Taking Care Of Your Guitar. Part 1

author: UG Team date: 09/22/2006 category: for beginners
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Table of Contents:

1. Options for storing your guitar 2. Learning to replace strings 3. Taking care of your fretboard

Options For Storing Your Guitar

Storing Your Guitar There are three primary ways you can store your guitar: bag, stand, or case. The pros and cons of each one are noted below.
  • Bag.
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    Pros: the bag reigns supreme in terms of pricing, simplicity, and versatility. Its biggest advantage is its mobility; many bags have straps so that you can wear it like a backpack, and all are light in weight so that they are easy to move around. Cons: not necessarily the safest way of transporting a guitar, and high end guitars -- those priced at $700 and up -- should be seen sparingly if at all in bags.

  • Stand.
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    Pros: for those interested in making the guitar serve a secondary purpose as a home decoration, the stand is generally regarded as the most fashionable method of publicly displaying your guitar. Placing the guitar on a stand can also be more convenient, as the other alternatives -- bags and cases -- require guitarists to open zippers and locks to access the instrument. Cons: the stand leaves your guitar unprotected from the natural environment, so it is more susceptible to any dust and dirt that may be in the open area. Moreover, many high end guitars are extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity, and hence cannot be stored publicly.
  • Case.
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    Pros: the case is by far the most protective means of storing your guitar. As a result, if you spent a fair amount of money on your guitar or if your guitar has a substantial amount of sentimental value, it would be wise to store your guitar in a case. Cons: cases are by far the priciest option for storing your guitar; many cases are several hundred dollars, making them more expensive than a wide range of guitars. The cost barrier may make it a questionable purchase for many students -- especially if the guitar itself is a low end or beginner guitar.

    Learning To Replace Strings

    One of the tasks that you will need to do most often during your time spent playing guitar is a replacing of the strings. Strings often get worn out as they get used; dirt and sweat from your hands transfers to the string, causing small amounts of rust to accumulate and dirt to build up. The result is that the sound the strings produce will deterioriate -- it will lose resonanace -- and will go out of tune more frequently as well. The video below is a really nice breakdown of how to change strings.
    Below is a step by step process for how you can go about replacing your strings: 1. Remove the nut at the bottom of the guitar's body. The nut is what keeps the guitar string attached at the bottom. The nut is most easily removed through a string winder; simply insert the u-shaped end of the string winder into the nut, and lift from there. That is the process for acoustic guitars. For electric guitars, this step can be skipped; the string can be removed entirely from the head of the guitar. The video clip below shows an example.
    2. Unwind the string. Now that you have removed the string from the body, you must also remove it from the head. Simply identify the tuning knob associated with the string you are looking to remove, and wind it completely loose. You can do this manually or with the assistance of a string winder. The video clip below shows an example.
    3. Insert the string. You will notice the string has two ends: one end will have a small metal circle, while the other will just be a thin piece of metal. The end with the circle should be inserted into the body of the guitar; the remainder of the string should be pulled across the fretboard and inserted into the corresponding tuning knob. Regarding which string should be associated with which tuning knob, bear in mind the following. On a guitar where three tuning knobs are on one side and three are on the other, the side that is closest to the ceiling when you are holding the guitar correctly has the tuning knobs for the 4th, 5th, and 6th strings. The 6th string can be inserted into the tuning knob closet to you; the fifth goes in the middle; and the fourth goes into the furthest one. On the bottom side -- meaning the tuning knobs closest the ground when holding the guitar correctly -- the tuning knob most distant from you is for the 3rd string; the middle one corresponds to the 2nd string; and the nearest one is meant for the first string. If you are playing an electric guitar where the tuning knobs are all on one side, the knob closest to you is for the sixth string (low E), and progresses accordingly to the knob that is furthest from you which corresponds to the first string (high E). When you insert the string through the tuning knob, you may want to hold and pull the string several times, so as to "stretch" the string. This will decrease the frequency with which it goes out of tune as you play. 4. Wind the string. Finally, simply wind the tuning knob so that the string is tense. After the strings have all been replaced, you can use a tuner to determine exactly how tightly wound each string should be. The following video clip shows a string being wound tightly.
    One string at a time. It is best to replace one string at a time. Removing all the strings and then replacing them with six new ones can drastically alter the tension on the fretboard, and such a substantial alteration may cause long term damage to your guitar. While this is a rare occurrence, it is best to replace one string at a time so as to prevent the possibility of such damage occurring. How often should you replace your strings? How often strings should be changed depends on how often you play, and how important quality of sound is to you when you play. Assuming an hour a day everyday, you would probably want to change your strings every 4-6 weeks. Professional guitarists who perform daily often change their strings several times a week, or even on a daily basis. This ensures that their strings have the freshest possible sound -- which is especially important for them, since they are performing in front of a live audience or recording in a studio. The types of strings you buy can also substantially affect the longevity of your strings. Nanoweb coated strings, while priced substantially higher than the rest of the strings, are capable of lasting an exceptionally long time. Amateur guitarists using nanoweb coated strings may find that they last 12 weeks or more.

    Taking Care Of Your Fretboard

    As the part of your guitar likely to accumulate the most sweat and dirt, the fretboard requires special care. A fretboard that is maintained well will prove to be noticeably easier to play, will feel more comfortable, and will look sharper from a visual perspective. Polishing your fretboard. The best way to take care of your fretboard is to periodically polish it. Many guitarists find it convenient to polish their fretboard when they replace strings. To polish your fretboard, you will need two items: (1) guitar polish and (2) a cloth. Once you have your polish and cloth, you just need to follow these simple instructions: 1. Polish the guitar thoroughly up and down the fretboard. 2. Allow the polish to rest on the guitar for about 15-20 seconds. 3. Taking your cloth, thoroughly massage the polish into the fretboard by wiping it up and down. 4. You are now ready to use your newly polished guitar. You will notice that it is easier to play, and that it looks nicer as well. Click here to view the video clip below that illustrates polish being applied. And this video clip illustrates how a cloth can be used after the polish has been applied and allowed to rest. ActoGuitar's purpose is to help people learn to play guitar, and to help experienced guitarists with professional ambitions reach their aspirations. Be sure to check out ActoGuitar website at this location. To be continued...
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