Now that you’ve got a new guitar or bass from Epiphone for the holidays (and a shout-out to all of our new ukulele players as well!), here’s, a quick guide to take care of your new instrument.
Transporting and Storing Your Guitar
Always transport and store your guitar in its case. A hard case or gigbag from the guitar manufacturer is strongly recommended. The next safest storage option: hang the guitar on a wall. If the guitar’s back contacts the wall, attach something soft (like a cloth) to the wall at the point of contact. A guitar stand keeps your guitar readily accessible, but be careful not to tip it over. When traveling on an airplane, if possible carry your instrument onboard instead of checking it as baggage. Also, detune the strings to reduce tension on the neck.
You can play acoustic guitar with:
• Your fingers (classical style for nylon guitars, and finger-picking)
• Standard triangular flat picks
• Thumbpick and fingers or fingerpicks
Different picks (typical sizes are heavy, medium, and light) produce different tones. Most acoustic players use standard-size, thin picks made of soft materials like soft nylon. Thinner picks tend to give more “definition” with acoustic guitars and are easier to grasp and hold. Harder picks give a brighter sound. Whatever pick you choose, be sure not to scratch your guitar!
Some picks have textured tops or a high-friction coating to make them easier to hold. Thumbpicks may have large or small pick surfaces. There are also exotic picks that claim special features. Experiment and find what’s best for your style of music.
Strings affect tone, volume, and ease of playing. They wear out eventually, so change strings when their tone deteriorates. If a string breaks, for consistent tone replace the set—not just one string. Visit your Authorized Epiphone Dealer for any questions you have about your PRO-1 guitar’s set up. Always use strings intended for your guitar (classical, acoustic, or electric).
Epiphone PRO-1 steel-string acoustic guitars are strung with Epiphone Ultra-Light strings. The PRO-1 Classic is strung with Epiphone Ultra-Light Classical strings. If you have questions about using different string gauges for your particular instrument, visit your Authorized Epiphone Dealer for more information.
Gauge indicates a string’s diameter. Light gauge sets (thinner strings) produce less volume but are easier to play Medium gauge string sets project better and sustain longer, but are harder to play. Heavy gauge string sets are not recommended. To identify the different string types, string sets either have names (Light, Heavy, Medium, etc.) that specify the high E string’s diameter in thousandths of an inch (0.010”, 0.011”, etc.) or specify the diameter from the highest to lowest string (10-42, 11-46, etc.)
Examples: (Acoustic Guitar)
• Extra Light, .010, or 10-47 (Epiphone Ultra-Light Strings)
• Light, .012, or 12-53
• Medium, .013, or 13-56
• Low-tension nylon strings, .028, or 28-42
It’s common to start with extra light gauge strings, then “graduate” to light or medium gauge strings.
Changing strings becomes easier with experience. If you have difficulty, your Authorized Epiphone Dealer can give you tips on how to change strings. A string winder, as included in the PRO-1 Accessory Kits, can help you turn the tuning heads faster than turning them by hand. Note that a string’s end is sharp and can puncture your skin—be careful. Here are some tips on how to change strings:
1. To help maintain consistent neck tension, replace strings one at a time and tune each new string to pitch before proceeding to the next string.
2. Tune down you’re the string you’re replacing so it’s loose enough to remove (a string winder speeds up this process).
3. The bridge end is always strung first. Since your PRO-1 guitar does not have bridge pins, just feed the correct string, ball-end first, into the bridge hole. Position the string so it will fit into the groove cut into the bridge, “catching” the string and holding it in place. Consult your string package to be sure you’re choosing the correct string.
4. Once in the bridge, tug the string end slightly to make sure it’s seated securely in the bridge.
5. Bring the string from the bridge to the corresponding tuner post located on the headstock.
6. Put string (A) through the hole in the post at (B) to (C); around the upper side of the post (D), and under the string (A) at (B), back again around the string post (D). Now when you wind the string, it will lock itself against the post as shown in the image at left. Note: The string should run closer to the inside of the head stock than the outside.
7. Start tuning the string up to pitch. Again, a string winder speeds up the process.
8. Proceed to the section on Tuning and tune the string to pitch. When it’s on pitch, follow the same procedure for the remaining strings.
9. When you’ve finished tuning your guitar, use a wire cutter to trim the string ends to within about 3/8” of the machine head.
Electronic tuners are inexpensive and widely available. There are also free tuner apps for iOS and Android devices. All tuners work alike: a microphone or other sensor “listens” to your guitar. When you play a string, the tuner analyzes the pitch and shows whether it’s flat (too low), sharp (too high), or on pitch. If needed, you rotate the guitar’s machine head as appropriate to correct the pitch. Epiphone’s PRO-1 Accessory Kits include a headstock tuner that clamps on the guitar’s headstock and picks up string vibrations through the guitar.
Follow these tips for more accurate tuning.
• After changing a string, pull it upward with moderate force to tighten thestring around the machine head. The string will likely go somewhat flat. Tune up to pitch, then “stretch” the string again. Repeat until the string no longer goes flat when stretched.
• Strings retain correct pitch longer if you tune up to pitch. If a string is sharp, tune it somewhat flat, then tune it up to pitch.
• Old strings are hard to keep in tune. Keep fresh strings on your guitar.
• With a headstock tuner, try clamping in different places. Some parts of the headstock may give more consistent readings.
• Tuning strings below standard pitch decreases tension, so they’re easier to play. Example: If you fret a string’s first fret and tune to that reference instead of the open string, the tuning will be a semitone flat. However, don’t tune down too far—with insufficient tension, the strings might buzz against the frets as you play.
• After tuning your guitar, check the string pitches again. You may need to tune a couple times before the tuning “settles in.”
About Guitar Tablature (Tab)
Tab (lower half of the diagram below) shows how to play notes and chords on a guitar neck and is easier for beginners to understand than standard music notation (the diagram’s upper half). Tab shows a guitar’s six strings as lines. The high E string (first string) is at the top and the low E string (sixth string) at the bottom. Guitar tab is read from left to right.
A number on the tab indicates the fret you should press with your finger. “0” means an open string (no fretting). The diagram shows how to play the first seven notes of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” First you play the 2nd fret on the 2nd string, then play it again, then play the 4th fret on the 1st string, and so on. The notes at the end are in the same vertical position, which means they should play simultaneously. Playing the 4th fret on the first string and the 6th fret on the second string creates a harmony. Guitar tab is available in books, magazines, and online. Please respect the creative work of songwriters, and download only legal tab.
A capo lets you play in a different key without having to learn new fingerings. Example: Suppose you’ve learned a song but it’s too low for your vocal range. A capo can clamp the strings down at a higher fret to raise the pitch of the open strings. You can then use the same fingerings to play on frets higher than the capo’s position.
Higher capo positions reduce the range over which you can play and also changes tone, although this tonal change may be desirable.
Look for the following in a capo:
• Ease of placing on, and removing from, the neck
• Ease of applying straight downward pressure as sideways pull causes strings to go out of tune
• Compatibility—different capos are de-signed for different instruments (electric, acoustic, mandolin, etc.) Higher-priced capos tend to apply pressure more evenly, often weigh less, and are easier to attach and remove.
The Epiphone PRO-1 Ultra includes a pickup system with an output jack. Plug one end of your guitar cable into this jack, and the cable’s other end into an amplifier or recording gear. Any mono cable designed for guitar is suitable. The PRO-1 Accessory Kit (steel) includes a quality guitar cable.
Amplifiers made specifically for acoustic guitars are available from companies like Fishman and AER. These amps are more “hi-fi” than standard guitar amps, and some include features optimized for acoustic guitar such as anti-feedback filters since acoustic guitars are prone to feed back at higher volumes. The best way to experience and evaluate different acoustic guitar amps is to try them out at your local music store.
Recording with a Smartphone, Tablet, or Portable Recorder
Recording yourself can be fun and help you become a better player. It’s not necessary to invest in a recording system because most smart phones and tablet computers have free recording apps.
• PCM Recorder (TASCAM)
• Recorder Plus HD (Guan Bin)
• iTalk Recorder (Griffin Technology)
• iRig Recorder FREE (IK Multimedia)
• RecForge Lite (Dje073)
• Easy Voice Recorder (Digipom)
• ASR (NLL)
• Smart Voice Recorder (Smartmob Development)
These tips will help you make better recordings:
• Note where you talk into the phone or tablet, then point that spot toward your guitar where the neck meets the soundhole. Leaning the phone against an object or wall might give better “aim.” A distance of one or two feet from the guitar gives good results
• Some recording software offers a choice of recording WAV or MP3 files. WAV files are higher quality but use more memory.
• Some recorders let you record at different sample rates. Higher sample rates (specified in kHz for WAV files or kbps for MP3) give better fidelity but use more memory. 44.1kHz is the sample rate for CDs and works well for WAV files; 32kHz is good enough for practicing. For MP3 files, 256kbps gives good fidelity but 128kbps is acceptable.
• External microphones, like TASCAM’s iM2 (for 30-pin iOS devices), offer better quality than a device’s internal microphone.
• Recording levels are important. Most applications have meters to indicate the input level. Adjust levels for the highest meter reading without going to the maximum level. Meters often indicate distortion by lighting orange or red. In the picture of TASCAM’s PC recorder, the meters are indicating a good maximum level.
Care and Maintenance
Humidity affects your guitar. Dry air causes moisture to migrate out from wood, which can create cracks. With high humidity, wood absorbs moisture and can warp. Epiphone prepares wood carefully to resist humidity changes, but it’s best to maintain humidity between 40% to 60%. A hygrometer measures humidity. Planet Waves (planetwaves.com) makes a model designed to fit in guitar cases.
To lower humidity: Dehumidifiers, air conditioners, forced air heating, and raising room temperature all decrease humidity.
To raise humidity: PRO-1 guitars include a humidifier. Follow the instructions to moisten the humidifier’s internal sponge, then place it between the third and fourth strings.
The Planet Waves Humidipak is more expensive than standard humidifiers, but maintains a constant humidity inside a guitar case by adding or removing moisture as needed. Guitars are happiest with temperatures in the mid to low 70s. While they can withstand more extreme temperatures for short periods, major temperature changes or sustained extreme temperatures can cause major damage.
• Never leave your guitar in a car during the summer or winter, or expose it to direct sunlight.
• When bringing a guitar indoors from outdoors with significant temperature differences, leave the guitar
in its case for 10 minutes so it can acclimate.
• Never leave your guitar in direct sunlight.
Proper string maintenance will make your Epiphone guitar strings last longer and sound better. To prevent corrosion, wash your hands before playing so dirt or loose skin doesn’t get stuck in wound metal strings. Wiping strings after playing extends life, especially with the PRO-1 Classic’s lower strings. Check frets for damage periodically, as roughness can damage strings.
Use only soft micro-fiber cloths and polishes formulated specifically for acoustic guitars. The
PRO-1 Accessory Kits include suitable polish and a cloth. Do not over apply the polish.
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Remember, all Epiphone's come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 Gibson Customer Service. Visit your Authorized Epiphone Dealer for questions about your new Epiphone. Anytime, anywhere. See you on stage!