHORT. So you have to adjust in the opposite direction ( make the string longer ). Once again you may have to adjust a few times. 

The adjustment is often very small so be careful until you've got the hang of it.
Repeat this on all the strings and your guitar will tune and play better.
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Neck Adjustment
Almost all guitars have an adjustable Truss Rod in the neck. This metal rod keeps the neck stable and can be adjusted to improve the action ( the height of the strings off the fret board ) to make playing more comfortable. Adjustments are made either at the headstock or at the body end of the neck, usually with an allen wrench. In some acoustics you have to get your hand in the sound hole.

All guitar necks MUST have a slight concave bow in them. This gives the strings room to vibrate without 'fretting out' on the  upper frets. However if the neck is bowed too much the action will be too high and the guitar difficult to play.

By tightening the Truss Rod you make it a little shorter which causes the headstock to be pulled back slightly lessoning the depth of the bow. A general rule of thumb is to touch the low E string down on the highest fret ( don't play it, just rest it on the fret ) Look at the middle of the neck, there should be a slight gap between the string and the fret board. If the string lays flat on ALL the frets you need more of a bow
( loosen the truss rod ) 

To recap: Too much bow TIGHTEN  No bow LOOSEN     

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