Thursday, 4 December 2008

Stringing a Guitar

I come across a lot of guitars that have been strung badly. If the strings are not put on correctly there is little chance of the instrument staying in tune. Its surprising how many players get it wrong - even pros.

The idea is to get at least 3 tight, neat turns down the post. The correct method not only ensures tuning stability but makes it easy to remove a broken string.

If you break a string on stage the first problem is removing the old string. If it is tied in some kind of knot or pushed through the hole twice then you've got a problem. Combine that with limited time and visibility, sweaty hands and adrenalin and often alcohol and you've got a right old struggle on your hands. And that's just getting the old one off.

You don't need a knot, it only serves to create loops of string and this 'free play' causes tuning problems.

I have a method I prefer for all steel strung guitars. Its not the only way to fit strings but I find it very quick and effective, tuning stable and easy to remove strings when I have to. I can fit the strings a couple of hours before a gig and be confident they'll stay in tune.

I first remove the old strings and clean and oil the fingerboard.
I ideally want to get 3 neat, tight turns of string down the post. It can be hard to know how much string to leave that will achieve this so I've devised a super high tech method. I measure the width of three fingers of string past the post, kink the string and snip it off about 8mm from the bend. The three fingers gives me about three turns - I think of it as a 'rule of thumb' arf arf.

This picture shows me measuring the D string 3 fingers past the tuning post.

I then make a kink in the string at the 3 finger mark

This needs to be 90 degrees or a little less.

I then snip the string off using side cutters leaving about 10mm after the kink.

This leaves me just enough string for 3 neat turns around the post.

I often measure just less than 3 fingers for the bass strings and a little over 3 for the treble.

Once all the strings are on I tune them and give them a good stretch a couple of time

A quick check of the intonation and the guitar is ready for a gig.


1 comment:

  1. Very nice tips on stringing. My problem is that I have a sweaty hands, I can't hold the strings in a nice grip. I believe that learning the proper care of one's guitar should be learned by guitar beginners too, while they'll learning the chords.

    I'm a beginner and I'm also reading maintenance tips like this one. BTW, I'm using Learn and Master Guitar by Steve Krenz as a learning tool on how to play the guitar. It's a pretty nice video tutorial authored by a professional guitarist. The author used to blog about his tips in guitar at Guitar Lessons blog. Check out his blog, there are inspiring and motivating articles written by Steve Krenz himself in there. The one I like is his "Learning the Guitar Takes Perseverance" post.

    Anyway, I like the three finger mark tips. I actually do not measure the length when I do that. I just turn the tuning post until it tightens. Maybe from now on I will do that. Thanks! :)


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