To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
25 messages

String Changing Tip

06 Jan 03 - 08:15 PM (#860249)
Subject: String Changing Tip
From: Bee-dubya-ell

Just thought I'd share this little trick I learned from the guy who works on my guitars. When he needs to remove the strings to gain access to the inside of the body of a guitar, he puts a capo on at about the third fret, loosens the strings just enough to pull the bridgepins, and removes the strings at the bridge end only. Thus, the tuners are only unwound a couple of turns and the strings stay in their nut-slots. When he's through working on the guitar it only takes a few seconds to pop the bridgepins back in and tune back up.

I've started using this little trick whenever I change strings on a banjo, mandolin, resonator guitar or any guitar with a tailpiece. I attach the (usually) loop-end string to the tailpiece and pull the string reasonably tight. Then I put a capo on to hold the string in place. It keeps just enough tension on the string to keep the tailpiece end from popping loose. I'm then free to use both hands for properly winding the string onto the tuner shaft.

I don't play fiddle, but I'm sure it would work for them as well. I understand they're rather annoying to change strings on.


06 Jan 03 - 08:29 PM (#860261)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: GUEST,lardingo

Thanks. I'll try that!

06 Jan 03 - 08:30 PM (#860263)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Cluin

Been doing this for years with my Guild F4CE-NT electric acoustic, Bruce. I have to take off almost all my strings to gain access to the battery for the onboard preamp. I learned the capo trick early, though I clamp it on further up the neck, around the 10th fret or so.

And have been cursing whoever designed that guitar ever since, because they also designed it with one of those stupid little oval soundholes that makes it that much harder to get your hand inside and up to where the battery is held in that little spring-steel clip. Lots of fun trying to do that between sets. So now I change my battery more often than I need to probably since I don't want to get caught out. And no, phantom power on the board does not prevent battery drain; as soon as you plug the guitar in, the battery is on and being drawn from.

It also causes me to look at my buddy's Tak with its easy-access battery compartment and wonder if it's worth compromising my "lifetime warranty" by installing something like it on my "working guitar".

06 Jan 03 - 09:08 PM (#860298)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: John Hardly

reconfirms what I've suspected all along...

...potters really are the smartest folks in the entire world. (nice tip)

06 Jan 03 - 10:00 PM (#860329)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Bee-dubya-ell

John - Of course potters are the smartest folks in the world. Who else is smart enough to get paid for doing nothing but playing with mud and fire all day long?

06 Jan 03 - 10:42 PM (#860353)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Amos

Well -- some of them are smart enought o get paid...:>)


07 Jan 03 - 03:06 AM (#860444)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: open mike

also learned this tip from watching the guy at the music shop change strings--to use a rechargeable screw driver or battery opoerated drill to turn the pegs- set it on low and turn away!! no wrist ache , no carpal tunnel..for this i have designed an adaptor which holds the pegs.

i once saw a library worker turning cassett tapes by hand with a pencil - i suggested they might usde a power tool, as they needed to rre-wind each borrowed cassette tape which was turned in. looked like such a pain to do manually.

07 Jan 03 - 03:44 AM (#860462)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Mudlark

Thanks for the tip...will certainly give it a try.

07 Jan 03 - 04:24 AM (#860484)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: BlueJay

Cluin- Hey, I'm a Guild fan. I'd recommend an off-board pre-amp instead of the hassle you have with changing batteries. It would require a bit of wiring rework, but I bet you would end up with a better sound. Bagg's PADI is a great pre-amp, with features you probably don't have with your on-board setup. Off-board pre-amps run the gamut from expensive rack-mount units, to little boxes you plug directly into your guitar.

You also might be able to snip the battery leads and bring the battery out closer to the soundhole, to facilitate battery changes. You'd have to be able to remove the pre-amp, so you could solder the wires.

If, by some chance, your battery plugs directly to the pre-amp circuit, with no wires involved, your solution is even easier. Go to Radio Shack and buy a couple of 9 volt battery terminals. Measure the distance from the pre-amp to the edge of your soundhole, then cut and solder the two terminals together, respecting polarity, of course. Clip one end to the pre-amp, and the other end to the battery, which you will mount just inside the soundhole with double-stick foam tape.

In any case, keep the Guild. IMO, any of the above solutions, or even staying just as you are now, are probably better than buying most of the junk out there now, unless you're willing to pay big bucks. Any questions, PM me. thanks, BlueJay

07 Jan 03 - 07:07 AM (#860545)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Dave Bryant

Not so sure that I like the power drill approach - could be too easy to overtighten strings. I use one of the little handle things that goes over the pegs - it's nice and quick for a string change.

07 Jan 03 - 07:29 AM (#860558)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: black walnut

Rats. I thought this thread might help a harper. Capo indeed....


07 Jan 03 - 08:48 AM (#860596)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Pied Piper

Pied Piper Industries will shortly be introducing the Guitar Autotuneomatic. All that is required is to place the Guitars machine heads in the devices orifice and strum; any desired tuning (including special BADBAD tuning for sessions) will be automatically set using precision servo-motors and the on board crystal controlled Computer.
A portable version is available that remains attached to the instrument and weighs a mere 7lbs.
The whole device fits into a small suitcase and will retail at an astonishing £999.
Pied Piper Industries
"And they shall beat their plough shares into musical instruments"

07 Jan 03 - 10:20 AM (#860646)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Bee-dubya-ell

PP - I'm trying to swear off using Internet acronyms like LOL and ROTFLMAO, so I'll just say, "Damn! That's the funniest thing I've seen around here in days!"


07 Jan 03 - 12:34 PM (#860775)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Ebbie

BADBAD tuning! So that's where it's found? And only 7 pounds? A bargain at the price. Sign me up. Or- wait- did I buy one from you before?

07 Jan 03 - 01:07 PM (#860803)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: JohnInKansas

open mike -

You can tell your librarian that I learned long ago that the best way to rewind audio tapes is with an electric eraser. Every librarian should have one - for cleaning up the smudges that come home with the books anyway.

The rubber tip that sticks out is just about the right size to press up against the tape drum, they're about as fast as you really want to go, and they're low-powered enough so that there's little risk of breaking the tape.

Just be sure you get it in the right side to "wind" instead of pushing the tape into a ball in the middle. They're not revesible.

My current tuning problem is an F-style mando that suffers from "crumbly-knob syndrome." The tuner knobs have literally crumbled, and naturally they're not any standard size, so I haven't found replacements. New tuners for an F-style are almost more $$$ than this particular Vega is worth.

Any suggestions? I've tried all the popular luthery shops.


07 Jan 03 - 01:14 PM (#860805)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: YOR

I used the capo tip about 8 months ago when I was changing/upgrading my pickups. It can in handy on the partial second disassembly. I changed the strings the first time but while setting the pickup heights the screw came out. I loosened the strings enough to slip the tailpiece off the posts and the capo keeps the headstock in order. Then I was able to loosen the pickguard and put the dang screw back in.

My tech uses the power screwdriver. You just have to watch the string tail whipping around so as to not scratch the headstock. I'm thinking about getting one of the drill winders, but I really don't change strings that much.


07 Jan 03 - 01:17 PM (#860806)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Cluin


Oh, I'm keepin' the Guild. `Specially now that I've finally got it set up just the way I want it. Just that little battery PITA thing. I don't know where I could move the clip to since it's already as close to the hole as it can get and still be attached to the side (on the slope to the upper bout) unless I attach it to one of the back braces and I'm not doing that. The battery lead is long enough to reach well outside the soundhole so connecting it to the battery is not the problem... it's getting my hand inside and up to the clip and manipluating the battery there, since it's a shallow body guitar and a constricted oval soundhole.

Do you know where one of those outside access battery receptacle thingies they put on electric-acoustics now are available? I haven't seen them in the Stew-Mac catalogue or in the other 3 or 4 luthier supplies catalogues I have. Maybe I should look for one of Garth Brooks' old busted up Taks and scavenge the parts? ;)

(I could have PMed you about this, but maybe someone else has this problem too or a solution. I agree an offboard pre/amp EQ would work but my machine already has the onboard thing and I like the convenience of that. I know how to mix this one for the sound I like, though I sometimes use an EQ pedal too for tweaking/notching)

07 Jan 03 - 01:23 PM (#860814)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip

Thanks - last time I did something like that, I removed all strings at the peg head except the E's ... the capo method sounds more efficient.

07 Jan 03 - 02:08 PM (#860840)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: pattyClink

b.w. -- re your harp problem. You mean you haven't made a capo for that thing yet? You getcha a coupla two-by-fours, a high-quality bungee.....

07 Jan 03 - 02:41 PM (#860872)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Bee-dubya-ell

BW - They do make a really nice device for assisting in changing harp, autoharp and hammer dulcimer strings. It goes by various names including "wife", "child" and "brother-in-law". Very simple to use. Just tell it, "You hold this here while I twist this other thing." Depending on it's age and or sex, you may have to buy it a beer, take it out for dinner, or let it borrow the car afterwards.


07 Jan 03 - 11:06 PM (#861306)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Uncle Jaque

Anybody else out there play GUT strings on a guitar?

I use 'em on my Parlor Guitar for Civil-War Reenacting and the like. They are almost as much fun as they are peculiar.

What you need batteries in a gee-tar fo? Is yo gwine t' play music or send a telegraph, Son? Lawdy!

Cain't ye rig it up wif' a STEAM-EN-Jine instead?
Stoke it right up wif' wood or coal, don't matter; run the smoke-stack up the neck so's it'll keep yo hands warm whilst yer playin. Jes keep dat neck right up in de air so's t' keep a good draught goin in 'er, an' it'll run real good! Shucks; git on a bully roll, there, and ye kin go right ahead & blow the whistle!

Gittin' back t' the gut strings; when ye puts the varnish to 'em prior to mounting, leave a couple of inches bare at each end. Then after they dry and ye take 'em down, stick both ends in your mouth while you're taking the old strings off and gettin' ready; they taste a little like undone spaghetti; try not to think about where they come from. They soften up in there in will tie on to the head peg and wind around the tuning roller much better that way. Start with the trebles (you only have 4 gut strings anyway; the 2 bass 5 & 6 are bronze wound silk); since the smaller diameter ones will soften up quicker than the fatter ones, and keep chawing on the others while you rig that on, and so forth till you done.

I have to tie a loop at the head end and take a turn around the end of th' belayin' pin, else if I just tie a knot & stick it in, they are apt to take off out of there like a pistol shot when I crank her up to pitch, and I've launched more than one peg off into oblivion while tuning, or right in the middle of a song. That can be terrible vexing.

"Capo"? Whats a... OH; you mean a "Choker"! I ain't got a proper one, but I seen one, and I reckon I could get a fiddle-peg, chunk of an old leather strap, length of old string and whittle me up one all right. Might just do that; usin' one t' keep the strings gathered up sounds like a capital idea. Thanks!

I've seen some of them fellas what plays real fancy down t' the big Theateter in Portland use chokers, and they can play way up high and pretty like wif 'em. I'll hafta try one!

Ain't you got no steam up yet in dat self-locomotin' wood-fired guee-tar o' yours there, Duckie? Mercy; wind thet damper open, put th' wood to 'er, hang yer hat on th' safety valve and let 'er rip!

HOO-rah and a "Ring-A-Ding-Ding"!

08 Jan 03 - 12:20 AM (#861340)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Cluin

Kansas John, check out this site:

Hope it helps.

08 Jan 03 - 12:22 AM (#861343)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Sorcha

I don't think this trick will help on a fiddle.........

08 Jan 03 - 12:58 AM (#861362)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: Cluin

Don't most fiddlers use a pair of mating cats for tuning reference, Sorcha?


08 Jan 03 - 01:50 AM (#861387)
Subject: RE: String Changing Tip
From: JohnInKansas

Cluin -

Thanks for the link. I tried StewMac but couldn't find anything with their search engine. These might be close enough that I can do a little "inventing" and make them work. I figure it will take at least 10 or 12 buttons to cut enough fillers and shims to get 8 of them on the shafts (the shafts are a really strange shape).

Maybe I can get a new bridge cap to replace the clothespin I've been using on my A-style while I'm at it.