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Pre-stretching guitar strings

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Murray MacLeod 22 Jan 04 - 12:29 PM
Big Mick 22 Jan 04 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 22 Jan 04 - 12:45 PM
Walking Eagle 22 Jan 04 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,Les B. 22 Jan 04 - 12:49 PM
breezy 22 Jan 04 - 12:49 PM
Amos 22 Jan 04 - 12:50 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 22 Jan 04 - 12:53 PM
Jeri 22 Jan 04 - 01:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 04 - 01:24 PM
Leadfingers 22 Jan 04 - 01:31 PM
Cluin 22 Jan 04 - 01:49 PM
onlyme 22 Jan 04 - 01:56 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 22 Jan 04 - 01:56 PM
Cluin 22 Jan 04 - 02:03 PM
Justa Picker 22 Jan 04 - 02:07 PM
Murray MacLeod 22 Jan 04 - 02:32 PM
Murray MacLeod 22 Jan 04 - 02:34 PM
Bobert 22 Jan 04 - 02:44 PM
onlyme 22 Jan 04 - 02:52 PM
Walking Eagle 22 Jan 04 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 22 Jan 04 - 03:57 PM
Mooh 22 Jan 04 - 04:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 04 - 04:47 PM
Clinton Hammond 22 Jan 04 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,Bigchuck at work 22 Jan 04 - 05:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Jan 04 - 06:13 PM
Roger in Baltimore 22 Jan 04 - 07:03 PM
C-flat 22 Jan 04 - 07:32 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 22 Jan 04 - 08:03 PM
Leadfingers 22 Jan 04 - 08:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 04 - 10:48 PM
Murray MacLeod 23 Jan 04 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 23 Jan 04 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 23 Jan 04 - 12:09 PM
van lingle 24 Jan 04 - 12:19 PM
Cluin 25 Feb 04 - 03:32 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Feb 04 - 06:45 PM
black walnut 25 Feb 04 - 08:14 PM
black walnut 25 Feb 04 - 10:12 PM
Seamus Kennedy 26 Feb 04 - 12:27 AM
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Subject: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:29 PM

I have a recollection of reading somewhere, maybe in an old Frets magazine, that a famous guitarist (it may have been Dan Crary) advocated leaving newly installed strings to stretch naturally (at concert pitch)for a period of 24 hours, during which time they remained unplayed. His contention was that this "breaking-in period" enabled the strings to retain their tone for much longer than would otherwise be the case.

Obviously this would present difficulties for somebody with only one guitar, withdrawal symptoms could set in, but I just wondered if anybody has tried this, or does anybody remember reading about it ? If you have tried it, does it have any effect IYHO ?


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:38 PM

I do essentially the same thing when I have time. I install the strings one at a time, tuning them to concert pitch. As I tune each string, I go back and bring the ones installed prior to concert pitch back up. Once all are on, I set the guitar down and leave it alone for a day. Not sure why I do this, it is just how I have always done it.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:45 PM

I use the 'Whang 'Em On, Tune 'Em Up, Pull 'Em As Hard As You Can Over The 12th Fret And Tune 'Em Up Again' technique. Doesn't seem to do any harm and the guitar's playable virtually straight away.

No doubt some highly-educated Professor of Quantum Physics will post an explanation as to why I shouldn't do this, but I've seen lots of VERY superior big-name players do it - if it's good enough for them.........
Johnny
:0)


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:48 PM

I do that all the time. New strings are difficult to keep in tune. I use steel strings, don't know what nylon strings are like. I feel that they need time to adjust. I don't know what concert pitch is, I just put them on, tighten a little and then put the guitar on its' stand. I do try to keep it in a warm place in winter and a cool place in summer. Hope this helps. Guitar withdrawl? Hmmm, could be a good excuse to visit someone who has a different guitar and play their axe.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:49 PM

Murray - a few years back I sat in on a Dan Crary workshop at a bluegrass festival and heard him state that idea - put 'em on, tune 'em up and let them sit for 24 hours before playing. Of course he realized it's not always possible, but that was his recommendation if you have time.

Funny - that's about the only thing I remember from his workshop - that, and practicing in small increments of time on specific problem parts in a piece you're trying to learn.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: breezy
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:49 PM

over strech them, then, when they break ,replace.
They usually slip if they are not trapped at the machine head.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Amos
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:50 PM

Nylons stretch more than steel do. Same techniques -- I have always found pulling them a bit to stretch them after they're tuned in, and then re-tuning, settles most strings in pretty well. Some brands are more cantankerous than others.

A


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:53 PM

I have several guitars and, often, when I change strings I'll do three or four of them at a time. Then I'll often put all but one of them back in their cases and play just that one for a couple of days. So, the ones I haven't been playing have been allowed to stretch at concert pitch for a day or more. Does it help the strings retain their tone? Not that I've noticed.

But, speaking of stretching strings... When I change strings I tune each string to a step above concert pitch and then lower it back down. It really helps minimize retuning while the strings break in.

And just because ya never can tell who is or isn't an idiot... If you try it, stretch one string at a time and then lower it back down to standard pitch before going to the next string. DO NOT tune the whole damned guitar to a step above standard!

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:06 PM

I'm with Strollin' Johnny and Amos: String, stretch, tune, retune, play really hard for a while and maybe tune again.

I don't know that the thing with "let the strings get to know the guitar - put them in the dark and let them 'bond'" thing isn't just a ritual. Whatever works, though.

The one thing that I KNOW causes tuning to be a real pain is when I leave too much excess string wound around the peg, no matter how much I stretch them when I bring them up to pitch. It seems to take forever for the slack to pull out.

Thread reminded me I need to order some more Newtone strings!


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:24 PM

Tune them a tone high and then lower them to just below what you want, and tune them up again. With nylon strings I think that's essential, if you don't want to have to constantly be retuning the whole night. With steel strings a semi-tone is enough (and not even thta for the bass strings)


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:31 PM

I am with Bruce on this one. When I restring, I always tune to a semitone abvoe concert then do all the tidying up bits, dead stings thrown away etc and then retune to concert.This usually means the strings are settled when I come to play, even if I have only restrung the afternoon before a gig. This seems to work with Guitar Banjo and Mandolin.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:49 PM

Long ago I used to tune higher than concert pitch and leave it for a a day. Then lower the tuning to concert. Don't have the luxury of that time anymore.

Now I stretch `em as I tune `em up a couple of times. Grasp each string at the 12th fret, pull up and wiggle back and forth a few times. Tune up again. Repeat. After about 3 times they are pretty much stretched and ready to go.

They'll still need to be "played in" for a couple of hours though.

I also make sure the windings are in order and even at the peg too, laying nicely side by side moving down towards the wood: about 3 windings for the low E to about 9 or 10 for the high E. Seems to keep them well in tune till they wear out.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: onlyme
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:56 PM

I'm about to re-string my Tanglewood steel guitar with some Newtone 16-59's for G/D OPEN TUNING . Any special thoughts i should be bearing in mind ? Its a new venture for me


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 01:56 PM

Related question...

Does anybody have a good sorta-scientific explanation for why a string sometimes breaks when its pitch is being lowered? I had a high E pop the other day while I was lowering it down to D for an alternate tuning. It's illogical, counterintuitive, and don't make no sense, but it happens all the time.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:03 PM

Strings are fuddy-duddies. They don't like change of any kind. Especially when they get older.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Justa Picker
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:07 PM

I do it routinely.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:32 PM

Mick and Walking Eagle, interesting to know that you do this. Do you find any benefits regarding increased longevity of the strings, or is it just that they stay in tune better? I know it's all subjective, but I would like to hear your opinions.

LesB, thank you for confirming that my memory can sometimes function correctly ....

On the subject of manually stretching strings, my own experience is that it is much more preferable to give each string several gentle tugs at intervals of two to three inches rather than giving one almighty yank at the twelfth fret.(The string should be a tone below concert while doing this)

The reason for this is that steel can stretch erratically, and one pull at the twelfth fret does not result in a homogeneous stretching. Multiple gentle tugs give a better result. Of course, the worst that can happen is that it takes the string a little longer to settle down to a stable tuning.

I imagine that the perceived advantage of Dan Crary's method is that over 24 hours it allows the steel to stabilise gradually and uniformly, and consequently give fewer tuning hassles on stage.

I have emailed him on the subject and will share whatever feedback I get.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:34 PM

Didn't see your post JP, yet another advocate ....


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:44 PM

Well, I put both feet on the top of the guitar and pull 'em out, oh, jus' short a brakin' 'em, you know 6 'er 8 inches,, then retune to Bobert pitch and then thrash the heck out of 'em fir a minute 'er three, retune.... and they'z good to go. Okay, I really don't us my feet on the guitar but the rest is purdy much accurate...

(Someone once told me that ya' gotta break in car the way yer gonna drive it once'd itz broken in...)

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: onlyme
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:52 PM

with regard to manual stretching i have always instintively used the short tugs at intervals as Murray advocates. never really thought about it before..but undies are never quite as comfortable if you just yank them on eh? similar principle?


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 03:36 PM

MM--I re-string every 6 months. Settle down! I'm not a rich American, I just appropriate available funds for the most 'important' things! So, I don't know about the longevity aspect.

I do find that I have to do very little tuning when I get to a jam. In fact, most people usually tune to me.

Onlyme- you must be talking about new undies eh? Stretching after one use is nooo problem.

The eagle who walks--Julie


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 03:57 PM

The 24 hour thing works.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Mooh
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 04:40 PM

Sometimes I stretch 'em, sometimes time stretches 'em, depending on circumstances. For nylons I tune two high at a time (tension countered by the stretching and lowering of the others) to reduce time. I guess that the strings, especially nylons, stretch more evenly when allowed to sit, but I have no scientific evidence of it.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 04:47 PM

"... a string sometimes breaks when its pitch is being lowered"

People are like that too. In a crisis, it's when the pressure is relaxig and the tension is reduced that we tend to come to pieces.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 04:52 PM

One is supposed to CHANGE guitar strings?

I just replace 'em when they break....

:-)


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Bigchuck at work
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 05:08 PM

I've been doing this for a number of years, and find that my strings definitely last longer as a result. They also seem less likely to go dead quickly.
Sandy


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 06:13 PM

Knew someone who owned a String instrument shop. As I walked in he was just breaking a string on a cello - the second one he had tried to fit. I looked at the thing, and the string holder thingie at the bottom end was much closer to the bridge than normal. I pointed this out, and he reset it to nearer the correct distance. No more strings broke while fitting. He was having a bad day - something to do with a divorce...

Apparently some cello strings are hardened, and left annealed at the end where the tuning pegs are. With the different length, the hardened part was being placed on the nut at the top of the instrument - leading it to snap as it was bent slightly.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 07:03 PM

I have used the gentle tug at the 12th fret for many years. I use two or three fingers under the string so the angle is not as sharp. the process is 1. tune to concert pitch, 2. tug on the string, and 3. retune to concert pitch.

I think I picked this up from watching Tom Rush change a string in mid-concert once. The concept made sense. I figured it stretched the strings better than just tuning up a half-step to stretch it and then retuning to concert pitch.

The guitar, which holds tuning well, usually stays on pitch from there on out.

A note of warning: I did break a 10 gauge string once doing this.

Speaking of changing in mid-concert, one of my strongest memories was watching Hootenanny on TV and saw Paul Prestipino (I hope I have that right) change a string in mid-tune without stopping his playing. I think he was backing up the Chad Mitchell Trio.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: C-flat
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 07:32 PM

"Does anybody have a good sorta-scientific explanation for why a string sometimes breaks when its pitch is being lowered? I had a high E pop the other day while I was lowering it down to D for an alternate tuning. It's illogical, counterintuitive, and don't make no sense, but it happens all the time.

Bruce
"


It could be caused by a rough edge, either at the nut or bridge, which catches the string as it moves through the slot, particularly an older string. It wouldn't matter wether you are tuning up or down in that case.
C-flat.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 08:03 PM

I change my guitar strings one at a time... usually the whole set, 'cause I don't break strings much... In my experience, the steel does not stretch... rather, the string winding around the tuners has to 'catch', and the wedge pins on the bridge have to settle in... So, when the new string goes on, it gets pulled rather hard... hard enough that it feels only right and proper to hold the guitar head down with my other hand. I generally pull it somewhere near the sound hole. I have virtually no need to chase my pitches all over the batter's box, and I am completely ignorant about the longevity of any string's tone quality. After a while, the high strings go out of pitch on up the neck, and that's when I've waited too long. As I've said before, new strings are better than sex! ttr


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 08:26 PM

A mate of mine used to restring for every gig and another friend restrings every six months regardless.Another mate restrings for every gig or once a year,whichever comes first.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 10:48 PM

I do the yanking at tbe 12th fret as well - and lift ar the nut as well to even things out, in case the string might be catching there.

It's a lovely feeling to change a whole set of strings, and then when it's in tune hear it ringing out all bright and clean. I tend to do it as a seasonal thing, when it starts getting towards festival time.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 03:53 AM

Martin Simpson changes strings just before each gig, and also during the interval, would you believe.

Of course, he gets his strings free from D'Addario in an endorsement deal....


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 08:02 AM

Don't know much about this string-breaking business, I change mine as soon as the newness wears off a little and they lose that initial 'zinginess' - about two to three weeks maybe. Can't stand that 'My Guitar's Made From An Old Pallet' sound when the strings go dull. In my other life I'm an accountant so I can afford to be that way!

A guy at a session I went to this week had a 3rd go at the nut. It was a brand-new string and he'd just had the slots re-cut. I reckon there must have been a sharp edge in the slot.

A question for you technical guys - on my Martin the 2nd always sounds dull or a bit 'damped'. The others are fine. Any ideas?
Johnny
:0)


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 12:09 PM

TTR

I love new strings especially medium bronze phosphors, but they will never be better than sex!! :.)


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: van lingle
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 12:19 PM

I like to leave strings on until they start going dead and find that the Crary trick really lenghtens string life and helps keep things in tune better. I also grind a little pencil lead into the nut slots when I change strings which keeps them from catching in the nut.

Hey onlyme, Those gauges are pretty heavy even for Open D and G though I know Newtones claim to have lower tension on the wound strings relative to gauge. You might want to check with the builder before proceeding, if possible. Good luck, vl


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Cluin
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 03:32 PM

The actual "stretching" of the strings is (IMO) mostly getting them seated more firmly at the peg and in the bridge so they don't slip. I think the "yank" does this better than just letting it sit and meditate on the weariness of life. You still want the strutural flexibility of the string to remain so that they will play (vibrate) well and stay in tune. Treat your guitar rough (within reason); it likes it.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 06:45 PM

oooooh, kinky!


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 08:14 PM

I have to change my nylon guitar strings tonight. Reading this thread has given me the courage to do what I avoid like the plague. I play guitar, dulcimer, and Celtic harp, and yet I detest changing strings. It inevitably terrifies me. Just the thought causes me to curl up in a corner with a good book. I think the fear is due to spending the first half of my life playing clarinet, flute and piano.

Okay, here goes....

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 10:12 PM

I DID IT! Six new classical strings in less than 2 hours. (I'm really bad at this). I pulled them and stretched them and they sound pretty fine already. A site I found that helped (follow the pictures) was lightsmusic. This thread helped too, though. It gave me the 'guts', as it were.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Pre-stretching guitar strings
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 26 Feb 04 - 12:27 AM

I do exactly as Roger In Baltimore does.

One trick I was taught by a gent at the Martin factory: when stringing, thread the string through hole in the peghead, gently pull it taut, then pull it back through the hole a little - 1/2" for the wound strings, and 1" for the unwound - bend it round the post a little and start winding.
Then do the RIB bit.
When I break a string, which I do very rarely, I have a couple of long involved shaggy-dog stories which I tell while changing the string.
Enough for a string-change and a cheap laugh or a groan.

Seamus


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