>> Monday, April 5, 2010

Ok, a little Chuck Berry for this post!  Many of us have had an introduction to the electric guitar, that included Chuck Berry riffs.  I, personally, still use bending and shuffle rhythms that can be traced back to this guy, (though I don't do it as well).  I'm not being an advocate of this guy's many well noted brushes with the law by posting him on here.  I do respect the fact that he is a true innovator with respect to electric guitar playing.  He had virtually no one to copy rock guitar from in the early '50's.  Nearly everyone copy's some rock guitar from him, whether they know it or not.  God invented all music, and imperfect people introduced it all to the world!

Now, back to guitar strings.  If you continue reading this, it will be because you might be interested in one, and possibly better, way to string your guitar.  It is better in my opinion, than just throwing the strings on and winding, because the purpose of the method is to keep your guitar in tune.  You can use this on acoustics and electrics.  If you've got a non-locking tremolo, and you use it, your guitar may still not stay in tune with this method.  I have a Strat that I rarely use the tremolo on because of this reason.  People that own guitars with Floyd Rose style locking tremolos and nuts, don't have to be as concerned with string installation methods.  If I had one of those, I'd still use this method, cause I'm like that!

My method is a slight modification of one I learned from others over the years, and it will have two options for you to choose from.  There isn't any method I can declare as The "Right" way, this is just A way, that keeps strings in tune, after they are "broke" in.  My guitars almost never go flat with this method, provided the strings are in good shape!  I borrowed a Tele from my friend Joel, to illustrate the method.  He was having trouble keeping it in tune, so I offered to use it, and re-string it to document what I do.

You can see in Figure 1 how the guitar was set up when I got it.  Again, there is nothing "wrong" with how this is strung, but I'm confident the method I'm going to talk about, helped this guitar stay in tune better.  I shouldn't take myself too serious though, because my friend broke a string on this shortly after I re-strung it!  I'm confident that this was due to re-stringing it, (with the same strings), and not my method!  :)  Joel and I were both well aware that re-stringing with the same strings made it highly likely that one could break, but they were relatively new, so we hoped for the best!  You can see that there aren't very many windings on the tuning pegs.  I believe in winding around the entire tuning peg, from top to bottom, for maximum grip.  You can also see that none of the windings is compressing the actual end of the string.  This would be the biggest key to my method.  Make sure your first turn around each peg is ABOVE the string end, and the hole in the tuning peg it runs through.  But Before we get to that point, let's get a basic amount of string cut off, so we can have less in our way to deal with.

I used a  measurement of 5 inches, from the corresponding tuning peg, for each string on this Telecaster.  As you can see in figure 2, I pulled each string taught next to each tuning peg, and I started with the low E string.  I then measured each string out from the middle of the CORRESPONDING TUNING PEG and cut it off 5 inches from there, but adding ABOUT a half inch as I trimmed each string, from low E to high E.  In simpler terms, Low E = 5", A = 5.5", D = 6", G = 6.5", B = 7", High E = 7.5".  THIS IS APPROXIMATE!  A Gibson style headstock will be different than a Fender style.  For better accuracy, base your string to string length difference on actually measuring between tuning pegs on YOUR guitar, and make your compensation accordingly.  (If your tuning pegs are closer to 1.5" apart, like on a Gibson, this method for a Fender, with 1" from tuning peg to tuning peg, may need to be adjusted).  The amount of string needed will increase from low E to high E, because the strings get thinner.  Make sure that each string is without slack, and that the opposite ball end is seated deep into each string holder in the bridge.  If the bridge end of a string gets caught somewhere and is not seated where it should be, you will end up with too much string.  This is not catastrophic, but can be annoying.  The 5 inch measurement worked great for this telecaster and I think you will be fine with about any make using it, but you may need a little less on some guitars.  Most guitar scale length differences will translate roughly to maybe one more, or maybe one less winding on each tuning peg.  It should not be an issue to trim down to 5 inches on most guitars, but if you've never pre-trimmed your strings this way on YOUR guitar, unwind your old low E string, and practice this using 5 inches, and see how it works.  I don't personally like to wind over existing winding again, so I never want too much string.  Finally, you will see that this is easier than words can explain.  Be careful, but don't be afraid to do it!

The next step can be seen in figure 3 below.

Push about a half to 3/4's of an inch through the tuning peg hole.  (See figure 3 above).  Be aware of the proper winding direction, and put the string through the hole the correct way.  If you draw a blank on the proper direction, just surf the net for a detailed picture for your guitar style.  You should see something isn't right quickly, so this isn't really any big deal!  You just don't want to put a permanent bend in the string the wrong way if you can help it.

 The next step in the method can be seen in figure 4 above.  I'm bending the string end clockwise, in relation to the peg, (with my thumb), while holding the low E string stable with my index finger.  The bend in the string end needs to be severe.  A right angle bend is perfect.  Your forming a rough looking "S" with the bend.  Don't actually bend the main part of each string.  This will be what winds around the peg, and you will want to keep that smooth.

Sorry about the slight blur in figures 5 and 6 above!  These pictures still show one of the most important keys to the whole method.  I've begun to wind the string, and you can see that the first winding is ABOVE the string end.  I want to stress again, that this is key to the whole method!  THE FIRST WINDING ON EACH TUNING PEG MUST BE ABOVE THE STRING END!  This is also the point where you have two options to choose from!
The first option, (I will call this option 1), is that your SECOND and all ensuing turns around the tuning peg, will go under the string end, as can be seen in figure 6a below.  Notice, on this Strat, that this option creates a clamping force on the string end to hold it firmly in place.

The second option, (I will call this option 2), which I used on Joel's Tele, is to continue winding above the string end.  This option begins to pin the string end against the peg with each turn, and creates a multiple wrap of windings on top of it to hold it firmly in place.  (See Figures 7 and 8 below) .
 In both options, wind downward making sure each winding lays neatly under the one above it.  You can see some distortion of the string, on the peg of the Option 2 examples, because this was a re-wind.  New strings will look much neater than this example!  Both options create a clamping force that will prevent the string end from slipping back through the tuning peg hole
That is really all there is to it. I hope I've explained it clearly.  Here are what your finished results will look like with Option 1.  (See figure 9a below).  Notice how the string ends are under clamping force up high on the tuning peg.

Here are what your results will look like with Option 2.  (See figure 9 below).  Notice how the string end is wrapped and pinned all the way down the tuning peg.
Finally, when your tuning up, I would suggest starting with the low E string side and increase tension on the A string next and so on.  Don't start with the high E side and expect the thinner strings to handle the initial tension of tuning and pulling your guitar neck into place!
Thank you Joel for the use of your fine looking Telecaster!  All apologies, as usual, for any grammatical or punctuation errors!  I'm certain that there are more experienced folks out there with better string installation methods.  Let me know, I love to learn too!  We'll be getting into more elaborate subjects as the blog continues.  If anyone needs a clarification, or has a question on anything not covered here, shoot me a comment, and I'll respond as soon as I can.  Thanks for checking out my blog!

God Bless,



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