Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 69
slot, so the string can vibrate and "ring off "
cleanly. Very small amounts of nut material
are removed during this process, the intent is
to shape the floor and side walls of the slot,
to maximize string vibration. If the slots are
shaped properly, the string will sound cleanly
and ring when plucked behind the nut. If
you hear muted, atonal notes or dampened
tones, the slot needs love and care!
5) It's good to give the electronics a visual
once-over. Check the solder connections
and terminations. Give the carbon tracks on
the pots a shot of contact cleaner (but don't
over-apply so it runs down the shaft of the
pot - those are greased internally).
6) After the frets, bridge, and nut have
been addressed, it's time to install strings.
Three or four winds around the tuner post is
optimal and pre-stretching is a must because
new strings need tension to seat properly at
both ends. Tune each to pitch, remove some
tension, then re-tune. Repeat this until all
strings hold tuning. You have to give the
neck a little time to settle during this process.
And, this is the best time to adjust the truss.
Truss rods counteract string tension, and
adjustable versions allow the user to tweak the
neck's curvature, known as "relief." Typically
measured at the 12th fret, relief is set to the
player's preferences. Changing string gauges
or tunings will affect tension on the neck,
and will likely necessitate truss adjustment.
7) Because new strings ring truer and
intonate more accurately, you may want to
adjust the height of your pickups. The screws
for doing so sometimes move up or down
from vibration or other movement while
the guitar is played. I use a ruler to verify
positioning. Adjusting balance/the relative
volume of each pickup is easier with new
strings, as well. One's ears and eyes are the
best judge when setting pickup heights. What
sounds great may not measure exactly as it
should, but trust your ears first!
8) Setting intonation is also a collaboration
between ears and eyes. I use a digital tuner
and common sense, taking into account
a player's style, string gauge, and tuning