String 'em Up!!

Here's something that nearly all guitars players have to do once in awhile- change the strings!  I have some opinions, some tricks, and some preferences, when it comes to stringing guitars.

First, some tricks on the endpin side of the guitar

Stringing_ballbend.JPG (60746 bytes)

First, I like to bend the end of the string like this (above).   The reason I do it this way is so that the string lies in a smooth curve over the bridge.  If you follow the bottom edge of the string, it's a smooth unbroken line.  If you bend the string the other way, so that the winding is down, you'll have a little "hump". This affects the break-angle of the string over the bridge, lifts the string off the bridge, and make cause buzzes.

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Here's what the string looks like when going over the bridge....


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...and here's what it looks like if you bend it the "wrong" way.  Try both ways on your guitar and pay attention to how the string lies along the bridge, and I think you'll see what I'm driving at.

Next thing is putting the ball end in the bridge.

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The way I prefer to do it is to put the ball in in the pin hole.....

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...and then use the pin to push the ball the rest of the way.  The "wrong" way to do this is to put the pin all the way in the hole and then lift up.  If you do it this way, sooner or later the winding will catch on the inside of the bridgeplate and you'll have a dangling ball-end that will rattle irritatingly against the bridge pins.  When you do it my way, you'll push the ball end down and it will seat with a tactile and sometimes audible "click", if you're using a slotted bridge, which I hope you are.


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When your ball-ends are seated, check the windings and make mental note of where the windings stop on your guitar.  In this case, both the E and B windings stop just shy of the bridge surface.  Knowing this, you can make a quick visual check of your strings.  I can't tell you how many times someone's complained of a buzz and I'll note that the winding of one string isn't visible, while all the others are- that indicates that the ball end is rattling against the pin.

Now let's move the to the peghead side.  There are two ways that I like to wind strings.  I'll cover my favorite way first.


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First, insert the string into the peg hole.


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Then, holding the string on the far side of the tuner hole, pull it snug, with the string in the appropriate nut slot.  Grab the string with your right hand right in front of the nut.


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Still holding the string with your left hand, use your right hand and pull the string just a little over 1 fret's distance from the nut.  To reduce wear, don't let the string, especially the wound ones, "saw" on either the nut or the tuner hole.   Hold the string off the nut and help it slide thru the tuner hole with your left hand.


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Bend the loose end around the tuner to lock it, and then start winding.  Make the first wrap of the string pass OVER the loose end of the string.


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As you wind, make the second wrap pass UNDER the loose end of the string.


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When you get done, this is what you'll have: one wrap on top and one wrap on the bottom.  The top wrap locks the string down, the overall appearance is very neat and clean to my eyes.  If you use the 1-fret measuring rule, you'll get a perfect set of wraps, every time!  Cut the loose end off.

There's another good method of stringing that I learned from Steve Kaufman.  This is a very fast method and is really useful if you change strings a lot.

Stringing_prewrap1.JPG (62747 bytes)

Start by wrapping the string 2-3 times around the post.  Just pull it snug against the "inside" of the post and wrap it around, winding up towards the top of the post.


Stringing_prewrap2.JPG (61734 bytes)

Then, thread the loose end thru the post hole, keeping your wraps below the loose end.


Stringing_prewrap3.JPG (58116 bytes)

Turn the tuner and this is what you get!  It's a really fast way of wrapping strings because the tuner doesn't do the work of wrapping- you do all that before you thread the string thru the hole.  I don't like this quite as well as the 1-over, 1-under method, but I used it for years and it works fine.

Someone's going to ask about be honest, I haven't spent enough time living with a slot-head to have developed a preference.  I pretty much just follow Frank Ford's method on

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