As a Record Producer, everyday of my life I watch guitarists put on a new pair of strings. You would be shocked how many guitarists do not string their guitars properly. Now you may be thinking “I’m no n00b at this, I know what I am doing”. Despite all of your confidence, I have seen very seasoned players miss tiny little nuances that miss the mark. You may also be thinking that your guitar plays just fine. By stringing a guitar correctly, it will not only play better, but it will break less strings and also stay in tune FAR BETTER. Even if you have watched some of the popular YouTube videos, we have some essential info for you about what they miss. Click the jump for a quick tutorial.
A popular and nice guide is on fretnotguitarrepair.com, for those of you who don’t have the time to watch a video. This shows how to properly thread the string through the hole of an acoustic guitar. The one thing they do forget to mention is to TAKE THE STRINGS OFF ONE AT A TIME!!!! This is the most common mistake I see everyday at work. If you wonder why your guitar constantly goes out of intonation this very well may be your answer. A guitar is a machine of tension and a precise amount of tension is needed to keep it playing well and properly intonated.
Let’s focus on Fixed Bridge guitars in this lesson.
All-knowing guitar lesson source, justinguitar.com, does a nice lesson on this subject for those of you who like to watch the YouTube. Skip this one if you are in a rush since we will summarize it below.
My point of contention with this video is the “fingernail test” is not the best one for deciding when your strings must be changed. For recording many genres of music you are going to want a fresh pair of strings on the guitar for every song(in the studio, where as live it tends to be a preference of tone), for some genres a dull string is what sounds right. I once saw Jon Brion use a Silvertone guitar whose strings hadn’t been changed since the 50′s for an amazing tone. As well, if you are using coated strings (such as DR Elixirs) this point is moot since their gunk comes off anytime you do this. Another important detail is to change the thickest string first on down to the thinnest.
Our buddy RockGuitarPower.com has this all encompassing tutorial that is guitar tech grade material. He does make one fatal flaw: as mentioned above, he takes all of the strings off at once. It bears repeating: DO NOT DO THIS! The rest of this lesson imparts some great knowledge.
Here is where we get into a really good view of where many errors happen: String Threading. The second method he uses is what you’ll want to use and master. It is amazing how much better your guitar will stay in tune and prevent string breaking.
Now RockGuitarPower.com has this turtorial that shows us how to stretch the strings. This helps the guitar to stay in tune better. A common complaint of new strings is they don’t stay in tune very well. This is usually due to not stretching the strings, so stop using this as an excuse to not change your guitar strings and start stretching.
The concludes getting the guitar strung. Check us out tomorrow for Part 2!