"Lean your body forward
slightly to support the
guitar against your chest,
for the poetry
of the music
should resound in your heart."
Andres Segovia


How to Buy a Guitar
Your Playing Level


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Just like an automobile, your guitar needs regular attention. Don’t ignore it.

Just because it’s spring or fall in your part of the world, doesn’t mean you can stop being vigilant about the environment your instrument is in. Remember, 40% humidity or higher is good. If the room your guitar lives in is dryer than that, you may find your guitar sounding and playing funny. Once it’s dehydrated, it needs to be RE-hydrated. Unless the dehydration is minimal, I recommend taking it to a good guitar tech who can give it the humidity it needs in a controlled environment.

The beautiful sound of an old, well-cared for guitar comes from the amount of vibration the soundboard (the front surface of your acoustic guitar that has a sound hole or holes) has had. Don’t wait for your strings to break, to change them! As soon as your strings are either showing wear (usually on the D/4th string), the sound is muddy and flat (not in pitch but in tonal “color”) or if your strings are no longer the colorthey were when you put them on, YOU NEED TO CHANGE THEM.

There’s a wide assortment of strings available. Don't put nylon strings on a guitar that was sold to you with steel strings on it. Don't put steel strings on a guitar that was sold to you with nylon strings on it. (Assuming you purchased your guitar from a reputable dealer.) After checking with the specifications of your guitar's manufacturer, experiment with different tension strings and strings of varying composition.

After you’ve gone to the trouble of changing your strings, wipe them down with a cotton cloth (old Tee or flannel shirts are good for this) to remove any perspiration or oils left by your fingers after you have played. Wipe the tops of the strings for the length of the fretboard and then slip your cleaning cloth under the strings and wipe the underside from head nut to bridge nut. If you do, you’ll get longer life out of every string change.

Don’t leave your guitar in an unheated vehicle or one with windows closed when the sun is out. A car heats up quickly! The object is to allow the guitar to change temperature as gradually as possible to limit/eliminate damage from climate change.

Depending on how much you play, you may need to take your guitar to a good technician for a “neck job” every so often. If you’re playing 6 or 7 hours a day, you may need to do so more than once a year. If you’re playing an hour or 2 a day, maybe every year or year and a half. Neck maintenance includes cleaning and conditioning the fretboard, neck and leveling and/or replacing frets.

Realize that unless you play every fret the same number of times, your frets will not wear evenly…. sort of like pronation that wears the heels of your shoes unevenly, if you pronate when you walk or run. Eventually, uneven frets have to be leveled, so have a good tech examine the neck to see if it’s the right time for your guitar to be rejuvenated.

If your guitar has been subjected to any trauma (dropping, bumping and I don't even want to conjecture what else!) you may feel some splitting or cracking at the edges where the sound board or back of the guitar meet the lateral sides. If the binding is cracked, it's a good idea to have a good luthier fix it. If any "seams" where one part of the guitar meets another, are not perfectly smooth and show cracking or splitting, have a luthier check and repair that too.

Maintenance early is always better, easier and less expensive than repairs left too long.


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017