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Thread: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

  1. #1
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    I like changing my mandolin strings, for the most part, but there's one irritation (other than the occasional finger poke with a sharp string end) that I need to figure out, and I suspect there's an easy answer.

    As is commonly recommended, I change one course at a time, starting with the G course. The outer courses are easy, but when I'm changing the D or A course, I have trouble getting hold of the end of the new string when I push it through the hole in the cast tailpiece. The adjacent strings are too close together for me to poke my fingers down to grab the string. If I push the string outside the outer courses, then I still have to get the D or A string back under the other strings and over the bridge.

    On rare occasions, the string just goes the right direction, between the other strings and over the bridge, but most of the time I end up using my wire cutters to gingerly fish the string up (and even that is a tight fit - I probably need to get some needle nose pliers, at least for the fishing part). I told my wife this week that I needed some wooden tweezers so that I wouldn't be as likely to ding my mandolin finish.

    SO, what is the great, easy solution that I'm too dense to figure out! (Lol, I've even thought about springing for the $149 James tailpiece just because of this frustration. My searches for an upgrade mandolin score high points for any potential mandolin that has the James tailpiece.)
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A (in work at Ken's shop); Eastman MD315, MD505
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Can't speak for anyone else. But I usually take off all but two strings. An A and E or G and E or A and G. Allows me to clean the mandolin easily without effecting intonation. And yes James tailpieces are nice.

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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    I use two tools which IMO help massively with string changes:

    A Capo [once string is on tailpiece hook and going over bridge correctly, I secure it to the neck with a capo before moving to the winding part of the process.

    A Hemostat from the bait shop. While it is metal and possibly could harm my finish, having a `tweezer-like' tool that clamps onto the string is immensely handy for getting the string correcly placed on the tailpiece. It's also even a bigger help removing strings from the tuning pegs without drawing blood

    For a hemostat, something like this is what I use:

    https://www.madriveroutfitters.com/p...ampshemos.aspx
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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    The eastman tailpiece is similar to weber. I slightly bend the last half inch of the string. Then I can spin it and the bent tip raises up. As for protecting the top try sliding the empty paper envelope all the way under the tailpiece. Itís still challenging to grab them sometimes. Also, there are many tailpieces much cheaper than tue james that top load

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    The eastman tailpiece is similar to weber. I slightly bend the last half inch of the string. Then I can spin it and the bent tip raises up. As for protecting the top try sliding the empty paper envelope all the way under the tailpiece. It’s still challenging to grab them sometimes. Also, there are many tailpieces much cheaper than tue james that top load
    I'll try both suggestions! Also, any recommendations on the top loading tail pieces?
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A (in work at Ken's shop); Eastman MD315, MD505
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Doug
    I work medical and we keep unused new hemostats that come in kits we use. Send me a mail address and I'll drop you some in the mail. As another post mentioned, they are excellent if you need to remove string pieces from the tuner.
    Slide a thick piece of paper, or thin piece cardboard under your strings there at your tailpiece to prevent digging your top as you change strings. Double a plain sheet of paper, works fine. Lets a string slide forward so you can use the hemostats to lift it up and pull.

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    Doug
    I work medical and we keep unused new hemostats that come in kits we use. Send me a mail address and I'll drop you some in the mail. As another post mentioned, they are excellent if you need to remove string pieces from the tuner.
    Slide a thick piece of paper, or thin piece cardboard under your strings there at your tailpiece to prevent digging your top as you change strings. Double a plain sheet of paper, works fine. Lets a string slide forward so you can use the hemostats to lift it up and pull.
    Thanks for the kind offer. I actually have one or two of these somewhere in the house, but I didn't think about trying them! I'll just have to dig around a bit (or more likely have my wife tell me where they are).
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A (in work at Ken's shop); Eastman MD315, MD505
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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Daryl, good idea about the paper/cardboard.
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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by flatpicknut View Post
    I'll try both suggestions! Also, any recommendations on the top loading tail pieces?
    There are some here

    https://themandolinstore.com/product...andolin-parts/

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    Hmm. Except for the James, I can't tell that any of these tailpieces would help for this issue. It would be nice to see the products from other angles.
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A (in work at Ken's shop); Eastman MD315, MD505
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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Hi Doug, I give the string a slight bend/curve about 2 inches from the end so that when it goes through the hole It lifts up between the adjacent strings. Works very nicely.

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by flatpicknut View Post
    Hmm. Except for the James, I can't tell that any of these tailpieces would help for this issue. It would be nice to see the products from other angles.
    The most common and least expensive tailpieces have a cap or lid that slides off. Then you can simply loop the ends of the strings over hooks.

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Tweezers with a bit of clear rubber tubing on the tips. I also use hemostats and or small needle nose pliers but last time I tried the tweezers with a covering over the tip and it worked as well. For me, I have a piece of thin leather over the top, under the tail piece, where the strings come through the tailpiece and use the instruments above to help me get the loop on the hook.
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Good light, hemostats or a pair of needle nose pliers or a leatherman, a capo and a good level work station with either a shooters rest or a like luthiers tool to hold your mandolin. I also remove the strings four at a time. I pull the D and G strings putting them back on D then G and do the same with the E and A strings putting the inner pair back on first. I have been doing it this way for decades. R/
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  21. #15
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    The most common and least expensive tailpieces have a cap or lid that slides off. Then you can simply loop the ends of the strings over hooks.
    Oh ok. I’ve had mandolins with the removable covers. No thanks!
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A (in work at Ken's shop); Eastman MD315, MD505
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Hemostats are really underrated. I have used them a couple of times when changing strings but I use them a lot in the shop. They make good heat sinks and wire holders when soldering in tight places. I have several.

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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    I just slide a letter opener under the string and bring the string parallel to the taut ones. I can usually grab it with my fingers. I change string one at a time so the same course one acts as a tuning guide.
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I just slide a letter opener under the string and bring the string parallel to the taut ones. I can usually grab it with my fingers. I change string one at a time so the same course one acts as a tuning guide.
    Good idea about the letter opener.

    I change both strings in the course at the same time because it is easier to clean the fretboard that way AND I recently started using that opportunity to try to tune the strings by ear to the fifth interval with the next course of strings but not by using the frets (I recently read recommendations that fiddlers should tune one string (the A string) to an external source then tune the other strings by ear to fifths. Seemed like good practice for a fret-based guy.)
    Doug Brock
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    What caught my attention in this thread was the title. Wish I could change strings with "slight frustration"

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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    When I was playing the Northfield with the cast tailpiece, I got in the habit of putting a bend in the string (as mentioned above) so that it could be poked up thru the other strings after going thru the tailpiece. I would also put a slight downward bend on the loop so that it would stay on the "peg" of the tailpiece while tightening. Now that I have a mando with the James TP, I see what all of the fuss is about. It's a huge improvement in functionality, and might handsome to boot.
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by onassis View Post
    When I was playing the Northfield with the cast tailpiece... Now that I have a mando with the James TP, I see what all of the fuss is about. It's a huge improvement in functionality, and might handsome to boot.
    I'm looking at a lot of options for my next mandolin. The Northfield F5S and the Big Mon are possibilities, but the James tailpiece on the Big Mon is a real factor for me! (After I try some of the suggestions in this thread, the James tailpiece might not be as significant a feature, lol.)
    Doug Brock
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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    How about a slight change in the routine? On my Weber, I do it like this:

    Remove all strings except the outermost G and outermost E.
    Install innermost A and D strings. Should be enough room to grab the new string with fingers.
    Remove the outermost G and E.
    Install remaining new strings going from inner strings to outer strings, alternating bass side and treble side.

    Works for me and keeps the bridge stable in the proper position.

    And as mentioned, I also slip a piece of paper under the tailpiece to prevent string-end scratches and I put a bit of a bend in each loop so they catch the post securely.

    The other end of the mandolin is where I sometimes get frustrated and / or poked, but I cope with that ok.
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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    A small-sized crochet hook also does the trick.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    I don't have a tailpiece like that but (maybe this is obvious?) I would bend the loop end around a pencil tip (recommended by Frank Ford) and insert the pointed string end through the tailpiece first then thread it over the bridge to the tuner posts. Or am I missing something in the way you install the strings?

    The worst mandolin I own to string is my National RM-1. I love the look of that ornate tailpiece but it is a royal pain to restring.
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  37. #25
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slight frustration when changing mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I don't have a tailpiece like that but (maybe this is obvious?) I would bend the loop end around a pencil tip (recommended by Frank Ford) and insert the pointed string end through the tailpiece first then thread it over the bridge to the tuner posts. Or am I missing something in the way you install the strings?

    The worst mandolin I own to string is my National RM-1. I love the look of that ornate tailpiece but it is a royal pain to restring.
    Actually I do it that way. I bend the loop end around a pencil tip, then insert the pointed string end through the tailpiece. The problem is that when I'm doing the middle courses, there's very little space to try to grab the string and route it over the bridge. Recommendations above are to use hemostat or other skinny grabbing device (after putting something under the strings to reduce chance of damaging the finish) OR bend the end of the string a bit and then rotate that end up so that it's easier to grab.

    Not a huge problem, but still it has been a frustration for me. Fortunately, forum members were quick to give me good, practical suggestions that I'm eager to try in about four weeks.
    Doug Brock
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