Guitar FAQ's

  janis music co.

138 W. Yosemite Ave Manteca 209-823-3067

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Understanding Basic Audio
This will be a workshop to help you to understand sound as it relates to music.
We will cover all the basics and the
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Q: When should I change the strings on my acoustic guitar?

Strings should be changed on a regular schedule. Things that effect that schedule are, how often you play, type of string you use, and personal chemistry. If you play your guitar everyday you are exposing your strings to body oils and sweat that contain acidic compounds that corrode your strings. Some types of strings last longer than others. For acoustic guitars phosphor bronze strings resists corrosion better than 80/20 bronze. 80/20 bronze strings are the brightest strings you can buy for acoustic guitars but tend to corrode quickly. Phosphor Bronze strings have better corrosion resistance and will give you 2 to 3 time more life than standard bronze strings. Then there the coated strings, Elixir, EXP, ect. They give the longest life of all the strings but you will pay a premium price. You should change your strings when they sound dead, like putting a cloth across the bridge . Dead strings are hard to tune and make your guitar sound thumpy. Some people change their strings once a month, others every 6 months.

Q:  How can I tell if my guitar needs steel strings or nylon strings? 

The easiest way to tell what kind of string your guitar was designed for is by looking at your tuning keys. If your guitar has plastic posts, (where you wrap the string) your guitar was made for nylon strings. If it has steel posts, your guitar needs steel strings.

Q:  Can I put steel strings on my classical guitar?

I see this all the time. Nylon string guitars or, classical guitars, are not built to withstand the extreme tension of steel strings. Most times it will pull the bridge off the top or crack and break the plastic posts where the strings attach to the tuning keys. Both are costly repairs. If your not sure see the previous question.

Q: why is my guitar so hard to play? My friends guitar plays so much easier?

Your guitar might not be adjusted properly. String height ”action” can be high due to improper saddle height, poor nut adjustment, too much neck relief or a combination of these problems.  The best thing to do is to bring your guitar to a reputable repair shop for an evaluation. This should be free. A good repairman can tell if you need a setup, or if the problem is so severe you might need a new guitar.

Q:  I just put new strings on my strat style guitar and when i tried to tune it, the bridge sticks up from the body and the strings are way off the neck. What did I do wrong?

You really didn’t do anything wrong. You purchased strings that are a heavier gauge than the strings you removed. The bridge on a strat style guitar is called a tremolo. This allows the player to drop the pitch of the strings by pushing down on the tremolo bar. To make this happen there are springs under the back plate of the guitar that can be adjusted for tension. By installing heavier strings, you upset the balance of the springs. This can be readjusted to compensate for the higher string tension or more springs can be installed. See your repairman.

 Q: I have heard people talking about intonation. What is intonation?

Intonation refers to the ability of a guitar to play in tune all the way up the neck. It is an adjustment on most electric guitars that changes the string length relative to the fret board. This is one of the adjustments that is made in the process of a minor setup. Most acoustic guitars have a preset adjustment and cannot be changed. Some have a compensated saddle to achieve better intonation.

Q:   What is the difference between single coil and double coil pickups?

The first pickups developed for electric guitar were single coil pickups. It was a very simple design that consisted of a coil of wire and a magnet. It converted the vibrations of the string into an electrical signal. The magnet was on the bottom of the coil and pole pieces were used to concentrate the magnetic field closer to the string. This design worked well with the low gain tube amplifiers of the day. The Fender Stratocaster popularized this style of pickup in the early 50’s. The sound of the pickup was bright, clear, and cutting. This is the sound of early Jimi Hendrix and most rock guitarist of that era and is still popular today. The single coil was prone to hum and noise due to florescent lights and other electromagnetic sources especially under high gain. The double coil pickup was invented by Seth Lover who was working for Gibson.  The new double coil design would cancel these outside noises and provide for a much stronger signal and a full fat sound that the single coil could not duplicate. As rock music gravitated to more gain (distortion) the double coil found a place in the rock seen. The Gibson Les Paul guitar and the SG guitar both featured the newly designed pickup. To simplify the question, both pickups are great but for different sounds. Single coils are great for clean and low gain settings and double coils are best for thick sounds and very high gain settings.