It was probably dumb luck, really, that all three guitars, with all three sets of 10+ yr old strings, actually mostly managed to get in tune. Mostly is definitely the operative term here, as the acoustic and the backpacker have significant tuning issues. The Fender, on the other hand, even with 20 yr old strings, had no tuning problems at all.
BUT, after the fender also lost a string to old age, I pulled up my boot straps, and went over to my ONLY local music shop: Keyport Music. There is literally nothing else that isn’t a half an hour drive or better, though there is a Guitar Center somewhere near work, so if matters get desperate, I can make a detour on the way home during the week. Of course, there are a few shops in Red Bank, but to drive half an hour, and pay for parking JUST to buy guitar strings? I think not.
In any case, the guy at Keyport music was helpful. Best, and most entertaining, thing a shop clerk has said to me recently: “Take my recommendation; that’s what I’m here for.” lol. I’ve decided I like this guy. To make a short story short – I told him the guitar I needed strings for; he told me which strings he thought would be best for that guitar with a semi-detailed explanation of why which really gives a clue that he knows his instruments.
That meant D’Addario XL super light gauge for my fender, and Martin Custom Light for my Backpacker. I didn’t buy strings for the pink atrocity. I have some on the way for that one, and I’m going to manhandle it a little. It has bigger problems than the strings.
Do I strictly need to restring these guitars at this stage, seeing as I won’t be using them for but a few more days? Probably not, but strings aren’t expensive, and restringing them is good practice.
It also brought my attention to a serious design flaw with with the backpacker that I think might just explain why this guitar doesn’t seem to stay in tune for more than 10 minutes at a time. I was hoping that was just the very old strings, which I’m sure was not helping, but there’s more to it than that.
These pictures are definitely somewhat less than great, so I’m not sure if you can see a hint of the issue here, but if you look at the D string on the headstock, it comes down almost on top of the A string (and boy do I hope I don’t have my letters backwards…). There’s a reason for this: the top peg turns in the wrong direction. It turns in the opposite direction of the other two pegs on the same side, causing the string to turn the other way. One of the pegs on the other side (I think the high E, but wouldn’t swear to it at the moment) does the same. It’s set up to turn in the wrong direction.
Also, the screws holding the pegs on, a few of them won’t stay quite tight. Between those two things, it seems like it might be a miracle I can tune it at all, let alone keep it that way.
Still, I learned how to string a guitar, so yay! I have not done the Fender yet.
First impressions here: My gosh! These strings are hard to press down on! You can see I’ve added a capo (which I’m not sure how to pronounce. Is it ‘A’ as in cape, or ‘a’ as in cap? Note to self: look this up later to avoid sounding like an idiot if you ever have to say it out loud.). One of the youtube guides I watched suggested the use of one of these for a beginner – I’d reference it if I could remember which one – as it pulls the strings closer to the fretboard. That made sense to me, having realized how far from the frets the strings on an acoustic are, and wondering how I’m EVER going to be able to form a chord without my fingers crashing into all the wires below, so I picked one up. And it’s green, so it’s kind of pretty.
Even with the capo, I’m having a hard time right now with these strings. I’m not sure if that’s because they’re new, or because my old ones were very old, or what, but it makes me feel pretty darn wimpy! It also tells me that, for the time being, regardless of what guitar I use, I’ll be using light or super light strings at least until I build up some strength, or I’ll just frustrate myself unnecessarily. There will be enough necessary frustration in this process, so there’s really no reason to add the unnecessary variety to the mix at the moment.
Are new guitar strings typically hard to push down? I don’t know, but I plan to google.
Will restring the fender at another time.
In semi-related news (in that way is totally and completely unrelated to the subject of guitar strings, which is what this post was actually about) – I found an awesome deal on a lefty guitar this morning! The ebay gods were smiling upon me this pay day, and while I shouldn’t have spent the money, it was too good of a price to let pass by, so I have my very first lefty guitar on it’s way! Will hold off on saying more about that until it arrives and I’ve had some time to play around with it.
And, I know, yesterday I posted an ‘until next week…’ at the end, BUT things happened, and, I wanted to post about them before I forgot the details. As it’s after midnight on Friday – and therefore officially Saturday – I think I can safely say at this point
Until Next Week, Rock on!