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Thread: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

  1. #1
    Registered User Pasha Alden's Avatar
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    Default Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Hi all

    For the first time in three years I have to replace a string. The E of all.

    Are there any tips?


    I also have different kinds of strings. Do I need to have exactly the same kind?

    That is to say, do I need to then restring the entire 4 courses?


    If I do not, I assume then it is Ok to have the different strings and I cannot harm the neck of my mandolin?

    Then on a similar note: where can I purchase strings for mandola? that is online? Or via wire transfer?

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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    For starters - buy a capo. Strings have a habit of slipping off a tailpiece, of any type, whilst you're fiddling at the other end of the instrument. A capo can hold them in place whilst you fiddle. Be prepared for lacerated fingers!

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    If you haven't replaced your strings in over 3 years, I would replace all of them with a new set. You could simply replace both E strings with a new pair of E strings, I would never replace just one unless they are the exact same brand, material and gauge, and if the strings were not that old (say put on within a couple of weeks).

    It shouldn't affect the neck if they are the same type, like medium or light gauge strings. You haven't given enough information though to give proper guidance, like what are the strings that are on the mandolin, what type of strings you have to replace it with, and what type of mandolin is it. Generally, you do not want to mix heavy with light strings.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Pasha: Have you ever changed strings on any fretted instruments? You might ask a friend for help or take them to a local music store and have them help you. It is not difficult at all and I am sure that you will be able to do it eventually but I do recall that you have some sight limitations which might make it a bit harder at the beginning. The main thing is to loop the string around the tuner post so it does not slip.

    If those strings are three years old, you would be better off to replace the whole set. You will be amazed how much better they will sound after they settle in a bit. Also they will actually play in tune. Let us know how it goes.
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    Registered User Rob Beck's Avatar
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    Default

    If you do decide to replace them all, remember that you probably have a floating bridge, which is held in place by the strings. If you remove all the strings at once the bridge will fall off and you'll have to reposition it again to get the intonation correct, I'd replace them one or two at a time.
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  8. #6
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Mandolin strings don't last three years. Not if you play regularly, anyway. Many of us change strings several times a year, so you would seem to be WAY overdue. You will certainly notice an improvement in tone. Also, your mandolin will go out of tune less often, and the notes will be more stable, sounding in pitch immediately, rather than more slowly "zeroing in". Once you appreciate this, you will probably never again go three long years without a string change.

    There are many threads on the MC about how to change strings, and several preferred methods. You will need to choose one that works best for you, but you might want to try several different methods before settling on the one you prefer. In my opinion, you don't need to use a string winder (not if you use the same method I do, that is, which requires minimal winding) and you certainly don't need to use a capo, although there are folks who feel the need for one, or both, of these things. This depends on the method you use.

    My recommended method is the one that involves wrapping the string, under some hand tension, several times (3-4) around the tuner post before threading it through the hole in the post, to create a pre-formed wrap above a fully extended string. Then bring up the final tension, which involves only minimal cranking of the tuner knob, and cut off the excess length. Simple. It's fast, nearly foolproof, and involves considerably less turning of the tuner knob than all the other methods. Buy hey, you should find this out for yourself by trying some of the other popular methods, which include using a luthier's knot (a half twist in the opposite direction for the loose end, then snugging it tightly by lifting it up from under a winding in the correct direction), or using a capo to hold the strings, or using a few finger's worth of slack under the string before threading through the hole, followed by tightening, and so on. They all work.

    Whatever you do, don't take off all the strings at once: change these one at a time!

    P.S. Take this opportunity, when each string is off, to place a tiny amount of lubricant -- a few graphite shavings off a #2 pencil lead will work well -- in the corresponding nut and bridge slots. This will prevent string binding and make tuning better. Also, check your bridge saddle position and possible lean, and correct, if necessary.
    Last edited by sblock; Sep-11-2016 at 2:50pm.

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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    You are kidding ----------- I hope !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  11. #8
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    I've always used the method Frank Ford demonstrates in this article:

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Musi...dostring1.html
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    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    ^ that

    ps i replace strings after three gigs, else they snap mid gig... three years? crazy!
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    Registered User bradlaird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Hi Pasha... here are my tips:



    Brad

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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    After a month my mandolin goes on strike for better working conditions.

  17. #12

    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Beck View Post
    If you do decide to replace them all, remember that you probably have a floating bridge, which is held in place by the strings. If you remove all the strings at once the bridge will fall off and you'll have to reposition it again to get the intonation correct, I'd replace them one or two at a time.
    That's the painful way. Easy way is to use 2 pieces of painters tape to hold the bridge in place while all strings are off. That allows you clean the grunge off the fretboard while your at it.
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    That's the painful way. Easy way is to use 2 pieces of painters tape to hold the bridge in place while all strings are off. That allows you clean the grunge off the fretboard while your at it.
    Painters tape may hold the bridge in place, but taking the tension on and off a mandolin which has a lot of tension changes the sound for a week on my mandolins. I only take the tension off if there is other work to do. When I do, I set it up, but it will need another set up soon as the top settles from the tension being put back on. I would not advise this method, but do one at a time.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Pasha - If you haven't changed strings on your mandolin in 3 years,you need a ''make over''. I'd remove all the strings, clean up the body,fingerboard & frets & then re-string it. The clean-up part is something that i do on my own mandolins twice a year & it's very simple.
    You need some low tack masking tape,or some sort of sticky paper that's not very sticky.

    1) Place a small piece of tape at each end of the bridge & mark the front & back edges on it to help reposition it after reomoving it.

    2) Remove all the strings & the bridge. You can mark the front or back face of the bridge if you like,but the wider slots in it will be on the G & D side.

    3) Clean the mandolin body with a moist clean cloth & polish it with a soft duster. A non-silicone wax polish can be used very sparingly afterwards IF you want to do that.

    4) Clean the fingerboard & clean away any built up of 'gunge' along the frets. Polish the frets with a Silver polishing cloth & buff up with the duster. Apply a very light coating of oil to the fingerboard & clean it all off immediately. Any natural oil will do. I've used olive oil & almond oil in the past. It just gives the wood a bit of colour back if it's gone a bit 'sad' looking.

    5) Re-string the mandolin. I do it this way :- Put the 2 'D' strings on first. You can keep the end loops on the tailpiece by using a small piece of Blue-tack placed over them. After fitting the 2 strings,while they're still loose,put the bridge back on using the paper markers to re-position it. Get it central side to side,& hold it upright with one hand while you bring each string up to enough tension to hold it in place. They don't have to be fully tensioned. Check that the bridge is upright & not leaning in any way.

    6) Put all the other strings on,checking that the bridge is still upright.

    7) OK - now you can tune up. Tune one pair of strings only to a note that your tuner recognises -again,they don't have to be fully tuned up. Check the note 'open' & then check the octave at the 12th fret. If you need to,move the bridge towards the fingerboard if the note at the 12th fret is flat,or towards the tailpiece if the note at the 12th fret is sharp. You need the 'open' note & 12th fret note to be the same - but an octave apart of course.
    When that's done,tune up all the strings to pitch,again checking to make sure that the bridge doesn't lean forward this time,as the strings pull on it. If it does start to lean forward,set it upright again. After tuning up all the strings,check the notes at the 12th fret against the 'open' notes & they should be within a very close tolerance if not 'perfectly' accurate. Any differences should certainly not be audible.

    After tuning up my mandolin to a tuner,i usually check each pair of strings to the pair above it ie.fret the G strings at the 7th fret & check the D strings / fret the D strings at the 7th & check the A strings etc. I usually find that they're all almost spot on,except the E strings which are almost always a tad flat compared to the A strings. I just tune them up to the A strings. My tuner shows that they're a few 'cents' sharp,but my ears tell me they're in tune.

    I usually wipe the strings over with a cloth to clean off any of the black residue left on the un-wound strings - usually the carbon lubricant used in the wire drawing process to lubricate the dies.

    You're now set to go, but check your tuning after a while as the mandolin will go out of tune as the strings settle in,
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  22. #15
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    One thing that has happened to me a couple times, mostly on fiddle:
    Don't just loosen/remove one string or pair of strings with the remaining strings at pitch. Why? Bringing the strings up to pitch causes the neck to bow forward a little. Loosening a string reduces tension on that string and the load on the neck, which makes the neck bend backward slightly, raising the tension on the remaining strings. I've had other strings break (usually A or D) if I completely loosen the E's without touching the other strings.

    I change all strings every couple months of playing, but I start by tuning all 8 strings down a half step or so. Then I replace one pair of strings at a time, cleaning the fretboard, soundboard, nut, bridge etc. under the removed pair as I go. I use string lubricant (Big Bend's Nut Sauce) in the bridge and nut slots. I use the same method as sblock to wrap around the post first then through the hole.

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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    My recommended method is the one that involves wrapping the string, under some hand tension, several times (3-4) around the tuner post before threading it through the hole in the post, to create a pre-formed wrap above a fully extended string. Then bring up the final tension, which involves only minimal cranking of the tuner knob, and cut off the excess length. Simple. It's fast, nearly foolproof, and involves considerably less turning of the tuner knob than all the other methods.
    I agree. This method is SO much easier than any of the others (and I've tried just about all of them) that I can't imagine why anyone would want to do it any other way. Wrapping the string first under gentle tension eliminates the problem of the tail end slipping off the tailpiece post or hook. It also eliminates the guesswork about how much slack you need to leave before winding the string around the tuner post. I'd urge any player to try at least ONE string this way next time you change strings.
    Once all strings are on and tuned up, I cut off the excess, leaving about a half inch. With a needle nose pliers I fold this back on itself to keep the sharp end of the string from sticking out. On the plain strings, these can easily stick your finger.
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    One method I've not seen mentioned. I line the holes in the pegs at about a 45 degree angle, slip the string thru bring around the post backward under the string, then bend it straight up. As you tighten string it locks on it self, can't slip even with less than one round on the post. A lot of what we call string stretch is really taking up slack in multiple windings. This, for all practical purposes eliminates that. I bring up to pitch and with my hands gently pull strings one by one , retune and I'm good to go

  26. #18
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    I use a combination of "locking" and "wrapping", because the second often allows you to reuse a string when it breaks.
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ausdoerrt View Post
    I use a combination of "locking" and "wrapping", because the second often allows you to reuse a string when it breaks.
    Once I broke a string right at the tuner, I had no extra of thar string so I cut a piece off another string that I had and was in the process of tying them together whin the guitar player, a fellow much older than me, questioned whether I could tie it to hold.I asked him if HD had never had to tie a string, he said when he was young they were so poor that if the string broke along the fret board they had to tie it back and just not note that fret. I didn't believe him LOL

  28. #20
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Please do change all of your strings and do it at least twice a year from now on. That is the bare minimum. I change mine seasonally. The use of a capo , as pointed out above. is good advice as it will act as a third hand and ease the process. A good cleaning of your instrument and oiling of your fretboard is in order as Ivan pointed. Put a bath towel on the kitchen table and go to work. A damp rag and a dry rag, I use wash cloths, will work fine. You will likely be amazed at the accumulation of "grunge / gunk your fingers leave on the fingerboard over time. I use lemon oil on my fingerboards, the key is to use oil very sparingly. One or two drops will do the entire length. Luck and patience... R/
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    I agree. This method is SO much easier than any of the others (and I've tried just about all of them) that I can't imagine why anyone would want to do it any other way. Wrapping the string first under gentle tension eliminates the problem of the tail end slipping off the tailpiece post or hook. It also eliminates the guesswork about how much slack you need to leave before winding the string around the tuner post. I'd urge any player to try at least ONE string this way next time you change strings.
    Once all strings are on and tuned up, I cut off the excess, leaving about a half inch. With a needle nose pliers I fold this back on itself to keep the sharp end of the string from sticking out. On the plain strings, these can easily stick your finger.
    I'm going to try this, Paul. Never was a wrapper, never too late to be one. One q: why leave 0.5 inch of string?

  30. #22
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    Once I broke a string right at the tuner, I had no extra of thar string so I cut a piece off another string that I had and was in the process of tying them together whin the guitar player, a fellow much older than me, questioned whether I could tie it to hold.I asked him if HD had never had to tie a string, he said when he was young they were so poor that if the string broke along the fret board they had to tie it back and just not note that fret. I didn't believe him LOL
    Well, thankfully, mandolin strings are cheap enough - no comparison to violin strings, at least. But, stuff still happens when you're out playing and might not have a spare with you. Also, if you use the "gibson-style" tailpiece, that "bend" on A and E strings could provide an extra inch or so of much-needed string length in case of breakage.

    Other than that, I'm pretty sure a basic square knot would hold, but can't imagine tying it with bare hands without multiple cuts, lol.
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  31. #23

    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Painters tape may hold the bridge in place, but taking the tension on and off a mandolin which has a lot of tension changes the sound for a week on my mandolins. I only take the tension off if there is other work to do. When I do, I set it up, but it will need another set up soon as the top settles from the tension being put back on. I would not advise this method, but do one at a time.
    To each their own. I got this tip from my luthier who uses it all the time. I've used it with mandolins and guitars for years without a single problem. If your instrument is as unstable as you say, you may have some structural problems that need fixing.
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  32. #24
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    To each their own. I got this tip from my luthier who uses it all the time. I've used it with mandolins and guitars for years without a single problem. If your instrument is as unstable as you say, you may have some structural problems that need fixing.
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  33. #25
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    Default Re: Any tips for restringing or replacing strings

    copy/paste from somewhere above:If you remove all the strings at once the bridge will fall off


    This reminds me of a comment I heard on stage from funnyman Mike Snider, upon introducing Bobby Clark:

    "Bobby is from Oklahoma, where it's pretty windy. When the wind stops, people fall down."

    carry on...

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