Yes. You can go up or down one gauge, usually without needing to readjust your truss rod, however if you use a much heavier or lighter gauge this will put different amounts of tension on the neck so an adjustment may be needed. When changing string gauge allow some time for the guitar to settle and then if needed have the truss rod adjusted by a qualified technician.
Here are some tell-tale signs to look for on when to change strings:
1. Are your strings rusty or discolored? If so, I can assure you breaking a string is only a matter of time. Sweat, oil, dirt and grime all contribute to corroding your strings along with constant playing and wear and tear (especially with tremolo equipped guitars). In fact, I know certain guitarists whose acidity on their hands can corrode strings within minutes. Even if your guitar sits in a case or outside on a guitar stand, your strings will eventually fade because of humidity or exposure. It’s time for a change.
2. Many will say that if your guitar has tuning problems you should change your strings and I say, yes…kind of. Old strings are already stretched so tuning issues stem from other deteriorating factors like rust, scraped strings from pick attack, and grooves or pitting underneath the string above the fret from an aggressive fretting hand. Tuning issues could also have nothing to do with the strings themselves; it could be anything from bad tuners to a warped neck to an improperly cut nut and more. All of these or some can lead to bad tone, intonation issues, slippage, fretting out, and tuning problems. Don’t always blame the strings.
3. Does your guitar sound lackluster? If so, a new set of strings will brighten up the tone as well as making harmonics pop and chords chime. Not to mention, a new set will just feel smooth and lively underneath your fingers, making you more connected with your guitar.
To sum it up, if your guitar suffers from any or all of the three D’s (decay, duration or dullness); you should change your strings. Keep in mind, you can also prolong and protect the life of your strings with a bunch of great products like Dunlop Formula 65 string cleaner and conditioner.
And if I might add, just try a new set of strings! You’ll be surprised at the various feel, sound and string-life of different brands.
Credit Paul Riario @ Guitarworld.com
Do not use any wax based products on the guitar, especially on the top! This will cause unwanted wax build up over time which will impede the top from vibrating. Instead use a small amount of soap based guitar polish sprayed on a cloth (never directly on the guitar) and gently wipe off your guitar. For the fingerboard we suggest removing the strings and applying Lemon or Danish oil to a cloth and then working it into your fingerboard. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess. This should be done once a year on rosewood or ebony fingerboards only. Doing so not only cleans, but conditions your fingerboard against cracking and keeps it from losing its luster.
Be it flute, clarinet, or even saxophone. When disassembling your instrument always take care to grab the areas away from the keys. Also remember to gently twist the pieces together and apart instead of just forcing or pulling the joints. And always remember to use cork grease on any joints that have tenon corks.
Care and maintenance is the most important way. Moisture is the enemy of natural skin pads. Each and every time you play, or if your instrument gets wet, you need to swab out and dry off your instrument.