Tag Archives: tuning

Guitar Luthiers

SO when and why should you take your guitar for a bit of a check up?

Over time general wear and tear, vigorous playing, temperature and humidity can all affect the playability of your guitar. The action and the intonation are crucial contributing factors, and you can set these yourself, but if you don’t have the necessary experience it’s probably best to take your guitar to your local luthier. Because your guitar is a living, breathing, and evolving organism then change will be inevitable but just how can you tell if your guitar needs a little medicine?

Well, the key signs to look for are string buzz, general playability difficulties, tuning anomalies up and down the neck, and action problems. Although fret buzz can also be caused by significant problems, in many cases, simple adjustments like raising string action can make these problems go away

When it comes the the action, ideally your strings/action should be set at a height that allows you to fret easily and comfortably at any position on the neck but without ANY buzzing. Buzzing can be caused by a combination of factors such as the saddle heights, uneven and heavily frets, the setting of the guitars nut, the string action and the situation of the neck. You should not be struggling hard to fret or voice chords up and down the neck. If you are finding that chords become progressively more difficult to voice the further up the neck you play then your action may need a little tweaking.

If the neck has become bowed then the truss rod will need adjusting (do not do this yourself). The truss rod is an adjustable metal rod that runs down the center of the neck. Problems with cheap guitar nuts or poor quality bridges and saddles can ruin your playing experience too.

Uneven frets can contribute to buzzing and your expert luthier will be able to locate any inconsistencies and redress them through grinding, replacing or adjusting your frets.

As a guitarist it’s very important to develop a healthy and positive relationship with your local guitar specialist. Take the time to find out which luthiers in your area have a solid reputation for quality and excellence. Preferably your luthier should have a long history of building and repairing instruments. Take your guitar and ask them to have a look at the current set up and show you how and where any adjustments can be made.

Choose your luthier wisely because your luthier can contribute so much to the quality of your guitar playing experience. It`s highly worthwhile cultivating a healthy and positive relationship with them.

In New Zealand`s north island Simcha Delft is one of the most highly respected luthiers and Steven String in the South Island.

Capo 1

A capo is a device used for shortening the strings, and hence raising the pitch, of a stringed instrument such as a guitar, mandolin or banjo. What a capo does, in effect, is to move the position of the nut of the guitar to shorten the length of the guitar neck and strings and therefore raise their pitch.

Capos are used to change the key and pitch of the open strings of a guitar without having to adjust the strings with the tuning keys.

The pitch of fretted notes does not change; only the open, unfretted strings are affected. It should be noted that the capo is placed as close to the fret as possible; some practitioners recommend placing the modern clamp-style capos directly on the fret, rather than behind it.

Clamping a capo on the fingerboard of your guitar will let you instantly change the key of a song without having to learn new chords. This will come in handy if you accompany a singer whose vocal range is better suited for another key. For example, a capo installed at the second fret on a guitar in standard EADGBE tuning would then have an open tuning of Gb, B, E, A, Db and Gb. The following steps will show how to use a capo on an acoustic guitar.

Because of the different techniques and chord voicings available in different keys, the same piece may sound very different played in D or played in C with a capo at the second fret (at the same actual pitch). Additionally, the timbre of the strings changes as the scale length is shortened, suggesting other short-scaled stringed instruments such as the mandolin. Therefore the use of a capo is as much a matter of artistic expression as of technical expediency.


1. quick release capo

Use a quick-release capo to change keys quickly between songs to accompany different singers while retaining the same voicing.

2. clamping capo

Observe a clamp-style capo. This type fits from the side of the neck and is more difficult to install but allows for capoed tunings that leave some strings open.

3. pencil and band.

strictly for the hobo’s, man. ride them rails!


The partial capo (also known as a cut capo or short cut capo) is a regular six string acoustic guitar capo that has been “cut” or altered to allow it to clamp down only on certain strings while leaving other strings open or unclamped. Typically, partial or cut capos clamp down on the A, D, and G strings on a regular-tuned six-string, which results in a DADGAD-style alternate tuning. Many guitarist place a standard, spring-loaded capo backwards on the guitar, so the shorter side of the capo (normally providing pressure on the back of the neck) clamps the inner strings.

Dominic Frasca is known for his customized ten-string prepared guitar with single string “mini-capos” as well as sticks and levers attached to the guitar to create percussive sounds and effects.

Tuning guitar II – Guitar Intonation – updated


Okay so here`s the deal regarding intonation. Intonation problems are created when the length of the guitar string is not precisely matched to the length of your guitar. Why does this matter? Well, when you play a guitar you are dividing the string into different lengths in the process of fretting notes, this causes the strings frequency to increase or decrease in an inverse relationship with the strings length.

Tuning guitar – buying guitar

One thing you need to learn is to tune your guitar. Years of using electronic tuners with lights live on stage means I’ve lost a bit of the natural ear skill – ’cause years ago we used to just get on with it and tune up. Anyway, if you’re a beginner use your ears , not the lights, it’ll do you good. Alcohol tends to impair your judgement as well if you’re a novice too.

Robin Trower

Here`s English guitarist Robin Trower, formerly of Procul Harem, playing the title track from his 1974 classic rock album Bridge of Sighs. Robin plays his own signature stratocaster which is an EXACT version of the on eyou can buy through Fender although when playing live Robin tunes his guitar a full step down, to a DGCFAD tuning. Robin`s tone is achieved through playing into several Marshall heads at high, high volume. Hendrix comparisons have plagued Trowers work but anyone who knows their onions will notice that Hendrix` rhythmic legacy from his days playing with Curtis Knight and Little Richard for example is not present in the fluid legato and unhurried melodic content of Robin Trower`s playing.
1990`s “In the Line of Fire” is a great album