Frequently Asked Questions
There are various possibilities. If the strings have been on for a few months (or years!) then I would definitely recommend that you change them before worrying that there may be other issues with the guitar. However, there are a lot of things that can cause tuning problems. Interestingly, most people assume that the machine heads (tuners) are the cause of the tuning problems. This is rarely the case. Even ‘cheapo’ machine heads are relatively reliable, although they may be a bit loose feeling, stiff to operate or feel rough when turning them. Actually, the most common issues are strings binding in the nut slot, loose locking nuts, bad stringing techniques or wrongly set or faulty trem units. Most problems can be diagnosed relatively quickly on examining the guitar – contact me.
Short answer – No! This is why acoustic guitars are generally set a little higher than electric guitars. Even with perfectly level frets there will be increasing string buzz as the the strings get closer to the frets and/or as you play harder. An electric guitar can be set lower than an acoustic because a lot of the buzzing isn’t amplified by the pickups.
Setting up a guitar is a fine balance of playability versus tone and if you really can’t stand the buzzing of strings then the action will have to be set a little higher. There are a lot of other factors like string gauge, tuning, and the type of guitar so the above answer is a rather condensed one!
I can only give you my opinion of certain pickups and if you were to ask 10 different people you will likely get 10 different answers! Obviously the best way to find out is hearing a similar guitar with that pickup in it – not always easy to do! Failing that, you’re probably best to research internet forums and magazines to get other people’s opinion on the pickup. The only way to really find out is to actually install the pickup in your guitar.
No, sorry! I always have a queue of work and advance bookings. More importantly, carrying out a pro setup on a guitar ‘same day’ is not. Frets must be levelled, crowned and polished, and truss rod adjustments mean the neck must be allowed to settle in over a period of hours. If the guitar is playable then it’s best to let it be and have it set up after the gig.
Adjustments differ depending on playing styles, tunings and the actual guitar in question so there is no definite ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ setup. Neck adjustments vary as do nut slot height and action. However, although there are no exact measurements there are usually certain areas where improvement could or should be made. I don’t charge a fee to look over a guitar and advise you what improvements, if any, can be made – contact me.
This really depends on how you look after them and how often and hard you play. It also depends on your body chemistry as some people corrode strings badly (I’m one of them). Cleaning your strings after every use will greatly extend their life. Old strings will not intonate properly and cause tuning problems. Floyd Rose equipped guitars will suffer serious tuning and stability issues from old strings. Be it once a week or once a year (coated strings with occasional use will definitely last this long), it’s totally dependent on the individual.
Clean the strings with a microfibre cloth after every use. Run the cloth carefully under the strings – that’s where a lot of ‘gunk’ builds up!
Use ‘lemon oil’ to clean and condition rosewood or ebony finger boards when you change the strings. The lemon oil ‘feeds’ the wood and stops it drying out – frets can come loose if the wood dries and shrinks. DON’T use oil on lacquered boards as it can get under the lacquer, causing it to separate. It will also stain the maple – not good!
Use guitar polish and a microfibre cloth to clean the paint/lacquer. Polish isn’t technically needed, a damp cloth would do, but it doesn’t harm to use some good quality guitar polish. My favourite is ‘Dunlop Formula No. 65 guitar polish and cleaner’. DO NOT use any polish containing silicone!!! If you do are then unfortunate enough to need a repair that involves re-lacquering it will be near impossible as any trace of silicone will cause the lacquer to be repelled in that area. If you’re cleaning the guitar while the strings are off be careful not to inadvertently move any hardware that will affect the setup of the guitar – Les Paul bridge adjustment thumb-wheels are a favourite!