What a difference...
...a new set of strings makes.
Yes, I know I'm stating the obvious, but I hadn't realized how "dead" my old strings were. I had noticed over the past couple weeks how off tone my playing sounded but didn't realize how a few months of wear really affects the sound.
Here's my question, I think I'm going to go with slightly heavier strings next time (from 9's to 10's). This was the first time I had ever changed a set of strings, but was wondering if it would be any harder to do so myself and go to a different guage. I've read that going to a different guage could effect the intonation and would require more tweaking to the set up.
It could. It will also raise the action a little, and could necessitate tweaking the truss rod. Your real troubles come in if you have a "trem" bridge, like a Strat.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
You can use isopropyl alcohol on a linen cloth to clean the strings as they sit on the guitar...but this is only a short term solution and won't help[ with the actual metal deforming over the frets and ends. You really need to change them as soon as they start losing the new-string tone.
From 9's to 10??? :shock: NO WAY! Go THE OTHER way...9's to 8's! :wink:
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"
Going from 9s to 10s shouldn't really affect your guitar much, although going from 9's to 11s might throw your intonation off a bit.
Adjusting intonation is not difficult if you have a good tuner.
1)Tune your open bass E string to pitch. Try to get it as perfect as possible.
2)Now fret the bass E string at the 12 fret with normal playing pressure and pick the note. If the fretted note is sharp (common), then you need to loosen the string a little, and adjust the saddle back toward the rear of the guitar. Tune the open string back to pitch and compare with the fretted note at the 12th fret again. It may take you several attempts, but you should be able to adjust the intonation so that the open string and the fretted note at the 12th fret match as perfectly as possible.
3)If the fretted note at the 12th fret is flat compared to the open string you do just the opposite. Loosen the string a little slack and adjust the saddle forward toward the headstock. Tune up and compare the open string to the note fretted at the 12th fret. Again, may take several attempts to get the notes to match perfectly.
4)Continue in this method on all strings.
You will find when your intonation is correct that the saddles will almost always look staggered like this:
Notice the bass E string is far back, the A string a little forward, the D string even more forward, but then the G string is far back like the bass E string, the B string slightly forward, and the high E string even more forward. There are exceptions, but 9 times out of 10 your saddles will look like this when your intonation is properly adjusted.
So, it is not difficult at all to adjust the intonation yourself, and boy what a difference it makes. Now your chords will sound beautiful and intune up and down the entire fretboard! :D
If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis
Thanks all, and great instructional Wes. Very useful.