GUITAR STRING TERMS.
Bronze 92% Copper
and 8% Tin. The tin is added to improve sustain and retain their tone
longer than bronze or brass strings.
Nickel Wound The
wrap wire is in fact normally steel with an electroplating
containing 8% Nickel. The steel alloy gives optimum magnetic
properties required for magnetic pickups. The nickel electroplating
ensures resistance to oxidation and corrosion and provides a 'soft',
smooth surface which minimises fret wear.
Stainless Steel A highly magnetic steel
alloy containing Chromium and Nickel which imparts high corrosion
resistance. The sound is very bright. Stainless steel is a hard alloy
and can lead to premature fret wear.
Round Wound. Simply means that the core
wire has a round cross-section. The core wire is invariably high
carbon alloy steel. Most brands are round wound.
Flat Wound Widely used on fretless bass
guitars, flat wound refers to strings that have been wound using a
flat surfaced wrap wire rather than a wire with a round
cross-section. The smooth surface of a flat wound string is further
enhanced by light abrasive polishing.
Ballend Most guitar strings are ballend
which simply means that they have a brass ferrule (small ring) at the
end of the string to facilitate installation.
String gauge affects tone and playability of your guitar. A higher
the gauge of strings the greater the tension. So heavy gauge strings
produce a higher volume. However due to the greater tension, more
pressure is needed to fret the strings. Another benefit of higher
tension strings is that they vibrate in a shallower arc which allows
closer adjustment to the fingerboard without string buzzing.
Generally factory guitars come are strung with 12-54 gauge on
acoustic guitars and 9-42 on electric guitars. Altering string gauge
may require adjustment to your guitar to maintain a similar action.
And remember lower string tension will cause the strings to lie lower
which may result in buzzing.
TUNING for a six string guitar is
tip on how to remember the note order.
And Donkeys Grow
GUITAR STRING LIFE and TONE.
To maintain your guitar strings in good condition for as long as
possible, wash your hands before you play to remove grease and sweat.
Salt from sweat leads to premature corrosion of strings. And, after
you've played always rub your strings down with a good quality cloth.
The new instrument microfibre cloths (Microshine) are well suited for
this purpose as they don't leave fluff on the strings and remove
grease very effectively. Finally, apply a thin coating of Stringlife
and then just leave your guitar until you are ready to play again.
You'll be amazed how the new string tone of your strings is
prolonged. Lots cheaper than nano-coated strings and better too. Well
perhaps we shoudn't say but why don't you be the judge.
STRING BREAKAGE. You will never
eliminate string breakage but it can often be reduced by lubricating
rough points on your guitar hardware. The lead of a pencil is made
from flake graphite - a wonderful natural lubricant. Rub a pencil
lead on the nut slots & saddle to reduce friction to allow the
strings to move more freely over these surfaces without snagging
which results in string breakage.
FINGERS. If you have just started to play, you may
find strings difficult to hold down on the fretboard or they may
'cut' into your fingers. Try a lighter (lower) gauge. You'll notice
the difference immediately. Beginners should try 9-42 (electric) or
All new strings take some time to stabilise. Tune them,
stretch them, retune them and keep repeating until they settle in. If
you've got a gig, plan ahead. Put on the new string set the day
before and tune them - they will have stabilised in time for the big
event. And if you need a tuner then there are lots of good products
available. One of the best we think is the Intellitouch PT-1 or PT-2
tuner. They are so easy to use and attract so much attention from
other musicians. Cool !
YOUR TUNER. When tuning, pluck the
strings moderately with the flesh of your thumb. Plucking too hard
causes the pitch to temporarily rise. This confuses the tuner. And
never use a plectrum. This adds overtones that make tuning difficult.
TO CHANGE STRINGS.It's
best to change strings when they have lost their brilliance, they
sound a bit too mellow or intonation isn't right. It is not
recommended that a broken string is replaced in a well used set. The
new string is likely to sound much brighter than the others.
WON'T STAY IN TUNE. Chances
are the strings are oxidised or dirty. A change of strings normally
solves the problem.
Change strings one at a time, starting with the heaviest. This keeps
tension on the guitar and you will have less trouble getting it in
tune since the guitar itself doesn't have to stabilise again. Thanks
to Gman at www.nb/~alanb/index.htm
versus LIGHT. Heavy
strings hold their tuning longer and give a better tone than lighter
strings but they demand stronger fingers. It's normally best to play
with the heaviest gauge that you are comfortable with.
A HEAVIER GAUGE. Is it time to go to
a heavier gauge to get a bigger and fuller sound? String tension will
be greater so it will be tougher on the hands and fingers. To get a
feel for the increased tension of a heavier gauge set, tune up your
normal strings by a half step
E A D G B E
F Bb Eb Ab C F
higher tuning gives a reasonable approximation of the greater
tension you might expect from a heavier gauge.
when you are taking great care, bridge pins can break easily when
you are changing strings on your acoustic guitar. Tip - always keep a
few spares in your gig bag.
you have a particular string persistently breaking, look for sharp
edges on the hardware - especially bridge saddles, nut and machine
heads. That's often the problem. Remove any sharp bit by lightly
rubbing with a piece of wet and dry - but watch those plated and
polished surfaces. (Thanks to Bob Gill for this tip - www.bobgill.co.uk)
It's important that your guitar neck is straight. If there is a
noticeable bow your guitar was probably last set up for a lighter
gauge than you are presently using. You may need to adjust your truss
rod - not a job for the faint-hearted. For a heavier string gauge
adjust the truss rod by tigtening by about 1/8th of a turn. Never
turn it more than 1/4 or you could do permanent damage to your
guitar. Look down the edge of the neck to see what effect your
adjustments have had. Check it out regularly. P.S. If in doubt about
adjusting your truss rod take your guitar to an expert.
addition of Phosphorus in 92/8 phosphor bronze alloy improves the
oxidation resistance of the metal so strings retain their tone
longer. Phosphor bronze strings have a longer life than cheaper 80/20
bronze strings. 80/20 strings have a crisp sound when new but lose
their sharpness after a few hours of playing. Most U.S. produced
acoustic guitars are factory strung these days with phosphor bronze strings.
If you sometimes have problems pulling an old string through the
bridge just snip the string a couple of inches from the bridge and
Save the brass ferrules from old strings. Pass a new string through
an old ferrule before restringing. Now you'll find that if a string
break occurs near the bridge the broken string will just fall out. No
more poking about is needed. This tip is good for all through body
strung guitars e.g. Telecasters. Thanks to Colin
Leckenby for this one.
PLATED versus NICKEL. Most
electric guitar strings are nickel plated steel on a round steel
core. Pure nickel wound strings went out of fashion about 35 years
ago when nickel plated strings were introduced on a volume basis.
Nickel plated give a brighter and warmer sound than pure nickel and
they provide enhanced sustain. Nickel plated strings have outstanding
magnetic properties.Ernie Ball Slinkys, D'Addario EXLs, GHS Boomers,
Fender 3250 Super Bullets and Newstrings Sonic Power are all examples
of NPS (nickel plated strings).
versus NEW. Remember
the old adage: '
New strings on a cheap acoustic guitar nearly always sound better
than old strings on an expensive one.'
BASS STRINGS. Flatwound strings have
a ribbon-like winding along the core string. Its like metal
fettuccini rather than spaghetti wound around the core. Flats produce
a mellow sound and feel smooth and silky. Finger noise is much
reduced since they have a much smoother surface. Flats also have a
longer playing life since it is more difficult for dirt and oil can
build up on the tighter surface. Flatwound strings can be a little
too mellow for rock, r&b and funk but they are often used for
jazz and reggae. And of course Flats are the choice of fretless bassists.
MUCH PRESSURE IS REQUIRED FROM THE FRETTING HAND. This
is certainly not an easy question to answer. But we thought this
video extract was brilliant. Hope you agree. www.daddario.com/DADMultimedia.aspx?VideoID=2957
Most guitarists hold their plectrum between their thumb and first
finger. However some famous guitarists hold it between their thumb
and both first and second fingers. You might want to try this
technique and experience the difference in control and accuracy of picking.
Gripping a plectrum puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the hand
especially during a long gig. This becomes more and more demanding
the older you are. Although it is also difficult for very young
beginners. With modern manufacturing technology and advanced design
this need no longer be a problem. Picks like the F-1
pick and the Grip pick go a long way in
helping to make holding a pick so much more comfortable. Even
rheumatic sufferers can take up guitar playing again with these
YOUR ACOUSTIC. Always
use a proper guitar polish. It gives a brighter finish than
furniture or silicone polish - and keep them well away from the bridge.
FOR YOUR ACOUSTIC.
Central heating systems invariably lead to dry air at home. Low
humidity conditions can lead to shrinkage of the fine woods on your
guitar which results in cracking of the wood. To avoid such disasters
use a guitar humidifier system. They are not expensive and could save
you an awful lot of heartache.
store your guitar close to a radiator or in a really cold place like
overnight in the car boot. Extremes of heat cause stresses which can
lead to cracking or crazing of surfaces.
elastic band secured over the handles of a pair of pliers creates a
mini vice - useful as a 'third hand' for soldering jack plugs.
(Thanks for this one to Bob Houlston www.houlston.freeserve.co.uk)