Guitar Maintenance for Guitar Players: What We Need to Know

How many car owners do we have out there? Raise your hand…

Even if you don’t, maybe you use someone’s. Regardless, you are most likely aware that you need to have regular maintenance on it in order for it to operate well.

You should be doing stuff like oil changes and tire rotations periodically to keep everything in optimal shape.

Then there will be times for larger, routine things like brakes and tires that need to be replaced.

It’s just part of everyday life in owning a car.

And if you miss doing these things, or at least put them off, worse problems can happen on your vehicle which are more costly.

Ever been there…?

Did you know that your guitar needs regular maintenance too?

Changing strings regularly should always be done. Of course it will depend on how often you play but strings do deteriorate over time causing them to not sound great and eventually break. Check out my blog article for more:

How Often Do I Change My Strings?

I think most players get that part (and if you didn’t, might want to consider changing those strings. Check out my blog article and video on how to do it yourself: How to Change Guitar Strings Myself ).

However, there are other things to be aware of regarding normal guitar maintenance:

Truss Rod

The neck on all guitars has what’s called a truss rod inside it. Here is the wikipedia definition:

“The truss rod is part of a guitar or other fretted, stringed-instruments that stabilizes the lengthwise forward curvature (also called relief), of the neck. Usually it is a steelbar or rod that runs inside the neck, beneath the fingerboard. Some are non-adjustable, but most modern truss rods have a nut at one or both ends that adjusts its tension.

Most guitar necks are not straight but actually have a slight concave bow. Those bows have a specific radius that they are set to.

Here is a neat article that describes this well:

Guitar Bitz Truss Rod Adjustment

But, what often happens is, from time to time, that bow will change. Most necks are made of wood which can change slightly depending on ambient conditions. The most common factors are related to the environment like humidity and temperature changes. 

Typically seasonal changes like summer to fall and winter to spring will affect your guitar neck.

One other factor to neck changes is changing your tuning. If you like to use alternate tunings or keep your guitar tuned low on a regular basis, the change in tension in those strings will affect your guitar neck.

These are normal occurrences. You can take it in to any guitar shop where they can adjust it for you. Or you can do it yourself. 

If this interests you, check out some of these videos that show you how to adjust truss rods (there are different places to make the adjustments, depending on the type of guitar you have, but the method is always the same):


Acoustic Guitars

HOWEVER, heed the warnings: Be aware if you want to do it yourself! If you aren’t sure, have a pro do it for you. You could damage your guitar if you don’t know what you are doing!So, if you haven’t had this done in a while, you might wanna consider it. Some signs: fret buzz and dead notes are often the two main symptoms. It doesn’t always point to truss rod adjustment, but it’s probably the most frequent cause. Again, have a pro look at it to make sure.

String Height

You might not have to do this regularly. But, string height can be very important regarding how well you can play. I see many people come in to my studio with strings that are really high off the neck. It can really make it hard to play the guitar: particularly when you want to play barre chords or when you are soloing.

There are a number of ways to adjust the string height on electric guitars but they are all done at the saddle on the bridge. Here is an example on how to do it on a stratocaster (I do like this guy from Elixir, he’s kinda dry but is very informative):

string height

This is a procedure that would always be done if other changes have been made to the guitar (like truss rod adjustment).

Outside of that, you probably won’t have to make this change on it’s own.

For acoustic guitars this is a little more tricky. Oftentimes a tech would either file the saddle down or shim it up. Again, unless you are knowledgable with this kind of stuff and are confident in your abilities, have someone who knows what they are doing do this kind of procedure on your acoustic.

Nut Adjustment

Sometimes the height of the grooves in the nut of your guitar needs to be adjusted.  If you have lots of fret buzz or dead notes on the lower frets, or it is really hard to play on those lower frets (it feels too high off the neck) this might be a reason. This procedure requires a little more work (at least in my opinion). A pro would be able to diagnose it and take care of it (catching a theme here?). Here is the same Elixir guy to give you an idea:

Guitar Nut Adjustment

Acoustic guitars would have similar adjustments that a tech would make.


For me, often times the nut is fine. Truss Rod Adjustment and string height might have to be adjusted from time to time. This is another maintenance item that I do myself (sometimes I’ll do the truss rod – depending on my guitar, and I’ll adjust string height).

In this case the string length needs to be changed a little bit. Here is how you know it needs to be changed:

tune your guitar like normal. Then, press down on the 12th fret of the same string and check your tuning again. They should match. However, when you press it down and the note is flat or sharp, you might need to change the string length.

On electric guitars, we simply move the saddle laterally in small amounts to get the 12th fret and open string tuning settings to match. (Here is one video example: Intonation Adjustment).

On acoustics, this is a little more tricky and you would definitely need a tech to make this adjustment for you (unless you are a confident and knowledgable “do it yourselfer”). It would most likely require some work on the saddle or the nut that they would know how to do. (If you are interested, I like this video of a guy showing how this all works, it’s a little raw but informative: acoustic intonation adjustment).

Bottom line, be aware of changes that happen to your guitar over time. Most times they require some routine, simple maintenance. Don’t miss this! If you stay of top of your guitar maintenance, you will have so much more fun jamming!

Replacing Guitar Strings: How Often Do I Change Them?

When was the last time you changed your guitar strings?

I’m waiting…. 🙂

If you are like me, many times I can’t answer that question.

Also, most likely if you can’t answer that question, it probably means that it is time to change them.

I think that as guitar players, this simple maintenance on the instrument is often overlooked.

I think I know why.

Boiling a Frog

Ever hear the fable about the boiling frog?

Whether it is true or not (I hear it isn’t), the lesson is very spot on. Simply put, the tale goes like this: if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out; but if you put it in cold water and slowly turn the heat up to boiling, it will stay in and get boiled alive.

Yeah, not a fun story.

Now think of your guitar in a similar way: you pick up a guitar that has very old, dull strings. You play it. It sounds “ok” but not that great.

You change the strings on it. It then sounds so much better! the notes seem to jump out at you!

But then, time goes on.

And on…

And on…

You practice your scales. You play the guitar in your room. You jam with friends. You play with a band.

And the guitar, well, it still sounds good. Right?

Not really. At least until you change them again, for “whatever reason”. Then it sounds so much better and the cycle starts all over again!

So how often DO you change them?

It depends…

Yeah, it’s not the answer you were looking for but it really does depend on several factors:

How Often You Play

If you play a lot (gigging frequently or practicing several hours a day), it might be every couple weeks.

If you just play occasionally, it might be longer. Many times if you wait too long, the first thing that happens is you break the string.

Oh, and of course it will be in the middle of a rocking solo you are doing! (sorry, I have NO idea what this is like… LOL)…

When You Break a String

{See above}

{And below}

And really, don’t wait for this moment.


Bad Condition

If you leave them on for a long period of time, and they don’t break, the strings just get dirty, oily, scummy, etc.

I can easily tell just running my finger down one of the unwound strings. If it doesn’t move smoothly, it’s probably time.

Acid Hands

Yeah, this is a real thing. Some people have this kind of acid that their hands have that causes the string to wear faster. If you break strings a lot, and your guitar is fine, it’s something you might want to look into.

Here is an article from cleartonestrings.com that explains this stuff much better that me (and how to change to a healthier diet, yes, that means all of YOU who like Big Macs! LOL):

Why Strings Die So Quickly

Bottom Line

The bottom line is to be aware of when to change those guitar strings of yours. They don’t last forever and they do deteriorate in quality over time.

Don’t let your strings be the difference from you sounding “just ok” to sounding “incredible”!

Do It Yourself

I strongly recommend that you learn how to change strings yourself. It will save you time and money. Check out my article (and video) on how to do it:

Changing Strings Yourself

Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscriibers to more than 32 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

Six String Corner

Best Way to Replace Your Guitar Strings

Best Way to Replace Your Guitar Strings

I owe all of you an apology.

A few weeks ago I sent out a newsletter article about changing strings.

What I didn’t say was that it was about when to change strings!

Of course, if you didn’t get the newsletter, this is news to you! (You can sign up for it here and also get a free guide!)

I believe more than one of you would like to learn, or at least brush up on, how to change your strings!

Good news, here is your chance!

Save yourself a few bucks, and precious time, by having to take it to a music store and do it yourself!

I made this exclusive video for all of you to show how it is done.

It is important to know that I show how to change the strings using my acoustic guitar.


Pay special attention to the part about stringing through the bridge. That is where the electric guitars differ from most acoustic guitars. I go through most of them but it is still possible you might have something different and unusual. Let me know if I missed anything.


Stringing through the tuners is the same for most all guitars except those that have locking tuners. I show you how that is done on my PRS guitar. Check it out if you think you have this style on your guitar.

At the end I do show some extra details for all of you stratocaster owners to be aware of.

The video is long but it does have step by step instructions for you that you will find useful.

Of course, we do start things out with a little funny business! Click the link above (or below) to get started:

The Best Way to Replace Your Guitar Strings

Remember to “like” the video. 🙂

Just in case there might only be certain details you need to know, click to skip to the section you want to know more about:

1:02 Bridge Styles This matters!

5:05 Tools Needed and How They are Used

6:39 Taking Your Old Strings Off

8:09 Extra Cleaning on Your Guitar

9:23 Putting In Your New Strings

19:07 Tuning the New Strings on Your Guitar

22:58 Stretching The Strings  Don’t Forget This!

26:00 Trimming New Strings

27:40 Locking Tuners Bonus #1

28:12 Floating Bridge Bonus #2 – For anyone who has a “whammy bar” on the bridge

29:44 Stratocaster “Trees” Bonus #3 – Anyone who has a Strat or a Strat style headstock should take note of this

Rock On,

Tony G.

PS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscriibers to more than 16 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

Six String Corner