Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Improve your Tone!!
Admit it! You don't know the date that you last changed your strings. Aside from jazz players who use Thomastik Infeld flat or semi flat wound strings... Ya'll should change your strings at least once a month. Doing so will brighten your sound up and correct intonation due to deformed strings. I often find guitars with months of grime, dirt and all sorts of juju on the backsides of the strings. Sweat and dirt work their way to the backside of the strings in a rotational orientation that is unapparent at first glance. However, this juju crud is also going to be ground into your fine rosewood finger board and after years of this type of treatment, the wood will start to deteriorate because of acids built into the dirt. Maple fingerboards will simply look buggered up! The only positive effect is that your informed friends will avoid your bio-hazard guitar.
Therefore, carefully (don't cut them off under tension and wear safety glasses - I'm serious!) remove your strings at least once a year and clean up the finger board using a little water or naphtha - Use caution with flammable products! I use a micro towel and a lot of elbow grease. I lightly oil the fingerboard with lemon oil only once per year. I let it set for about 30 seconds then wipe off the excess lemon oil - Don't use automotive oil or like substances! Do not use lemon oil on Maple finger boards as it just will not work well but at the same time it won't hurt. BEWARE >>If you have a tremolo and especially if your guitar has a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge then you better know how to properly set up your bridge before attempting this procedure.
Strings are often made of nickel and this material oxidizes. Oxidized will feel rough when played and the string will exhibit dead tone. If you experience this phenomenon then it's time to install new strings. New strings stored on a guitar for two years will play like crap unless your case is hermetically sealed. This is why strings are sold in sealed packaging now. I recommend changing guitar strings once per month if you play on occasion. If you practice often then the frequency will increase. If you are not a gigging professional than string replacement frequency is a judgment call that is subjective to your experience. If you are a pro or expert then I probably don't need to tell you anything!
In the United states I prefer to purchase my favorite strings in bulk and I will change my strings before each gig or jam session. I usually set up my guitar at the latest, hours before the gig but preferably the day before (since I am my own roadie) because of time constraints. I check prices based on number of sets and compare two primary vendors - JUST STRINGS AND MUSICIANSFRIEND.
Changing your strings is a quick and easy way to restore and maintain your excellent tone!