Guitar Bridge and Neck Maintenance – Know How to Keep Your Guitar in Shape?

Today we are down at the other end of the guitar, the Bridge, and we have the same problem with "string-slack" as it's called, as mentioned in the previous article on whammybars and Strats. It is a bit more difficult to get the graphite under the string here, so loosen the strings a bit one by one, pull aside, and pencil the saddle itself, just under where the string lies. After you finish one, tune it back up and move on to the next one. Do not release the tension of all the strings at once with a floating bridge, as you can imagine this plays havoc with the tuning.

Giddyup there … If you notice a lot of strings breaking across the bridge, it's time to replace your bridge saddles. If your handy at doing your own servicing, this is relatively easy. If not, get them done in a good, reputable repair shop. It's not expensive, and after you have gone through breaking string after string every night, you will be so relieved, not to have to worry about that anymore, that it is worth every cent! Now you can concentrate on your playing instead. Yeh!

Do not do the job yourself if your not sure how to reset the saddles, distance, action and string heights. If you set these wrong, this will play HAVOC with your Guitar Tuning! You have been politely warned.

If you use special replacement graphite saddles and a graphite nut this will improve things considerably. These are not much more expensive than the normal ones and they really do make a huge difference. As constantly stated before, when you do not have to worry about gear and equipment performance and breakdown, it's half the battle.

Under the Bridge (that sounds familiar), you will see 6 screws lying flush along a metal plate. If you dip the bar you will notice a little gap appearing underneath these, and you can lubricate under each one, with 3 in 1 sewing-machine oil. It is ideal for guitars and not to heavy.

Next, we are onto the Guitar-Neck itself. While this does not affect the tuning as such, it is the final piece in our Strat tip-top jigsaw. Once a month or so, depending on how often you gig, loosen off 2 strings at a time and pull them aside. Rub a small amount of almond oil into the neck and leave soaking for a few minutes. Wipe any excess off with a dry cloth and cover the whole board in this way. Tune back up and do not forget to stretch the strings again. It will not take long if they have been done before. This makes the neck feel nice and smooth to the touch, and also brings out the wood design. Improves general sliding notes around, and feels so professional to play.

Do not mess around with the guitar-neck regarding "Bowing or Concave" problems unless you are experienced and fully confident of doing the job. Doing this wrong can not only destroy your guitar tuning, but the your precious guitar itself! Any problems in this area I would strongly advise you to see a guitar tech.

Another huge factor to be considered in Staying-in-Guitar-Tune Land, is your musical lug'oles or as they are more commonly called, ears! Lose these and you can forget about playing anything. (Unless your as good as Beethoven … fair play to ya 'if so).

You know what they say "Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow". Use special ear-plugs at rehearsals. Make sure they are audio ear-protectors. There is more than one type. Oh while I think of it, get yourself a good guitar tuner that will last you.

BEGINNERS GUITAR TUNING TIPS: For a professional vibe on stage you need an Inline-tuner (a private tuner with headphones that only you can hear). There is nothing worse than hearing someone on stage giving it the old "doi, doi, doi, doirrng" before your first number and during the gig. When two or three in the band are doing it at the same time including possibly the drummer, you have complete "amateur hour". It does not exactly induce a gig-owner to book you again and it is not only amateurish but extremely annoying to the punters.

So look after your guitar bridge, saddles, strings and nut on a regular basis and it will help keep tuning problems down to a minimum. Learning the art of tuning can make a very important difference to your playing, and is one of the hallmarks of a professional. So it is well worth knowing how to get your guitar perfectly in tune and keeping it there.