Archives

Flying with Guitars and Other Instruments

Over the years I’ve heard of many musicians who are afraid of checking their instruments when flying. Musicians are afraid of rough treatment by airport baggage handlers, and rightly so. But many people also fear that the environmental conditions in the aircraft’s baggage compartment can damage their instruments. I asked some airline captains about the conditions inside aircraft that instruments with be subjected to. Their answers are very reassuring!

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Truth About Truss Rods – Part 1 – The Basics

No single part of a guitar is more terrifying or mysterious to many guitarists than the humble truss rod. For years we have been told that we can ruin our precious and fragile guitars by just looking at them funny. But truss rods are very simple devices and are nothing to be afraid of. So let’s dispel the fears and the myths.

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A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Photo by Mike Bitzenhofer

Many a great guitar has been ruined by well-meaning but bad advice. And many a great guitar is also ruined by people who overestimate their experience and abilities with a screwdriver or a file. These are obvious lessons but so easy to forget that I think it’s time I reminded you with some real world examples (yes, the names have been changed to protect the innocent)…

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Capos and Tuning Problems

A recent forum post asked the following question: My guitar goes out of tune when I put on a capo. Is this normal? What can I do about it? Can this problem be worse on the lower frets? Does string diameter matter? The answer to all these questions is “yes”. Let’s look at why.

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Ernie Ball Cobalt Strings Review

Early this year Ernie Ball released a unique line of electric guitar and bass strings. Known as Cobalt Slinkys. The proprietary cobalt steel wrap on the wound strings is said to be provide a “stronger magnetic relationship between the strings and the pickups”, resulting in higher output, more sustain, and richer harmonics. The initial response was so strong that Ernie Ball were left scrambling to keep pace with the demand. I recently got my hands on a set and put them through their paces.

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Tuning Stability Checklist

Tuning stability with tremolo bridges can be problematic and very frustrating, especially when recording. Solving these problem is not rocket science but with such a complicated mechanical system it can certainly can seem like a black art.  But there is a simple way of thinking through tuning problems which might help…

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Your Own Personal Fret Buzz

It is a myth that buzz-free low action is always possible. People frequently read manufacturers’ specifications and assume those numbers are a goal rather than a guideline. They assume such a setup will suit their personal playing technique without any string/fret buzz. In my experience, that is just not the case. I’ll explain why.

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To Shim, or not to Shim?

People often wonder why two seemingly identical electric guitars sometimes require noticeably different bridge or saddle heights to achieve a similar string action and feel. The answer has to do with manufacturing tolerances when making the neck and body. Let’s take a look at the issue and explain why shims are often used in guitar construction.

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