Stringing the Guitar


Here are some tips on stringing your guitar. Hopefully, they'll make your initial experiences with both tasks bearable. I personally view them as necessary drudgery. Oh well, here goes…

First off, different guitars require different procedures.

We’ll start-off with the Standard Steel String Acoustic Guitar.

Actually, stringing a guitar is pretty easy. There are just a few things to know about it to get good results, that means a guitar that stays in tune.

I don't know why anyone would string a guitar by putting the end of the string JUST through the peg hole, and then winding and cranking and winding and cranking!

Have you ever seen the wad of string that sits around the peg of a guitar strung that way? Pulleeeze!!!

Dig this: That is NOT the reason they gave you all that extra string!

Whenever I see a guitar strung in this manner, I know I'm looking at a guitar that goes out of tune every ten minutes or less!

Consider all the pressure created when a string is fully cranked to its proper pitch. I wouldn't want my finger between that string and the nut! There's a lot of pressure going on, eh?

Mere common sense tells you that a string wound some twenty or thirty revolutions -- and rather loosely at that! -- Around that little peg, is going to stretch for quite some time before all that slack is taken up! What a miserable experience!

Have you ever noticed, after putting a fresh set of strings on your guitar, that it takes a couple of days before all the strings stop stretching? It's a real pain, isn’t it?

Well, let's put an end to that, once and for all.

When I string up my guitar with a new set of sweet crunchy bronze wound honeys, and set all the strings in tune, I can put it back in it's case and be fully confident that the next time I take it out of the case, it'll be in perfect pitch. And here's how it's done:

OK, let's get to work!

For the Record:


Heavy - - - - - Thin


E----------------------------- String 1

B----------------------------- String 2

G----------------------------- String 3

D----------------------------- String 4

A----------------------------- String 5

E----------------------------- String 6

Stringing a guitar (standard bridge)

Loosen all 6 strings by unwinding at the tuning pegs.

Take the strings off, wipe the fingerboard clean with a clean terrycloth rag, and get ready to restring.

If you have trouble getting the bridge pins out try to push the string back down the hole a bit. It's a simple thing, and it can often release the wedged string and bridge pin.

Using the same diagonal cutters you use to trim the loose end of the strings, just close the jaws lightly under the head of the bridge pin and lift but don't pry.

Starting at the bridge, set the ball-end of the string into it's proper seat, at the bridge of the guitar, firmly. If you are using bridge-pins, drop the ball-end a couple of inches into the hole ... put the bridge pin almost all the way in, and pull the ball-end up against it - then press the bridge pin all the way in while pulling the ball-end against it. Press firmly on the pin. First, it's a good idea to make a little bend in the ball end of the string:

Guitar Basics: Changing Guitar Strings

Cleaning Your Guitar:

Regarding acoustic guitars, wax is not cool ... and non-drying oils (like lemon oil) are even worse.

Oils, waxes, and silicates penetrate the finish, entering the wood itself ... and over a period of time, they'll add a density to the wood that detracts from it's resonance.

These "nasties" also turn simple repairs into nightmares - ask any experienced luthier, and you'll find no question about the matter.

The more the wood DRIES and ages, the more resonant and rich it's sound will become.

Generally, wiping the guitar down, with something like a chamois cloth, after each playing session, is all the maintenence your guitar will ever need.

Most players have it backwards -- over attending to waxing and fretboard lubricants (bad stuff!), while abusing the wood by not keeping the guitar in it's case, where it should be whenever it's not being played.

I like to clean my guitar when I change the strings, so I can get at all those spots UNDER them. A damp rag is all that's needed - dipped in a little water, and wrung dry.

Put some serious elbow grease into it though, with a soft, non-abrasive cloth (like an old t-shirt) ... and wipe the guitar down thoroughly - same for the fretboard.

A little Murphy's Oil Soap, diluted with water (as instructed on the bottle) is excellent! Don't worry about the water: STANDING water is what damages wood -- we're talking about a damp rag.

After a few years, you may want to remove the "grunge" off your fretboard by giving it a very light brushing with #000, or #0000 steel wool. And if you want to use a polish, use Martin Guitar Polish (the only one I've ever heard confidently recommended by luthiers) ... but not on the fretboard! If you want something for the fretboard, luthiers recommend almond oil ... just a drop or two ... once per year.

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