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Thread: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    If you are like me (and I know I am), changing strings on your mandolin is not your favorite task. I’ve been doing it successfully for 40 years, or so, but I often wish I had a third hand (one that doesn’t bleed as easily as the other two) when doing the job.

    Well, today as I prepared to restring one of my two Collings, I grabbed an old Kyser capo (that I once used on the guitar I traded for one of the Collings). After I removed the old string (the easy part), and attached the new string through and to the tailpiece, I pulled the new string into place along the neck and placed the capo across the neck (and over the new string) above the first fret.

    The rest was SO much easier! I didn’t have to hold the loop end of the string to keep it from popping off the post!

    I’m positive this is nothing new for many old hands here. I can’t explain what took me so long to think of this, or how I missed reading it (probably) here. But, it’s a good idea and I hope it helps someone.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    It comes up every now and again. Always good. I like using a rare earth magnet on the steel base of my stamped Gibson tailpiece to hold the loop on the tailpiece.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Thanks for the tip. I’m a slow learner too.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    My favored approach involves placing the string loop over the peg in the tailpiece, then stretching it under light hand tension, straight over the bridge and nut, and winding it several times (2-4) around the tuning post before threading the free end of the string through the hole in the post. This approach:

    1) keeps the string under tension at all times (no slack!), so it never comes off the tailpiece peg, nor does it come come out of the slots in the bridge saddle and nut, and
    2) it involves minimal turns of the tuning peg to bring the string up to final pitch, so you don't really need a string winder.

    No capo required. No magnets required. No sticky putty. No string winder. Fewer turns. NO STRING SLIPPAGE.

    Also, it's faster then any other technique I know. Say, what's not to love?! I urge you everyone to try it. I can't believe I replaced strings for so many years using other, more traditional methods, and always wondering if I had just the right amount of slack before winding.

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    My favored approach involves placing the string loop over the peg in the tailpiece, then stretching it under light hand tension, straight over the bridge and nut, and winding it several times (2-4) around the tuning post before threading the free end of the string through the hole in the post. This approach:

    1) keeps the string under tension at all times (no slack!), so it never comes off the tailpiece peg, nor does it come come out of the slots in the bridge saddle and nut, and
    2) it involves minimal turns of the tuning peg to bring the string up to final pitch, so you don't really need a string winder.

    No capo required. No magnets required. No sticky putty. No string winder. Fewer turns. NO STRING SLIPPAGE.

    Also, it's faster then any other technique I know. Say, what's not to love?! I urge you everyone to try it. I can't believe I replaced strings for so many years using other, more traditional methods, and always wondering if I had just the right amount of slack before winding.
    Same here.
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  9. #6
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Same here, actually. Adding the capo has no downside. Just assistance.

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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post
    If you are like me (and I know I am), changing strings on your mandolin is not your favorite task. I’ve been doing it successfully for 40 years, or so, but I often wish I had a third hand (one that doesn’t bleed as easily as the other two) when doing the job.

    Well, today as I prepared to restring one of my two Collings, I grabbed an old Kyser capo (that I once used on the guitar I traded for one of the Collings). After I removed the old string (the easy part), and attached the new string through and to the tailpiece, I pulled the new string into place along the neck and placed the capo across the neck (and over the new string) above the first fret.

    The rest was SO much easier! I didn’t have to hold the loop end of the string to keep it from popping off the post!

    I’m positive this is nothing new for many old hands here. I can’t explain what took me so long to think of this, or how I missed reading it (probably) here. But, it’s a good idea and I hope it helps someone.
    WOW !! THANKS for the great tip. I'm a newbie, so this will save me from ordering that new third hand from Amazon ! Thanks again ....Don
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  12. #8

    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    I think I understand your trouble. I'm a newbie to the mandolin, so I'll take all the help I can get. I played guitar nearly a decade before I learned that I could use a better method for restringing the instrument. You veterans on this site are great.

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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    My favored approach involves placing the string loop over the peg in the tailpiece, then stretching it under light hand tension, straight over the bridge and nut, and winding it several times (2-4) around the tuning post before threading the free end of the string through the hole in the post. This approach:

    1) keeps the string under tension at all times (no slack!), so it never comes off the tailpiece peg, nor does it come come out of the slots in the bridge saddle and nut, and
    2) it involves minimal turns of the tuning peg to bring the string up to final pitch, so you don't really need a string winder.

    No capo required. No magnets required. No sticky putty. No string winder. Fewer turns. NO STRING SLIPPAGE.

    Also, it's faster then any other technique I know. Say, what's not to love?! I urge you everyone to try it. I can't believe I replaced strings for so many years using other, more traditional methods, and always wondering if I had just the right amount of slack before winding.
    I have been doing this for decades, to me it is fast, easy and the only way to restring. I only wish it would work for slotted headstocks. Ah.....
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  14. #10
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I have been doing this for decades, to me it is fast, easy and the only way to restring. I only wish it would work for slotted headstocks. Ah.....
    +1 on this. What a pain changing strings on my slot head guitar. At least there are only six strings to deal with
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Yeah, I thought about using a capo. But I changed strings two days ago and thought the main problem was the roundness of the loop hole. So using the same needle nose pliers I cut the excess string length with, I carefully and slightly squeezed the loop in a bit before installing the string. None of them slipped off the hook after doing that.

    Never seeing one up close, doesn't a James Tailpiece keep the loops on the hooks when changing strings? Seems like every mandolin should wear those.

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  17. #12
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    The James is great for string changes. Every other style of tailpiece I've used has required some sort of extra manipulation - squeezing the loop, bending the loop, bending the end of the string so it doesn't hit the top as it's threaded through, etc. The James is the only one where I just add strings exactly as they come out of the package.

    And +1 on sblock's method. I've done it this way for a decade now, it let's me get the exact # of turns I want on the post. Easy-peasy.
    Mitch Russell

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    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    In the interest of fairness, I'll say that it IS POSSIBLE, if you wiggle the string around too much while securing the headstock end, to dislodge the loop from the little peg in the James tailpiece. Yes,... even if the top is securely snapped shut. Guess how I know.
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    Registered User Christine Robins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    I tried sblock's technique last night. It works! "Wrap, then poke" was at least twice as fast as my usual "poke, then wind" approach. And with no worry about the loops slipping off the tailpiece pegs.

  22. #15
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    I've been changing mando strings for 20 years and the only good thing I can say about it is I can now change guitar strings upside down, backwards, and with my eyes closed.

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  24. #16
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    +1 on this. What a pain changing strings on my slot head guitar. At least there are only six strings to deal with
    Well, you can sort of do the same thing by putting one hand in front and one in back of the headstock, and passing the string end through the slot, over the shaft from the front and under from the back, then through the hole after 2-3 passes. No, not as easy as just winding it around the post of a solid headstock, but it is better than endlessly turning the tuner button. Also makes it easier to let you put the windings on the inside or outside of the hole depending on which gives the string a straighter pull to the nut.

    Anyway, it works on the Waverley on my Huss & Daltons.
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  25. #17

    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    This is fantastic advice, I tried it for the first time today and it worked as advertised. Much appreciated.

  26. #18

    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Can I just say a massive thank you for ‘winding round the post first’ tip? I’d put off restringing my mandolin for ages due to mild terror. Swapped the strings one at a time using this technique and was done in less than half the time I feared, and ringing lovely!
    Went with Newtones on my Eastman MD505. Looking forward to seeing how they play (seem a little lighter than the set that were on it).
    Last edited by danjec; Apr-04-2020 at 9:55am. Reason: Clarification

  27. #19
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    I will have to try this wind-around-the-post method. I came here now to look for string change advice because I had such a devil of a time changing my strings last night. I used the capo method... which helped a bit, but I still had loops unhook several times. So, when you wrap twice around the post before poking the string through, how may times more do you wind after that? 2? 3? Don't you have to leave enough slack in the string for that, or does it stretch that much?
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    I use the reverse lock method, can’t slip, once or less around tuner post so no taking up slack in windings, can put through tuner peg hole first so no need to come up with ways to hold on tailpiece post. I really see no down side been doinging this way forever

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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    I use the reverse lock method, can’t slip, once or less around tuner post so no taking up slack in windings, can put through tuner peg hole first so no need to come up with ways to hold on tailpiece post. I really see no down side been doinging this way forever
    Can you clarify what you mean by "reverse lock method"?

    Thanks
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  31. #22
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    "Reverse lock" refers to (1) winding the part of the string that's passed through the tuner hole 1/2 turn in the reverse (i.e., opposite) direction to the intended wraps, then (2) passing that end under the part of the main string that heads down the fingerboard, then (3) bending it upwards (perpendicular to the peghead), so that (4) any subsequent tightening of the tuner peg catches this extra length of string underneath the main string, thereby "locking" it and preventing any slippage. This locking technique works perfectly well, and it can help especially when there are not enough wraps around the tuner peg to hold the string otherwise. But IMO, it is an inferior technique to the one already described in post #4, above. It is a bit slower than that technique, requires additional steps, and it can make the string harder to remove when replacement time comes around. It is my second favorite technique, however!

  32. #23
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    I use the reverse lock method, can’t slip, once or less around tuner post so no taking up slack in windings, can put through tuner peg hole first so no need to come up with ways to hold on tailpiece post. I really see no down side been doinging this way forever
    Me, too. Very fast and no slippage. Faster to take old strings, off, too, with fewer wraps around the post.
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  33. #24
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    Can you clarify what you mean by "reverse lock method"?

    Thanks
    There's a good photo essay by luthier Frank Ford on his amazing Frets.com site where he covers this in detail:

    http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician...dostring1.html

    He also addresses issues with lots of different styles of tailpieces.

    YMMV.
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  34. #25
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    Default Re: Useful Tip For Changing Strings

    Here's what I do. I don't think it was mentioned previously.
    [It's hard to describe the second part. Ask me if its not clear.]

    Put the string through the peg hole, bring the string around the shaft, over the string,
    around it and thread it up vertically to lock it against the shaft. This is pretty standard.

    Here's what's different. When I'm doing this, the ball end is a little past the
    string hook in the tailpiece. I wind the string around the tuner twice while holding the ball
    end in my right hand [with a little tension]. Then place it on the correct tailpiece peg
    when the length is right. I'm putting some tension on the string so it doesn't slip off
    the peg head. The result is a clean wrap and its very fast. There is an intuitive aspect
    to this and I'm used to how each string works differently re: the wrap.
    I use my left hand to push the string down on the neck at the 5th fret
    while placing the ball end on. Then tune to pitch. I initially wrap the string
    around the peg shaft manually and only use the tuner at the end.
    The key is keeping a little tension on the string at all times.

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