Tip #2 -- The $6 Guitar Tuneup
Guitar Tips with Steve Krenz
Some of these tips will make you play better, some will make your guitar sound better...some will just make playing easier!
This is a 'sound better' tip...
Learn & Master Guitar Secret #2: The $6 Guitar Tune-up!
One thing I have found as a professional player that NEVER fails to improve a guitar's sound is... that's right... put on a new set of strings.
Nothing puts the sparkle and punch back into your sound like a fresh set of strings. I'll never forget when I found out how often studio players changed their strings! I thought, "How do they afford that?"
Well, it's their gig! They either show up sounding great or they don't get called back!
Here are a few hints about guitar strings:
1. The brand of strings isn't as important as the fact that they're new!
Strings come in two kinds - coated and uncoated. Coated strings are 'slicker' feeling when you play them because they have a coating that keeps dirt and oils from tarnishing the strings (and it keeps their tone sounding bright.) So coated strings sound "new" longer.
From my experience, individual brands don't demonstrate as much real-world playing difference as the marketing would imply. I prefer 'Elixir Polywebs' because I like the feel of the coating. But there are other brands that offer coated strings too. 2. The gauge of strings is important. Lighter strings are going to be easier to push down though they sound a little 'smaller' in tone. If you're just beginning, I recommend a lighter guage string set.
Heavier strings will increase your sustain and volume but they're also harder to push down. Experiment the next couple times you buy new strings to see what works best for you.
3. Your strings have a "life-cycle." Most strings (coated or not) will sound 'fantastic' for about the first 4 hours of playing time; then 'really good' for about 3 days; after that, you'll notice the tone beginning to 'dull' a bit (depending on how you observe #4 below.)
Coated strings will last a good bit longer (and sound 'new' longer) because they stay untarnished. They cost more, but it's worth it to me.
4. Wash your hands before you play. Your hands have oils that you don't even notice...so strings get 'gunked up' and corroded...losing that clear 'ring.' Washing your hands before you play minimizes this oil transfer so your strings last longer.
5. Steve's Rule of Thumb...If you can't remember the last time you changed your strings, then it's time.
Do yourself (and your listeners) a favor and put a new set of strings on your guitar. You'll stay inspired when your tone is clear and ringy.