Painful Guitar Calluses – Solutions and Information

There are some dangerous ways to get a little entertainment- sky diving, mountain climbing, and even playing the guitar safely at home. Newcomers to the guitar will find out the hard way that fingers and hands will certainly become callused, and may experience a little pain and tenderness to the touch as a result. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help speed up the process.

hand callus

Figure 1 – You won’t have the best looking hand in the world- but it can play a mean guitar!

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What is the cost of refretting a guitar?

Rattling strings in any guitar can be a sign of worn frets. How can you tell whether your guitar has worn frets, and how much would it cost to get it fixed?

What are frets? What is a refret?

The frets are the raised metal wires on the neck of the guitar. As the guitar is played, the strings are pushed against the frets, which naturally wear over time. The wear shows as dents or flattened frets, which can lead to string buzzing, problems with intonation and playability, especially when string bending. Fret wear is a normal part of the life of a guitar, but some guitars will suffer more from wear than others: those regularly played with a capo, fitted with steel strings, or just subjected to heavy string pressure when played.

The process of replacing them is called a refret – though it can involve a considerable number of time-consuming steps to complete the job.

So how do you know when a refret is required?

The symptoms described above can arise for a number of reasons, and the fault may not lie with the frets. Often a good setup (new strings, truss rod and/or bridge adjustment) will solve such problems, but if in doubt it really is worth talking to a luthier, or guitar shop. Minor fretwear can often be corrected with a fret dress or even replacing a small number of frets.

So how much does it cost to refret a guitar? Well this actually depends on a number of factors. The fretwire itself is not expensive, but it can be a very time consuming job, especially when dealing with fragile vintage instruments. Working on maple fingerboards cost more than rosewood; set necks more than removeable necks; bound necks more than unbound. Steel frets are very hard wearing, but are considerably more expensive to fit. Typically a guitar refret will cost between $200 and $400. A fretdress, as part of a set-up typically costs between $50 and $100, and will solve must problems, without the need for a refret.
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Stone Guitar Picks

A gemstone guitar pick may seem like a luxury, but tonally stone guitar picks are just as different as nylon and metal picks. Typically semi-precious stones are not exorbitantly priced, compared to more valuable jewels, but they will cost around thirty to fifty times as much as the standard nylon or plastic guitar picks. So is the price worth it?

Stone Guitar Pick

Figure 1 – Agate Stone Plectrum

To many guitarists, the answer is a resounding yes! Not only are they longer-lasting, easy gripping, and better sounding; they are also very appealing items to own.

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Guitar Picks

Why A Pick?

A guitar pick, or plectrum is used to pluck, or strum guitar strings; to improve sound, allow faster strumming, and reduce injury on fingers. You can just use your fingers, especially for picking, but a pick gives far more bite to notes, and hurts a lot less. There are many types of guitar picks to choose from: different materials, shapes, as well as sizes and colors. Some guitar picks are even used for special purposes, such as a double-sided pick for “double plucking.” This article explores some of the diffent types.

Different types of Guitar Pick

Guitar picks are commonly made out of plastic, but also bone, amber, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, stone, metals, and even gemstones. Each of the materials has it’s own unique sound, but also properties such as ease of grip, and durability. For instance, metal has a very distinct bright sound when plucked against a guitar string- but offers little grip. Tortoiseshell is one of the best for gripping, and sounds great, although an international ban on tortoise shell led to the creation of Tortex picks.

Choosing your favourite material is a matter of trying them all out, and deciding on which sound and grip works for your playing style- whether it be metal, bues, or jazz. If all else fails, weird guitar picks aren’t unheard of- from bone, to an Allen wrench- just about anything can become a useable plectrum!

Fender Guitar Pick A thumb guitar pick.A triangle guitar pick.

Figure 1 – Traditional picks, a thumb pick, and a triangle pick example

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What is Intonation?

What is intonation on a guitar, and is it important? Well, yes, it could be very. If your guitar is poorly intonated it could play horribly out of tune! It may sound fine down low playing open chords, but suddenly, when the solo starts, up at the fifteenth fret… aaaahhhhgg!

electric guitar intonation

Figure 1 – Strings passing over the saddles of  a Fender Jaguar guitar.

I’ve known young guitarists change out tuning keys, and even buy new guitars because their old guitar would never stay in tune. In many instances it was just a matter of a poor setup, with nothing wrong with the guitar or any of it’s components.

But don’t worry, adjusting intonation is really very easy. All you need is a guitar tuner and a screwdriver. This article tells you how.

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The Fender PT-100 Guitar Stage Tuner

 Fender PT100 chromatic pedal tuner

Figure  1 – The Fender PT-100 chromatic guitar tuner

I think i’ve found one of the most useful pieces of equipment any guitarist can own! Such statements shouldn’t be made lightly, but in this case I stand by it. If you need a new tuner you really should consider this one. In the PT-100, Fender have a solid, durable and, most importantly, easy to use tuner that works for guitar and bass. It does the job, and it does it well.

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Bass Guitar Strings

 Bass guitar strings, flatwound, halfround and roundwound

A new set of strings can do wonders for a bass. If the old set have been on for a while, the sound they produce will be dull and lifeless. Old strings can be the cause of fret buzz and intonation problems, and in a worse-case scenario could snap during performance.

How long a string takes to become ‘old’ depends on several factors: how much it is played, whether it is wiped down after use, and even how corrosive the perspiration of the player. Top players may change their strings nightly; only fresh strings give them the sound they want, whilst a bass that spends very little time in use – perhaps avoiding gig situations – will be fine for months or years.

So, now you’ve decided to treat your beloved bass to a new set, how do you decide what to buy? There are a lot of choices, but which ones are right for you? Long scale? shortscale? roundwound? flats?

This article describes some of the main types, to help the reader identify the best bass strings for them…

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Choosing Between Time-Based Distortion Pedals

Time-based distortion pedals (we’re talking flange, echo, an chorus) are less widely used as other types of distortion, but are still the best option for some of the more unique sounds that come from distortion pedals. Much of these effects are great for solos, but some practical uses that the everyday guitar player would experience exist as well. Even rhythm guitarists are cashing in on this less popular type of distortion, but there are a few things to look out for when buying them.

time based distortion

Figure 1 – When it comes to time based effects, don’t be surprised to see Boss pedals take the lead in most categories. (Pictured on the left)

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Are Pop Filters Necessary for Recording?

Not a whole lot of guitar players cash in on the benefits of a pop filter, but no one can blame them. Most of the affordable pop filters break or fail within weeks of having them- or don’t even work at all. This has led a lot of innovative guitar players who are looking to record vocals to become creative- everything from putting a shirt over their mouth to making makeshift pop filters from tennis rackets.

pop filter
Figure 1 – They may resemble tennis rackets, but pop filters can mean the difference between a professional sound, and just another home-made recording.

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