I was a bit more silent the last days because I am still enjoying my new guitar (which you can see in the photo at the top). The new one makes me want to play for hours every day. But it was not just playing, I did also fiddle around with AmpliTube, the guitar amp and effect software that I use when I play guitar. The big issue was that I did set up all my presets manually when I used my older guitar, and of course these presets were set up on a way that my older guitar did sound good. The issue was basically that my own presets were not really tailored for the new one. I don’t know, the pickups of my new Bluesbird guitar have so much more output that it forced me to decrease all kind of settings in my virtual amps and virtual stomp boxes. I now solved the issue on a way that I created a separate folders for the Bluesbird, where I store new presets that I created for this guitar alone. The other folder was already existing, full of presets I created for my old guitar, and I just renamed the folder after the guitar name. That’s the best solution, because if you would use a real amp with two different guitars, you might change settings on the amp as well. With virtual amps it is the same, I want to make the amp sound good, and not good one guitar and less good for another one. I want separate presets, that’s much better in my opinion.
Talking about the old guitar again, I actually thought I would just put that thing into the corner until I fixed some things, but that happened earlier than I thought. Over the last weeks I thought the intonation was totally off and I tried to fix it by using the screws on the bridge but I couldn’t get it right. I am not someone who is changing strings very often, because I actually like heavily used strings, but this time I used the strings way too long, that’s what I at least thought. The big question has been if the intonation issues were caused by the old strings. Since I purchased a pack of new strings before I bought my new guitar, I was able to check this out. But before I started to restring my old guitar, I realized it would be a great chance to clean the fretboard as well.
So, I removed the old strings and used a credit card to get all the human DNA off the fretboard. The credit card was very useful to get most of the apparent dirt off. Then I used a razor blades to get the stubborn dirt off as well, and to get additional dirt away from the metal frets. This is a tip I can give you, but please if you own a guitar and if you want to use a razor blade, make sure that you don’t use a lot of pressure and also be careful with the angle, because it’s possible to damage the fretboard wood. Or clean your guitar regularly, but if you’re like me and if you use your strings for a very long time, that is probably not an option (laugh). But my fretboard is old, and was dirty but I got it clean again. It’s all about being careful. Here is how it looks again…
Overall it’s clean, but just with the close-up photo I realized that one metal fret has still a bit of dirt on the edge. But it looked much worse when I started to clean the guitar. So, when I was happy with the fretboard, I decided to put the new strings on. As often, I used “Ernie Balls 10th Regular Slinky”, because I love them. I was still thinking about the intonation problems but when I plugged the guitar with the fresh strings into my soundcard, I realized the guitar had no intonation problems. I actually wanted to use the screws again to make sure that the intonation is right, but I really didn’t have to. It was all about the old strings.
Since I know there are two groups of guitarists, one that would change guitar strings on a monthly basis, and group that does it only a few times a year if at all, I think one group will get tears in the eyes if they read my article. I think I used the old strings at least for one and a half year. And they did sound absolutely great, until recently. I think this is the big answer to the question “When do I have to change my strings?”. It doesn’t matter when everyone else does change strings, what matters if the strings do still sound great in your (yes your) ears. The dull sound of old strings can be very “vintage”… I think it sounds great when they have been used for a long time. But when the intonation starts to sound off, it’s time to change the strings. That’s my personal opinion. You need your own. 🙂