First Adventures in Guitar Practice: Broken strings and tuning troubles

I had a pretty simple plan tonight: I’m on security watch, and came in rather early to say Hi to people I hadn’t been around in a while. After that, I’d stay out of the way and watch some YouTube videos to help me out with guitar basics.

Maybe it’s that I’m so short and my gut’s so big, but the Dreadnought body design on an acoustic guitar seems so much bigger than what the videos show people practicing on. Then again, they’re men, and taller and skinnier than me. I wanted to watch a few and really get a feel for the best way to hold my guitar, find something comfortable for me so I could practice it and develop some good habits.

Well, I figured I’d better tune my little blue baby, and what happened? I was tuning the third string when the first string just suddenly went “pink!” And there was the string, broken partway up the neck. I got a little worried, but then remembered I’d bought strings with my guitar the day I bought it. I didn’t know they could just break like that, and thought maybe I’d tightened it too much. But I wasn’t even touching it when it broke.

Guess I learned something new…one of many things.

It occurred to me that maybe I should’ve changed out the strings when I first bought the guitar, because who knows how long it was hanging on that wall, and how many people played with it before I bought it. So, I decided to remove all the strings and do some replacements.

This was also trickier than I thought. So, away went the “how to hold a guitar videos,” and on to the “how to change acoustic guitar strings” videos.

There was more than a little confusion there, that’s for sure.

For one thing, I didn’t have a decent pair of wire cutters with me. That surprised me, because I thought for sure in that gargantuan tool bag I have in my locker, that there would be at least one wire cutter. Nope. But I did find plenty of pliers, one of which has a dull crimping/cutting component on it, so I figured that would have to do.

For another, I never heard of a string winder before, and each video (I used 3 of ’em to check and see if any steps were missing) had the guy using it. I’m sure I got the strings well-secured at the bridge, but up top, where the tuning keys are?

I suppose time will tell.

I didn’t have a string winder, so I’m sure my job looks like crap in comparison to those guys and how they handled their broken strings. I did the best I could, and just tried to be patient as a total beginner in the “broken string” department.Image result for fixing guitar strings

So far, they’re holding, and it’s been a couple of hours.

I suppose that’s a good sign.

But I’ll definitely check out more videos and get one of the wire cutters out of my drawer at home and put it in my guitar bag…and get a string winder the next time I go by the music shop. As well as a brief tutorial in the best way to string my guitar.

So, after all that, I had to tighten those strings up and then get the in tune. And wow–what a crazy disappointment that was. It told me how easily I can make mistakes.

First, I was very hesitant to tighten the strings up too much, lest I break one (again) somehow. But more than that, I figured I really should do something about my tuner…like make sure I know what the hell I’m doing with it.

I thought I understood it, but either it has a weak range, or I was just being too quiet in trying to get the sound right, but it barely read what I tried to do. Also, it’s got so many features that for all I know, I was using the wrong thing.

Only after I packed everything away did I find the instructions for use. Moral of the story: be sure you know your equipment that you bring with you!

I also downloaded a tuner for guitar on my computer, and I was really wanting to try it out. It’s probably being beta tested, but I think I was doing okay with it–at least on the lower strings. Then I went to the 4th through 6th strings and I just couldn’t get it right.

Granted, I haven’t developed much of an ear for music the past few years, being able to get the notes close to right and in tune…I never was terribly good at that, and it’ll take a while to develop that skill. But I couldn’t quite get why when I tried to tune the, nothing seemed to be working.

And then I took a look at the neck of the guitar, and had to remind myself that the tuning pegs that are facing up go for those strings…and yet, I was using the pegs facing down to tune.

So, naturally, my skinny E, my B and my G strings were all out of tune…again.

By that point, I just shook my head and packed it all in.

Besides, one of the guys is sleeping next door I didn’t wanna keep him up.

I didn’t expect to get so little done on the playing side, but I did learn some valuable lessons that’ll make the next trip out of the house to practice and play all the better.

Still wish I could tune with my keyboard here, but that wouldn’t be feasible. I’ll just have to use it for tuning when I’m at home… and that’ll help me develop that ear for tone I always wanted.Related image

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