Guitar Tricks Blog
Posted: December 26, 2018

5 Things You Must do with Your New Guitar

If you received a new guitar as a gift this year, it’s important to know what to do with a brand new guitar. Some new guitars have been sitting in a showroom for days, or weeks before they’re purchased. New guitars have been played by a number of people before you even touch the instrument. The strings aren’t necessarily new either. There are a lot of little details to think about when getting a new guitar. Here five things you must do when you get a new guitar.

If you want to watch a more detailed video on how to set up your new guitar watch below:

 

1. Make sure the guitar is in tune

Most likely the guitar won’t be in tune when you open it up for the first time. Tune up the guitar with a tuner of your choice, or grab the Guitar Tricks Tune Tiger here

There are different types of strings and different types of guitars so make sure you're tuning appropriately for the situation. For example, guitars that use nylon strings, like classical guitars, tend to slip out of tune a bit easier than steel-stringed guitars. There's a lesson on tuning nylon strings right here

Guitartricks also has an online guitar tuner right here

If this is your first guitar, you can learn how to tune up by watching this video here

 

2. Check for good intonation

Intonation means that the guitar is in tune all over the fretboard. You want to make sure the open strings are in tune, as well as the notes played at the 12th fret because these are theoretically the exact same notes. 

You can use a tuner to check by first plucking each open string to see if they’re in tune. Then, pluck the 12th fret on each string and make sure it matches their corresponding open string. Most electric guitars have what you call a saddle located at the bridge of the neck. Use the saddles to adjust the tuning and intonation. 

If you find that the 12th fret is sharp, or too high in pitch according to your tuner, move the saddle away from the neck. If the note is flat, move the saddle closer to the neck.

 

3. See if you need to replace the strings

Sometimes the strings that come on the guitar aren’t as lively as you want them to be, so that might be a good time to change them out for a new set. If it’s your very first guitar, and you’re not sure how to change your guitar strings, there’s a quick overview on how to do it right here.

 

4. Adjust the action 

This isn’t the easiest adjustment to make, especially for beginner guitar players, but if you’re able to, this is a must. Every guitar is a little different, and some guitars may be setup with an action that doesn’t fit your playstyle. 

Action is what guitar players call the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Higher action means the strings are further from the frets while also increasing sustain but it may be more difficult to play. 

Lower action means the strings are closer to the fretboard and the guitar will be easier to play. But be careful, action that is too low could result in fret buzz, or the rattling of strings against the frets. Use the saddles to adjust the string’s height, while a truss rod located within the guitar neck is used to make wider adjustments to the fretboard. 

 

5. Get a case

A guitar case is one of the most important accessories any guitar player can have. Since guitars are mostly made out of wood, humidity and temperature can warp the guitar. Fast changes between hot and cold temperatures can result in a variety of unwanted experiences. 

Hot temperatures can melt the glue that’s holding it together and cause the wood to move. Your guitar could literally fall apart this way. The effects of temperature won’t happen as fast if your guitar is left in a case. Plus, cases are great for general storage and transportation. 

BONUS TIP: Get all that plastic off! 

Maybe this is obvious, but sometimes new guitars come with plastic film covering the entirety of the pickguard. Sometimes they’re underneath the knobs and it can be tough to get off. 

You can use a flat head to pop the knobs up and off so you can get those little bits of plastic off. If you leave them on, it can mess with the way your knob turns. 

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