View Full Version : Loops unwinding...

Apr-08-2004, 11:41pm
So I'm playing today and I here a loud PEEEONG as I plucked my e strings. I thought to myself crap, these are just a few days old. Then I noticed it was still there. So I tune it back up and I hear this high pitched wine and then a thunk. I thought aha, now it broke but it was still there. I finally put on my glasses and saw that the loop end was unwinding and sliding around the hook which holds it like a noose.

Since I'm new to the mandolin and this is only my second pair of strings (Martin), is this common? I had read that it was in the old days and that is why Gibson had patented their tailpiece to have a bend for the a and e strings to follow but modern technology with string making had made this a thing of the past.

Tom C
Apr-09-2004, 6:58am
Are you sure it was unwinding? Sometimes the twisted area by the loop prevents the loop from fitting all the way into the hook. Then all of a sudden it slips into place
and you hear that really scary sound and you are about 2 steps outs of tune.

Apr-09-2004, 11:25am
It looked as if had unwound some. The winding slid down the loop to where the loop was very snug on the hook. The string looked pretty rough where the winding had travelled so I replaced the string thinking it would break soon enough.

Apr-09-2004, 12:05pm
Ya sure yer gettin the string locked properly at the peg? Check out frets.com for one way of doin' it, I usually just back-wind the excess in the reverse direction a bit before windin' up.

Apr-09-2004, 12:21pm
Never happend to me in 20 years of playing but I've only used martin maybe once.

Apr-09-2004, 12:45pm
That has happened to me once or twice. I just chalk it up to a bad set of strings. If it happens again I would call Martin and make em' send you more.

Mark Berry
Jan-08-2012, 9:46am
Just had it happen to both E strings from a set of D'Addario J67 Nickel-Plated Steel Medium Strings - I'm new to the Mando (played Bass and Guitar for 25years and finally bought myself a cheap Stagg Mando as a self-Xmas present to have a go - which I love already) I replaced the set which came with the instrument to D'Addario strings which I've used for years on my Takamine Electro/Acoustic and both E string loops unwound today - is there any thing that people do to make this less likely (drop of super glue on the winding or similar?) :confused:

Phil Goodson
Jan-08-2012, 10:20am
Yep. I've had that happen a couple of times over several years. I think it was an E string each time. Just a bad set of strings. Happens rarely but sometimes.

Jan-08-2012, 10:23am
I had the same problem with my Collings Mandolin. Here is a copy of the mails and since I followed the advise, I never met the problem:

Hello Claude.

Thank you for contacting us.
I am happy to help you with this issue.
We have heard about this occurring every now and then. We suspect it might be caused by the end windings butting up against the leather strip that is mounted on the underside of the tailpiece. Sometimes the leather strip will shift from it's original location, and moving it back so the windings rest on top of it seems to remedy it. Does this make sense?
Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best regards,

Mark Althans
Collings Guitars
11210 Hwy 290 West
Austin, Texas 78737-1913

On 2/1/2011 9:16 AM, CLAUDE MEYER wrote:
Hi Mark.

I have still a strange little problem with my mandolin. Each time I replace strings with D'addario 11-40 like J74, EXP74 , EXP77, ...
the E string in the second position cannot be tuned: as soon as tension inrease, the wrapping near the loop end "unwraps", the torsade breaks ....

What looks strange is that it is always the 2nd string, it is only with D'addario, if I use John Pearse, GHS or Curt Mangan strings, I can always tune the 2nd E string with success.

Have you a suggestion ?

Many Thanks

Jan-08-2012, 10:33am
Those who have had loops slip; what is the shape of the hook on the tailpiece? Round tailpiece hooks can do that, but I've never heard of it happening on hooks that have a flat or angle of some sort that puts a kink in the loop.

rico mando
Jan-08-2012, 1:13pm
Just had it happen to both E strings from a set of D'Addario J67 Nickel-Plated Steel Medium Strings

happened to me last week with one e string installing a set of D'Addario J67s also on my F-9 . first the loop cinched tight and then it unwound . tried to keep tuning it til it finally came undone .

Jared Heddinger
Jan-08-2012, 1:37pm
Happens to me all the time with strings, mostly the E’s though. You describe the sound perfectly. I know it’s happened with GHS Silk and Steel and the J74’s, but I have it yet to happen on DR’s.

Kip Carter
Jan-08-2012, 1:48pm
What I'm finding interesting here is that I have have been considering attempting to design and fabricate some tail pieces to try out some design concepts I've been kicking around a little. I had considered that a peg (aka. round pin) was superior to the more common die punched ears on some tail pieces.

My reasoning was that there would be less chance of a string cut by a sharp edge with a pin. But what i'm picking up on is that there is a bit of an issue with the loops where a perhaps sharper angle (not sharp) that achieves a bit of a crimping action would be the best of both worlds.

I'll have to think on this a bit more as pins are easy, Ears are easy. A hybrid of the two concepts would be something a little more involved (not insurmountable but significant).

Mark Berry
Jan-08-2012, 4:39pm
Thanks for the info, as a brand new Mando picker and only used to ball end strings up to the point (well and nylons!) I wasn't sure if I was doing something wrong! Have ordered a 2nd set of J67s and e-mailed D'Addario. If they go again I'll switch makes! Anyway back to learning new chords and driving the wife mad playing the Irish Washerwoman repeatedly! :mandosmiley:

Jan-08-2012, 5:51pm
FWIW, you won't find a better string company that D'Addario.

Jan-09-2012, 5:20pm
for the whammy bar electrics, D'Add, puts a dab of solder on the loop windings.

seems a good idea for the E strings, on mandolins too ..
My neighborhood instrument repair guy says those last 3 wraps tight around the string
do a lot in holding the loop, those longer winds around each other ..
have a Newtone [UK] string set, they didn't do that..

Kip Carter
Jan-09-2012, 6:02pm
D'Add, puts a dab of solder on the loop windings.
seems a good idea for the E strings, on mandolins too ...

What about... simply a drop of superglue on the windings the night before installation. While a manufacture may use solder I would be concerned that the application to a string that wasn't engineered with this in mind might alter the resonance of the string in some way. I'd think that with the fluid dispersion of superglue and its inert acoustical properties that it would give an extra level of insurance that a loop couldn't possibly pull apart under normal circumstances.

Just a thought...

Paul Kotapish
Jan-09-2012, 6:32pm
I tend to buy my strings in bulk, and on two occasions over the past couple of decades I had batches of D'Addario J-75 sets with funky .0115 E strings that unwound at the loop end just as you describe.

Extremely frustrating--especially if it happens just as you are getting on stage for a show.

Even more frustrating when the string seems to go on OK and tighten up to tension only to unwind all at once three songs into the first set. Ususally, though, if there's a problem it reveals itself as you are bringing the string up to pitch the first time after changing.

The big problem is that the unwinding cinches the string tight around the tailpiece capstan like a noose and can be really hard to get off certain tailpieces.

In both cases D'Addario responded very quickly and replaced the faulty strings, paid for shipping back and forth, and whatnot.

In the more recent episode they examined the faulty strings and discovered that they were not wrapped with as many windings as they should have been. Apparently even a second or two of a winding machine on the fritz can result in a run of substandard strings.

Haven't tried either the solder or the superglue approaches, but if I encounter this again I might. This was an issue in the very early days of string winding--which is why those Gibson tailpieces have double locks for the unwound strings--but it's very rare these days. Does happen, though.

David Rambo
Jan-09-2012, 8:21pm
I haven't had D'Addario J-74's unwind, but I had 4 loops snap during the previous restring. I've changed the strings several times before, and this package was the only one that has had any problems. It was both the "A" and "E" strings in that batch. They weren't even up to pitch when they snapped, so it wqsn't overtightening. The hooks had no sharp edges, so all I can figure is that the loops were bad from the factory.

Tom Wright
Jan-09-2012, 10:00pm
It's inconvenient that loop-end strings are a bit limited--D'Addario offers soldered-twist plain strings in ball end, which I use on my 10-string. But I think unwinding is pretty rare, I may have had it happen once or twice in 40 yrs. I've never had it happen on a ball end that I can remember, but mando is higher tension than most guitar setups.

Too bad mandolin makers keep the loop-end thing going---violins and cellos have pretty much completely switched over to ball end. Only traditional wrapped-gut strings have loops. I guess it is that violin tailpieces can handle either type, but the crowded mandolin tailpiece limits the design choices. OK, Weber, Allen, etc., let's see a multi-use design so we can roam around all the fine ball-end choices. (My 10-string is a pin bridge, so I'm already there.) I drilled 8 holes in the back of the tailpiece cover on my cheap Fender so I could use ball end electric guitar strings--Gibson could do that, too (I added set screws to the cover). Or a tailpiece could have pins tall enough to hold the ball.

Jan-09-2012, 10:11pm
Pretty much all steel strings have a loop at one end, some of them just have balls in the loops. There's nothing wrong with loop end strings, but if the tailpiece hooks are round the loops can slip sometimes. Bill James is on record as having changed from round to one-side-squared pins in his tailpieces to remedy the occasional problem.

Mark Berry
Jan-10-2012, 5:58am
Well, new set of J67s arrived this morning - this time it didn't even take a week, in fact I hadn't even got it into tune before the the loop started slipping!

Mark Berry
Jan-10-2012, 6:07am
NB. both sets of strings came from Amazon so may be part of a faulty batch - I'm off now to my local music store to try some from them!

Paul Kotapish
Jan-10-2012, 1:37pm
Mark--contact D'Addario. They want to know about this issue and they will replace the faulty strings.

Perry Babasin
Jan-11-2012, 4:24pm
About a year.5 ago, I bought a couple of sets of EXP-74s to try them out and this exact thing happened to three of the E strings during the process of tightening/tuning them up. Out of the two sets, I ended up getting it strung, and I immediately contacted Big D' and they were very apologetic and ended up sending me a set of J-74s and a couple of EXP-74 e strings, one of which also unraveled at the loop. Although I really liked the EXPs (after they calmed down from a bit of playing) and they lasted for a long time, but since then I have stuck with Js although recently I did buy a set of the flat wound 74s but haven't put them on an instrument yet... OK just reading a previous post and the posts on my tailpiece are round, but the J-74s have always been fine, only the EXPs gave me problems...

Mark Berry
Jan-11-2012, 4:46pm
The posts on my tailpiece are also round, but I can't see how the post would cause the problem?

Paul, thanks. I have emailed d'Addario (I spoke to the UK office and they didn't really want to know just told me to return them to the retailer (Amazon)) d'Addario HQ asked me to send photo's of the tailpiece & bridge (which had one E string on at the time with somewhat irregular looking windings) which I have done. So I wait with bated breath for a response :) in the meantime I am going to try a set from a different retailer, which will at least tell me whether the 1st 2 sets were from a dodgy batch! If these don't work I'll order some others from the States and stick Bronze strings on in the meantime!

Mark Berry
Jan-11-2012, 5:09pm
Have just had the following reply from d'Addario

o.k. nothing funky going on there
I will send the uk rep the info and have that set replaced
then you have extras

In the meantime I've put a piece of leather under the remaining strings just in case!