Thursday, December 15, 2016

How To Restring An Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitar uses removable bridge pins to hold the strings in place at the bridge. Bridge pins require a little more fiddling to get them to secure correctly to the string in place at the bridge.  Remove and replace every string individually, or simply to unstring everything and then restring it all at once. The choice is yours as to which method to use. After you remove the old strings and pull out the bridge pins, follow this process to restring your acoustic guitar:

1. Drop the ball end of the new string in the bridge hole and replace the pin.
2. Pull the new string until you feel the ball end come up against the bottom of the bridge pin.
Tug on the string to make sure the pin doesn't pop out, but make sure not to crease the string as you grip it for tugging.
3. Insert the string end through the appropriate tuning-post hole.
4. Crease (or kink) the string at the top of the tuning-post hole toward the inside of the guitar (away from the tuning key).
For the three lower (in pitch) strings, kink the string to the right as you face the guitar; for the three higher strings, kink to the left.
5. Turn the tuning key so the string wraps around the post.
For the three lower strings, turn the tuning key so the posts rotate counterclockwise; for the three higher strings, the posts should rotate clockwise. Following this procedure ensures that the strings wrap from the middle of the neck over the top of the post and to the outside of the guitar (toward the tuning key).
6. As you turn the key and wind the string around the post, make sure that the string coils from the top of the post downward toward the headstock surface.
The string may want to flop around as you start to coil the string, so use your other hand to control it.
      TIP: If you have too much string, you'll run out of room on the post before the string is tightened up to pitch. If that happens, simply loosen the string, pull a little more string through the post hole, re-kink the string, and  begin the winding process again.
7. Keep turning the tuning key.
 As you do this, the coils around the post tighten, the slack in the string disappears, and the string begins to     produce a recognizable musical pitch.
      TIP: Be sure that the string is inside the appropriate nut slot before the string becomes too taut to manipulate it further.
8. Bring the string up to the proper pitch by turning the tuning key slowly.
9. Clip away the excess string sticking out of the tuning post.
Cut the wire as close to the tuning post as your wire cutters will reach so the point doesn't jab you in the finger! If you don't have wire cutters available, loop the excess string into a circle or break the string by repeatedly bending the string back and forth across the crease.

      TIP: New strings will continue to stretch (causing them to go flat) even after you tune them up to pitch. To help get the stretchiness out of the string, pull on the string gently but firmly, bringing it directly above the fingerboard, and then tune the string up to pitch by turning the key. After each pull, the string will be flat (under pitch), so repeat the process of pulling the string with your fingers and tuning up until the string no longer goes flat after you pull it. You may have to do this three or four times, but the whole procedure shouldn't take more than a couple minutes.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Tuning Guide: Ukuleles

Ukuleles are a great choice for getting into playing music. Relatively easy to learn and simple to play ukes are a popular instrument of choice for the budding junior musician just starting out on their musical adventures through to a seasoned player looking to enhance their creative endeavours. Did I mention that they look cute too?

Ukuleles come in four basic sizes: Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone.


The three smaller size ukes - Soprano, Concert and Tenor - are all tuned to the same four notes: G4-C4-E4-A4. These four notes relate to each string from low to high, or from the string closest to you when held in its playing position, through to the string closest to the floor. Referred to as High-G tuning the G note is tuned higher in pitch to the C note on the next string down. This method has become the standard for ukulele tuning. Most new uke students will have learnt the little tuning song, 'My Dog Has Fleas' to aid in the tuning process to get the strings tuned to their correct pitch.

Some Tenor uke players will tune to a Low-G tuning. Here the low G string is tuned an octave lower in pitch compared to high G. The tuning range is: G3-C4-E4-A4.


Baritone ukes are tuned differently to accommodate their longer scale length. Standard tuning for a baritone uke from low to high is D3-G3-B3-E3. These are the same notes as the four highest strings on an acoustic guitar.

The easiest and most accurate way of tuning your ukulele is by using a clip on tuner. Clip on tuners work on sensing the vibration of each note and displaying the pitch or note name of each string. It's always best practice to tune up to a note rather than tune down.  This helps with tuning stability and accuracy. Clip on tuners can used to tune any stringed instrument too. So if you've got a uke, or a guitar, or even a violin player in the house, a good quality clip on tuner will service the tuning needs of all of those instruments.

If you're having trouble tuning your uke, or keeping it in tune, you might need some new strings. New strings are a quick fix in addressing any tuning related issues your uke may be experiencing as well as improve the overall sound and tone of your instrument.

Keeping your uke in tune will improve your playing and overall sound and keep everyone happy.

Happy strumming!



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Sound

We have been talking about the benefits of buying in-store vs. buying online. The previous article was on the topic of the experience, and how a local music shop offers you an experience that you can't get online. You can read it here if you've haven't already.

Today's conversation revolves around the topic of the sound.

Sound is subjective. That means what sounds great to one person, doesn't ring the bell for someone else. It's something that make us unique as people. Someone will love the sound of a Strat plugged into a lightly driven tube amp, while another will love and prefer the sound of a dropped tuned Ibanez RG with gobs of gain engaged. It would be a pretty bland existence if we all sounded the same right?

It's one thing to read or watch the plethora of highly compressed video clips of new gear reviews through your iPhone earbuds, your tiny laptop or smartphone speakers, or your desktop speakers. But it's a completely different thing to actually play and listen to that guitar, amp or pedal you've seen online in the real world. There is nothing like sitting in a room with a great Strat plugged into a tube amp where you can actually hear and review the guitar and its tone with YOUR own ears.

You can sit on a drum kit and play it listening to the differing tones of maple vs. birch shells. You can come in and hear the sizzle and the decay of the cymbals you're considering to buy. The same can be said in hearing and discerning the sonic differences and subtleties of a solid top mahogany acoustic guitar vs a solid top spruce model. There is no comparison in the sound of physical air being moved and a highly compressed video clip.

Not only do you get to hear it properly, but you get to feel it too. You can feel the body of the guitar resonating against your body. You get to feel the profile of the neck. You get to feel the actual frequency response of the amp and the sensation of the air being moved in the room. You experience the 'thwack' of that snare drum, the 'doof' of that kick drum or the sizzle of those hi-hats. You get to test that pedal you've been checking out, with your OWN guitar, in a place where you can turn it up and get a real playing and sonic experience of the gear you've been considering buying. 

No matter how good the video production might be in the review sites you watch, it's no substitute for YOU testing it out with YOUR hands and YOUR ears to discover its sound in the real world.

Your local music shop provides the benefit of hearing the real sound of the gear you've been checking out on-line. You'll be better informed and better equipped to part with your hard earned in order to translate the sound you hear in your head because you've heard what it really sounds like when YOU play it.

Until next time, keep on picking!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Price

Over the past few weeks we've been discussing the benefits of shopping in-store vs shopping online. The topics of discussion have centred around the benefits of the experience and the sound of shopping in store. Today we focus on the elephant in the room, the benefit of the price.

Yes it's true. You maybe be able that gear online cheaper than in a store. There, I said it. But here are some benefits from shopping in-store you may not have considered.

Local stores employ people. Real people. People who have families and bills to pay. Your local music store is more than likely a small business run by people just like you. Most stores were started by a people or a family with a passion for music. They weren't faced with the pressure of the international competition that now exists with the advent of the internet and the globalisation of numerous aspects of our society. The majority of local music stores are not mega conglomerates with offshore bank accounts to avoid paying tax. They form part of the small business backbone of our economy that employs the majority of people in our nation. Your local store helps keep jobs in Australia and your choice to spend your money there keeps the economy ticking over.


Shop front music stores have real overheads an e-store may not have. There is rent to pay for the shop front, electricity and utilities to pay for, and not to mention people who work in that shop who have families to feed, that need to get paid. The way those overheads are met is through the sale of products or the extra services they offer. It costs money to do all these tasks, and keep the doors for the person who needs those strings or sticks before the gig tonight - who has just called five minutes before closing time - pleading with us to stay open so they can perform and do their job. It happens more than you realise.

There are other factors that impact upon price. It costs a shop to have that gear you want in stock. It costs the business freight to transport it from a supplier's warehouse and have it delivered. It costs money to pay staff to unpack that equipment and display it on the showroom floor. It costs money to have friendly and helpful staff available to serve and assist in you to choose the right gear you need.

Without a physical shop you don't have the opportunity to come in and actually test drive the gear you're considering buying. You also get to draw from a staff members' product knowledge and real world experience that adds value and insight to assisting you in completing your purchase. That's a value that you can't really measure. But that knowledge, that experience, that expertise, is part of what you're paying for when you shop in-store and is difficult to quantify. The price is what makes this possible.

Furthermore you have peace of mind knowing the store is there for you to follow up service and support should it be required.

Buying in your local store keeps the door open. It keeps jobs in Australia and puts food on the table for people just like you who work in those stores.

I've outlined only three benefits for choosing to shop in-store vs shopping online: the experience, the sound and the price. These three factors combine to provide you with the best service we can offer at The Music Spot.

Feel free to add any further benefits you can think of in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Experience

How do you buy your gear? Where do you buy your gear? In-store or online? 

I'm sure not too many of us would buy a car straight off the 'net without going to check it out and take it for a test drive. I know I can read reviews and download the specs and features of that new Toyota I want. I can even do a virtual tour of the interior of that car. But until I actually sit in it and feel the seats, drive it, play with the knobs and switches, I don't really know if it's the 'right' car for me. I suggest the same approach can be applied when considering your next gear purchase. 

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing some thoughts on shopping in-store vs. online and the benefits of choosing your local music store. The topics we'll cover include: the Experience, the Sound, and the Price. Today we're talking about benefit of the experience.

Walking into a music shop is a cool experience. Great music, cool gear, the vibe, and some friendly banter and a laugh with knowledgeable staff who have real world gigging and performance experience with the products they supply all enhance the benefit of going into your local music store. Whenever I travel I'm always on the lookout for the local music shop. I'm interested in seeing what they have in stock and the opportunity to see something I've only read about or seen on-line. This is also true for when I have a day off or have a Saturday free to do a music shop crawl.

One of our regulars, Michael,
with his new Taylor 214,
posing with Dave.
Music stores provide that opportunity to actually see, touch and play and the new gear you've been reading about online or have seen on Youtube. You know that the gear is available because its right in front of you, that you can take it home today without the waiting period of postage or needing to rearrange your normal working hours waiting for a courier to arrive. Shopping in-store provides instant gratification. That gear itch can be scratched straight away.

We also get the gigging muso who has just broken a string on their guitar and needs strings ASAP for that night's gig, rocking in five minutes before closing. We've even stayed open beyond our closing time to avert an impending disaster for gigging musos facing similar problems. An open shop is there and provides immediate stress relief. You can't get that urgent, immediate service online.

Answers to questions you may have can be settled right on the spot without needing to deal with the 'keyboard warriors' that frequent the review pages or the Youtube comment fields. You can choose to browse away your day following link after link, or page after page, but that doesn't replace an interaction in a shop with a real person with real working knowledge of the product in question. My experience of working in a store is that of being a problem solver in assisting a customer find solutions. It's much easier doing this in person than over the phone, let alone online. I've also learnt a lot about gear and playing from being a customer as well. These are rewarding experiences for both sides of the counter.

Furthermore, good music store staff are there to resource and equip YOU based on your needs or desires. They can offer suggestions and new ideas that can stimulate and unlock something fresh in your creative journey. That type of personal interaction can't be replicated on-line.

The experience of shopping in-store offers real benefits to you as a customer. The personal interaction, the opportunity to actually play the gear, and the instant gratification that new gear provide are just some of the advantages of choosing in-store vs. online. These factors influence my choice to purchase from a local music shop.

I'd love to hear about your great in-store experiences that have inspired your musical journey. Leave a comment below.

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Product Spotlight: Fender Bassbreaker 18/30

Fender's latest release in their distinguished amp line up is the Bassbreaker series. Covered in grey tweed and housing two 12 inch 70 watt vintage Celestion "V" speakers, the Bassbreaker 18/30 tube combo borrows the tone stacks from two of Fenders most coveted circuits - the Blackface Deluxe Reverb and the Brownface Deluxe. Power is provided by a pair of 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power tubes that add a mid-rangey chime and harmonic complexity to the classic Fender amp tones of the late 1950's and mid 1960's.

The 18/30 model refers to this amp being a combination of two classic Fender circuits housed in a common chassis. In the 30 watt mode, the Bassbreaker is afforded with lots of clean head room that delivers the classic Fender clean, bell-like tone we all know and love. This side of the amp is reminiscent of a mid 60's Blackface Deluxe Reverb that is enhanced with a chimey mid-range complexity courtesy of the British flavoured EL84 power tubes and vintage sounding V-70 speakers.

Activating the 18 watt drive channel with the supplied footswitch, the Bassbreaker's crunchy musical breakup ushers in the glorious grind of an early 60's Brownface Deluxe producing that rhythm sound associated with Keith Richards. Increasing the gain results in more tube saturation and sustain for lead. Tone for days!

I had the chance to hear this amp live at the recent Fender Roadshow in Brisbane and in my opinion, the Bassbreaker 18/30 was the best sounding amp in the current lineup. Beautiful chimey cleans, meaty rhythms, and singing fat lead tones were produced by this new addition to the Fender amplifier family that is extremely pedal friendly.

I'm sure that you too will be suitably impressed with the new Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 combo. It's a versatile, beautifully voiced tube amp drawing from Fender's rich heritage of classic tone and served with a British-flavoured twist.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Product Spotlight: Fender Bass Amps

The live music scene of the 1940's in Southern California was burgeoning. Musicians were turning their instruments up to higher volumes as bands developed their signature sounds. As these levels rose, traditional acoustic bass instruments were being drowned out by their electric counterparts. Seizing on this opportunity to supply the working musician with the best tools possible, Leo Fender started working on a whole new range of musical equipment and in 1951, a brand new instrument entered the world; the Fender Precision Electric Bass Guitar.

Along with his new 'P' bass, Fender developed amps specifically for these new instruments, which in turn formed the sonic platform of modern music in all its styles and genres.  Here at The Music Spot we are proud to showcase our range of Fender Bass Guitar Amps in this week's Product Spotlight.

The Super Bassman 300 is a two channel all tube bass head with matching cabinet. 2 x 12AX7 pre amp tubes along with a 12AX7, a 12AT7 and six 6550 tubes in the power amp section pump out 300 watts of thick, natural, balanced tone perfect for live performance, or any studio application. 

The Vintage channel delivers the full, warm, classic bass sound Fender amps are renown for while the Overdrive channel delivers an aggressive and modern voiced tone stack. An optional foot switch allows effortless switching between the two channels.


The Super Bassman 300 is not only capable of pumping out stadium level volume. Turning the on board Speaker Output switch to Mute bypasses the speakers to provide a tube driven XLR output for recording at home straight from the preamp section. Brilliant!


Combined with the Bassman 610 1600 watt speaker cabinet, you have a fully professional bass rig and an all tube driven recording amp in one.


The Rumble series of bass amps have been re-engineered from the ground making them louder and lighter than ever. 

The Rumble 500 V3 Combo produces 500 watts of power channeled through a 10" Eminence speaker and a high end tweeter that can be turned on or off. It is also possible to connect an external cabinet if required. Channel switching is also included providing the ability to switch from Vintage to Overdrive mode. A four band eq means you can tune the amp to any room or stage. An XLR line out connects you to a stagebox too meaning you don't need a separate DI. As with all the Rumble models there is a headphone output and an AUX line in for playing along with your media player. Perfect for practice!


The Rumble 40 V3 and Rumble 25 V3 are the little brothers to the 500 delivering 40 watts and 25 watts respectively. Both feature an overdrive channel, headphone socket and AUX input. The 40 shares the same control panel of the 500 as well as its XLR line out. The Rumble 40 is a great choice for places of worship, school concert bands, and music rooms.

The Rumble 25 has a simple three band eq with contour control and is best suited for a practice room. Connecting headphones to any of the Rumble amps bypasses the speaker for silent practice.

Their light weight, great sound, well thought out control panel and attractive look make any Rumble Series Amp a perfect choice for your performance requirements.