Raising the Dead

Friday, December 1, 2006

Strings have a natural life cycle. As they are exposed to air and the oils from your fingers,they tend to lose their elasticity and eventually their ability to sound cleanly. You canforestall this process by wiping the strings clean with a soft, dry cloth after you play. Deadstrings may be revived temporarily by scrubbing with soap and water.

String Brands
Every player seems to have his or her own favorite “brand” of string. Unlike guitar brands,it’s hard to make general statements about strings. While some guitar companies have theirown name-brand strings, most do not make strings themselves but buy them from anestablished maker and repackage them. A reputable dealer or teacher should be able torecommend a good string for you. Remember also that different makers use slightly differentterminology when referring to nylon, composite, or steel strings.

To tune your guitar, you need a pitch reference. A tuning fork or pitch pipe can be used as areference. If you buy a tuning fork (the more accurate pitch), be sure it is an E fork—not A,which is the more common type. The E note will give you the pitch for your first string.

Tuning to the Piano
Another good way to tune is by using a piano. If your piano is in tune, you can simply playeach note and quickly tune the corresponding string.