I am the most retarded guitar player ever.
As you may or may not know (or care) I recently got my very first electric guitar back. It's a Sam As(s)h Stratocaster knockoff. I paid something like $90 for it like 8 years ago or something like that.
And I always kind of hated it. Well, that's not entirely true. I thought it was freakin' awesome for the first month or so that I had it. Until Vic saw it. And told me about the tremelo systems on cheap guitars (and that's why my strings were breaking so easily). So...that was the end of my love for 'Ole Blue. After that a bunch of little shit just started bugging me about it. The fret buzz...the way the strings were WAY high off the frets near the bridge and practically touching the frets at the nut.
If you've ever seen a Stratocaster (you probably have), it has these things at the bridge move up or back and are controlled by a screw. I just thought they were cool or had something to do with the cheap tremelo system. Little did I know they actually served a purpose.
So, I recorded Jen last night and the way the guitar was acting bugged me (had nothing to do with the person playing it :-). It bugged me because I know that on some of the tapes I went through recently, I was playing 'Ole Blue. And it didn't sound half bad. So...what's the dealio?
I picked up The Guitar Handbook (the single BEST book about guitars if you have to just buy one book--my copy is 24 years old and still relevant today). And sure enough, I flipped right to the page that explained those little screwy things at the bridge. Apparently they affect something called Intonation. So...I followed their test and set the intonation on the guitar. And damned if it didn't sound just a little bit better.
Now about the low strings near the nut. Huh, on the page opposite of the intonation stuff there was my answer--the truss rod. Apparently how that's set affects something called the action of the strings (how high off the neck they are). A few turns of the truss rod (so THAT's what that allen-wrench was for) and voila-strings off the neck.
Damn. It actually plays a little bit better now! It's actually a little easier to play...more fluid. I still miss my SamAs(s)h Epiphone Les Paul, but at least now 'Ole Blue has a little more of a fighting chance. And I'll get used to playing a stratocaster-esque guitar. Which for $90 doesn't sound too bad coming through the VOX amp. It may be a decent little guitar after all.
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