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guitar maintenance

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gx1327  
15 Oct 2009 07:40 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
my guitar is a squier affinity strat, but this can really apply to any guitar...

being an engineer by trade i like to tinker with things. the other day i decided i wanted to remove the pickguard and see what was underneath, see how everything was connected, etc. for instance, let's say i decided i wanted to buy some pickups, how would i install them?

i recently replaced the strings and when i did that i replaced the strings one at a time, figuring that relieving all of the tension from the neck could cause some damage. with this in mind i figure that it must be possible to remove the pickguard with the strings in place. once i got all the screws out it was very obvious that this was not possible.

so my question is --- let's say i wanted to install new pickups, or even just a new pickguard. that would require destringing the guitar. but isn't that lack of tensions (and then later application of tensions) to the neck bad practice?

just curious. i'm not planning on replacing pickups or pickguards any time soon, but like i said i'm a thinker and tinkerer. and i am also glad i started with a cheap guitar, not just to learn to paly guitar on, but to learn breaking a guitar on!
JoshJones  
15 Oct 2009 09:45 | Quote
Joined: 30 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 3
The changing of the tension will require a new setup of your guitar. Personally, every time I change strings I remove them all and re-do my entire setup.

Most people change one at a time to prevent this setup process.

Also, you can remove the pickguard with some of the strings still in place. Relieve the tension on the strings and you will be able to gently slide the guard out.
gx1327  
15 Oct 2009 10:04 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
oh okay, so what you are saying is that removing all the tension on the neck will cause you to have to re ADJUST it once returning that tension. but there will be no permanent damage.

i was worried about permanent damange caused to the neck by removing a large amount of tension and then returning it
JoshJones  
15 Oct 2009 10:27 | Quote
Joined: 30 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 3
Yes, if you one at a time, your adjustment will change but not significantly.

When removing the strings, do it slow. Don't just cut the strings while all the tension is still applied, as that will permanently damage the neck.

What I usually do is, relieve the tension on the two E strings, than the A and B, and work my way in. After all the tension is gone, I remove the strings.

Putting them back on, I get each string on the tree and when all 6 are on, I tighten until in tune.
fender_bender  
15 Oct 2009 14:42 | Quote
Joined: 09 Oct 2009
United States
Karma: 5
The strings aren't the only thing applying tension to the neck. There is also a truss rod in there. Its fine to take them all off at once. guitar shops do this all the time when working on frets or when replacing a bridge. If it was bad for a guitar then the tremolo would be a sin to have on a guitar, or different tunings or different gauge strings.

@joshjones
I don't think cutting the strings would do any damage to the guitar except cosmetic damage from the strings flopping around (cover your eyes!). Doing dive bombs with floyd rose tremolo would damage the neck then. I still wouldn't just 'cut' them with full tension on them. That would really cut you up! I never heard anyone say, "Ah. I broke one too many strings on my guitar and now my neck is ruined!"
JoshJones  
15 Oct 2009 16:16 | Quote
Joined: 30 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 3
It depends, if you break one string than no damage would occur, but if you just go and cut them all, the wood goes from lots of tension to none way too fast. Once or twice would be okay, but if this was a regular occurrence it will warp the wood especially if it were soft.
fender_bender  
15 Oct 2009 16:58 | Quote
Joined: 09 Oct 2009
United States
Karma: 5
What about a Floyd rose tremolo? you dive bomb that and you go from lots of tension to not so much very quickly and a lot of times for some players. Soft wood might warp, but what guitars are made of soft wood? I have a cheap ariana strat copy and the neck is made of maple.

Even if you do a truss rod adjustment it takes about a day for it to take full effect
gx1327  
16 Oct 2009 09:22 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
these are both good points, i don't think either one of them is necessarily wrong. my question about the tremolo... when using the trem you are lowering the tension but you aren't REMOVING the tension. there is still tension applied by the strings, but it's not zero. i have heard from a friend who plays casually that he doesn't like to take off all the strings at once. this could just be one of those old wive's tales that you hear (for instance in digital photography, it's "turn your camera off before changing lenses" it's good practice but really has little effect on dust accumulation)

either way, thanks for the two different perspectives. i've decided that i'm de-stringing and opening that bad boy up next time i replace the strings!
JoshJones  
16 Oct 2009 20:02 | Quote
Joined: 30 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 3
A lot of Gibson's are made from Mahogany and have really fragile necks. My SG has the weakest neck I've ever seen.

Also, my MIA Tele is all Ash with a maple fretboard.
fender_bender  
16 Oct 2009 21:27 | Quote
Joined: 09 Oct 2009
United States
Karma: 5
The necks aren't really fragile They are just glued in. the joint is the weak point not the wood. Mahogany and ash are both hardwoods. If you drop any set in neck guitar then you will have an increased risk of major damage, but that isn't the same as what we are talking about. I see what you are saying about the sudden tension change if you cut the strings, but I don't know who in their right mind would do that and I don't think it would cause any major damage to the guitar. I'm sure if you did it every single day for a few weeks it might though.


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