Sunday, February 25, 2018

The String Debacle

This is how much of a Rip Van Winkle I am....

So when I went to Joe Satriani's G4 Camp last summer, one of the things I found out about modern guitar preferences is string gauge. Before, strings were a pretty easy selection for me - 9's to whatever they were back then, seems to me the low E would be a 42. Well that's all different now. Players are using heavier and heavier gauge strings, and Phil Collen, Def Leppard's guitarist who was one of the speakers at the G4, even touting the use of 14's. 14's!!!! Like holy fuck those are some heavy gauge strings.

So once I finally unpacked my goodie bag from the G4 (G4 was in July, I unpacked in November... long story) I noticed a few packs of strings given gratis to the campers. D'Addario XL's or something like that. They went from 11-58 I think. Cool! Now I too, will be one of these remarkable heavy gauge players of modern times.

First, I went to change the strings on my old Performance guitar. It used to be my main guitar back in the day, but it's very outdated Washburn Wonderbar tremelo surely relegates it to just an oddity now. Of course it has a special place in my heart though, so I put some of those big heavy strings on it.

After I was finished, I put the bar on and noticed something very odd about the bridge. It was all tilted forward. That's strange, I thought. This guitar had been sitting, mostly, for much of the last 15 years or so. Was it always like that? I thought to myself... No, it could not have been. I adjusted it a little bit, how I remembered which screw to turn on the 1980's class Wonderbar I have no idea, but it kind of worked a little bit. Still looked odd...

Next to focus on my main guitar. I don't really like changing strings much, but I was also changing out the pickup on my main guitar these days, the ESP. So it was an ideal time and I slapped those babies on.

That's when I noticed the odd position of my Floyd Rose. It was leaning forward at  a severe angle. This can't be right. A simple string change, and now I've gone and fucked everything up! I check the intonation too - oh my God not even close! My guitar.... is  screwed up.

Then I think about my other guitars. In addition to the Performance, I had changed the strings on my new Dean Dime guitar a few months before the G4. For that, I had just used regular 9's to 46's which seemed like a solid choice to me at the time. Now I looked at the Floyd Rose on that. It was angled too, but the other direction. The guitar had obviously been sold to me with a heavier gauge already on.

To wrap this up - changing to heavier strings will fuckup action, it will fuck up the way your bridge floats, and it will fuck up your intonation. There ought to be a goddamn warning label on those packages.

For the last month, it has just been deflating to me. I have to go through these 3 guitars and unfuck them up. Plus I still have my Warmoth neck guitar that needs TLC because it's been neglected as well. This morning I made a start, replacing the strings on the ESP and trying to dial in the bridge float. After that I still need to intonate it and then I can move on to the next one, probably the Dean. Meantime I've pretty much let this funk hinder me from any more writing for my JDT project. I picked up the acoustic a few times this weekend, hopefully can get the creative vibes kickstarted once again.

It sucks getting old. It sucks even worse feeling like you have to play catch up on the last two decades.