Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guitar Buzz Diagnosis

Buzzing is generally characterized as unwanted noise generated while playing the instrument. The cause of this unwanted noise is usually an anomaly that can be fixed. Some buzzing can be a symptoms of more serious problems.

The following is a list of buzz causes:

  1. Low action
  2. High action
  3. Relief
  4. Light gauge strings
  5. Low nut
  6. Nut groove too tight or loose
  7. Back buzz
  8. Low saddle
  9. Flat saddle
  10. Deeply notched saddle
  11. Uneven frets
  12. Low frets
  13. Flat frets
  14. String interference
  15. Stray string ends
  16. Damaged strings
  17. Loose parts
  18. Broken parts
  19. Technique - Sorry, but this is true. If are playing an acoustic and you employ the same amount of force as what might be used on an electric guitar - you might need to reassess the amount of force applied. In addition, a heavy pick could cause increased force and therefore create a buzz condition.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Graph Tech Ferra - Glide Saddles and similar products - Breaking strings often?

Graph Tech Ferra - Glide Saddles and similar products - Breaking strings often?

You are not alone if you break strings as it is a natural occurrence for guitar players. However, this problem can be limited and I will try to outline a remedy for this situation. But first, there are a series of questions to ask yourself in order to properly assess the situation at hand.

How old are my strings?
Do they break in the same location each time?

Old strings wear at the terminal nodes - called the nut and the bridge. At these points of contact a great deal of vibration affects the string, ultimately wearing the string material and weakening the substrate.

String breakage at these points is dependent on the following influences: amount of friction, applied force, material hardness, string tension, time, and string scale. Without doubt, I probably missed a few attributes but nonetheless those are the prevalent models of effects. String breakage occurring at the same point of contact usually is a friction issue.

One point of contact where friction is dominate is the bridge saddle. The first thing one can do is swap the saddle with an opposing saddle from another string - I chose a string on the bass side (Warning - doing this will require setting your intonation or marking your saddle position before removing). For my case, this made zero difference and I was still breaking strings (Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster with tremolo). I tried to polish metal saddles using a Dremel tool with a fine brush, being careful so not to distort the saddle shape then I used a cotton Dremel tip to achieve a final fine finish. The string breakage decreased in frequency but string breakage occurred in less than a week (I took care to not be hard on them during the test period) but ultimately the problem remained unsolved. For me, I had to fix the problem quickly because I needed the instrument to work properly in a short amount of time. Now I had run several experiments and though I gained valuable information, the problem remained unsolved.

Enter Graph Tech. This company provided a solution - Ferra-Glide saddles. These units intrigued me and I ordered one set for my Fender Stratocaster. Installation was simple as I ascertained the proper saddle needed for my model; note YOUR preferred string height and if you do not know how to intonate your guitar you should also NOTE THE SADDLE LOCATIONS - FORE AND AFT. Install and tune. A month later my strings were dead as can be but still in one piece. This product is a simple cost effective solution to premature string breakage.

In addition, I found that the material used for the contact point of the saddle seemed to improve sustain and clarity of my guitars. Harmonic output was unaffected and the tone is more detailed. The lack of premature breakage inspired new confidence in my guitar. A worry I had was that my tone would sound thicker or muddy but this was not the case. Also, the units are self-lubricating due to the nature of the material. Do I like them and recommend them? Yes, I bought a second set for my PRS Customer 24 that was also exhibiting premature string breakage at the saddle terminal node. Two thumbs up!!

These saddles are worth the cost and so far have been in use on my guitars for over five years now and therefore all this data is gleaned from real world abuse and constant testing by yours truly. I've worked with PTFE products for many years, I am pleased that the saddles are holding up but real world experience will tell me that some time in the future I will need to replace these units (PTFE will deform under load, i.e, creep) and therefore I always recommend - DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR ORIGINAL PARTS post upgrading. Collectors are very particular and if your guitar becomes collectible you will have lost a great deal of value by throwing your old parts in the trash!

Keep in mind that we all must change our strings regularly. If you are playing four hours a day then replacing strings daily would not be unusual. Playing an hour a day might require once a week replacement. All of this is subjective to the user and therefore an acquired preference. I met an old Delta player who quipped that his strings were older than some of his grand-kids! It's all good! Maybe you too need to upgrade to new Ferra-glide saddles or like products to make your time on the instrument more enjoyable?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Improve your Guitar playing Immediately!

Improve your Guitar playing Immediately!

Have you ever found yourself playing the guitar and suddenly determine that the sounds coming from your guitar sounds like moose farts? Poor note sustain? String buzzing with fluttering instead of tones?Then I have the cure for you! Put down the Cheeto's and wash your hands. Grimy fingers will bugger up your fret board and load the strings with Cheeto's, oils, and nasty skin follicles. That's right nastiness!

It is amazing what a little soap will do for your playing. Use the soap on your fingers - Not your guitar and change your strings often. Having 20 year old vintage strings on your guitar is nothing to brag about unless you are a collector and not a player. If you play often, change strings often. It's not cheap so you should buy in bulk. Determine a brand and gauge that works for you and then buy as many as you can afford in order to save more money! I hate to steer you away from your local music store but if you cannot get a great deal from your local dealer then try JustStrings.com or musiciansfriend.com

Now get the hell on! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Unknown Hinson King of Country Western Troubadours!

This man is the reel deel. He don't takes no mess, and he don't play no rawk music..
Well, except when he's playing rawk music...
"I never drink anything you can see
through...meaning anything clear - like gin, vodka...Everclear. Anything golden is fine!"

Hinson learnt guitar from his mother who showed him one chord, "an C-chord she told me ifn I wansta learnt it, then I will! an I Learnt it!"

He don't take no drugs an don't do no hallucinogenizen neither!

Thaank bout it.............

And more of Hinson's classics........

...an heez a filofficer two

Seriously, Hinson is the real deal and an excellent guitarist. If you listen close you can hear some hot licks! He has his own signature model Reverend guitar. He also plays Telecasters and seems to favor Vox amps. The guy has excellent tone, tasty guitar licks and shtick. No doubt he does make his share of misogynistic remarks, likes to take a drank, and he loves them Cadillacs but that is his shtick. Check him out. Oh yeah, he is also one of the Squidbillies and worked as a side man for the Boxmasters.