How to Adjust Strings for a Fret Distance Guitar

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If your fingers keep pressing too hard into the fret on a guitar, you can adjust the string distance to play better. Modify the distance to play more clear with help from a professional musician in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Applications for the Guitar
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Kirk Wilson, and as a session player, I perform in the Burbank and Hollywood area studios. And, I also teach at Orchepia School of Music in Irvine. And today, we want to talk about how to adjust the height of the distance of the strings from the fret on the guitar. And, that is what I'm going to show you right here on the actual bridge of the guitar. Many guitars have a different design and different type. But generally, the adjustment of the height is done in two places. The first place that we want to focus on is what we call the bridge, and the bridge is the area that is on the bottom section of the guitar. And, the bridge height is adjustable. Of course, this guitar is a Ibanez GB-20, and it has two adjustments. And, there's one right here, and there's one right here. And, this is basically just like a little screw adjustment. And, when you move the screw to the left, it brings it down. You move the screw to the right, it brings it up. Same thing for this side. And, basically what you want to do is, you want to adjust it to where the height in the middle of the guitar is as close as possible without the string buzzing. The other adjustment is called the truss rod, and it's a steel rod that runs down through the center of the neck. And, it basically goes from the top of the neck, all of the way down into the body. And, most of the time, it's adjusted from up top here. This covers the truss rod. The edge of the truss rod is exposed when removing this pieces. Most guitars have this piece, and many times it is often labeled with the name brand, or the type of guitar, or the model of the guitar. Once you remove this piece, you can use an Allen wrench to access the truss rod, and you turn it to the left or to the right to get the desired results. And, the truss rod has a natural bow to it, so it's like a little turn. So, if you want your neck to kind of stick up a little bit going inward towards the string, then you can adjust your truss rod to the left or to the right. But, you'll see it move a little bit, and the strings get either closer, or farther away. So, generally those two adjustments is what you'd be using, and it's pretty much trial and error. You're not going to get it right the first time, but just like adjusting anything else, if you go a little bit, and you're getting the wrong results, then you go the opposite direction. And, once you fool with it a few times, then if you mess up really, really bad, then it'll be really important to get it to a seasoned professional. The other thing I wanted to show you is that there are different types of guitars, and each one have their own types of adjustments. So, on the Fender Stratocaster, this bridge is somewhat different. On this bridge, you have an adjustment for each string. And, on the Fender Strat, each string has a little Allen screw. And, these Allen screws are basically, they're lone screws that are anchored against the bridge. But, when you adjust them, you can raise or lower the height of each bridge. So, basically, this is six bridges. So, this one bit bridge, but then within the bridge, here are six individual bridges. And, each one can be adjusted for intonation as well as string height. And so, that particular bridge adjustment on this type of guitar is very unique and different from the Ibanez jazz guitar that I was just playing. Some guitars, electric guitars, you only have one for each side. Others, you have one for each string. They both have their pros and cons, but that is what you want to adjust to achieve the results you're looking for, as well as the Ibanez guitar, the Fender Stratocaster of course, and most guitars, have the solid steel, most of the time they're stainless steel. But, the truss rod adjustment is important, as well as the bridge adjustment. And, my name is Kirk Wilson, and that is how you adjust the string height and fret distance on the guitar.


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