Welcome to Guitar Maintenance Tips & Tricks
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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
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 !
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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
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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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
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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