black whiskered single-cutaway electric guitar

Simple Guitar Maintenance Tips the Pros Use

Are you an amateur or seasoned musician? Have you ever thought about what makes your favorite guitarists’ performances sound so good?

The guitar picks, strings and amps they use might be part of it, but another element is having a well-maintained instrument. Like cars, guitars need periodic tune-ups to perform at their best.

You can maintain your own guitar by following some simple tips every few months. Here are some things that professionals do to keep their guitars in tip-top shape.

Keep the Body Clean

Any time your picking hand strays from its home position on the neck of the guitar, or rests against the body while not playing, wipe away any crud that has collected there. Dirty surfaces can affect guitar sound, and can change the way your guitar strings feel when you play.

Regularly check the screws in your guitar to see if they require tightening or loosening. The neck should be tightened so that it doesn’t bow under tension, but the head shouldn’t be “cranked” so tightly that it pulls away from the guitar body. Check strap buttons to ensure they are secure. For this, you might find it handy to have a special capo-like tool for guitar maintenance . These types of tools can help you torque down guitar neck bolts without causing damage to the guitar neck itself. It’s also important to regularly check on guitar nut slot sizes , because worn slots will hamper string vibration, making them harder to bend.

Check Guitar Frets

Check guitar frets regularly to make sure none are sticking out past the edge of the fretboard. This can be a sign that your guitar needs a professional set-up or some fret work, which is done by filing down any high points on guitar frets with an extra-fine guitar file.

Guitar Strings

If you notice enough wear on your guitar strings that they aren’t holding their tuning, this may mean that you need to replace them more frequently than normal—or swap them for new guitar strings altogether. Unless you play your guitar every day, guitar strings lose their freshness surprisingly quickly—even if they don’t look worn or corroded. Many pros change their guitar strings every day.

There are guitar tools that can simplify guitar maintenance projects like changing guitar strings or adjusting guitar hardware, so keep this in mind when you are shopping for guitar gear.

The guitar strings themselves need to be checked and changed periodically, according to their condition and use—it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing this every time you change your guitar’s strings. If you don’t replace them when needed, guitar strings can stretch out and become unplayable very quickly.

You should also check guitar tuners occasionally because loose or mis-adjusted tuning pegs will affect guitar sound and playability. Check the screws on the back of the guitar headstock and tighten any that are too loose. If they are too tight, they will pull up on the guitar face causing it to bow forward when tightened down all the way. In both cases, turning the tuning key in one direction will tighten it, and turning it in the opposite direction will loosen it.

Keep the Neck Clean and Oiled

An occasional cleaning with a guitar-safe cloth is generally all that’s needed to avoid dust buildup on any guitar surface—including guitar necks, fretboards, bridges and headstocks—that will affect tone. Although there are electric guitar polishes available commercially, they should be used sparingly because they coat the surface of the guitar in various substances that have their own effect on sound quality. A better choice is to wipe down your instrument with a clean cloth after playing, along with using a chamois leather to remove excess dust. Most guitar waxes and polishes contain guitar-harming ingredients like silicones, as well as guitar-safe ones like beeswax or carnauba wax.

Check guitar waxes and guitar polishes at your local music store before you buy them to make sure they won’t damage the guitar’s finish. Most guitar polishes should be wiped off with a clean cloth after a few minutes, but some guitar polishes can leave a sticky residue that is difficult to remove from your guitar without taking the finish off first—so check guitar polish instructions carefully before using them on acoustic or electric guitars.

There are many more things you can check on your guitar, but this list is a great place to start. Keep an eye on your guitar and talk to an expert if you need to — especially if you have any vintage guitars that need more careful maintenance. If you care for your guitar, you’ll have an instrument that stays with you for the long haul.

America Ends War in Afghanistan

The United States invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001. A fourth plane, likely intended to strike Capitol Hill, was crashed with the help of passengers before it could reach its target.

In 2021, the United States ended the war with Afghanistan. The Taliban quickly took over the government after the troop withdrawal, forcing escaping civilians and military personnel to guard the Kabul airport until everyone could leave. 

The United States evacuated over 120,000 people while getting out of the country.

13 Service Members Were Killed in the Withdrawal

During the final week of the withdrawal phase, terrorists from ISIS-K were responsible for killing 13 U.S. service members. Dozens of Afghan civilians trying to escape the country were also murdered by this act. 

The last C-17 military aircraft departed the airport on August 30, completing the evacuation effort.

President Biden said that anyone who wanted to get out of the country would be allowed to do so, but it turned out to be a somewhat empty promise. Hundreds of American citizens, including an educational team, were left stranded. 

In the month after the evacuation, another 85 people were helped to leave the country through airlifts or land borders, with another 100 still seeking evacuation. 

Antony Blinken, who serves as the Biden administration’s Secretary of State, blames the Trump administration for the withdrawal. “We inherited a deadline,” he said. “We did not inherit a plan.”

Although mixed feelings exist regarding the exit after two decades of fighting, the costs of staying in Afghanistan can now be directed toward other needs, such as internal infrastructure. There are numerous news sites you can consult to stay informed on further developments. 

North Korea Rejects COVID Shots from China

North Korea doesn’t record cases of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean the disease hasn’t affected the country or its economy. The secretive nation has also had strict anti-virus measures in place since the beginning of the pandemic, closing its borders in January 2020.

The country recently asked that nearly three million Sinovac shots offered under China’s development program be redirected to other nations. This Chinese-made vaccine was provided under a program that helps poorer countries get what they need to keep people safe.

It isn’t the first time that North Korea has rejected COVID shots. It also turned down two million doses of the AstraZeneca shot under concerns of potential side effects. Russia has even offered its Sputnik vaccine multiple times without success. 

How to Handle a Potential COVID Infection

If you suspect that your physical symptoms are related to COVID-19, the first step to take is to get tested. The results can let you know if you’ve caught this virus.

When you don’t have any symptoms, the best thing you can do is to take care of your immune system. That means your body needs some vitamin D, and the best place to get it is by exposing your skin to the sun.

A healthy immune system requires nutrients from our diet. When you’re unable to get this need met from eating alone, products from brands like Core Med Science can be helpful. You could take Liposomal Vitamin C or Liposomal Glutathione for that extra support. 

As a final step, consider washing your hands frequently or using safe sanitizing products.

Haiti Presidential Assassination Stirs International Attention

Gunmen killed Jovenel Moise in his home on July 7, 2021. The attack wounded his wife when it was carried out around 1 AM.

According to reports, the gunmen first tied up the housekeeping staff and the Presidential guards. Once they got to the President, they shot him a dozen times with high-caliber bullets, including one directly into the forehead.

Investigators report that the assailants even gouged out one of the President’s eyes. The first lady was flown to Florida for treatment and recovery, but she returned to Haiti ten days later.

It has become an international story because over 30 people in Haiti, Colombia, and the United States are implicated in the conspiracy to assassinate Moise. 

International Officials Suspect Drug Networks

The original explanation for the assassination was an elaborate plot to seize office. As international investigators dug into the case, even that story doesn’t add up. The true motive might not ever be uncovered.

What we do know is that Haiti serves as a significant transit point for illegal substance movement into the United States. 

Current and former officials discovered that one of the Presidential guards was heavily involved in trafficking behavior. The DEA in the United States reported that Dimitri Herard was suspected of removing up to thousands of pounds of heroin and cocaine only hours before law enforcement was set to seize them. 

Haiti is a nation in turmoil. The people detained or arrested in Moise’s death met several months before the killing to discuss rebuilding the country once he was out of power.

Could one of the Presidential guards be responsible for the assassination because of drugs? Further investigation is necessary to determine if that would be the case. 

Historic Wildfires Continue Raging in Turkey

When we look back at 2020, we’ll think about the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, we may remember it for all the wildfires that occurred.

Forest fires raged throughout the Mediterranean during the summer, burning fiercely enough in some areas where entire areas were lost. Numerous firefighters gave their lives to prevent its further spread, and thousands have lost homes. 

Scientists have even found that breathing in the smoke from wildfires adds susceptibility to Covid infections.

Over 200 Wildfires Started in Turkey

The 2021 Turkey wildfires saw a series of over 200 events that would eventually burn more than 1,700 square kilometers of forested land. It would be the worst season in the country’s history, with the first fires beginning in Manavgat on July 28.

Since the 1940s, the number of reported fires in the Mediterranean has increased from about 1,000 per year to over 3,500 annually. With warmer and drier conditions becoming frequent, Turkey expects to see more droughts and longer fire seasons.

The season has been made more difficult because of how fast the fires move. In the first week alone, over 160,000 acres fell victim to these events.

Although rare summer rains in Antalya helped calm some of the problems, firefighters were active throughout August to prevent more structures from burning. 

If there is any good news from the historic wildfires in Turkey, almost all the burnt forests are Turkish pine. It typically regrows naturally, which means these areas can eventually return to their former glory. Numerous news sites are tracking developments.

These Cities Will Host Future Olympic Games

When athletes need an extra competitive edge, they look for meaningful solutions that help them train more effectively.

That’s why you’ll see people training at high altitudes or making dietary adjustments. You might even see products from Thorne Research as part of their daily routine.

Although every athlete trains for competition, it takes plenty of dedication and courage to prepare for the Olympics. These future cities are already planning on hosting future events. 

What Cities Will Host the Olympic Games After Tokyo? 

The International Olympic Committee has already chosen several cities to serve as venues for future competitions. Here is the current list of destinations currently planned after the Tokyo games.

1. Beijing (2022 Winter Games)

Beijing will host the Olympics, with the event scheduled for February 2022. It’s the first winter version held in the country. It’s also the first time the same city has hosted the summer and winter games.

2. Paris (2024 Summer Games)

After Hamburg, Rome, and Budapest withdrew from hosting in 2015, the Olympic Committee awarded the remaining two cities concurrent events. It’s the sixth competition France will host, with the first happening in 1904.

3. Milan Cortina (2026 Winter Games)

These games are co-hosted between Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, marking the first time two cities are listed as official hosts. It’ll be the fourth time Italy gets the Olympics and a return to some venues when Cortina hosted in 1956.

4. Los Angeles (2028 Summer Games)

When LA hosts the Olympics, it’ll be one of only three cities to host the event three times. Paris and London are the other two locations. This event will also mark a return to the United States for the first time since 2002.

5. Brisbane (2032 Summer Games)

Australia hosts the Olympics for the third time with this scheduled event. The confirmation is so far in advance to ensure local officials have enough time to plan and build infrastructure needs.

What Olympic destination are you most excited to visit in the coming years? 

How Hong Kong Changed After China Took Control

When China received Hong Kong from the British government in 1997, the Communist government agreed to let the city have considerable political autonomy. 

It was called “one country, two systems.” Beijing said this structure would last for 50 years.

A new national security law was imposed in 2020 that gave the Chinese government broad powers to silence dissenters and punish critics. It’s a change that will alter life for those who live in the city for good unless those freedoms are restored. 

The Concept Hasn’t Worked as Expected

When China adopted the idea of “one country, two systems,” the goal was to bring the territories it lost over the years back into the country’s fold. Portugal returned Macau, Great Britain sent back Hong Kong, and there was an internal hope that Taiwan would also return.

Since Taiwan continues to be independent with global support to stay that way, China looks to change the dynamics of its promises. By stamping out capitalism, the argument that a more mixed economy is better can potentially disappear.

Beijing maintains the authority to interpret Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which is a power the government rarely used until recent years. Although Communist officials don’t preside over the city as they do the other municipalities and mainland provinces, the shift in attitude is profound. 

Since the handover, there have been no free votes for the chief executive that leads Hong Kong’s government. In 2017, only candidates vetted by a Beijing nominating committee were allowed to run.

The risks that Hong Kong faces are many right now. China seems committed to a path of bringing the city into Beijing’s governing structure. Only time will tell what that means for its residents.

The Market for Chinese Tractor Parts in the US

The majority of used tractors in the US and around the world originate from China. Because American farmers cannot get their hands on new or domestically manufactured parts, they are forced to buy them online, directly from China.

For years now, Chinese tractor companies have been investing more into modernizing their production lines in order to meet the demands for parts. Some companies now produce American-style brands such as Farm Pro and John Deere. However, there is still a large market in selling imported Chinese parts to American buyers because of the quality and price difference.

This demand is met by a thriving Chinese parts business, run mainly from Beijing. The parts are transported to America mainly by sea containers, which means that the cargo ships have to sail for about 30 days across the Pacific Ocean until they arrive at their destination.

“There is basically no other way than sending them via sea because air freight is extremely expensive,” says Liu Yongjing of Beijing-based company Sino-Agri Trade.

“It is easy for me to sell tons of products to American buyers, but it’s really impossible for me do the same in China because of the tight competition here,” he adds.

The fact that Chinese-made parts can be sold much more easily in America than domestically is a result of the high tariffs imposed on foreign parts by federal authorities. For more specialized tractor manufacturers, like Jimna tractor parts, often need to be ordered directly in the US.

On one hand, American farmers benefit from this because they gain access to cheaper parts. However, the Chinese companies that produce these parts suffer as a result of the low demand at home and the loss of potential revenue.

“We set up our factory in America instead of exporting parts to China because it is much more profitable for us,” says Jack, a manager from Munich Machinery, an American company that manufactures giant bulldozers. “There are many factories here in the US that manufacture small tractors, so we can provide customers with after-sale services. We can even sell our spare parts to American buyers.”

“We are still expanding our business in the US because that is where the money is,” adds Jack, who asked not to be identified by his real name. “But it’s really hard for us to find distributors in China due to the fierce competition.”

The lack of demand for Chinese parts in the domestic market, the high tariff on foreign parts, and the popularity of expensive American tractors are all major factors that help to shape China’s tractor industry. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

The Final Impact of Heatwaves Across the World

Have you heard the news? Climate change is impacting the way our world works. Whether you believe it is a human-made condition or a natural planetary cycle doesn’t matter at this point. 

We know the world is getting warmer. That means the impact of heatwaves globally can cause massive changes to how all of us approach life.

Record-Breaking Heat Struck the Pacific Northwest in June

When the first heat dome formed in 2021, it sent temperatures through the roof in places where air conditioning isn’t installed in homes by default. Portland and Seattle both reached more than 108 °F, with the former topping out at 116°F.

In July, another heat dome formed in Northern California, causing temperatures around Sacramento to soar above 120°F in localized spots.

Canada recorded its highest temperature ever in Lytton at 49.6°C, shattering the 45°C reading from 1957. It’s the highest temperature recorded above 50N latitude. 

Long-Term Drought Amplifies the Problem

If you take a trip to Lake Shasta or Lake Mead, you can see how much the water levels have shrunk in recent years. With the dry conditions amplifying the heat, water is becoming a scarce commodity.

Most heat waves last for about five days, although they can linger if high-pressure systems get blocked. 

It’s not just during the day that we need to worry about things. The overnight low temps since 1895 have been increasing at nearly twice the rate of afternoon highs, and the ten warmest minimum temperatures in the United States ever recorded have all happened since 2002.

What can we do to make changes? It starts by switching from the burning of fossil fuels. By reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that reflects heat and sunlight, we can dissipate the heat more readily. 

We’re running out of time to act. Things will keep getting worse until changes are made. It will take all of us to battle this problem together. 

Everything We Know About the Delta Variant of Coronavirus

When the Delta variant struck India, it caused record numbers of infections. Hospitalization rates skyrocketed, oxygen was in high demand, and there weren’t enough beds to accommodate everyone who became ill.

After the wave hit India, it went on to impact the world. Infection rates rose sharply even in countries with robust vaccination programs.

While you give your immune system a boost with Apricot Power and Irwin Naturals, please remember to consider vaccination as a tool to help you and your family get through this pandemic as safely as possible.

Facts About the Coronavirus Delta Variant

1. The Delta variant is more contagious than the other coronavirus strains. That’s why it spread around the world so quickly. By the end of July 2021, it accounted for about 80% of all new cases in the United States.

2. Although all people have a small risk to consider, vaccines limit the issue significantly. Individuals who haven’t received their COVID vaccine are 2.5 times more likely to become infected by this coronavirus variant.

3. The transmissibility of the Delta variant is so high that it could lead to numerous local outbreaks. It can skip from one poorly vaccinated area to another, especially since vaccinations in children under 12 haven’t come close to reaching goals.

4. Breakthrough cases happen, but it often creates less severe symptoms when it does.

We have a lot more to learn about the Delta variant. Until these issues get under control, the best option for everyone is to mask up, get vaccinated, and maintain social distancing.