Search Results for “changing strings”

09/03/2015

Changing strings on a steel-string guitar

String change steel string – start

Here’s what you need:

In addition to a fresh set of strings, you should have a wire cutter and a tuner at the ready. An inexpensive string winder makes the process much faster.

A steel rule will come in handy, should you want to double-check your ”before” and ”after” setups. Measure your string height at the 12th fret (top of fret to bottom of string) before taking the old strings off. That way you will be able to use the steel rule to ascertain that your setup has stayed unchanged. Alternatively, you could also measure the neck relief at the seventh fret directly, by using a capo at the first fret, while pressing down the low E-string at the 14th fret.

Ideally, though, you should stick to the exact same string gauge (and even string brand) to avoid inadvertently changing the playability of your acoustic guitar.

String change steel string – loosening string

I find it most convenient to take off all strings at once.

There are some people who claim that taking all six strings off at the same time may cause damage to your instrument. Let me tell you, I have been changing strings on steel-string guitars since 1977, always removing the whole set at once, and have never had any problems at all. Even Martin Guitars suggest you do it this way in their own video, and they should know!

String change steel string – cutting old string

Once the strings are completely loose and flabby, I cut them in half.

This isn’t something you must do, but I find the shorter lengths easier to handle, than having to deal with the whole string.

String change steel string – winder pin puller

For the largest part, steel-string acoustics come with pin bridges. The bridge pins – made out of plastic, bone, wood or even metal – keep the ball-ends locked into place.

Most string winders sport a small cut-out for lifting the bridge pins. I’d suggest, though, that you first try extracting the pins by hand, because, very often, the ball-ends have jammed the pins in place fairly tightly. Trying to pull them out directly might damage your string winder or the bridge pins, or, even worse, the bridge itself.

String change steel string – push end in

Most of the time you will be able to extract the bridge pins by hand:

Start by pushing the ball-end down (into the body) by a centimetre, or so.

String change steel string – pull pin out 1

Usually, this is all that’s needed to unjam the bridge pin.

String change steel string – pull pin out 2

If a pin really is stuck, and can’t be lifted out with your fingers, I’d strongly suggest using a piece of tissue paper (or a piece of cloth) as a cushion to protect the pin and the bridge’s surface.

tak-n20-bridge

Some acoustic guitars come equipped with a pinless bridge – most notable Ovation and some Takamines. With these bridges, all you have to do is pull the ball-ends out of the back of the bridge.

String change steel string – take string off machine head

At the headstock end you have to untie the strings and take them off the tuner posts.

If your guitar’s fretboard and/or bridge feel (or look) a little dry, now would be the perfect time for applying a little fretboard oil.

String change steel string – put pin in

You start putting on a new string by feeding the ball-end into the appropriate bridge hole, while inserting the bridge pin.

String change steel string – pull on string

By pulling the string up a little, while holding the pin down, you will conveniently get the ball-end to jam the bridge pin in place.

String change steel string – stringing 1

Next you feed the string through the tuner’s post…

String change steel string – stringing 2

…pull the string away from the body, and around the post…

String change steel string – stringing 3

…and, finally, lock the string end in place.

String change steel string – stringing 4

Keep the string pressed downwards, while you’re turning the crank. Each new winding should pass under the one before it.

String change steel string – keep pin in place

When the string starts getting taut, I move my hand from the headstock to the bridge, to make sure the bridge pin stays firmly in place.

String change steel string – cut off end

I’d recommend cutting off the surplus string in close proximity to the tuning post. Then I bend the stub down towards the headstock face. Be careful, a cut-off string is very sharp!

I put on the fresh strings in pairs, working my way away from the nut – first the two e-strings, then the pair of A and b, and lastly the D- and g-strings.

String change steel string – strings on machine heads

This is what the result should look like at the headstock end.

String change steel string – pin height

The bridge pins should sit at a uniform height above the surface of the bridge.

String change steel string – string stretching

Getting new strings to stay in tune is a much faster process, if you stretch each string carefully. It works like this: First you tune to pitch, then you stretch each string, and retune again. Once you’ve repeated this process four to five times, you should be ready to go.

Your fretting hand should hold down the string you’re stretching at the first or second fret to avoid damage to the top nut.

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Once the guitar is in tune you could check the string action at the 12th fret and compare it with the values measured with the old string set.

If the action is noticeably higher, chances are you’ve put on a heavier gauge set of strings. You need to compensate for the stronger string pull by tightening the truss rod (with the correct tool) by a quarter of a turn (or half a turn, at the most).

If the action is noticeably lower, chances are you’ve put on a lighter gauge set of strings. You need to compensate for the weaker string pull by loosening the truss rod (with the correct tool) by a quarter of a turn (or half a turn, at the most).

The truss rod is meant solely for neck relief adjustment. Even though adjusting the neck relief does have an impact on the action, string height adjustment isn’t really what the truss rod is meant for. Adjusting the action on a steel-string acoustic is usually a job for a luthier, and is achieved by changing the height of the bridge saddle.

14/05/2013

Changing strings on a ukulele

28/03/2012

Changing strings – nylon-string classical guitar

Photos: Miloš Berka

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Here’s what you need for the procedure: A string winder comes in very handy for taking off and putting on the strings, and a tuner is needed to get the guitar up to pitch. I use a pair of scissors to make life a little easier for myself (see below). A polishing cloth may come in handy for cleaning and/or protecting your guitar.

There are different string tensions available. Unlike on a steel string or an electric, you can use any type of classical guitar string on your guitar without the need for a complete set-up. A differently tensioned set won’t noticeably affect your intonation, but it will make a difference in the guitar’s feel, action and sound – feel free to experiment.

I’m a big guy with a strong touch, so I use high-tension sets…

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First you need to slacken the strings completely. If your guitar’s tuners are particularly hard to turn, use one or two drops of light oil on the cogs, or try loosening the (black) screws which hold the cogs to the tuner posts by a tiny amount.

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Once the strings are free from tension, I use the scissors to cut each string into two pieces. I find this makes taking the strings off a little easier, because you don’t have to feed all the string through either the tuner or the bridge for removal.

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Untie the knot at the bridge…

…then remove the old string from the bridge…

…as well as the tuner.

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Feed one end of the fresh string through the neck-facing side of the bridge.

Take the short end sticking out towards end of the body…

…and tie it into a sling, by first feeding the short end under the long piece and then tying to itself.

The final result should look somewhat like this.

Some guitarists use a different technique on the lower three strings, utilising only one large loop. Both ways are valid, but the slightly more elaborate way seems to work best for me.

Here’s a picture of a Ramírez strung in the other way:

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Feed the other end of the string through the appropriate tuner…

…pull it through and lock it in by putting the string end underneath the part going to the fingerboard…

…and then wind it to pitch.

This is what the result should look like.

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I find it easiest to string up a classical guitar from the nut upward, so I work in pairs – E-e, A-b, D-g.

You can do some string-stretching on a nylon-strung guitar, just the way you’d do it on an steel-string or electric, but in general nylon strings need much longer to settle into pitch. So, don’t be annoyed or alarmed if you have to retune rather often during the first few days of use!

By the way: Some professional classical guitarists don’t change the whole set each time. The three top strings, which are all-nylon, usually tend to stay useable for longer than the three bass strings, made of a thin fiber core and spun with soft metal.

There’s no real scope for intonation-adjustment on a classical guitar, so once the strings are on you’re ready to go.

10/02/2012

Changing strings – Floyd Rose -equipped guitars

Photos: Miloš Berka

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Here’s what you need:

A pack of strings, a wire cutter, a tuner and a guitar lead. A cheap plastic crank speeds up the whole process of string winding.

Most important of all are allen/hex keys in the correct sizes. Note that US-made Floyds tend to use imperial (inch-sized) keys, while most licensed vibratos (for example Schaller and Gotoh) use metric (millimetre) keys. Never, I repeat, never use the wrong type of hex key, as it will ruin the bolts in no time!

A metal ruler comes in handy for measuring the action at the 12th fret before you start. If you take down these measurements it will be easy to readjust your guitar’s action, should the need arise, due to the new string set differing in gauge compared to the old set.

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Because a double-locking vibrato is such a finely balanced affair, I’d recommend changing strings one at a time – starting with the low E-string and working my way up to the high e.

Taking all strings off at once will push bridge’s locking screws into the face of the guitar, leaving nasty marks. Furthermore removing the string-pull completely may cause the bridge plate’s knife-edges to jump out of their grooves in the height-adjusting posts, and getting the bridge back in place without damage is a nightmare.

If you need to remove all strings – for example to clean and oil the fingerboard – keep the vibrato in place by placing a suitably sized cushion/protector (cork, wood, stiff foam) between the locking screws and the body face before you slacken the strings. Don’t push the cushion in too deep or you might bend the steel leaf springs, which counterbalance the fine-tuners (look at the fine-tuner picture further down).

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We start here, at the locked top nut.

Open the string lock using the correct hex key.

Remove the lock and bolt and put both away safely.

A well-installed Floyd Rose nut should look like this: The strings rest firmly against the whole surface of the metal top nut.

On some cheaper guitars the part of the string that’s facing the tuners may be lifting off slightly. Per se this is not a real problem, you only have to factor in that the string’s pitch will rise noticeably when you tighten the lock.

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Slacken the string completely.

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This is what the bridge looks like. The strings are locked in their respective bridge saddles with the long bolts protruding at the back of the bridge.

Different versions can have the fine-tuners – the knurled, upward-facing screws – in a slightly different position, but the principle is the same cross the board.

Open the string lock using the correct hex key. All you need is a gap wide enough for the old string to come out and the fresh string to go in.

Remove the old string.

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Putting a new string on starts at the bridge on Floyd Rose -equipped guitars.

Snip the ball-end off (mind your eyes), then insert the string as deep as it will go into the bridge saddle and lock it in place (in the reverse process of the removal).

Make sure to set the fine-tuner to about halfway. This will give you enough leeway for tuning.

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Insert the string…

…pull it around the post…

…and lock the string in by pulling it up away from the body.

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Keep the string pressed downwards, while you’re turning the crank. Each new winding should pass under the one before it.

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I’d recommend cutting off the surplus string in close proximity to the tuning post. Then I bend the stub down towards the headstock face. Be careful, a cut off string is very sharp!

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Before you lock the top nut it is vital to thoroughly stretch the string. It works like this: First you tune to pitch using the tuner on the headstock, then you stretch each string, and retune again. Once you’ve repeated this process six to eight times, you should be ready to go.

Your fretting hand should hold down the string you’re stretching at the first or second fret to keep the string from jumping out of the top nut.

When the tuning is settled and the vibrato is in the right position – meaning its baseplate is parallel to the body – you can lock the top nut.

If the vibrato’s equilibrium has been upset by changing the string gauges you will have to readjust the vibrato springs (in the back compartment) by moving the spring claw with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Move the spring claw in small increments, then retune the guitar and check if the vibrato is now parallel with the body’s top. Repeat this if necessary.

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The last stage should be checking and resetting the guitar’s intonation. Always check your intonation with the guitar in playing position, by comparing the correctly tuned open string (or its 12th fret harmonic) to the fretted pitch at the 12th fret.

Sadly, intonation adjustment on Floyds is a pain in the proverbial: You have to completely loosen the string, open the small hex bolt that locks the saddle’s intonation (directly underneath the string), and then push the saddle manually to the desired new position. Then you lock the saddle in its new position using the correct hex key, retune and check again for correct intonation.

If the fretted note is flat (its pitch too low), you need to adjust the bridge saddle closer to the bridge pickup.

If the fretted note is sharp (its pitch too high), you need to adjust the bridge saddle further away from the bridge pickup.

Note that the bridge plate has three tapped holes for each intonation bolt. If you run out of space you have to completely remove the bolt and move it to a hole that will work with the saddle’s new position.

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Thanks to Tommi Posa for the loan of his vintage 80s Kramer Pacer Custom II!

20/01/2012

Changing strings – Les Paul -type guitars

Photos: Miloš Berka

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Here’s what you need:

A pack of strings, a wire cutter, a tuner and a guitar lead. A cheap plastic crank speeds up the whole process of string winding.

A metal ruler comes in handy for measuring the action at the 12th fret before you start. If you take down these measurements it will be easy to readjust your guitar’s action, if you’ve taken off the guitar’s hardware, for example.

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I keep my 1980s Les Paul Junior strung in the old-school way, with the strings going over the stopbar. This approach gives you a slightly looser feel.

This is how Les Paul -type guitars are usually strung these days, which looks cleaner and neater. Both approaches are valid – take your choice.

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I use sticky tape to secure the tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar to the body to prevent them from falling off and damaging the guitar. Don’t use adhesives that could mark your guitar, like duct tape, and don’t keep the tape on the guitar for longer than it takes to change strings, if you don’t want to leave (possibly permanent) marks on your finish.

If you own a recent Epiphone guitar, or your guitar is equipped with Tone Pros hardware, the tape is not needed. In these cases the hardware is already fixed to their posts.

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It’s easiest, in my opinion, to take off all strings once.

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The old strings are much easier to pull out of the stopbar, once you’ve snipped off the coiled end that was formed by the tuner post.

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Here I’m pushing the old string through the stopbar.

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My Junior was equipped originally with Grover Minis, which I replaced with Schaller M6-Vintage tuners a few years ago.

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Sealed tuners are practically maintenance-free. You can adjust their feel with the small screw at the tip of the tuner buttons.

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I’d recommend you work your way up from the wrist of the headstock and work in pairs: first E-e, then A-b, and lastly D-g.

Pull the new string all the way through the stopbar, and only pull it over the bridge, once the string’s ball-end is in place inside the stopbar.

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Insert the string…

…pull it around the post…

…and lock the string in by pulling it up away from the body.

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Keep the string pressed downwards, while you’re turning the crank. Each new winding should pass under the one before it.

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I’d recommend cutting off the surplus string in close proximity to the tuning post. Then I bend the stub down towards the headstock face. Be careful, a cut off string is very sharp!

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If everything went according to plan this is how the new low E-string should look in the tuner.

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Getting new strings to stay in tune is a much faster process, if you stretch each string carefully. It works like this: First you tune to pitch, then you stretch each string, and retune again. Once you’ve repeated this process four to five times, you should be ready to go.

Your fretting hand should hold down the string you’re stretching at the first or second fret to avoid damage to the top nut.

Once the guitar is in tune you should check the string action at the 12th fret and compare it with the values measured with the old string set. Raise (or lower) the bridge as needed.

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The last stage should be checking and resetting the guitar’s intonation. Always check your intonation with the guitar in playing position, by comparing the correctly tuned open string (or its 12th fret harmonic) to the fretted pitch at the 12th fret.

If the fretted note is flat (its pitch too low), you need to adjust the bridge saddle closer to the bridge pickup. Give the screw a few turns, then retune and check again. Repeat if necessary.

If the fretted note is sharp (its pitch too high), you need to adjust the bridge saddle further away from the bridge pickup. Give the screw a few turns, then retune and check again. Repeat if necessary.

PS: On older guitars the tune-o-matic-bridge’s bridge post holes may be worn. After a string change, I always have to give the bridge’s bass side a little push towards the stopbar to get it back into its correct position on my Junior. The actual difference in terms of millimeters is only incremental, but it does make a discernible difference to the guitar’s intonation!

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18/01/2012

Changing strings – vintage-style Stratocaster

Photos: Miloš Berka

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Here’s what you need:

A pack of strings, a wire cutter, a tuner and a guitar lead. A cheap plastic crank speeds up the whole process of string winding.

A metal ruler comes in handy for measuring the vibrato’s tip-up (the distance between the back of the baseplate and the face of the guitar), as well as the action at the 12th fret before you start. If you take down these measurements it will be easy to readjust your guitar’s vibrato and action, should the need arise, due to the new string set differing in gauge compared to the old set.

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It’s easiest, in my opinion, to take off all of a Strat’s strings once.

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The old strings are much easier to pull out of the vibrato block, once you’ve snipped off the coiled end that was formed by the tuner post.

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And out the string comes…

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On vintage-style Stratocasters the tuners are copies of old Kluson-machines, which feature a well inside the tuner post for the string to go in.

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It’s a good idea to check the tuners for loose fixing screws, and tighten them carefully, if necessary. Slightly stiff tuners benefit from a drop of oil, applied via the small hole in the tuner’s back cover.

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I recommend starting with the low E-string, working your way up. This way offers you slightly more manoeuvering space on the headstock than doing it the other way around.

The new string is fed into the vibrato block and through the vibrato’s base plate. Pull the string up first in a straight line away from the body, until you feel the ball-end hitting the top of the vibrato block, before pulling the string towards its tuner.

If you pull the string carelessly through the vibrato block, pulling it towards the tuner before the ball-end has travelled fully through the block, you can easily end up with a kink in the brand-new string, which may well cause breakage, possibly already during the first tune-up.

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Because of the handy hole in the tuner post, you won’t need the full length of string. Shorten it, by cutting it off at about the second next tuner post (in this case at the D-string’s tuner). Be careful, cutting through a string may cause it to jump at you. The cut-off point is very sharp, so mind your eyes!

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Feed the start of the new string all the way into the tuner post…

…then bend it towards the headstock, once it’s in.

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Keep the string pressed downwards, while you’re turning the crank. Each new winding should pass under the one before it.

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Note that the bridge saddles on a vintage-type Strat feature no groove for string alignment. You can check the correct alignment by looking at the middle pickup. Each string should pass over its magnet approximately through the middle.

Realigning a string is much easier, if you remember to tune down a few turns before pushing the string over the saddle’s surface.

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Getting new strings to stay in tune is a much faster process, if you stretch each string carefully. It works like this: First you tune to pitch, then you stretch each string, and retune again. Once you’ve repeated this process four to five times, you should be ready to go (a floating vibrato may need a few tugs and retunings more).

Your fretting hand should hold down the string you’re stretching at the first or second fret to avoid damage to the top nut.

Once the guitar is in tune you should check the tip-up of the bridge and the string action at the 12th fret and compare it with the values measured with the old string set. Adjust the tip-up first by changing the position of the spring claw inside the back compartment, before adjusting the action via the bridge saddles’ adjustment screws.

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The last stage should be checking and resetting the guitar’s intonation. Always check your intonation with the guitar in playing position, by comparing the correctly tuned open string (or its 12th fret harmonic) to the fretted pitch at the 12th fret.

If the fretted note is flat (its pitch too low), you need to adjust the bridge saddle closer to the bridge pickup. Give the screw a few turns, then retune and check again. Repeat if necessary.

If the fretted note is sharp (its pitch too high), you need to adjust the bridge saddle further away from the bridge pickup. Give the screw a few turns, then retune and check again. Repeat if necessary.

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17/10/2015

Review: PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 1

Thirty years ago a young, bespectacled man introduced the guitar-playing world to the first guitar model from his new company at the NAMM Show. The company from Maryland was only a small start-up, but their beautiful new electric guitar already started to attract a good deal of attention.

This young man was none other than Paul Reed Smith, the company PRS Guitars, and their first model the now-legendary Custom 24.

Before founding PRS Guitars, Smith had already managed to sell several of his handmade guitars to well-known guitarists, such as Howard Leese and Carlos Santana. Smith’s early guitars were clearly grounded in Gibson-tradition, successfully blending classic Les Paul Standard visuals with the more practical double-cut design of late 1950s Les Paul Specials. Carlos Santana’s signature PRS is based on these early (pre-PRS) guitars.

Nonetheless, Paul Reed Smith wasn’t content with high-class ”copying”. He wanted to come up with the ultimate electric guitar, both in terms of playability and sounds. What he came up with was a guitar that successfully bridges the gap between Fender and Gibson electrics, without copying any of their classic models.

The first step on Paul Reed Smith’s ongoing quest for excellence was the PRS Custom 24, introduced at NAMM in 1985.

This guitar set PRS’ wheels a-rollin’, and the company has come a long way from its humble beginnings. These days people talk about the ”Big Three” manufacturers of electric guitars – meaning Fender, Gibson and PRS.

To celebrate their anniversary PRS have released four limited edition models. Kitarablogi.com managed to get hold of the Made-in-Korea SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary for this review.

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PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full front

The PRS SE 30th Anniversary Custom 24 (current price in Finland approx. 1,000 €) is the most-affordable of the anniversary models, but it still is a great-looking guitar.

It has PRS Guitars’ typical scale length of 25-inches (63.5 cm), which is longer than Gibson’s, but shorter than Fender’s typically used scale lengths.

The back of the body is made from mahogany, while the curved top is crafted from maple. To spruce up the looks of the SE 30th Anniversary, a thin flame maple veneer is glued onto the (plain) maple top. The top is bound with cream-coloured plastic.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – full back

On current SE Custom 24 guitars the neck is made from maple – in contrast to the mahogany necks on US-produced Customs. The change was made recently for both tonal and ecological reasons. The SE’s set neck is glued together from three long strips of maple, with two small pieces added to get the headstock to its full width.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – headstock

The nut is made from PRS’ special graphite-impregnated, hard plastic.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – tuners

The 30th Anniversary SE Custom 24 sports a set of very decent, non-locking Schaller-copies.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – bird inlays

PRS have come up with a variation of their bird-inlays for the anniversary models, which sees the birds flying in a gracefully curved line across the fingerboard.

The bound rosewood fingerboard is home to 24 medium-jumbo frets. The fretjob is excellent.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – cutaways

The bevelled treble side cutaway has become something of a trademark for PRS guitars.

If you click on the picture for a better view, you will be able to see clearly the demarcation lines between the mahogany back, the maple top, and the flame maple veneer.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – vibrato

Thirty years ago locking vibratos (Floyd Rose, Kahler, Rockinger) were highly fashionable, but Paul Reed Smith wasn’t too keen on them. In his view locking systems changed a guitar’s sound in a negative way, and he felt they were too cumbersome when it came to changing strings.

Smith came up with a highly-improved take on the classic Stratocaster vibrato – a chunky piece of beauty, milled from solid brass.

The SE 30th Anniversary Custom uses a high-quality version of the original design.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – pickups

In the Eighties guitarists favoured hot bridge humbuckers, because they made achieving a creamy distortion sound much easier.

This Anniversary-Custom brings this concept back by combining a medium-output neck humbucker – the Vintage Bass – with the SE-version of the high-output HFS Treble (HFS = hot fat screams).

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – controls

In the beginning, original PRS Custom 24 models came with two ”controls” and a mini-toggle switch. Actually, the second ”control” was a five-way rotary switch that served as the guitar’s pickup selector. The tiny switch was PRS’ Sweet Switch, a preset treble roll-off.

Over the years, the rotary switch fell out of favour, and the control setup on US-made guitars changed to master volume, master tone, and a five-way blade switch.

On the SE Custom 24 the blade switch is a three-way model, while a push/pull switch in the tone control allows you to split both humbuckers.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – gig bag

A well-made gig bag is included with the SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary model.

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PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 1

PRS guitars are known for their well though-out ergonomics and their great playability, and the SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary proves to be a genuine PRS in this respect, too. It has a comfortable medium weight, and feel nice both in your lap and strapped on.

In keeping with the 1980s theme, the SE comes with a Wide Thin neck profile. Despite its name, though, you needn’t be afraid that this Custom 24 comes with an insubstantial Ibanez Wizard. I’d describe the Wide Thin profile as distinctly oval with a medium thickness, so there’s still more than enough wood left for good tone and sustain.

The review guitar came with a comfortably low setup (low-E: 1.9 mm/high-e: 1.6 mm) without any buzzes, thanks to the great fret job.

I know that it’s a thing of personal preference, but I’d like to see a PRS strung up with a set of 010-gauge strings, instead of the factory set of 009s. The factory set feels almost too ”slinky”and effortless, making it hard to really dig into the strings.

The PRS-vibrato is one of the best updates of the vintage vibrato you’re likely to encouter, and it works like a dream on the SE Custom 24, too. The feel is smooth, creamy and precise, but isn’t as sensitive to heavy-handed playing or string bending as a Floyd Rose, despite the floating setup.

Paul Reed Smith has also proven he know’s how to voice pickups. Naturally, these Korean pickups aren’t quite in the same league as their American counterparts, but these are still very decent pickups.

On paper, pairing a Vintage Bass with a HFS Treble humbucker sounds like a recipe for a slightly schizophrenic sound, when, actually, these pickups work very well together. The jump in output levels isn’t as acute as you might think. The difference between the Vintage Bass and the HFS Treble comes over clearest in the way the latter focusses heavily on the mid-range frequencies.

The sound clips both start with the coil-split on, before moving on to the full humbucker sound. The sequence is always neck pickup –> both pickups –> bridge pickup:

The rhythm guitars on the demo track use the coil-split (left channel: neck PU; right channel: both PUs), while the lead guitar starts with the full neck humbucker, before switching to the full bridge humbucker at 0’49”:

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – back beauty

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PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – body beauty 2

No wonder that PRS Guitars’ SE-range is so popular:

The SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary gives you the genuine ”PRS experience” at a truly fair price. This is a pro-level electric guitar that plays very well and offers you a wide variety oif different sounds.

PRS SE Custom 24 30th Ann – beauty shot 2

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PRS SE Custom 24 30th Anniversary

approximately 1,000 € (including gig bag)

Finnish distributor: EM Nordic

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review instrument!

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Pros:

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ vibrato action

+ versatile sound

+ anniversary model

11/09/2013

Review: Roland Micro Cube GX + Cube-80 GX

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Roland’s popular Cube-series of COSM-combos has recently been updated.

The new Cube GX-amps boast some new features, like the iCube Link (first seen in the Cube Lite), which allows you to use the guitar combo as a soundcard with Apple iOS devices.

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The Roland Micro Cube GX (current price in Finland 134 €) is the newest version of one of the most successful battery-powered practice amps ever.

At first glance the GX-version looks very similar to the Micro Cube’s previous incarnation, with only the large Cube logo on the metal grille hinting at the combo’s updated status.

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The Micro Cube GX’ back panel is a good deal smaller than on the last version.

The new combo sports mini-sized headphone and line-level outputs.

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The GX still runs on six AA-batteries, but the new battery compartment is much easier to use.

A power supply can be found in the box.

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The front panel has gotten a serious overhaul:

Above the guitar input you can find the i-Cube Link connector, which allows you to hook up you iPad or iPhone to the combo using the supplied cable. Thanks to the i-Cube Link you can use the GX-amp as the iDevice’s sound-card, as well as record and practice using Roland’s free Cube Jam-app. You can get more info on the Cube Jam-app in Kitarablogi’s Cube Lite review.

Another important new feature of the Micro Cube GX is the Memory-function, which offers you one memory slot per COSM Amp Type. Memory stores all settings of the chosen Amp Type, namely the settings of the Gain-, Volume-, EFX- and Delay-controls.

The tuner section has also received an overhaul. The old Micro Cube came with an electronic tuning fork on-board, giving you an ”a” (or Ab or Abb) to tune to. The brand-new Micro Cube GX comes equipped with a genuine digital tuner. The default setting for the tuner is chromatic, but it can also be set to A-only, which comes in handy when changing strings.

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The Roland Cube-80 GX (current price in Finland 384 €) is the current top model in the GX-series, offering you 80 Watts of output power through a single 12-inch speaker.

The clearest difference between the predecessor – the Cube-80 XL – and the GX-version is the addition of the i-Cube Link in favour of the old model’s built-in looper.

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Also new is the GA-FC-connector on the amp’s back panel, which allows you to use Roland’s guitar amp foot-controller the GA-FC (optional) with the Cube-80 GX.

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This is what the foot-controller looks like. When used with the GX, you can switch amp channels and turn the combo’s EFX-, Delay- and Reverb-sections on/off separately. You can also connect two expression pedals to the GA-FC, if you want to adjust input and output levels on the fly. The Cube-80 GX comes supplied with a special overlay for the foot-controller, so you can change the GA-FC’s labelling to match the correct functions.

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Some things have stayed the same, though, like the rugged design of the Cube-series.

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The Cube-80 GX is a three-channel guitar amplifier:

The JC Clean-channel is reserved for ultra-clean tones in the style of Roland’s legendary Jazz Chorus-combo. The Lead-channel, on the other hand, offers you nine different COSM-models, as well as an acoustic simulator for your occasional steel-string needs.

The third channel is the so-called Solo-channel. I say ”so-called”, because actually the Solo-channel is the Cube-80 GX’ memory slot, which you can fill with any amp setting you wish, regardless of whether it is a setting for soloing or not. The crucial difference between the Solo-channel and the other two channels is the fact that the Solo-channel uses its own (stored) settings for the EQ-, EFX-, Delay- and Reverb-sections, while JC Clean- and Lead-channels have to share the current control settings.

Apart from the i-Cube Link, the Cube-80 GX’ features list is very similar to the Cube-80 XL-version. You can get more info on the i-Cube Link and Roland’s free Cube Jam-app in Kitarablogi’s Cube Lite review.

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Roland’s brand-new Micro Cube GX offers you even more than its already legendary predecessor. The built-in tuner makes life much easier, and the new i-Cube Link/Cube Jam functionality genuinely adds value to this diminutive powerhouse. If you own an iDevice you will have your own practice set-up up and running in no time.

The little GX-combo also gives you three new sounds – the fantastically über-Metal amp type called Extreme, a fine polyphonic octaver effect, as well as a spring reverb model. The Micro Cube GX’ spring reverb simulation sounds good, but very small area designated for it on the Reverb-control doesn’t allow for much in terms of tailoring the spring reverb. It’s more of an on/off affair.

Overall the GX sounds better than the original Micro Cube, with more realistic amp simulations and clearly less hiss in the effect section.

These four clips have been recorded using a dynamic mic in front of the combo, and playing a Fender Stratocaster:

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Roland’s new Cube-80 GX is a compact, yet powerful guitar combo for the gigging guitarist.

The sounds on offer cover all bases, and the amp types and effects all sound great. Depending on your guitar of choice there can be a very slight tendency toward a crowded lower-midrange – especially with clean sounds – but this can be easily kept in check with the amp’s nice EQ-section.

I feel that if you want to use the Cube-80 GX live, buying the GA-FC-controller is almost compulsory, as it is the only way you can fully control all the combo’s functions on the fly. 100 euros seems a bit steep in relation to the Cube’s own price tag, but from a practical standpoint the additional outlay makes a whole lot of sense.

Be that as it may, Roland’s Cube-80 GX is a cool amp for both gigging and studio use.

These four examples have been recorded with the same set-up are the Micro Cube GX-clips:

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Roland’s Cube GX-series is a good choice if you want a wide variety of different amp tones and effect sounds to choose from. For teaching and/or practising purposes the iOS-compatibility and Roland’s own Cube Jam-app add a lot of value to an already very enticing package.

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Roland Cube GX-series

Micro Cube GX – 134 €

Cube-80 GX – 384 €

Finnish distributor: Roland Scandinavia

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Pros:

+ value for money

+ i-Cube Link

+ Micro Cube GX: new Memory-feature 

+ Cube-80 GX: GA-FC-compatibility

+ sound

+ rugged build

Cons:

– Micro Cube GX: spring reverb effect hard to adjust

– Cube-80 GX: price of GA-FC-controller

16/01/2012

Review: ESP Eclipse-I CTM – English summary

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ESP’s Eclipse is one of the company’s most successful models, because it fuses effortlessly a classic outline with modern features.

The ESP Eclipse is available in many different variations, of which the ESP Eclipse-I CTM (current price in Finland: 1.668 €) is the series’ equivalent to the venerable Gibson Les Paul Custom.

A matte-black finish with a yellow-ish overcoat, multi-laminated binding, gold-coloured hardware, an ebony fretboard with large pearloid inlays, as well as a pair of EMG-pickups endow the Eclipse-I CTM with an extremely stylish look. This Japanese guitar is sold in its own high-quality case.

Sound-fetishists will be more than happy about the ESP’s genuine bone nut, as well as the vintage-style truss rod. This type of truss rod requires a much narrower rout compared to many modern designs, and removing less of the neck’s mahogany will most likely result in a fuller-bodied tone and stronger attack.

ESP is using Gotoh’s excellent self-locking Magnum Lock tuners. Changing strings is a breeze and tuning stability is rock solid.

The Eclipse displays exemplary fret work, resulting in a fast and slippery feel.

Despite being made from the most traditional of raw materials – a mahogany back with a maple top – this ESP cuts down considerably on weight thanks to a thinner body, compared to a vintage guitar of this type.

The Eclipse-I’s controls follow tradition, offering separate volume and tone controls for each pickup.

The two active humbuckers are EMG’s best-selling pairing of an EMG 60 in the neck position with a hotter EMG 81 next to the bridge.

Golden-finished Gotoh-quality for the stopbar and tune-o-matic-bridge combination.

A generous rib-cage contour is another of the Eclipse-I’s contemporary improvements.

I can understand ESP’s reason for not including a separate battery compartment, which would spoil the guitar’s classic look. Still, the solution on offer doesn’t earn full marks in my book.

I’m quite sure that the foam padding doesn’t make the Eclipse any less gig-worthy, but it looks somewhat half-baked nontheless. I’d much rather see a battery clip attached to the inside of the control cavity’s lid, as well as machine screws with threaded inlets in the body to keep the lid firmly in place.

EMG’s own pots and capacitors are used in the clean and well-screened cavity.

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The ESP Eclipse clearly is a pro-quality electric guitar.

I don’t think one can overstate the positive effect of this model’s low weight on one’s playing. A light guitar, such as this, tends to become a natural extension of the players body, letting the music flow effortlessly and unimpeded.

Personally, I really like this model’s slightly-structured Vintage Black matte finish, which calls to mind Music Man’s Stealth-series of instruments. This modern finish feels rather organic and offers the fretting hand good support, even in sweaty situations. I can understand, though, that some people would prefer a vintage-type gloss finish on a guitar like this – horses for courses.

The Eclipse-I’s flattish D-profile is a good all-rounder, which will fit easily into most guitarist’s hands.

EMG’s electronics work fantastically on this ESP. You can get all the types of sounds you’d come to expect from a guitar of this style effortlessly. From soft Jazz tones to out and out, balls-to-the-wall Metal Mania, this guitar delivers all the goods with no extraneous noise or interference whatsoever.

Yes, most probably the majority of potential buyers will use this guitar to rock out mercilessly, but I’d still warmly recommend the Eclipse’s clean sounds as well. Some vintage anorak might even be surprised by the organic sound emanating from the active pickups!

ESP Eclipse-I CTM – clean tone/neck pickup

ESP Eclipse-I CTM – Rock demo

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ESP Eclipse-I CTM

1.668 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Pros

+ workmanship

+ neck profile

+ playability

+ sound

+ finish

Cons

– no battery clip/compartment

– structured finish might turn some people off

13/10/2016

Buying an electric guitar, part 4 – What accessories do I need?

In this last part of our series we take a look at what a beginner needs to make the most of his/her new guitar.

Fuzz 2016 – Fridget Custom Guitars

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• Amplification

An electric guitar needs some type of amplification. Yes, it’s true that you can play an electric guitar unplugged, too, but to develop a good technique you should use an amplifier regularly. Especially with solid body guitars there’s always the temptation to play them too hard, when playing unplugged.

You can either go for a headphone amp…

…or a practice amp, meaning a small, low-powered combo.

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• A cable (aka a lead)

You will need an instrument cable to connect your guitar to your amp. Most leads that come with less expensive guitars (sub 1,000 €) are very cheap and nasty – don’t use them.

A quality guitar cable is made from sturdy cable material, which is well-shielded from electromagnetic interference, and it sports two quality plugs.

If you use a Gibson SG-type guitar or any semiacoustic with an output jack mounted to its top, you should get a guitar lead that has an angled plug to use with the guitar. The angled plug will put less mechanical stress on the crucial area around the jack.

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• A bag or a case

The safest place for your instrument, when it’s not played, is a well-made gig bag or a hard case.

A well-padded gig bag is lightweight and easy to transport, especially if you travel by public transport or by bike.

More expensive guitars – especially those with set necks – should really be stored in a case. You should also opt for a case if you plan on transporting your instrument in the back of a van or in a trailer, as a case is much sturdier than a gig bag.

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• A stand

On stage – or during practice session breaks – you should put your guitar in a guitar stand, when you’re not playing it. Leaning it against the amp or leaving it lying on the floor will result in accidents sooner rather than later.

If your guitar is finished in nitrocellulose lacquer (which means all Gibsons, some upper range Fenders, many luthier-made instruments), you have to make sure to buy a stand that won’t react chemically with your guitar’s finish. Some stands have padding that can leave marks on your guitar, or even cause the finish to blister. Some guitarists even line the contact areas of their stands with linen or cotton cloth to protect their nitro-finished instrument.

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 • A tuner

A digital tuner will help you play in tune with the rest of the band. It is also an indispensable tool for setting your guitar’s intonation.

Tuners are available as clip-on units…

…table top tuners…

…or as floor ”effects”.

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• Strings

It’s a very good idea to have one or two sets of strings in your gig bag or case, in case you break a string.

If you’re unsure about the correct gauge, ask the shop assistant (or the seller) to tell you what gauge the current string set on the guitar is. You can find more information about string changes HERE.

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•  Plectrums

Most guitarists use a plectrum (aka a pick) to strum their electric guitar.

Picks are available in a plethora of different materials, thicknesses, colours and sizes. Luckily, plectrums are also quite inexpensive, so I’d suggest you try a few different picks, before deciding on your personal preference.

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