Is your guitar playing like crap these days? Guitar tech Ian Vance has some answers.

I’m sure that most people’s guitars and basses have started to play like crap in the past couple of months.  The strings are high, the fret ends are sharp, it sounds flubby, and it won’t stay in tune worth a damn.

That’s because it’s really dry.  That might sound weird since we’re surrounded by snow, but the humidity in most people’s places around this city in the winter is around 25% or less, but guitars are only happy when they’re living in 50% humidity, like they do during the summer.

When your heaters come on, and the moisture starts to leave your axe, the fretboard shrinks, and the neck is pulled forward into a bow, under the tension of the strings.  

For those of you that are brave, you can give the truss-rod a ¼ of a turn clockwise (tight), and it’ll do wonders to compensate for this curve.  Or, you can be kind and give it a drink of water via any instrument humidifier available out there for 20 bucks, or go online and figure out how to make one for free.

DON’T lower the bridge, or saddles!  By the time you get the strings low enough to make it feel comfortable in the middle of the neck, every note from the 12th fret up will buzz, and choke out, and it’ll still be out of tune.

So hang in there; you can either wait until summer when it goes back to normal on its own, or you can give it a quick fix, and get back to rockin’!