Everything that starts with G ...
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Review of "Everything that starts with G ..."
Bit worried about my wife's driving. She told me the other day that she nearly ran over a squirrell on her way to work - hey, this is an animal that LIVES IN A TREE!!
This was going to be submitted under "Member Advice" but I've no idea how to get round the "required" URL issue - so it looks as though this will be another minimum-reward review! Good job I enjoy writing!++++++++++
Here’s some advice on taking care of a guitar – to be more precise, an acoustic guitar. A lot of the advice is equally relevant to other stringed instruments, however. Acoustic guitars, and other stringed instruments, are susceptible to serious damage – even to the point of repair being non-viable. A little prevention is better than a costly cure!
How it works – a bit of important theory
Imagine a guitar on its “BACK” with round or oval “SOUND HOLE” facing up.Just beyond this “SOUND HOLE” is a strip of wood (the “BRIDGE”) where the strings are anchored. Further up, you’ll see where the long straight part (the “NECK”) joins the body of the guitar. Near the top of the neck the wood flares out to accommodate the “TUNERS”, the metal or plastic buttons that, when turned, raise or lower the pitch of the strings.
An acoustic guitar is a trade-off between sound and instrument stability. That “top” delivers most of the sound. The hole doesn’t create the sound; this comes from the wooden surface resonating. The construction of the rest of the guitar helps this process.Inside is a kind of wooden framework – “bracing” and “struts”. It keeps the guitar rigid enough to stop it from falling apart – but subtly flexible enough to allow it to resonate. The more expensive the instrument, guitar, the higher the quality of the wood – and the care in its bracing construction.
The strings of a nylon-strung guitar exert less tension than a those of a steel-strung one, so the bracing (think, “inner framework”) can be lighter built. A steel-strung guitar has a string pressure of about 20 pounds in weight PER STRING – and most guitars have six strings! The “NECK” of a steel-strung guitar conceals a steel rod to prevent warping.
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A lot of guitar care is common sense with this knowledge – what polish to apply, where to stand or store the instrument, for example.
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#### OUCH!If a guitar falls over, the inner struts and braces may loosen – and their repair requires partly dismantling the guitar! The necessary glues in guitar construction are specialised, too, needing to be STRONG yet also EASILY SOLUBLE in case future repair is required. You won’t find their like in Wilko or B&Q. NEVER try to repair a guitar yourself (unless it’s so badly damaged that you feel you have nothing to lose!) Drop a guitar on its base (where a steel-strung instrument usually has a button to take a strap) and it may well crack open like an egg!
Some acoustic guitars have electronic devices for amplification. These don’t respond well to the knocks and jars ensuing from a guitar falling.I NEVER – even for moment, apart from photo 1 (“Bound to fall!”; I trust you appreciate my dedication!) – stand either of my guitars on a slippery floor. I may OCCASIONALLY stand it on CARPETED floor FOR A FEW MINUTES ONLY, carefully angled at around 45 degrees. I did own a GUITAR STAND, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared during a bout of tidying up (not by me – tidying isn’t my forte!) For a few minutes at a time though, my preferred option is to stand it on an upholstered chair where it won’t get easily knocked and is unlikely to slip (photo2 “More comfortable.”)
Mostly, though, when not literally in my hands being played, it is in its case or “gig bag” (a well-padded gig bag can almost stand unsupported without a guitar inside). A hard case or good gig bag isn’t cheap, but a decent instrument deserves protecting.In use, I either keep the case or bag CLEARLY AND VISIBLY OPEN – OR SECURELY CLOSED. Leaving the lid of the case or the top of the bag “down” but unfastened is an accident waiting to happen. Sooner or later you will pick the case up, and the guitar will drop onto the floor (see photo 3 of a cheap ukulele to demonstrate “Mind the drop!”))
If ever a child (even my own, when they were young) asks “Can I have a go at playing your guitar?” I answer, “Yes. Sit down. I’ll hold it while you play it.”When transporting by car, it’s far better to lie a guitar on the back seat, if possible. If placing it on its side on the floor I ALWAYS pack an old towel or such between the guitar and its point(s) of contact to absorb any jolts.#### IT AINT HALF HOT, MUM…
A guitar will expand in the sun for any length of time – or near a radiator or fire. The pressure exerted by the strings may cause it to explode (literally albeit on a small scale).A guitar hung on the wall on a purpose-designed bracket (ALWAYS securely attached to the wall and checked from time to time!) looks cool. But it needs to be out of the sun and away from any direct heat source AT ALL TIMES.
What do a dog and a guitar have in common? Both can die if left in a hot car!The UK (at present, at least!) is thankfully free from extreme high temperatures and humidity, and from severe dry cold, that can wreak havoc on instruments in other countries. Regarding humidity –best not to play your guitar in the bathroom while running a bath or shower or outdoors in a rain shower!#### DENTS AND SCRATCHES/DIY OR GSI (“Get Someone In”)?
If anyone wants to play my guitar, I first check whether they are wearing a belt with a buckle that might gouge my beloved instrument. I also ask if they have a bunch of keys or loose change in their pocket – which might dent my guitar.ANY potential repairs should ALWAYS be referred to an expert who has the necessary tools, skills, and materials. Superglue may well fix a loose component – but what if you need to replace it later? Your local music store should have a repair department OR a repairman who undertakes contract work for them. If they have neither, you’re in the wrong shop!
The lacquered on an acoustic guitar is applied in several of ultra-finely sprayed coats of a specialist product. I heard of a guitar factory where sanding machines were operating close to where other instruments were being sprayed with lacquer; the spray was so fine that virtually no dust adhered! The lacquer needs to seal the wood – but not COAT IT HEAVILY that will inhibit the wood’s seronance.
#### I’VE STARTED, SO I’LL FINISH…
NEVER tamper with that finish! If it gets a scratch, leave it as an honourable scar! Touching it up with some DIY varnish will compromise its sound – it’s far too thick. NEVER strip off damaged lacquer and replace it with a DIY “all-purpose” varnish! It will SERIOUSLY muffle the sound. Even a professional repairer may struggle to restore the original sound afterwards; over time guitar lacquer and the wood itself seem to merge, part of the reason why older instruments often have a superior sound.Using the wrong POLISH will also affect the guitar’s sound. NEVER use furniture polish – or any abrasive product – on the “top” of a guitar, and preferably not on any other part. Each application builds up a wax layer that deadens the wood’s resonance. I use either a specialist guitar polish, sprayed onto a lint-free cloth (not to the instrument), applied sparingly and gently buffed, or “MR MUSCLE” GLASS CLEANING SPRAY, which is non-abrasive, in the same way.
Strings become dull with time and use, partly due to the acid on the skin (especially in hot weather!) Playing straight after eating greasy crisps or other greasy food with the fingers will transfer the grease to the strings (and other parts) and compromise the sound. Playing with clean fingers and rubbing the strings with a lint-free cloth afterwards prolongs their useful lifespan.
#### STRUNG ALONG…
Replacing strings always makes me realise just how dull the previous set had become. Frequency of changing string is hard to define, as it depends on so many variables. I aim for about every 8 weeks. If new to changing strings, Youtube can save a huge amount of frustration. Some strings are coated for long life – these ARE worth the price difference, in my experience. Steel strings in particular should be replaced and tuned up ONE AT A TIME to reduce changes in tension on the guitar.
The “tuners” (tuning buttons) benefit from a regular rub down with a lint-free cloth. Those of my Gibson acoustic guitar are gold-plated. They deserve TLC – no chemicals, and gentle rubbing!
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Listed on Ciao since: 12/09/2000