Thanks for confirming you still love hanging with us. And because you did?
Here’s a few re-stringing tips for ya. We tried to include stuff for newbies as well ye old veterans.
Let’s set the scene.
you’ve got a set of strings deader than a desert cactus in the North Pole. And it’s time for a string makeover on that acoustic of yours. Here’s a few tips that’ll keep you and your guitar happier than a skeeter at a nudist colony.
Now, we’re talkin’ ‘bout steel-string acoustics with bridge pins and tuning pegs. There’s no slotted head or classical nylon string guitars on this one, capeesh?
Let’s get to it.
Bend your string.
First up, before putting the string in the bridge hole, give that string a little love. Put a slight bend at the ball end. You’ll see some twisted string business at the end to keep the ball in place. Put a bend in the double twisted area. Just a gentle hug of a bend about a half inch up.
This is a great time to check your bridge saddle for any marring like the one in the pic. Can we say, “pop goes the string” here?
When dropping the ball end down the hole, keep the ball pointed towards the neck. This is especially true if you have a slotted bridge. The ball needs to catch under the bridge plate.
We don’t want those balls getting snagged on the end of the bridge pin and popping pins out like popcorn on movie night when you start cranking the tuning knob.
Don’t pinch the string.
Next up, when you’re putting in the bridge pin, take your time. Make sure to center the string in the pin slot. Don’t pinch that string between the pin and the side of the hole. Wound strings aren’t a problem, but watch those thin sneaky unwound strings.
If you pinch it, it’s gonna slip and pop the pin out. Not only that, any string windings will grate on the rim of the bridge pin hole like knuckles on a cheese grater. Keep the string loose in the pin slot, and you’re rockin’.
If you have a slotted bridge, your pins don’t have slots, so you’re good to go as long as the string is in the bridge slot.
Check the ball ends.
The ball ends of your strings should be snug up against the underside of the bridge plate before you start tuning.
It helps to point the bend towards the back of the guitar, and ball towards the neck.
This goes double for slotted bridges. With slotted bridges, you can actually pop the bridge pins out and the string will stay put. Either way, you can check through the sound hole to double-check the ball ends are snugged up to the bridge plate. It’s not as scary as it sounds.
You’ll need to leave the headstock end of your strings loose for access to the bridge plate. Keeping strings loose isn’t required if you have a McPherson guitar for example with an offset sound hole.
Enjoy a ping-free guitar.
If you’re noticing a ping sound when you’re tuning up, the string is getting friction snagged in the nut slot. It’s time to powder up.
Use a carpenter’s pencil to rake the top of the nut slots. You’ll drop some graphite powder down there for dry lubricant, and keep those strings from sticking and pinging.
Lock your string in place.
There are as many ways to secure the string at the post as centipedes have legs, and everyone thinks their way is right. And, you know, this way is the right way… for us at least. And, no special locking tuners required.
Start by making sure the hole in the tuning post runs parallel to the neck of your guitar. Pull the string through the tuning post towards the top of the headstock, Use your other fingers to take up slack between the tuning post and bridge.
Pinch the string between thumb and pointer about a half-inch beyond the next tuning post. If you’re stringing the low E, then pinch it a half-inch past the post for the A string. You’ll need to simulate it on the D and G strings. You can get by with a little less length on unwound strings.
Bring your pinched fingers back to the post of the string you’re replacing, and bend the string around the tuning post 90-degrees towards the inside of the headstock at the post hole.
Continue wrapping the loose end of the string around the post, all the way under the string itself.
Bring the loose end back over the top of the string. The loose end is now parallel to the nut. The lock is complete.
It helps to put a finger right on that intersection while pulling up on the main part of the string with the other fingers.
Start cranking the tuning knob, keeping the loose end bent over the top of the string to hold the lock in place.
That’ll keep it from slipping when tuning up or back down with alternate tuning, especially on the unwound strings.
Get your windings on.
You want a good three or four windings on the post. Don’t wrap the string around the post like bossy to the hitching post, all crossed over itself. Wind them neatly down the post snug as a bug next to each other.
There’s been sightings of folks winding the string “up” the post from the tuning post hole. Man, don’t do that for like 957 different reasons.
Here’s the thing about winding down the post three or four times. It increases the break angle. In case you didn’t know, the break angle is the angle of the string from the nut to where your string ends up on the post. A sharp break angle is good for a couple reasons. It gives the best pressure on the nut for optimal tone through the neck. It also helps prevent any string buzz at the nut from not having enough break angle.
The further down the post you go also relieves the string leverage on the top of the tuning post. That helps prevent tuning machine damage. Kind of like the difference of someone trying to topple you over backwards by pushing your chest while your feet are anchored, compared to them pushing your shins. Big leverage difference. Lower is better, and that’s what a sharp break angle will give you.
The inside scoop.
Finally, when you’re winding the string, always keep the string to the inside of the post, toward the center of the headstock. If you don’t, you’ll be turning those knobs in the wrong direction when tuning up. That feels odder than showering with socks on.
Not only that, but if the string is wound to the outside of the post, it puts extra strain on the outside of the nut slots. Not good.
And there you have it. A few restringing hacks to keep you from reaching for the Advil when restringing your guitar.